It’s been a long, hot and sticky summer and the Soller valley has been inundated with visitors and
traffic since June. Tempers are frayed and there's a real feeling of simmering rage against everything
that stands for tourism. Some of Soller's best loved and authentic shops and businesses have closed
for good, replaced by banal and ersatz gift shops touting the same kind of ubiquitous stuff that can
be found in just about every European capital which has a bijou old town and a regular flock of
tourists. Local Mallorcan culture? It's going to the dogs, and no one seems to be doing a jot about it, far less the politicians.

In our town’s hallowed days there used to be a bookshop, and the local natural history museum and
churches held wonderful cultural events. All that's virtually gone. Now, the town is full to busting
with real estate agents, giftshops, bars, cafés and eateries. Mercifully, we still have our Gaudiesque Sant Bartomeu Church, municipal museum and station but if they got rid of those too, even sleepy Sollerics might say enough is enough.

In fact, they just have. Yesterday, the town's beautiful and dilapidated old Defensora Theatre
collapsed following the harsh storm that struck the valley. Miraculously, no one was killed when
masonry came catapulting down on the street, narrowly missing a local builder, and creating a
plume of noxious smoke. The theatre has been in a state of disrepair for some years and despite pleas from the local cultural associations and residents, nothing has been done, save a few patch up jobs. Now, this beautiful piece of the town’s history has vanished in a puff of smoke and tempers have boiled over.

All the anger, frustration and despair about the ignominious and perilous state of our once glorious
town and valley brought hundreds of protesting Sollerics onto the streets, demanding an
explanation, and accountability for how, so precious a jewel as the Defensora, was permitted to rot
and die. We have a new team at the town hall and they hod vowed to resurrect the theatre. With what, dear Liza? This is no Phoenix capable of rising from the ashes. It’s dead and gone.

I have lived in Soller for 24 years and never in that time have I seen such a seismic change in the
town’s fortunes. In its haste to secure massive footfall, Soller is in danger of destroying the very
thing that brought foreigners like me here in the first place. We came for the peace, authenticity,
simplicity, beauty and local culture. Now it is a snarling mass of cars, people, noise and pollution. I
think the majority of tourists – many as disappointed as locals this summer at the congestion, chaos,
traffic and rising prices – will vote with their feet next season.

In many parts of the island, it's sadly the same story. Where do you go to find tranquillity and a bit of
Mallorcan charm? Es Pla, the central agricultural heartland, is still, happily, waving the flag of
authenticity and little gems such as Banyalbufar where Sir Richard Branson has created his pearl of a hotel, Son Bunyola. The hotel has had a lot of hype but deservedly so. Visiting this completely private rural retreat, away from the fray, is like diving into the softest cashmere jumper. It's so luxurious, comforting and authentic, you never want to leave. Best of all, it touts only Mallorcan products in its rooms and has a largely Mallorcan staff. An inspiration and blueprint for other island hotels, surely?

In a recent tourist survey conducted among travellers to the island this summer, only a third said
they'd return, and frankly, who can blame them?

Yachtie fatigue

Early morning, I often run down to the local port to enjoy the sea views and to watch the birds
circling the bay. It’s a wonderful time of day for a sense of peace before the world awakens.
Inevitably, I run along to the end of the harbour where the wealthy yachties hang out. The boats
here are mostly extravagant during the summer months, chocker with industrious crew, cleaning decks, arranging flowers and polishing tables. Increasingly, I find the tailored inmates of these boats a lugubrious lot.

Take this morning. I passed four big yachts and all I saw were miserable owners and guests glued to
their iPhones, while sipping on coffees up on deck. They barely exchanged a word or looked at the views, while staff members shimmied silently around them, cleaning up and fetching dishes.

The other day, I asked a friendly crew member what it was like to work with such people. He laughed
and told me that the money was good and that's all that mattered. He told me that he viewed crew
work purely as a job and that he didn’t have any relationship with the owners or guests. He and his
fellow crew members were supposed to be seen and not heard and not to interact with guests. He explained that these highflyers were often stressed and miserable while on the high seas and had far reaching business and personal issues. I may not be one of life’s super rich but if that’s how one ends up, I’d rather stay a cheery cheapskate, thanks very much.

Shoplifting Antics

So, it seems that the British police have now given shoplifters a licence to steal whatever they like, as
they have decriminalised such antics as long as the value is under £200. You’ve got to laugh (or cry) at the absurdity unless of course you're an employee of a supermarket such as Tesco, where staff are regularly being beaten up and attacked by said thieves. So bad is shoplifting in the UK now, that even butter and instant coffee is under lock and key, as shoplifting has unilaterally been decriminalised.

You’ve got to hand it to the crafty police in the UK. They can now spend their precious time filing reports, twerking along to pop music at festivals, arresting god-fearing, Joan of Arc housewives, and eating buns back at the station. Mind you, what is criminal is the price of butter and instant coffee in the UK. A pack of Lurpack in one supermarket costs an eyewatering £5.85 and unbelievably, a jar of Gold Blend instant coffee costs £9.35. Shoplifters may no longer be viewed as criminals in Blighty, but surely to heavens, charging those kinds of prices for basics, has to be a criminal offence?