Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Minder At The Ministry

I didn't know him so much as occasionally stumble into him, though really that should be the other way round, despite a seemingly industrial capacity for holding his drink. There was a pub in Twickenham that I would now and then frequent. It was his local, he having been and remaining Dennis Waterman. On one occasion he was exiting at the same time as I was. He paused and asked - of no one in particular - "anyone seen my Roller?" It would probably have been as well if no one had seen it.

As Terry McCann in Minder, Dennis had his memorable quotes; rather more memorable, one imagines, than the enquiry about the Roller. But it was Arthur Daley (George Cole) on whom Leon Griffiths' script generosity for great lines mostly fell. It was Arthur who pined for the days of honest-to-God, decent, professional thieves. They could no longer be found as they were all living in Spain.

Arthur once let Terry in on his secret as a businessman: "You make contact with your customer, understand their needs, and then flog them something they could well do without.” And why does this come to mind? Well, because it may be the type of advice being issued at the tourism ministry at present. Understand tourists' needs and then present them with what they almost certainly could do without - a winter break when Cyclone Bruno (or any other cyclone) is battering the Balearics. Better in winter, albeit that it was springlike last week.

My guess is that Bel of the Ministry isn't that adept at one-liners. I may be doing her a disservice, but she doesn't give the impression of having landed at the tourism ministry armed with a book of gags. Indeed, when it comes to the imparting of gems of wisdom in an Arthur manner, it may well be that there is a role reversal: it's the Minder who's advising Bel.

We were more or less formally introduced to him during the negotiations over Biel Barceló's successor. Those one-sided negotiations - to ensure Bel was the new Biel - were conducted on the Més side by a trio that someone (not me) referred to as looking like a Bulgarian hit squad. Their opposite numbers from PSOE were Iago of employment and two of the socialist dames - Pilar of the presidency department and Mercedes of the Council (holiday rental zoning and all that). Towering over them was Lluís Apesteguia, who Mercedes will have recognised from the Council. Iago would doubtless have become familiar with him as well. "It's going to be Bel, isn't it." "Er, well, yes." "Good boy."

The reward for Lluis is to now find himself as Bel's Minder, which officially means her chief of staff. A rising star in Més, and a substantial one at that, Lluis' career progression has been assisted by his having gained a degree in classical philology. So, that's at least two philologists in charge of tourism then; Bel's language capabilities we already knew about.

His elevation to Minder status is being interpreted in some quarters as bolstering Bel's bid to lead Més to electoral glory in 2019. His appointment, it is said, gives greater political weight to the tourism ministry, with Bel now given the chance to shine and look forward to becoming the next president of the Balearics. And if she were to be, then what will Lluis' next reward be? As Bel probably wouldn't say: "The world's your lobster, Lluis."

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