ON the Ultima Hora website some wag posted a comment under a news item. It read (and I'm translating here): “Balearic tourist promotion. Blue-flag beaches. UNESCO mountain heritage. University Hospital Son Espases (specialists in balconying)”.

You can probably work out what the news item was about. The day after someone died falling out of a hotel in Ibiza, two more didn't quite bite the dust in terminal fashion: one in Cala Rajada, the other in Sa Coma. I might be inclined to make a not so funny gag about comas in Sa Coma, but I won't; in any event the one who made the descent suffered relatively minor injuries.

Balconying. Balcony diving. I've done the subject before, but it doesn't stop me doing it again. Another person commented under the news item that it was the “theme of the summer”. Which may be true, but then it was last summer's theme too. And what a fine theme it is as well. If it weren't for the case that it can end in tragedy, as it did in Ibiza, then we could all have a jolly good laugh.

Actually, we do have a laugh, because what else can you do when you learn of the lack of brain capacity of some visitors to Majorca and the Balearics and the potential for the brain to be permanently lacking as it spills out onto some poolside concrete.

Rather than repeat what has been said before, let's consider some of the thought processes and justifications that have been forthcoming from the incidents of what may be balcony diving or may be falls as a result of climbing from balcony to balcony.

Instead of just admitting that falls are because someone was mad enough to try and dive into a pool, what you get is some other reason. Not from the police, the paramedics or the hotels, but from the ones who have suffered injuries or from their friends.

One thing about balconies is that they have railings or some other elevated barrier. They are there for a good reason. To stop you falling off. I can think of only two really good excuses as to why anyone might find him or herself on such a barrier. One is that there is a fire. The other is that an axe murderer has broken into the room. Both might require that a certain risk is taken in effecting an escape. Otherwise there isn't a good excuse.

Nevertheless, you get excuses. The fall was the result of a slip. The hotel was negligent.
Neither is satisfactory because they ignore the obvious and seek a justification or to apportion blame. I can give you an example of how this goes. When one particular incident occurred, I posted something about it onto the internet.

This attracted a great number of comments, one coming from someone claiming to be the person who had fallen (and it may well have been this person) and who refuted the idea that it had been a case of balcony diving. The best of all was someone who reckoned that the hotel should be sued.

Do people deliberately fall from balconies as a way of trying to extract compensation? It would be an extreme way to do so, but you can bet your life that compensation and ambulance-chasing legal firms are likely to loom into the equation.

The Ibizan hoteliers' president has been at pains to point out that the railing at the hotel in Ibiza is of a height that conforms with requirements and that everything possible has been done to prevent the sort of incident which occurred there. But why should he have to make this confirmation? Well, why do you think?

Hotels in Majorca and the Balearics fall foul of compensation claims all the time, and many are spurious. I mentioned all this in an article back in February (“Trying It On”, 23 February). And the poor hotel is normally left with no alternative but to cough up for cases that are brought not in Spain but in the UK or elsewhere.

With balcony diving, well, you would deny you'd done this if there was some possibility of getting compensation; not even ambulance-chasers could surely get it to stick if it was admitted, though you wouldn't put it past them trying.

And crazy it would be if the hotel were held liable because someone had been crazy enough to take a dive.
There is such a thing as assuming responsibility, but the notion has become obsolete thanks to the rush to compensatory litigation and to assigning blame when blame resides elsewhere - splattered over a hotel terrace.


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