Madrid City Council displays 2 flags to thank citizens

Madrid City Council thanked the people of Madrid for their "civic-mindedness in this serious health crisis" with two flags displayed on the façade of the Palacio de Cibeles, one with the colours of the Spanish flag and a 'Thank you to all', and the other with the ribbon worn by the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, on his social networks.

20-03-2020 EFE/Juanjo Martín

What a difference a day makes, eh? There I was last Friday scooting across the skies on an easyJet plane from Gatwick with little idea that Palma would be turning away pilots soon after. But it did. Everything went haywire and suddenly we found ourselves under curfew or a kind of martial law, forbidden to leave home.

It’s all in a good cause, of course, and I applaud the Spanish government wholeheartedly. It acted quickly and decisively (unlike Britain) and just got the job done. This island - and Spain as a whole - needs tourism like oxygen. We cannot survive without it. Roughly 90 per cent of the Balearic economy rests on it so this is not a time to prevaricate and boy, the Spanish government punched hard.

For some of us who work from home anyway and have gardens (with no kids to occupy), it’s not so bad but for those families living in flats with little outside space, this is a particularly challenging time. In truth we don’t know how long we’ll be held in captivity but it’s likely to be a month-long sojourn at least - and if we’re lucky.

On the other hand, I have been impressed by the plucky spirit of the expats on Majorca and the social media community as a whole. There are forums and chat rooms opening, WhatsApp groups, pages with fun activities for children and recommendations to keep loneliness and depression at bay. People are coming together with humour and kindness and rallying round. In fact, if any good has come from all this, it is that petty point scoring, self-indulgent soul searching, political identity posturing, hate trolling online and all the rest of the bilge uttered by a pampered and selfish society, has been put on hold. This is a global crisis and everyone has to grow some and muck in. Instead of putting up inane and fatuous ‘be kind’ twitter slogans, now is the time for action not words. Be kind through deeds not hollow words. Stop hoarding. Help someone in need. Call someone living alone. Be selfless.

There are those like my neighbour whose family and grandchildren are back in Germany and is all alone. We must keep an eye on one another and help out where we can. The other day, I checked up on my elderly neighbours by calling out to them on the communal track and kept a safe distance. This way we can still have jolly chats, catch up on news and laugh with our beloved seniors because that surely is the best medicine in such tense times?

Importantly, we must not give in to fear and panic. There will be an end to all this and although this is a stressful time economically for most of us, we will pull through. There is no place for hoarding and vile behaviour. We’re all in this together. I am happy to report that in Soller at least, people have been exemplary. There has been no evidence of hysteria, mass buying, loo roll smuggling or any other such nonsense. I have been able to buy everything I need in the food stores and have not had to do without my favourite products, vegetables or fruit.

I count myself lucky. There are those in the world living in dire poverty every day (without this crisis), that never have such luxury. We are okay, we can survive and we will get through this. It’s going to be a rough, bumpy, challenging road ahead but pulling together and supporting one another will get us through. Animo to all!

Good practice from the bosses

During these tumultuous times, it’s interesting to see which companies bravely step up to the mark and those that self-immolate or like sad Eeyores fold their ears over their eyes and sink into a state of self-denial. So, my hospitality hero award goes to Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott Hotels, who recently delivered an inspiring, transparent and compassionate video address to customers and industry colleagues.

Arne Sorenson, president & CEO of Marriott International

This 60-year-old company leader, currently battling pancreatic cancer himself, bravely appeared on film bald, following medical treatment, to reassure his staff, clients and shareholders. He has not only stopped taking a salary, but persuaded his executive officers to take a 50 per cent cut too. He is trying to minimize job cuts, putting staff on holiday leave to see them through until better times and disbanding with superfluous costs in order to save jobs. In general, I choose boutiques and small, characterful places to stay when I’m ever lucky enough to take a non-working holiday, but this CEO made me consider giving Marriott a try one day. If his staff share his ideals and philosophy, it must be one heck of a great group.

Welcome to the cruise

I’ve always had a horror of cruise ships. Maybe it’s something to do with the Titanic, or disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure, or the fact that I spent a grim school trip aboard the SS Uganda, thankfully scrapped in 1992. Actually, it’s more than that. I couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck in the ocean with thousands of people I don’t know, unable to get onto terra firma. I’m not one for dressing up and eating copiously all hours at multitudinous restaurants and buffets and I don’t do entertainment unless it’s a good film or theatrical performance. So heaven help the poor mugs stuck on cruise ships all over the world currently, unable to dock due to the virus. They are pariahs, no one wants them and cabin fever must be rife. I feel another disaster movie in the making: Coronavirus Crisis Cruise.

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