Every week Frank Leavers our man with the dirty Mac and half empty glass of inexpensive vino is looking at what lies just below the sophisticated gloss of island life. Come on folks; tell our Frank what’s really happening in Majorca.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘A buggers muddle’ used? Well, if you can forgive the mild use of a swearword, this form of words could neatly sum-up the position we find ourselves in at the moment in regard to anyone wishing to take a holiday here in the Balearics and the recently imposed two week quarantine protocol tourists to Spain will have to undertake on their return to the UK if they wish to holiday here. You will be relieved to know that I don’t intend to go through in excruciating detail every jot-and-tittle of the current farce, only to say that this whole episode would have been handled better by children’s entertainer Mr Muddles. I intend to keep my powder-dry regarding the decision itself; however I do recognise the disparity between those who are appalled by it - and let’s face it, those who believe that all foreign holidays should be ditched until next year at the earliest. Now, that is what you call a diversity of opinions! Nevertheless, the public has been ill served by the ineptitude of the British Government in this matter, not because of the decision itself, as governments have a duty to govern - but, in the limp and distracted way that it was delivered to the people of Britain, and by extension of that, how it was perceived by the Spanish government (nationally and regionally) and the businesses that it would critically affect. Let’s face it, if there had been a clear and concise British government statement that allowed for no misrepresentation there would still be anger and resentment of the decision - but crucially, certainly not the days of rumour and counter-rumour that prevailed in that time - confusing everyone and leaving enough leeway for the online and media mischief-makers to have a field day. One thing is for sure though - we’ve moved on somewhat from the predictably incestuous row about whether certain streets in Magalluf and Playa de Palma should be forced to shut-up-shop because of the behaviour of a certain type of tourists. It somehow seems very ‘small beer’ now compared to what has just been announced by the British government.
IS IT A BANK HOLIDAY?
And now for something completely different! Has anyone else noticed that many local banks have shut their doors to their customers? Mostly, it seems that the outside cash machines are still operational, but - many small town banks have closed just recently. I hadn’t really noticed it myself, because I tend to use a bank in a largish town, but I sought to pop into another branch of my bank the other day and it was closed and shuttered. I was wondering if this was a lingering sign of the strict lockdown imposed on the island - or, an end to the days of scores of small bank branches housed in small towns and villages across the island. Once again - if you know why, please let me know and I will pass it on to Bulletin readers. Unless, that is - I’m the only person on the island who doesn’t know why!
OH, I SAY!
In typing todays column on a shady outside terrace at 9.45am on Tuesday with a large fan above me going like the clappers. Depending on your source, when it comes to a local weather forecast, the temperature today on this island will be between 34oC and 38oC which is more than a little on the warm side I think that you’ll agree. Believe it or not, at 17.00hrs (5pm to you!) later this afternoon I will be walking onto a local tennis court with three other mad-men to play a couple of sets of tennis. Those of you of a certain vintage will remember an early album from the gravel voiced Joe Cocker entitled ‘Mad Dogs And Englishmen.’ This title was itself taken from a song written by Noel Coward which had a line in it that went - “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” The trouble is of course - is that the sun is not at its hottest at 12 noon - oh no - it’s at around 5pm, at just about the time we are set to play tennis. Last week, at lower temperatures than today, I had to hop about the (hard) court as my feet felt that they were on fire. Should we cancel? Don’t be daft - why would anyone want to do that? Come on, we’ve paid for the court already! STOP PRESS - As temperatures reached 38oC on Tuesday afternoon, it was felt to be sensible to postpone our tennis session. However, negotiations are now underway to salvage our court fee!
I’M JUST CROSSING A ZEBRA - I THINK!
It is often said that it’s the little things in life that really makes a person cross. Add this undoubted fact to another undoubted fact i.e. that I have been told that I have turned grumpiness into a fine art over the years. Take the humble zebra crossing - apart from the fact that the Balearic authorities insist upon them being sited on road junction so as to make them very dangerous indeed to cross on occasions - why is it that most of them in certain municipalities across the island are also almost impossible to see? Happily, for most of us who live here, we know where the aforementioned zebra crossings are situated - but alas, tourists mostly don’t! For instance, in my own local borough of Andratx most crossings need painting. Not a particularly difficult job I think you’ll agree? But no - much better I suppose, to play a sort of Russian roulette when you attempt to cross a road somewhere. In Puerto Andratx there are two zebra crossings situated five metres apart, both have faded stripes to indicate a crossing - but, only one is kosher, the other is there so that people can be knocked down as a sort of blood sport, because it ain’t a zebra crossing anymore, but it seems that nobody in the ‘Zebra Crossing Department’ at the town hall has received the memo yet. Is it me?