In conversation with a Polish barman here in Palma I discovered that scores of his friends and family members had now left the UK to find work in other parts of Europe. He operates in hospitality and had been assistant manager for a well-known London five-star.
He told me that aside from a ‘feral’ atmosphere on the streets of London where he and his friends felt unsafe and unwanted, the hospitality industry was on its knees.
He told me that happy tales of staycations and full bookings in the likes of Cornwall was all whitewashing and nothing could be further from the truth. Meanwhile, as the UK lurches from one serious crisis to the other, my book distributor confirmed that finding staff was now a nightmare and that printers were running out of paper due to the absence of HGV drivers.
Chronic labour shortages include hospitality sector staff, fruit pickers, meat packers, nurses and healthcare workers and that’s aside from elusive truck drivers.
Having lost countless nurses from overseas, the NHS has also been elbowing out the 117,000 or more doctors, specialists, nurses and healthcare workers who refused to have the vaccine. In fact in London alone, 14 per cent of hospital workers remain unvaccinated.
The service is now reliant on an already overstretched complement of exhausted staff, unable to deal with a huge and untenable backlog of cancelled operations. According to friends, getting to see a doctor is a postcode lottery. A few have been able to make an appointment but the vast majority say that you’re more likely to run into a Dodo than a local doctor.
Inflation has risen fast, energy prices are rocketing and are now more costly than anywhere else in Europe, petrol stations are empty, people are immobilised, shelves in supermarkets are bare and the furlough scheme has ended.
At least three million homes are living in fuel poverty and this is forecast to double as the catastrophe in the UK takes hold. The military are being trained to drive HGVs to help mitigate the crisis and there is now talk of involving prisoners to assist with manual labour. Who would have thought that Britain would ever descend so quickly into such chaos?
As welfare has been cut to the bone, taxes hiked and the furlough scheme ended, what next for Britain and its beleaguered populace? Shunned by America, reviled by Europe, the grey and hapless isle is friendless, vulnerable and alone. Winter is coming and a possible resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK. If I were BoJo, I’d be heading for my lifeboat.
Murder most foul
When I read about the unimaginably heinous crimes committed by murderer, Wayne Couzens, formerly a Met protection officer, I felt sickened to the core. Victim, Sarah Everard, had everything to live for - a loving boyfriend, family, great friends and good job. In a cruel twist of fate, she happened to be the chosen sacrificial lamb of a monstrous and psychotic killer masquerading as a law enforcement officer, who duped her into entering his vehicle.
For hours, this beautiful girl was driven through bleak and empty streets until arriving in Kent where she was brutally raped, strangled and set on fire. Sarah didn’t know her torturer and killer and was just a random woman, the monster preyed upon that night as he coursed the streets looking for an unwilling female on whom he could play out his depraved fantasies.
Couzens has rightly been given a whole life term but the ordeal will never be over for Sarah’s heartbroken family. According to Liberty Human Rights advocacy group, during the pandemic the police acted with impunity and it advocates a ‘roll back of police powers.’ Officers could enter family homes without warrants and make unwarranted arrests during demonstrations.
The government’s sinister policing bill ensured that would-be sadists and killers like Couzens lurking silently within the force were omnipotent and could enjoy the thrills of terrorising the public without redress. Cresilda Dick, the Met Police commissioner, seemingly did nothing to investigate the canker within her own murky police community and the Kent force failed Sarah when they ignored public reports of Couzens’ disturbing and warped behaviour prior to the murder.
Never again should women be subject to arrest by lone male officers, especially in unmarked police cars. A massive shake-up is needed to ensure that women are safe from the very force that purports to protect them.
Sound as a bell
Holidaymakers staying in rural Mallorca need to get a grip. This summer, tourists have contacted me with endless complaints. My favourite was the Briton who opined that ‘this heat is unacceptable’.
Really? It’s August in Mallorca, go figure! Roll those eyes, everyone. A German couple on day two of their sojourn in a Soller rental property told me that they couldn’t take anymore noise. They cited cockerels and hens, donkeys, dogs, frogs, stray cats, tractors, church bells and distant motorbikes.
‘How do you live here?’ they asked. ‘It’s a living hell!’ I asked them about their urban lives where there was the non-stop hum of traffic, motorbikes, ambulance and police sirens, yobs and drunks yelling, and late-night partygoers. They said that they became immune to that kind of noise.
Exactly, and so do we country folk our own.
It strikes me that rentals agents, tour operators and property owners now need to spell out that holidaying in the countryside of Mallorca does not mean existing in a totally silent and sanitised environment.
As I said to the couple nearby, they were lucky so far not to have met our snakes, genets, pine martens, rats and countless geckos. ‘You’re kidding, right?’ they laughed. I gave them a dozen eggs from my noisy hens. Enthusiastically, they accepted them with delight, not stopping to consider the irony.
Anna Nicholas’s seventh Mallorca travel title, Peacocks in Paradise, is now available to purchase at all good UK bookshops & via amazon. In Majorca it’s available at Universal Bookshop, Alameda shop in Soller and the Atelier in Fornalutx and in Palma bookshops.