I F YOU are a journalist there is nothing better than a big story to get the adrenaline running. It doesn't get much better than the Kings son-in-law appearing in court to answer charges that he misappropriated Balearic government funds. At 8a.m. at the Via Alemania law courts, you were either a court official, journalist, republican or a police officer (and the Duke ofcourse!) everyone else was enjoying their Saturday morning lie-in. The police had sealed off the area but you were allowed to walk past the law courts after your bag had been searched. Now, I have a theory that if you are wearing a suit and tie in Spain you stand a better chance of being allowed through a police cordon than if you have a full press accreditation. I put my theory to the test and Humphrey Carter and myself were waived through with few problems. We obviously had a press pass but we were missing the valid law court press accreditation but the suit and tie came to the rescue. The scene outside the courts was a mass of 300 protesters plus about 50 journalists and a similar number of police. Now, balconies overlooking the court compound were being auctioned at 1'000 euros for the morning by some owners who wanted to cash-in on all the press interest. Others who owned homes with grandstand views were not so greedy. We shouted to one woman who was watching the proceedings from her verandah above and rather cheekily asked if we could come up and admire the view and take some photographs. She shouted yes. As we rushed to the apartment block one owner told us that he had vacated his apartment on the same floor because he was worried about police sharpshooters. Thanks! But in we went and our prize was the best view in town. This apartment overlooked the law courts and gave you a birds eye view. The photos were superb but even though the proceedings were happening just next door, the woman and her family could not be dragged from their TV set which was giving live coverage of the Duke's hearing. “Bloody television, is ruining print journalism, I thought to myself.” The lady owner only dragged herself away from the television set to offer us coffee. How nice. By this stage the Duke was already inside giving evidence and outside the shouting was getting louder. You could say that it was more a party-like atmosphere than an actual protest. But the police were not taking any chances; riot helmets and truncheons were at the ready. They were National Police officers who must be some of the politest officers in the world. We left our grandstand view and headed to the press compound, behind the police lines and the protesters. It was like a VIP compound for journalists, camera-people and photographers were all soaking up the atmosphere and it was also a good opportunity to catch-up with fellows scribes. I was offered 50 euros by one colleague if I sang a couple of verses of God Saves the Queen, looking at the protesters I thought, better not! As the hours passed the protesters disappeared and the police melted away. One bar owner was distributing flyers to the press pack with his menu of the day menu, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Palma, but heavens know how he got through the police lines. So with the end of the mornings proceedings in sight, it was time for the big question. How many protesters had gathered outside the courtroom? Some said 300 others had the figure at 700 one police officer said fewer than 100 and one protester said they were about 1'000 and more were on their way. I think you can safely say it was 300. Once the sun appeared most of the protesters disappeared leaving behind just a hard core of activists. The sun was out, the shops were open and it was Saturday. Thankfully in Spain, some things remain sacred, like a quiet Saturday morning.


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