Today, I’m writing about a number of issues that have either irked me somewhat, or - by some other means, given me cause to consider whether I am not fully up-to-speed regarding life here in Majorca. However, my first major cause of irritation, is actually nothing to do with Majorca at all, but is all about how it is that that the British government (any British government) can deny its citizens living abroad the right to vote in a general election. Without resorting to a violin accompanied sob story, I like many other British citizens living abroad, have no right to vote in a British general election, even though I paid income tax and other levies in the UK for almost forty years and still do to some extent. We all know about the 15 year rule - but just how many of us have actually tried to vote via that tortuous method, whilst if we were fresh off a boat from somewhere, we would be positively encouraged to claim the right to vote. I put these thoughts on social media the other day and was encouraged by the response - as clearly other ‘Brits Abroad’ have the same ‘take’ on the situation. In that modern - “This ain’t nuclear science” phrase - many other nations across the world seem to offer the right-to-vote to their citizens - wherever they may be - and how long that they’ve been there. Interestingly, although we British domiciled abroad for whatever reasons have our champions in British politics - it seems to me that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats in particular, are more interested in spreading the voting franchise to 16 year-olds rather than securing the voting rights of millions of British citizens living and working abroad who have contributed in the past (and still do!) to the British exchequer.
NO SHOW AND NO EXPLANATION
To a local matter next; that although may not have the weighty implication of the universal franchise - is still immensely annoying for those involved. Well, I say ‘involved’ but that is hardly the situation at the moment if you have signed up for a course of Spanish lessons in Andratx Town, because as yet, nobody has turned up to actually hold the lessons. You may remember that a few weeks ago a Bulletin reader contacted me informing me that a gaggle of enthusiastic students had been turning up at a council facility twice a week for two weeks and nobody, yet nobody, had shown up even to make an excuse and apologise for this ongoing non-event. Anyway, to keep you up-to-date, we are now into week six of this linguistic lash-up and still no ‘show’ and no explanation either. Indeed, my correspondent has given up chasing these mystical lessons and just wants her money back - alas, you wouldn’t put your pension on this happening anytime in the near future either now would you? I will keep you informed, as this is turning into one of those Majorcan sagas that defy’s all logic or understanding.
IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T…
I wrote a ‘Viewpoint’ piece in this newspaper about a month ago regarding the need to shop around to get the best deal possible with insurance and utility companies. Perhaps unsurprisingly I received a good few emails on the subject, as it seems that many readers are well aware of the savings that can be had by looking elsewhere for a better deal. Most of us don’t go through bank statements with a fine-tooth-comb and so standing order charges and the like can easily fall under a persons radar. Indeed, in that piece I made the bold assertion that new customers get a much better deal than old, loyal ones. To cut a very long story short - I for once acted upon my own advise and sought a better insurance package for our house, contents - plus two cars and a number of other items. The insurance quote I was given by the ‘new’ company was almost half of what I was paying for our longtime insurer, who - it has to be said we were quite happy with, apart from the ever spiralling premiums. We then took the figures to our original insurer and asked them for their comments and a revised quote given the figures we’d shown them. First of all, can I say that both companies involved in this procedure are household names and generally well regarded by their clients - however, within days our original insurer had matched the new quote and our premiums dropped by just over 40%. Dear reader - if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
THE MENU PRICE?
Last Saturday afternoon we decided to take a long walk from Porto Pi to the Cathedral and back again. As we made our way back to our car we decided on a spot-of-lunch, so we mooched up and around Santa Catalina, as we always enjoy the slightly hippyish vibe there and more importantly there are plenty of nice yet inexpensive restaurants to enjoy. As you would imagine, we were served by a charming waitress and enjoyed our lunch immensely. However, one thing disappointed me. Let me explain. When it was time for the bill - we immediately spotted that IVA was added to the bill and was not included in the menu price of the meal that we perused when we entered the restaurant. Now then, don’t get carried away and believe that we were cruelly ripped off, because we weren’t - but, I was always my understanding that IVA in a restaurant had to be shown on menus and menu boards and not just added when a customer paid his or her bill upon leaving. As we were only talking about 4 euros in may have been on the mean side of crass to question the bill, but - our waitress looked a little defensive when we questioned her about the IVA protocol. Indeed, her boss came over and assured us it was all okay - but, I had the distinct impression that he was ‘blagging’ an excuse. Can I say that it didn’t spoil our lunch at all - however, I wonder if any of you have noticed the same thing happening when you are dining out?
I was talking to some mates the other when the word ‘Blighty’ came up. I have to say that in ex-pat communities you do hear this word being used, indeed I sometimes use it myself, but I have always wondered where it came from. Well, no need to ‘wonder’ any more. The word ‘Blighty’ derives from the Urdu word ‘Bilayati’ - originally meaning ‘foreign’ which morphed into at first ‘European’ and then specifically ‘English’ during the time of the British Raj in India. Go on, ask me another!