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Disappearances and the destruction of Palma de Mallorca

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It was a year that started with the vaccination programme crawling as slowly as cars on the to-be-introduced 30 kilometre per hour urban roads and which ended with a final sprint to the line in order to obtain Covid passports.

It was stop, stop, go (sort of), with Grant Shapps working the traffic lights’ remote control. Our learned friends said no to the curfew in a Balearics style but yes to the passport. Social gathering restrictions were reimposed, then lifted, and the streets were full of drinkers acting in a very social manner and at the same time in a wholly anti-social manner (far too many, far too close and minus masks). The Covid hotel did a roaring trade thanks to Spanish students, who were roaring around the hotel trashing it.

Francina Armengol paved the way for four more years, aided by Euromillions that were showering down on her and on islands destined to change shape and become circular while also becoming virtual, courtesy of total digitalisation.

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Nationally, we said a sad farewell to Pablo Iglesias. The Citizen Smith of the Spanish government left to fight the right in Madrid. The right fought as well – against Communism, so it was said. Pablo lost and ceremoniously cut off the most famous political ponytail in history.

Another departure was that of Salvador Illa. Spain’s health minister was off to fight the election in Catalonia. (He lost, just like Pablo did.) The minister went in January, almost a year to the day after he had become minister, the most ill-timed appointment any health minister could have wished for.

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(January 3) “What a relief, eh? It’s doubtful that you are familiar with The Fast Show, Salvador, but were you to be, you will know a character called Unlucky Alf and his catchphrase. ‘Oh bugger,’ you must have been inclined to declare when you realised what you had let yourself in for. Only just sworn in, and there you were – tempted to swear.”

Temporarily, we lost Princess Leonor. It was announced that she would be off to Wales in September in order to further her education. But what else would she be doing there? The BBC came up with some ideas for the princess to fill her downtime. A Gavin & Stacey tour of Barry Island was one such idea. (February 14) “Has Leonor ever watched Gavin & Stacey? Who can say. But mum and dad may find out when she returns for the hols. ‘Lush. Tidy.’ “

Leonor returned to Spain for the festivities with no Gavin apparently in tow. The family Christmas photo was unveiled, and there was mum with a look that could have been borrowed from Posh Spice. Was Brand Bourbon beginning?

It seemed as if we had lost Spain’s tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, completely. Unlike Illa, she hadn’t vacated her ministerial seat, but she had nevertheless gone AWOL in pursuing the vice-presidency of Madrid. Hers was to be as abortive an attempt as that of Iglesias, and she subsequently needed to be “relaunched” as tourism minister at the presentation for the ‘You Deserve Spain’ promotional campaign.

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(May 16) “Could more be done both to promote Spain and to further boost the Reyes relaunch? I would suggest that it can, and so let’s hear it for a 2021 Reyes revival of Sylvia’s 1974 classic, Y Viva España. Perhaps she could duet with Francina, although there would clearly need to be some updating of the lyrics. ‘Chat a matador.’ ‘Meet señoritas by the score.’ ‘Each time I kissed him behind the castanet, He rattled his maracas close to me.’ Yes, reworking would be required, but especially for the line ‘I’m taking the Costa Brava plane’. That would be an absolute no-no. Promoting Catalonia above Mallorca for safe, green-listed corridors with the UK (or wherever else)? Definitely not.”

Someone else who disappeared for a time was the Balearic tourism minister, Iago Negueruela. While the Spanish students’ affair was in full controversy, there was no sight nor sound of Iago. Where, oh where, was he? (July 4) “Why was he not pronouncing on tourism of excesses and threatening dire consequences? Was this because the whole business had nothing to do with Magalluf or indeed with drunken Germans causing chaos in the general vicinity of Arenal’s Ballermann?”

As things turned out, Iago returned, declared that he would prefer to see the back of the students for good and reassumed his governmental ubiquity. Francina’s “man of steel”, he was also named PSOE’s secretary of ideas, whatever these might entail.

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The year’s weirdest story involved events well away from Mallorca. Or did they? In September, the volcanic eruption started on the island of La Palma. And so …. (September 26) “It was bound to happen and it did. Take Mexico’s judicial services, for example, or the BAE financial newspaper in Buenos Aires. Being on the other side of the Atlantic was no excuse. There are all the historical ties with Spain, and so one might expect that they would get their geography right. But they didn’t. ‘Volcano in Palma de Mallorca,’ tweeted the Mexicans. ‘Residents evacuated because of eruption of a volcano in Palma de Mallorca,’ added the Argentines. Closer to home, the Antena 3 TV channel’s website managed to have the mayor of Palma, José Hila, apparently going to the district of Son Dameto to check on residents’ needs ‘because of the volcano in the Mallorcan and Balearic capital’.”

As for getting a news story so completely and utterly wrong, this took some beating. Prize for best media outlet of 2021 therefore goes to Antena 3.

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