06-06-2015

By Andrew Ede

The hymn of the broad left

Majorca has a hymn. It’s called “La Balanguera”, a title, a word that comes  apparently from the French for baker. The Majorcan baker, according to the hymn, is a mysterious fellow. Or rather, fellow-ess. La Balanguera is a feminine character of an imprecise nature who, like a spider with subtle art, spins and spins. And among other things that are spun are traditions and hopes, while a flag for youth is also woven.
Joan Alcover, dead for almost ninety years, wrote the words of this poem-hymn, yet it seems strangely of the current day. Which imprecise feminine characters have been imprecise because of their spinning?
 Which traditions and hopes are now to be maintained or realised? To which flag should we refer? The Catalan senyera? Is it to be woven once more onto the fabric of public buildings, such as schools, a symbol for youth to be reminded of each morning as they enter the classrooms?
The imprecision of certain feminine characters is giving way to greater coherence. Possibly. Francina Armengol of PSOE, who had spun a pre-electoral web that was so imprecise that no one knew what it was or could be bothered to work out what it was, remarkably finds herself within cobweb’s distance of discarding old, dusty and musty PSOE-isms and becoming president. How on earth has this happened? To attempt to understand, one has to take note of the imprecision of Podemos and its regional-government-in-waiting negotiator-in-chief Laura Camargo. Podemos in the Balearics can make its own mind up about PSOE after all, and the collective mind - aided and abetted no doubt by online participation - is being altered. Having said that there was no way that PSOE could head a government, as in bagsy the presidency, of which Podemos would be a part, Laura is now saying the precise opposite. Unlike the Balearics Podemos número uno, Alberto Jarabo, who isn’t. Oh, the precision of imprecision and the changing colouration of the chameleon.
But even Pablo Iglesias, Pablo Churches, is spinning towards a much broader church of the left and the barely left. Having apparently authorised the change in attitude towards Francina (where Laura is concerned), he has also been saying pleasant things about Pedro Sánchez, the PSOE national leader.
Earlier in the week he had said that PSOE would have to “turn” and that Sánchez would have to show greater humility in light of the party’s poor electoral performance before there was any possibility of Podemos entering into any agreements with PSOE.
Then, the broad church of Churches suddenly seemed to become a possibility. And it was all due to some fish and tortilla.
There was no mention of who brought the beer, but it was Pablo who took the fish along and Pedro the tortilla. There was salad to share. And this little feast was had in an unnamed hotel. He’s a “nice guy”, said Pablo later. “And this is important in order to talk.” Poc a poc, little by little, the church was broadening.
Podemos-land is not one inhabited by the church-going and the hymn-singing, or so one would assume. But in the mysterious guise of the Balanguera, the liturgy of the Balearic left is acquiring greater precision. Yes, the senyera will reappear, as the law of symbols will be reformed. And no, the hopes of the youth will not have to be confused by trilingual teaching. TIL will be repealed. And who knows, maybe the old traditions of weaving will be revived. The spinning of textiles rather than the soporific spin that has surrounded the on-off-on construction of Palma’s Palacio de Congresos, now under renewed threat of permanent de-construction: the walls of new tourism come tumbling down.
By this time next week, we may know if it will be Francina, though as Biel Barceló of Més was photographed at the head of the table of the great pow-wow of the left, his presidential credentials remain greater than those of Francina. Of course, everything might have changed by next week. Podemos (Laura) will have altered its mind again. Francina will have been seduced by the overtures from José Ramón. Who can tell? Imprecision and mystery.

Boos at the Camp Nou

One thing that can be said about “La Balanguera” is that it does have lyrics. This is more than can be said for the Spanish National Anthem. The “Marcha Real” (Royal March) has been in existence for getting on for 250 years, but, and despite some attempts at lyric-writing, it remains stubbornly lyric-less. The instrumental anthem, lacking any overt expression of nationalism, is not, however, ignored when it comes to the need for some political statement to be made, as was the case at Spanish football’s FA Cup Final moment - the final of the Copa del Rey, which just so happened to be held at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.
 The boos rang out around the stadium and the Partido Popular was scandalised. This jeering was not freedom of expression, it was an insult. There will be legal changes. Anyone booing the anthem in future will be ... . Will be what? Ejected from the stadium? Banned from future matches? Fined? Sent into exile?
Oh, the hypocrisy of it. Look, booing an anthem, any country’s anthem by whoever is disrespectful and stupid, but it happens.
And there are other things that go on in football stadia, such as those in Spain. Like racist chanting and the subsequent indifference to it by the media and the Spanish Football Federation. Who gets fined? Who gets banned? The PP in its outrage at the booing of the anthem might care to think about that.

The voodoo of robbery with violence

They do things differently in Playa de Palma. Differently to Magalluf, that is. They don’t worry about catching the so-called prostitutes “in the act” (whatever this is supposed to mean). They go ahead and arrest them anyway. The National Police did so again last week. Human trafficking, robbery with violence: three who were arrested included the head of the it-isn’t-really-prostitution ring.
 Further arrests are anticipated, and from those who have been detained have come statements that they feared being subjected to voodoo and satanic rituals by gang leaders.
In Magalluf, by contrast, they continue to faff around with local laws on bar crawls, all the time neglecting the greatest problem.
Rather than voodoo rituals being inflicted on the prostitutes who terrorise tourists, they concern themselves with the rituals of drunkenness, while - and as the point was made yet again last week - the local laws are being applied with discrimination: bar owners have called on the town hall for there to be evenhandedness. The story never changes.

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