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.
Last week I made an appointment at my bank to conduct some transactions when I got talking to the deputy manager who was on duty. He was telling me how banks in Spain are desperately try to ween their customers off of using cash for most transactions. I didn’t quite say - “Good luck with that one mate” but he smiled in anticipation anyway. Apart from the inherent risk of constantly touching money at the moment with Covid-19 still lurking in the shadows, he told me of an agreement that most Spanish banks try to adhere to, which says that they should encourage their customers to slowly abandon cash for other means of payment. I mentioned the fact that in the United Kingdom almost all transactions seem to be paid for and processed by some sort of plastic - either by swiping your cashcard or punching in appropriate numbers, a practice that has accelerated because of the pandemic. He went on to say that amongst bank customers it is primarily a function that is age group ‘friendly’ but, he believed was slowly changing. Nevertheless, I mentioned the undoubted fact that you would have to be incredibly trusting - and a tad naive if you were to go completely cashless here in Majorca as many people of all ages do in the UK or Germany. Indeed, how many of us have attempted to pay the by a card at a restaurant, only to find that mysteriously and rather embarrassingly, the waiter whispers to you that your ‘plastic’ has been refused, but not to worry, as - “there is a cashpoint just along the street”? I wonder if the practice of demanding only cash when purchasing something or buying a service is set to slowly disappear in the wake of Coronavirus - or am I just confirming my own naiveté in this matter?
This pandemic has played havoc with some people’s lives in many different ways. Indeed, some employment sectors have suffered significantly from the lockdown, for instance those working in the hospitality industry and with tourism only to be kick started in July (at the earliest) the future must seem difficult to say the least. I am also reminded of those who work in the island’s entertainment industry and what they must be going through at the moment. If nothing is open and as a consequence of that there is no one to entertain, working life must seem both non existent and pointless at the moment. With work being almost entirely seasonal and with no tourist season to speak of in the near future it must be tough on musicians, DJ’s - dancers, entertainers and the technical support professionals who work alongside them. I don’t know if there are official figures available as to just how many people are employed in this area, but with a badly truncated season at best - or a complete non event at worst, it is hard to conjure up any joy whatsoever in this sector until next season at the earliest. Clearly, these folk aren’t the only ones affected by what is currently happening, but - because of the nature of what they do and the interface that they have with the public their current fate seems much worse. Furthermore, when the tourism industry does slowly emerge from its enforced shutdown, it could be that certain holiday ‘norms’ are no longer as available and forthcoming as they once were; particularly for those who work in ‘entertainment’ on the island in its broadest context professionally.
As a keen if rather erratic tennis player, this week sees the further ‘opening up’ of various sports on the island and the opportunity to play them with your pals. In terms of tennis, in keeping with the rules and regulations of the present lockdown phase it seems that time, place and your age, will play a part in whether you can enjoy your sport of choice - plus, if you wish to play doubles as opposed to singles. Don’t ask me! As I am somewhat of an insider in this, It seems to me that after the age of fifty, doubles is usually the form of the game most favoured (e.g. less running about!) over singles, thus complicating even more the questions of - where, when, how long for and who with?
Like many other people on the island and elsewhere, my hair has taken on the look of a rather unfortunate looking 1960’s hippy over the past couple of months. Personally, I thought it to be rather ‘fab’ verging on the completely groovy. Sorry about that! Anyway, as my locks became more unruly I was given the following suggestion upon returning from Blighty, as in - “For Gods sake get your hair cut will you?” More an ultimatum than a gentle remainder I think you’ll agree, but I did what was demand of me - rather sulkily. I also thought my hairdresser looked somewhat perplexed when I asked for “Just a trim old chap,” rather than the full short-back-and-sides I was expected to receive. I knew that I’d be in trouble when I popped into my local Mercadona on my way home from the hairdressers and a female friend spotted me. Mumbling through her face mask my mate said - “Look at us, were both in desperate need of a haircut” as she ruffled her own barnet. Somewhat nonplussed, I advised her that - I had in actual fact, just had mine cut you cheeky bloody woman and stalked off terribly offended and in a bit of a huff. Big girls blouse anyone?