Conservative Party's Spring Conference takes place in Blackpool | PHIL NOBLE


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 Mallorca.

One of the good things that has come out of the present tragedy that is Ukraine at the moment, is that countries leader - President Volodymyr Zelenski. Apart from his obvious leadership qualities and the empathy he has for his fellow citizens, Zelenski is a very good, nay brilliant, public speaker. In a political art-form that has seen better days, it has been marvellous to watch President Zelenski speak passionately on behalf of his people.

Even when speaking a totally different language, the translation into English is both powerful and seemingly effortless - i.e. he doesn’t seem to be trying too hard. In some ways the rather old fashioned art of great oratory has become somewhat unfashionable at the moment. This might be something to do with the fact that politicians and their many advisers seem to prefer the pithy ‘soundbite’ rather than the full-on rhetoric of a well constructed and meaningful speech that reaches outside the conference centre and those who are determined to be impressed by what is being said - unlike Joe Public who knows the difference between showboating and meaningful words spoken with truth and passion.

Because, that’s what separates the truly memorable to the workaday 10 second clip on News At Ten of an evening.

Blowhards and poseurs

It seems to me that over the past couple of decades or so our political leaders have all rather abandoned any concept of memorable speech making, to an assortment of mostly glib and meaningless assertions. Take for instance Boris Johnson; at the last Conservative Party conference his keynote speech took the shape and content of a rather ill rehearsed comedy turn, neither very funny or actually ‘keynote’ at all. Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, is as competent, if unexciting speaker as a senior lawyer could possibly be - but, at least he does try to actually say something coherent whether you believe a word of it or not.

Even now you’ll notice that neither man has the ability to fire imaginations outside of their tight knit political circles. Even so, being a good public speaker does have its drawbacks, because commentators are quick to accuse the more florid of the species of being just blowhards and poseurs with little or no substance. Indeed, Winston Churchill before he became a national and international political icon was often described by his parliamentary enemies as a “…blustering bore.”

It is perhaps for the best that I do not engage in a sort of ‘Top Ten’ list of brilliant public speakers, because - let’s face it you will never get even near 100% agreement on any of them. Whilst on the subject, it wasn’t only the good guys of history who could persuade the masses by their mesmeric rhetoric I’m afraid to say!

Value for money: it’s even more important than ever

And now for something completely different! Turkey has emerged as the cheapest destination for British holidaymakers after the value of the countries currency dropped, the Post Office has been reported as saying. In its annual barometer of holiday costs, Marmaris on the Turkish Riviera edged past Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, as the cheapest place to go on holiday.

The Post Office’s currency service compares a ‘basket’ of typical holiday goods and meals in 36 popular destinations. It includes a three course evening meal for two with wine, a bottle of beer and a cup of coffee - with both destinations much cheaper than other more traditional venues. Interestingly, the Post Office also reported increasing sales on the Mexican Peso and Caribbean currencies, suggesting that Britons are eyeing long-haul destinations for their first holiday after the pandemic. It also has to be said that sterlings strength against many currencies has proven useful in keeping costs down.

It seems that holidaymakers will pay less than a year ago in half of the 36 destinations the Post Office surveyed. Prices are down more than 15% in Corfu - 11.8% in Phuket and 6.55% down in most parts of Australia. It appears that sales of the euro have also surged in recent weeks although they remain 24 per cent down on early 2020, before Covid-19 struck. The Algarve, third in the ranking remains the cheapest euro currency destination, with costs lower 25 per cent lower than in the sixth placed and highest Spanish ranking destination, Costa del Sol.

With the cost of living in the United Kingdom soaring as in almost every other European country - the Post Office has highlighted what we perhaps had already recognised i.e. that value for money is going to be of huge importance as we move towards this upcoming summer season.

A grand day out!

Can I share with you a rather embarrassing geographic anomaly that came about at the end of last week? On Friday last, I traveled to Southampton where I met with a couple of brothers, a brother-in-law and two nephews to watch on television horse-racing at a pub called the ‘Peg & Parrot.’

The aforementioned pub is where my sisters husband goes every Saturday afternoon to drink beer, watch racing on the television and to place bets on random ‘nags’ who never seem to ever win any races. Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all whilst a few beers were supped and afterwards we repaired to my sisters house for - er, I can’t really remember!

As the racing we watched on the television that afternoon came from The Cheltenham Festival’s Gold Cup Day - just two miles up the road from where I am currently abiding, it was an awful long way to travel to go for a day out watching the racing - when….I think you can guess the rest can’t you?