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.
I mentioned in this column some time ago that Christmas here in Majorca will be very different this year. Not that it needed a genius to work that out - but, with hundreds (nay thousands!) of ex-patriate islanders pretty well forced to stay here in the Med for various pandemic led reasons, I’ve noticed that folk are starting to make tentative arrangements with friends already. For some, a Christmas holiday period spent on the island will be something of a novelty as for many it will be a fairly new experience. I was talking to an acquaintance over the weekend about this when she mentioned the fact that she and her husband have lived and worked on the island for over twenty years and this year will be the first time they will spend Christmas here. Although I suspect that not many of us could claim that we disappear every single year, back to wherever, over that length of time, but there will be many people like me counting on our fingers the last Yuletide we spent here in Majorca. I suppose that this undoubted fact would be age driven, because let’s face it - Christmas with the Blighty-bound grandkids is always going to be a huge draw. Indeed, I have just done a quick count-up and reckon that this will be the first Christmas on the island for at least six years.
DIGGING OUT THE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
In the past the annual exodus would start around early to mid December, so much so that various groups, societies, charities and churches would rather bizarrely hold their annual Xmas bashes and fundraisers during November. Well, no need for that this year it seems, as only the determined and very patient amongst us will be trying to work out a safe passage to the olde country whist avoiding sudden lockdowns, isolation periods, the lack of flights and the limitation on the numbers people who can gather together, even as an extended family unit. Perhaps that is part of the reason why discreet conversations are being held across the island, where the topic e.g. “What are you doing over the Christmas holidays?” are being discussed. And to be fair, our own lockdown protocols (at the moment) would not encourage even modest groups of people to gather together at someone’s home or a favourite restaurant. Nevertheless, we are lucky living here, because unlike in northern European countries the weather is often fine and pleasant in late December, so no need for us all to cram into one room and scowl at each other whilst the children run around screaming like banshees. No indeed not! Mind you, be on the alert for some competitive Christmas invitations doing the rounds, as once you’ve said “Yes” you’re committed aren’t you? Never mind though, with the immediate holiday run-up to the big day and then that weird listless period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day you will have put on a few kilos and your liver won’t know what’s hit it. Anyway, I shall leave it there as I have to go to my shed at the bottom of the garden, because that’s where our Christmas ‘Decs’ have been stored for the best part of a decade and I need to sort them out so that I can start to put them up next week!
STAND BY FOR ABIGAIL’S PARTY!
In following the above Christmas theme, a new social phenomenon it seems has become increasingly popular. Apparently, the new going out, is - staying in! I understand that small dinner parties of between four and six people are quite the ‘thing’ nowadays. Now, I don’t know why, but these DP’s always remind me of the wonderfully excruciating ‘Play For Today’ - called Abigail’s Party. Whereupon a tableaux of mid 1970’s (it was a long time ago!) couples did their best to impress each other with brittle dinner-table talk, floaty dresses and pretentious food. This was before supper parties as opposed to dinner parties became all the rage and guests could eat in the kitchen instead of a bedecked dinning room complete with a huge candelabra in the middle of the table.
Anyway, I digress - this current social manifestation has clearly been brought about by necessity, as people are being discouraged from going out. The authorities may blanch at that suggestion, but frankly that’s what happening. I really do feel for small family run restaurants, who seem to be between a rock and a hard place in this regard. Caught betwixt the multi-national big-boys and their takeaway franchises and a noticeable increase in home dining, it is a very difficult time for these operations which are an essential part of the tourism mix across the island. I have also noticed that there is a very noticeable campaign emerging on social media, encouraging people to buy locally. Mostly, this seems to be about supporting small local retailers at this difficult time and not automatically going online and ordering items and gifts from those ubiquitous retail giants who make billions, and have made even more money during these tough times.
COME ON REALLY?
The current pandemic and the limitations that it has imposed on most of our lives, can and does affect many elements of our island community. From soup kitchens and food banks to abandoned pets, many people are struggling at the moment through no fault of the their own. It is said by those who have to help individuals and families to cope with the economic knock-on effects of the pandemic and all its works - that an average family can suffer the consequences of no work within three months without a pay-cheque. I have to say that comparing the plight of many people here in Majorca, with some people in the United Kingdom who constantly complain and carp at various seemingly inclusive and generous furlough schemes, makes me on occasions shake my head with frustration. Come on really?
In next weeks ‘Confidential’ column? Details of a new junior cricket club that is being launched on the island.