One of the joys of living the ex-patriot (aka immigrant!) life here in Majorca is that you get to meet people from across the UK practically all the time. Think about it, if you were living in London, Leeds or Liverpool, more than likely you would usually only mix with folk that were generally from the same area. When you decided to migrate south to the Mediterranean, it may not have occurred to you that even your fellow Brits weren’t exactly the same as you were used to at home. I have to say that I find it touching that most of our Spanish hosts think that because we are British, we are all of the same mind, or of the exact same purpose under the benevolent gaze of Her Majesty the Queen. In fact, for that very same reason we are bound to be friends, or at least friendly with each other to the exclusion of all others. Sorry, wrong! Many Brits living abroad are on occasions very suspicious of each other. Think about it; we have here on this island a British community that approximates the numbers of a small British town. Yet in living here for almost two decades, I have witnessed some petty jealousies and illogical tribal posturing than I would have never expected before I arrived here. Maybe that’s because we are domiciled away from home and living in an ex-pat bubble; indeed do we become afflicted with what can only be described as an embarrassing level of small town syndrome?
A STRANGE BREED!
If you think about it, those of us who live ‘The Life’ here in Majorca are a very strange breed indeed. In most ways, living the ex-patriate lifestyle here or anywhere else is extremely different from just staying put, close to you roots in the UK. Ask yourself this; how many of your current friends and acquaintances here would you be friends with if you were still living in Britain? This is not to imply either snobbery or inappropriate social aspiration, just a statement of fact. The usual engines of social connection and interaction in British based society are usually - where you live, your own education, work, maybe sport, and your children’s schooling. For many of us living here, that generally accepted social criteria is not relevant at all. Here we all are - having chucked ourselves into the melting pot of ex-pat life, rubbing shoulders and creating friendships with people that in the usual scheme of things you would not normally encounter because of either geography, career or education. Indeed, as I have mentioned in other articles on occasions, some of our brethren find the temptation too great - and affix to themselves a past CV that alas, bears little proximity to the truth; but that’s another story for another day isn’t it?
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Anyway, on occasions I do wonder if the British Consulate in Palma has it recorded somewhere, where we all came from before we were washed up here on Majorcan shores. If they did, I have this theory that this island contains more Yorkshire men and women that is strictly necessary; I know - it’s so annoying isn’t it? Also, I have this theory that Liverpudlians and-the-like have colonised whole sections of Palma Nova for no apparent reason other than to annoy me. Pollensa old town is brim full of Lancastrians and worse; plus the cheery sound of a cockney accent can clear a bar at twenty paces anywhere on the island. However, most enjoyable of all, is our collective insistence that we geographically pinpoint a person by where he originally comes from; as in - Geordie-Mike - Welsh-Dave - Birmingham-Betty and Aussie Pete. Similarly, some of us are identified by what we do for a living e.g. among a certain circle of friends, including Aussie Pete - I am known as Scoop whereas another pal is known locally as Kitchen Pete, because he….Oh never mind! Finally, let me share with you one sure-fire way of making friends when you are away from your roots.
MUSTN’T COMPLAIN, MUST WE?
My God it’s quiet isn’t it? November must be the deadest month of the year and to use my late father-in-laws expression - “You could fire a shotgun down the high street and not hit anyone!” I have spotted the occasional tourist listlessly mooching about a closed and shuttered resort, possibly uttering oaths as to how they managed to end up in Majorca in November! This month also sees local citizens trudging between closed cafe to closed cafe seeking warmth and companionship past boarded up shops with old newspapers affixed to its windows to give the surroundings a certain melancholic feel. Palma by comparison practically shines at this time of year, which I suppose is hardly surprising given the Christmas lights and the bustle of determined shoppers seeking to get ready for the extended holiday season. Perhaps, the month of November is a sort of antidote to the high-days and holidays experienced during other times of the year? Yes, that’ll be it I suppose - mustn’t complain now, must we?
AND ANOTHER THING!
I don’t usually enter into single issue Spanish/Majorcan debates as I find that they are best left to other Bulletin colleagues. Nevertheless, the premeditated hike in air fares between the Balearics and the mainland are clearly unjustified and unfair. I can’t pretend to know every detail of the row that has broken out, but rather like other controversies, unless the consumer is protected in some way, they will once again be the victim of sharp practice, or even worse, blatant illegality.