By Andrew Ede
Of extraordinary people - part one
Majorcan and Spanish names can be extraordinarily long, though one would have thought it doubtful that any Spaniard would have been able to match or beat Majorca’s great non-Majorcan Archduke, the Austrian Louis Salvador Maria Joseph John Baptist Dominic Rainer Ferdinand Charles Zenobius Anthony. So great was the Archduke that they named him twelve times. But Zenobius? Where did that come from? An episode of “Doctor Who”? But the Spaniards don’t dabble in long names for nothing, and no one, simply no one can compare with María del Rosario Cayetana Paloma Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Fernanda Teresa Francisca de Paula Lourdes Antonia Josefa Fausta Rita Castor Dorotea Santa Esperanza Fitz-James Stuart, Silva, Falcó y Gurtubay. Try putting that lot on the back of a football shirt.
It would seem that the now ex-Duchess of Alba didn’t have some distant cousinly relationship with the Archduke’s Habsburg-Lorraine mob, which would have made them about the only dynasty with which she didn’t have some form of relationship. Here was someone who acquired titles like other people collect stamps or beer mats. Duchess of Berwick? Don’t mind if I do, she might have uttered. But a side-effect of having to support so many names and titles was the strain it placed on her physically. She had been wearing her own death mask of botox and several layers of fast-drying cement for many a year.
When they made the Duchess, they broke the mould, only for her to remould herself later in life. Sadly though, the mould is now truly broken. They just won’t make royals as extraordinarily bats as she was.
Of extraordinary people - part two
Some people are born into extraordinariness and others have it thrust it upon them. Among the latter we now have to include the “team” at the Balearics Education Ministry, a team so extraordinary that it has undergone Fergie-style reforms over its comparatively short life and has managed to leak political goals with a defence as porous as one made up of a handful of Duchesses of Alba.
Team manager, Sir Alex José Ramón Ferguson Bauzá (short name), informed us last week that throughout the current legislature his “team” at the ministry has been extraordinary, which is quite a feat as Bauzá rotation has meant that the team crossing the green white line of teacher protests has undergone constant substitutions, transfers and relegations. Or it would be quite a feat if it weren’t for the fact that the team has been extraordinarily useless.
As though having to justify another 7-0 drubbing at the post-match press conference, Bauzá adopted the Wenger defence. He hadn’t seen anything. Certainly nothing to suggest that there had been any problem with applying TIL trilingual teaching. Yep, he really said this on IB3 the other evening. There has been “no problem” with its application. And with this absence of problem made clear, he was able to confirm that he will indeed be seeking an extension to his contract in May. “An eight-year project term is needed to consolidate all the work that has been started”, such as consolidating the chaos of TIL or the divisions inflicted on a party, electorate and society, all of whom were under the impression they had appointed someone quite different in 2011. Come spring, and the fans may disappoint José Ramón and thwart his ambitions for eight years of extraordinariness.
The lamentably under-named María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón, the number two to Rajoy and the one who wears the trousers in his cabinet, was in Palma last week. José Ramón, whose stock with the PP politburo has lowered since the heady days when he was eyeing up a nice gig for himself in Madrid, was able to remind HQ of the great efforts he has made in obeying orders. His government ranks number two in terms of complying measures to rid regional administrations of pesky government agencies and personnel.
The Balearics can boast 92.7% compliance, whatever this is supposed to mean. And had there been anyone who had wished to seek clarity, there was none on offer.
Side by side they sat at their press conference, indulging themselves in mutual congratulation and not a single question was permitted. It was a joint lecture rather than a press conference.
In addition to their cutting away of enough deadwood to keep the biomass furnaces burning an alternative energy source for years to come, J.R. and S.S. were able to mutually congratulate themselves on how very much more transparent they have been making their respective governments. So transparent that ... er, er, could we ask a question? No you can’t.
Appealing at Christmas
One of the great advantages of Christmas in Majorca compared to the UK is that we don’t have to put up with Noel Edmonds (at least I assume he still lurks somewhere on telly wearing his new Christmas jumper). Another massive advantage is that we can ignore bloody Band Aid.
When Saint Bob, now almost as old as the Duchess and seemingly having the same hairstylist as her, is next shambling along the streets of old Deya, where the filthy rich rub shoulders with the slightly less than filthy rich, he might wonder if parts of Majorca know Christmas time at all on account of the very many who can no more aspire to filthy richness than they can to a reasonable and civilised standard of living. The report from the Foundation for Studies in Applied Economics which was published last week painted a sorry picture of the massive inequality that exists in Majorca and of municipalities where this inequality is greatest and average incomes edge uncomfortably low enough to be almost on a par with the lowest in the whole of Spain. Son Servera, we learned, has the lowest average - less than 15,000 euros per capita per annum and one of the highest levels of inequality (1% of the population has 15% of the town’s wealth).
And there won’t be snow in Majorca this Christmas time, because there very rarely is. But say a prayer, pray for the other ones, at Christmas time it’s hard, but when you’re having fun. Please give to the Majorcan children’s toy appeals.