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. Sorry, wrong!
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 witnessed more petty jealousies, and illogical tribal posturing, than I would have ever 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?
Here in Majorca I have noticed that all those of us ex-pats who live outside the south-west corner of our island are certainly annoyed by the perceived, and let’s face it, real Palma/Calvia centric nature of pretty much all that happens on the island. For the rest of us however, there is comfort in imagining that north of Santa Maria - you all race pigeons and never wear tights on a freezing Saturday night out on the town - west of Santa Ponsa, there lay eye rolling yokels with ruddy cheeks and small holdings! Nevertheless, I do find it quite bracing that no-one will ever have a good word to say about anyone lest they get above themselves, in that time honoured, small town fashion. And it really is quite good fun when listening to disconnected conversations about people who are accused of being in the ‘Porto Portals set’ or the ‘Puerto Andratx crowd’ as if these indolent, yet glamorous individuals did little more than do lunch, wear expensive frocks, and constantly re-apply their make-up for the benefit of the rest of us! The activities of these social butterflies are often regarded with a sense of awe.
Fancy meeting up with the same group of people to dine and ‘party’ together at least five times a week for the rest of your natural lives? I know that being condemned to this life of brittle social chit-chat, botox and breast augmentation is of constant fascination to the rest of us the poor people - but quite frankly, we all wish that we could be like them, say - for just one day a month I bet.
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, 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?
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 doleful 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 I am known as ‘Scoop’ whereas other pals are known locally as Kitchen Pete and Sparky Dave because they…Oh never mind.
Finally, let me share with you one sure-fire way of making friends when you are away from your roots. This was recommended to me years ago, by a much-travelled mentor who had spent half his working life abroad. He told me that on his arrival at any overseas posting he would always “Join the local cricket club.” Oh the irony of it all!