Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 January 2018

Morning high (7.24am): 11.8C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 17 January - Cloud, sun, wind, 18C; 18 January - Cloud, sun, 18C; 19 January - Cloud, sun, 18C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southwest 4 to 5.

Fairly breezy morning. Westerly wind blowing all day and due to pick up this evening and overnight. Shouldn't be too fierce for this evening's bonfires and demons fire-runs though. Otherwise fine and sunny during the day.

Sant Antoni: Pigs And The French Connection

This evening in Manacor's parish church they'll be singing the "goigs" of Sant Antoni. The goigs are, roughly speaking, songs of joy or praise. They are sung elsewhere in Mallorca in celebration of the ancient saint, there are even practices for them in other villages, but Manacor specialises in the number of its rehearsals and the sheer emphasis placed on when the good folk of the town eventually gather for the real thing. While the likes of Alcudia and Muro are being bedevilled by demons with fire, Manacor is in the church and having a good old sing song.

Given Antoni's history, you will be unsurprised to learn that the goigs aren't entirely joyous in terms of content. Here was an ascetic saint who did after all live in the desert and was pestered by the devil on a regular basis. Hence, there are references to Lucifer (and the saint's triumph over him) and to the "perverse Demon". But thanks to the saint having not succumbed to the devil, the chorus for Sant Antoni - "glorious Sant Antoni" - calls on him to "guard us from all peril".

There is one possibly confusing reference to be found in the goigs. It is to Sant Antoni himself. We know him as Sant Antoni Abat, but the glorious Sant Antoni is in fact Sant Antoni de Viana. So, have we been getting it wrong with Sant Antoni Abat?

The Abat is a reference to an abbot. Antoni never was an abbot. Nor did he found a monastery or an abbey. It would have been difficult for him to have, given that he spent so much time by himself, living in caves or an abandoned fort in the Egyptian desert. The abbot part of his name would seem to have been given to him several centuries after he died (supposedly in 356 at the age of 105) and in a place a fair old distance from Egypt.

It is said that Antoni's preference was to have been buried in a secret place. As it turned out, the place wasn't so secret. His remains were taken to Alexandria and eventually to Constantinople, but they didn't stay there. In the eleventh century, concerned about what the Arabs were up to, Antoni (what was left of him) was transported to a region of France - Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, as it now is. A grand church was built in order to house him. The place became known as Saint Antoine-l'Abbaye. It was near to a village called Vienne which, to give it its Catalan name, is Viena del Delfinat. In Mallorquí, Viena was transformed into Viana.

Antoni does, depending where he's celebrated, have a number of names - Sant Antoni de Viana, Sant Antoni Abat, Sant Antoni d’Egipte, Sant Antoni l’Ermità, Sant Antoni del Foc, Sant Antoni del Desert, Sant Antoni dels Ases, Sant Antoni del Porquet and Sant Antoni el Gran. He is the patron saint of domestic animals; hence the blessings that take place tomorrow. Two of his names reflect this - ases (donkeys) and porquet (little pig or piglet).

The pig angle does, however, require a little more explanation. In 1095, a monastic order was founded in Sant Antoni's name in Saint Antoine-l'Abbaye. This was by a nobleman who was said to have been healed by the saint's relics. At the time there was a serious illness - ergotism, caused by the ergot fungus on cereals. This order went on to establish hospitals and to treat ergotism. One of them was in Palma.

A point about the pigs was that the monks from the order used pig fat in the treatment of patients - they would be smeared with it. Another point was that the pigs that belonged to the order were very much free range. They went more or less where they liked and were fed by the local people, who also gave food to the monks. This was despite the fact that in 1719 pigs were forbidden from wandering around the streets and squares of old Palma. The monks fought against the prohibition and retained their pig privileges.

The pigs were well looked after until it came to the day of Saint Martin, 11 November, which remains the traditional start to the "matances" season, the slaughter of pigs in order to make products such as sobrassada.

The order was dissolved in the late eighteenth century. It was the one which had in the seventeenth century tried to get the image of Sant Antoni moved from Sa Pobla to Palma. A lawsuit put an end to this, and the victory of Sa Pobla still inspires the cry of "Visca Sant Antoni", which will bellow out of the church this evening at the end of the Compline service. That victory does rather sum up the place of Sant Antoni in Mallorca's culture. He is very much the saint of Mallorca away from Palma, but when it is said that Antoni is the saint of Mallorca's peasant class, it is always Sant Antoni de Viana who is named.

* Re the image, "goigs" also written as "gois".

Monday, January 15, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 January 2018

Morning high (7.54am): 4.7C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 16 January - Sun, 18C; 17 January - Sun, cloud, wind, 19C; 18 January - Cloud, 18C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 2 to 3.

Cold start again. Should be mostly sunny today. Very good for tomorrow if a little breezy.

Evening update (19.30): Quite nice. High of 16.9C.

Compulsive Disorders

Biel Company is allegedly the president of the Partido Popular in the Balearics. For several months, despite his having been given this accolade, he was rarely to be seen or heard. He is now finally beginning to demonstrate that he is indeed the president and to allay any suspicions or fears that he had been run over by a tractor in his native Sant Joan while regressing to his former life as champion of the farming community.

If you are not already aware, then by goodness you are going to become aware that there is an election in sixteen months time. The long campaign has started. Biel will be hopeful that this campaign heralds the long goodbye for Sweet and Friendly Francina and her chums in Més and Podemos. His hope may be misplaced. Biel has not exactly been rallying the electoral troops to the PP side.

Doubtless recognising that his party is at present heading for another election disaster, Biel has come out fighting in the long campaign. If all else fails, and there is in fact nothing else to try and pin on the incumbent Balearic president, then it is necessary to call her a compulsive liar. Which he has. Francina's lying has to do with a demand that the PP repays some 150 grand of 2007 election subvention. As if anyone actually cares. It was ten years ago, it was the time of Matas. Get over it, and talk about matters in the present. But no, the compulsion - for both Biel and Francina - is to rake over the past, and where Biel is concerned, the raking appears to mainly have involved the soil of his own personal agricultural heritage.

Is Francina a compulsive liar? No, she is not. She does, however, suffer from a compulsive disorder. It is not treatable. It is called compulsive consensus. So essential has it become for Francina to insist that her government abides fully by the principle of consensus that she has clearly come to believe this. Unfortunately for Francina, no one else does. The evidence stacks up by the day and will stack up further as she and her governmental buddies go into full-on election mode. Yes, we have sixteen months of all this to endure.

If there is a compulsive liar, then last week once more revealed who it was, as if the revelation were in fact needed. Donald Trump is not just a compulsive liar, he is a compulsive lunatic. But at least with DT there is the entertainment factor, even though presidents are not usually judged by their ability to entertain us all royally. So, Biel needs to understand the true meaning of compulsive lying in a presidential sense. Francina isn't even on the first rung of the compulsion ladder; not when compared with the master who has scaled its heights in The White House.

Biel should really be devoting far greater attention to a different disorder - compulsive citizenship. All Balearic politicians suffer from this due to their constant invoking of the citizens, but where Biel is concerned he needs to take due note of the party that has named itself in the name of the citizens (there's compulsion for you) - Ciudadanos. Biel said that he wasn't worried about the rise and rise of the C's. Well, he's wrong not to be worried, especially as he needs to be very nice to them. The PP hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of recovering all the seats that Bauzá destroyed in 2015, so the C's have to be looked upon as very real, potential coalition allies after the May 2019 election.

This, however, will mean that Biel has to cosy up to the morose leader of the Cs, Xavier Pericay. And he has his own disorder - compulsive anti-Catalanism. On and on he drones in this manner. Sixteen more months we have of this. The citizens may as a result decide to switch off from the Citizens party. The citizens might also wish to know what the Citizens party has to offer them apart from not needing to have a Catalan qualification for being a nurse. Curiously enough, the wild man of Més, compulsive independentist David Abril, has hit the nail on the head in this regard. Rather than constant attacks on Catalan, he said, let's hear some policies.

Xavier will unquestionably be aghast to learn that the leadership of the Council of Majorca, one part of which (the presidential part) has compulsive Catalanism, let the Obra Cultural Balear (compulsive Catalanists and compulsive independentists) have the use of the Teatre Principal for free so that it could turn its annual awards ceremony into propaganda for the incarcerated Jordis of Catalonia, with the acting speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, handing out the gongs.

According to the Council's vice-president for culture, PSOE's Francesc Miralles (not prone to the same compulsion of the president), the Council always lets the OCB have the theatre for nothing. But Francesc declined to comment on what took place and nor has he said anything about the fact that apparently the cost of transmission for this gala occasion was borne by the IB3 broadcaster and the government's culture ministry (run by Més). 

Carme has since resigned as speaker, and when this became knowledge, our good friend Balti of the Balearic parliament (compulsive Republicanism) tweeted a message of support. "Health and Republic," said Balti, adding "strength from the companion islands".

Xavier will not have been impressed. Are any of us with all their various compulsive disorders?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 January 2018

Morning high (8.22am): 8.1C
Forecast high: 15C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 15 January - Cloud, sun, 16C; 16 January - Sun, cloud, 18C; 17 January - Cloud, sun, wind, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 3 to 5.

Some cloud around. Could be a shower this morning. Don't expect to see too much sun.

Evening update (19.15): Average. A high of 14.3C.

The Missing Link: Independent Travel

When we are fed the constant diet of information regarding holiday bookings, there needs to be a touch of caution with some of the figures. With the likes of, say, Abta, the information is Abta-specific. In other words, it comes from its members - the travel agencies and tour operators. But this is only part of the story. There is that huge market out there for tourists bundling their own holidays together. While agencies have got in on this act, the scale of the independent market means that that bookings information is incomplete or even misleading.

DRV is the German equivalent of Abta. It has reported on how holiday bookings went in 2017. It pointed to the growth in bookings to Egypt and Greece; these destinations were the real "winners". Greece was second only to the Balearics; where the agencies were concerned. The report then goes on to say that the Balearics represented a decrease in revenue; for the agencies. Holidaymakers were looking for alternatives to Mallorca because of an increase in prices and the "over-occupancy". So, curiously enough, the actual demand for Mallorca was acting as some form of deterrence. This was the agencies' experience. But DRV then adds that agency business (for Mallorca) going down was also related to a significant increase in holidays being booked individually, i.e. the independent market. There is a further curiosity in that only Mallorca was mentioned in this regard.

In relative terms, the package holiday - the core of travel agency operations - has been in decline for years. It still of course represents a very major part of the holiday business, and as tourism demand has increased, so the demand for packages also rises. But the independent sector has risen and continues to rise with greater strength.

A more representative source of bookings information is therefore travel reservation data, most obviously airlines. The increase in flights to Mallorca last summer, the creation of bases by airlines in Palma were a reflection of the total demand. But as we head towards the next season, there are some clouds gathering, and one in particular doesn't just affect Mallorca. This is the EU package travel directive.

Member states (and the UK is adopting the directive irrespective of Brexit) now have to transpose the new EU directive into national law. The Spanish government has yet to do so, and it isn't alone. For the moment, it seems that the subject of the directive is only being discussed by the travel industry. It is not one that has made a leap into the wider public consciousness. But it is going to have an impact, and that's because it's going to push prices up.

The directive deals with so-called linked holidays. As an example, if a traveller makes bookings for travel, accommodation, car rental with separate companies and the traveller's information is transferred between these companies, this will constitute the equivalent of a package holiday. And as with the conventional package, there is now a liability if anything goes wrong. This is what the directive is addressing; there previously hasn't been adequate liability.

Typically, these bookings go via airlines. The traveller books flights, then uses the airline's website to reserve other elements of the trip, such as accommodation. If this is all done within 24 hours, which it normally is, then there is a "linked" trip. And there have to be consumer guarantees for all parts of the chain. The basic cost of this will be around 12 or 13 euros per traveller. This is the cost to the organiser of the linked trip, and that organiser will for the most part be the airline, which will have to provide the consumer protection. Either that, or the airline decides to no longer offer the add-on services. And this is unlikely. It is estimated that last year airlines globally took in 82,200 million dollars worth of revenue from "complementary" bookings.

A problem with the directive, and the Spanish competition commission has highlighted this, is a lack of clarity. The commission also believes that the directive may constitute risks to competition because of the guarantees being demanded. And if the Spanish think this, then one can assume other member states will think likewise.

The bottom line is the extent to which the cost of guarantees is passed on. This cost will of course apply across the EU board, but for Mallorca it represents another potential increase for the holidaymaker to go with, for instance, the tourist tax. The cost will no doubt be hidden, but it will be there nevertheless.

So, the cost of independent travel is destined to go up, and this brings us back to what DRV has reported about independent bookings for Mallorca. Was it the case that the abundance of holiday rental accommodation was contributing to the increase? It probably was. But this source is being closed off; or part of it anyway. The rentals legislation is one of the other clouds, and it is very much a cloud that hovers over the independent traveller. One wonders what DRV might have to report about 2018.

Still, there is always the conventional package holiday, and DRV's UK counterpart, Abta, has itself provided a report for 2017. Sales of packages through its members for the Balearics were up by around eleven per cent. So, happy days, but will they continue? Be prepared for ever more information about bookings, however incomplete this may be.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 13 January 2018

Morning high (7.43am): 3C
Forecast high: 17C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 14 January - Cloud, sun, 15C; 15 January - Cloud, sun, 16C; 16 January - Sun 17C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 3 to 4.

Very cold start. Down to one degree in areas. A mix of cloud and sun to come. Looking ahead to Sant Antoni ... Fine weather forecast for both 16 and 17 January, though the wind is likely to be strong on the 17th.

Evening update (19.45): Ok for a time, then cloud. High of 15.9C.

Sant Antoni 2018

Something of a harking back to the days when I did the Wotzupnorth blog, below is a listing for Sant Antoni.

Tonight (Saturday) there are demons correfocs in Pollensa and Sa Pobla. On Tuesday night it's the turn of Alcudia and Muro. The animals' blessings are as they always are on 17 January (Wednesday, the day of Sant Antoni), which is also the day for all the palaver with getting the pine trees from Formentor and the Ternelles finca. The pine climbs are at the same times as ever, but there's one big difference in Pollensa - there's no actual cockerel. It's been banned.

Choice of image - the Alcudia poster. Seems the most demonic of all.

Wherever and however you choose to celebrate Sant Antoni, enjoy. I know you will. They're the greatest fiestas of the year and, although they are celebrated across Mallorca, we really have the very best of them in the northern area.


Saturday, 13 January
Muro

19.30: Procession of pipers followed by lighting of the bonfire.
20.00: Concert by pipers - Xeremiers de Muro Es Reguinyol and Xafigà de Muro (Alicante). Municipal theatre, C. Joan Carles I.
21.15: Barbecue. In front of the town hall.

Pollensa
20.00: Correfoc with Dimonis Ca de Bou children's gang. Joan March Gardens. 20.30: Barbecue.
22.30: Correfoc - Dimonis Ca de Bou, Dimonis Hiachat de Santa Margalida, Fills de Lucifer de Búger. Joan March Gardens.

Sa Pobla
11.00: Procession of children's caparrot (bighead) workshop, plus pipers. C. Rosari to Plaça Major.
20.15: Sa Pobla Choir and the Sant Antoni Choir and the goigs for Sant Antoni. At the church.
24.00: "Redempció" - demons correfoc. Dimonis i Tamborers d'Albopàs and Dimonis de sa Pedrera de Muro. Followed by barbecue. Plaça Major.


Sunday, 14 January
Pollensa

19.30: Glosadors, pipers and others. Club Pollença, Plaça Major. Pay as you wish.

Sa Pobla
17.30: Sant Antoni folk dance, with the group Abenlara. Plaça Alexandre Ballester.


Tuesday, 16 January
Alcudia

16.30: Sant Antoni and the demons (plus pipers) leave the town hall. Procession and the occasional "kidnapping" of a child.
20.00: Bonfire, botifarró, llonganissa, bread and drink (one euro). Plaça Constitució. Bonfire and folk dance in Plaça Carles V.
22.30: Correfoc - Dimonis de sa Cova des Fossar. From the town hall to Plaça Carles V.

Muro
19.45: Procession of the demons, Sant Antoni and the Unió Artística Murera Band of Music. From Plaça Convent to Plaça Comte d'Empúries.
20.15: Dance of the demons and Sant Antoni. Plaça Comte d'Empúries.
20.30: Lighting of the bonfires with Dimonis de sa Pedrera, Bruixes de Mallorca, Dimonis Trabukats. Correfoc fire-run and spectacular. Plaça Comte d'Empúries.
23.00: Traditional music - Revetla d'Algebelí and Germans Martorell. Plaça Comte d'Empúries.
24.00: Islanders plus DJ. Plaça Sant Martí.

Pollensa / Puerto Pollensa
21.00: Lighting of the bonfires.

Sa Pobla
14.30: Departure of the demons and Sant Antoni and procession through the streets and squares of the town.
18.45: Ceremony of the historical sanctioning for the start of Sant Antoni Eve. In front of the town hall.
19.45: Departure of the paralympic demons of Grif, the demons d'Albopàs, the demons of the Obreria (Sant Antoni) and of the town hall, plus giants, bigheads, junior bigheads and the Sa Pobla band of music. From the town hall to the church.
20.00: Compline and acclamation of Sant Antoni.
21.15: Dance of the demons and of the gangs of bigheads and junior bigheads, accompanied by the Sa Pobla band of music.
21.30: Pyromusical spectacular. Plaça Major.
22.15: Gathering of singers and ximbomba players. Plaça Major.
00.30: Grand ximbombada and glosada - ximbomba playing and reciting of folk/satirical tales, verses and poems. Plaça Major.


Wednesday, 17 January
Alcudia

16.00: Traditional blessings of the animals, plus performance by Sarau Alcudienc (folk dance). From Passeig Pere Ventayol.

Muro
10.30: Firing of rockets and planting of giants in front of the town hall.
11.00: Mass in honour of Sant Antoni with the Miquel Tortell Muro Choir.
15.00: Ringing of bells.
15.30: Traditional blessings and parade of floats.

Pollensa
10.15: Traditional procession and animal blessings.
11.30: Setting off from Plaça Almoina to the Ternelles finca.
12.30: Lunch at Ternelles.
14.00: Departure of the pine.
19.00: Raising of the pine. Plaça Vella.

Puerto Pollensa
09.00: Bus leaves from behind the church to go to Formentor.
11.30: Procession and animal blessings.
12.00: The pine arrives in the port.
13.30: Planting of the pine in Plaça Miquel Capllonch.

Sa Pobla
10.00: Procession with the pipers Germans Aloy.
11.00: Solemn mass plus offering of farm produce and dance with Marjal en Festa.
12.30: Dance of the caparrot bigheads and young caparrots. Plaça Major.
15.30: Blessing of the animals in the church square with the pipers Germans Aloy and Xerebiols and the giants Antoni and Margalida.
16.00: Parade of floats, accompanied by the band of cornets of the Sant Antoni brotherhood and the demons of the Obreria de Sant Antoni.


Friday, 19 January
Sa Pobla (Sant Sebastià)

19.30: Gathering in C. Tresorer Cladera of Dimonis d'Albopàs and departure for Plaça Major and the lighting of the bonfires for Sant Sebastià.


Saturday, 20 January
Pollensa (Sant Sebastià)

19.30: Procession with the image of Saint Sebastian, of the Standard and of the cavallet horse dancers.
21.00: Dance of the cavallets at the bonfire in Plaça Major.

Sa Pobla
18.30: Line and ballroom dance, followed by barbecue (six euros). Plaça Mercat.

Friday, January 12, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 12 January 2018

Morning high (7.52am): 9.2C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 13 January - Cloud, sun, 16C; 14 January - Cloud, sun, 15C; 15 January - Cloud, 16C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northwest 3 to 5.

A clear, chilly morning. Sunny to begin with, due to cloud over in the afternoon with the chance of a shower.

Evening update (22.00): Pretty good until cloud came in during the afternoon. High of 16.9C.

Mining For Gold: Tourism Marketing

For my sins, I have in a previous existence been exposed to "marketing". I express this in inverted commas as marketing can cover a multitude of sins, not all of them my own. Occasionally, one hears someone announce they are in "marketing" or they do "marketing", and one has a sneaking suspicion that it involves little more than a passing acquaintance with Photoshop and some form of blurb or slogan. 

The "marketing" of my acquaintance delved into the mysteries of the recipient of marketing. This is the land of segmentation and psychographics, of behaviour, aspirations and lifestyles. It is its own world of profiling allied to, inter alia, the attributes of a brand and the consumer decision. It is a science, only some of which is bunkum.

Over the years this has produced an endless supply of consumer groups, defined by an apparent commonality of beliefs and values, often predicated on age. These groups can slot into the "niche", so beloved of the diviners of tourism products. A great deal is heard about these groups and niches, normally only by people who are talking to each other in this fantastical world of "marketing".

It's light years from where it was. The yuppie and the baby boomer were arguably the first time the general public became aware of this marketing mumbo jumbo, though there had been previous classifications, one of which took some time to be appreciated. In the 1950s, courtesy of Bill Haley and Elvis, the "teenager" truly began to emerge from behind the leather patches and frocks of parental hand-me-downs. A considerable time later there was the "child". The youngest members of the household had acquired the power to guide purchasing decisions. Seen and definitely also heard, when it came to the next holiday: "We want all-inclusive." Parental will buckled. Anything for peace and quiet, which of course they did not get.

Today, everything is micro-marketing-managed. The Canary Islands, highly innovative in understanding and using social media, have hooked up with Facebook in a personalised, customised marketing campaign. It is just one isolated case example of the marketing gold to be mined from Big Data. The technologies drive the marketing. This is a reason why the tourism industry in the Balearics is keen for the university to establish a tourism and technology combined degree. The tourist (and potential tourist) exists in a technological bubble, one often of the tourist's making, so incapable is he or she of switching off from the technology.

It is the data that determines the customising and the ever-reducing scale of the niche. Yet there remains the scope for the broader brush. We now, therefore, have Generation Z, and they are the ones to have inherited the Earth that was discovered circa mid-1950s. They are currently aged between twelve and twenty. The marketing genii are invading their collective consciousness via Snapchat and Instagram, and they - Generation Z - have and will have their own defined attributes and attitudes to mould tourism decision-making, just as the Millennials (Generation Y) and previous classifications had and have. The genii have decreed it thus.

While so much of this can appear to be overhyped, there has to be some merit to it or they wouldn't keep on coming up with classifications and their corresponding marketing approaches. There may be no more to it than - to use a now somewhat disgraced concept - "marginal gains", but if gains are to be extracted, then why not pursue them?

When it comes to tourism, and I'm thinking here of the bread-and-butter tourism of Mallorca and the Balearics, generations may have a tendency to coalesce. There is of course greater technology, sophistication, demand for quality, but aren't tourists ultimately as they have ever been, not least when they look at the cost, whether there's a good beach, whether the sun shines?

In the highly competitive market for the tourism bread and butter it is about emotional appeal as much as it might be price. Emotion is a powerful force in determining tourist loyalty, which Mallorca has had by the bucket and spade full, though is in danger of losing thanks to cack-handed anti-marketing like the tourist tax. If technologies, the customisation and the micro-marketing represent the panacea, then Mallorca needs to adopt them and use them with emotional force. It is failing to do so, and even with what can seem like a hit-or-miss approach of niche marketing, it is also failing.

Gastronomy tourism - you'll have heard of that niche - is its own little panacea for attracting the off-season and high-quality tourist. Want to know something? In a study of the demand for gastronomy tourism, the Balearics are rank bottom of all the regions of Spain.

Is there anyone in "marketing" or doing "marketing"? Maybe there is. Of course there is. They come up with slogans.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 11 January 2018

Morning high (6.56am): 11.5C
Forecast high: 15C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 12 January - Cloud, sun, 15C; 13 January - Sun, cloud, 17C; 14 January - Cloud, 16C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northwest 5 to 7 easing 3 by the evening.

Fairly windy, a yellow alert in place for rough coastal conditions. Should be some sun, but with any rain falling as snow down to 800 metres.

Evening update (20.15): Pretty average. Occasional sun, some rain, not warm. High of 13.6C.

Who'd Be A Demon?

There are degrees of diabolism that Mallorca has to endure in January, but its main categories can be defined as: the dancing demon, generally speaking an amiable sort of demon (all things being relative in demonic terms), or the fire-wielding demon, an altogether less friendly character.

Regardless of category, being a demon - let's be honest - involves dressing up. There isn't a great deal more required, though there is some skill in being able to perform the appropriate dance or in prowling around in a menacing fashion while taking care not to set fire to oneself.

These somewhat simplistic characterisations do, however, underestimate the status of the demon in local village society. He (grand demons are not shes) is required to turn out on fiesta occasions and can be found in photos with all manner of village residents and town hall dignitaries. The demon has his place and it is often at the end of a mobile phone lens (selfie or otherwise). He may also be part of what is akin to a local demonic dynasty: like father, like son, spreading fear of the dark side.

You wouldn't, nevertheless, have thought that being a demon could be particularly problematic. But you would be wrong. For instance, dynastic demonography has collided with the smartphone in rather unfortunate circumstance in Arta. The Dimoni of the village, the foremost demon of Arta, had been the duty of one Xisco Sansó for a whole generation - twenty-five years. When it came to the time to hand over the "canya fel·la", the phallic cane, or whatever the Arta Dimoni possesses, the wise people of the Sant Antoni Obreria (in charge of such matters) decided that Xisco's son should succeed him.

Xesquet, Xisco Junior, the Obreria determined, knew the dances and he also had the right physical characteristics demanded of the Dimoni. It was this decision that has resulted in the problem that has since surfaced. There wasn't any concern about demonic nepotism. No, it wasn't anything like that; it was the physical characteristics. They became rather too obvious. An image of a naked Xesquet went onto Instagram.

There are a couple of explanations as to what happened. One is that the mirror selfie of he who would be the demon was posted by mistake. The other is that someone got hold of the photo by "illicit means" and put it up. Whatever the explanation, the photo was removed, but not before the good people of Arta and any others had become familiar with the new demon's physical characteristics in rather more intimate detail than he might have wished, albeit he had taken a mirror selfie of himself, kit off and in his prime. For what reason? Who can say.

While they should have been concentrating on matters of a Three Kings nature, the Arta citizenry was apparently otherwise examining and discussing the demonic meat and two veg. And naturally enough, the Obreria got to hear all about it, and had they not be in possession of smartphones or been on social networks, they would have become aware of the image of their unclad Dimoni having found its way into the media mainstream. Oh dear.

So what happens now? The family, it is being suggested, will be denouncing the matter to the Guardia, sure that the image was posted by someone else. This, however, isn't what really matters to the Obreria. They plan on talking it all over with the family, and could it be that another Dimoni needs to be selected? If so, then time is running short.

It could, one supposes, have been a lot worse. It might have been the mayor or a government minister who had emerged on social networks in a state of undress. But then, neither of these would have been affected by quite the same symbolism as the demon, which brings us back to the phallic cane. Social media has had a field day in this regard.

There is a normally understated or indeed unstated eroticism associated with demons. The problem can be, as Xisco Junior is discovering to his cost, when it is stated. He is, however, following in the footsteps of another demon - no less than Manacor's Dimoni Gros.

It wasn't that the Manacor grand demon had been a forerunner for Arta's demon in displaying his physical characteristics. It was instead a Russian model by the name of Aline. Three years ago, the local Manacor magazine, Perlas y Cuevas, celebrated Sant Antoni by showing topless Aline with the grand demon in what was described as a series of "erotic" poses. Feminists were outraged, gathered their pots and pans and staged "cacerolada" protests outside the office and home of the editor. The Manacor Sant Antoni Obreria wanted nothing to do with the images.

The moral of the story is that if you are a demon, stick to the dressing up and not the undressing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 10 January 2018

Morning high (7.53am): 10.3C
Forecast high: 17C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 11 January - Cloud, sun, wind, 15C; 12 January - Sun, cloud, 16C; 13 January - Cloud, 17C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 3 to 4.

Cloudy morning, fairly mild, possible shower at some point.

Evening update (20.45): High of 16.5C. Some rain, some sun. Nothing special.

Welcome To Tractorllorca

Tabarnia, someone has said, will be the word of 2018. Tabarnia is a neologism, a word that is in the process of entering common usage. It is also a form of portmanteau, a combination of the old Roman place names Tarraco and Barcino or of their modern equivalents, Tarragona and Barcelona.

Tabarnia, the word and the concept, wasn't entirely new when all of a sudden it leapt into the public consciousness late last year. A petition, a satirical one (so it is said), proposed a type of secession with unity. Tabarnia came from the organisation Barcelona Is Not Catalonia. It was advocating a breakaway region, which corresponds to the one-time County of Barcelona, that would be independent of Catalonia but part of Spain. As such, it was an obvious statement against a Catalonian drive for secession.

The petition went viral and Tabarnia has, over the past fortnight or so, inspired all manner of comment. It has also produced its variants. One of these is Palmarnia. The right wing in Mallorca has latched onto Tabarnia by attacking the secessionist aspirations of certain sections on the left - Més, most obviously. Palmarnia, in essence, would be a reclaiming of Palma from secessionist influences from outside the city - the "part forana" or "fora vila" - which (who) have taken over important institutional roles in the city.

The Palmarnia proposition contains aspects which are quite amusing. Some of the secessionists who landed in Palma have never done so much as run a village bar. This is one criticism. The essentially rural nature of this takeover is defined as having come from Tractorllorca. Well, it made me laugh anyway, even if it does only provide one perspective.

The Tractorllorca that is being referred to is a sort of conservatism of a rural tradition allied to a radicalism of secession, independence, folklore and odd attitudes towards tourism. A different Tractorllorca is also conservative but it takes great issue with, for instance, the environmentalist stance of the very same political class. The "countryside alliance" which protested in Palma last year comprised hunters, farmers and bullfighting supporters. My impression of some of Mallorca's part forana, especially the rural areas, is that it is highly conservative but with absolutely no desire for independence: it is mostly Partido Popular territory.

Likewise, an attack on those now in positions of power and influence in Palma's institutions fails to recognise that - just to take a couple of Més names at random - some of them are from Palma. Antoni Noguera, for instance; Biel Barceló. They were both born in Palma. Miquel Ensenyat, the president of the Council of Mallorca, was of course born in England. He wasn't thereafter a Palma boy, but he had many years experience as mayor of Esporles, and the general view was that he was a decent mayor.

But the very notion of Palmarnia highlights a Palma-centric arrogance. If there were to be some reclaiming from the clutches of secessionists, then why just Palma? Its institutions, agreed, would determine such a policy, but is it not Mallorca and the Balearics which need saving? To hear what some on the right are suggesting, then it would appear so. Independence as an aspiration isn't confined to Més. The president of the Balearics, Francina Armengol, is apparently more radical and more independence-minded than her partners in government, so that includes Més. This, at any rate, is a view coming from the PP and reflects a paranoia of an apparently unstoppable drive towards Balearic independence.

I personally don't believe this for one moment, but the fever of Catalonia has unquestionably been caught in the Balearics, if only by the real promoters of independence - Més (plus organisations such as the Obra Cultural Balear) - and their accusers on or towards the right, such as the PP, the C's and elements in the media.

Més and their ambitions for independence are predicated - electorally - on extremely shaky ground. The reality is that where the current government is concerned, Més in Mallorca and Menorca obtained 15.3% share of the vote. They may well not achieve this in 2019; polls would suggest they will struggle to.

These secessionist influences are nevertheless being foisted onto a public that has no particular desire for them. Més are given their place in the spotlight by a system that rewards less than one sixth of the vote. Ultimately, for any change as dramatic as, say, independence or Brexit, there should really be the demand for a dramatic and qualified majority at the polls: not a bit here or there. Otherwise you end up with what you have: deeply divided societies. And if the Catalonia election can be considered a more accurate reflection than the 1 October referendum, then that is precisely what you have.

Such division is a long way off, if ever taking root in the Balearics. Tractorllorca isn't about to take over. There are too many other tractors.