Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day Three: A day and a half spent in a fake Irish pub watching football. Well, why not?

Eix Hotel Alcudia, Port d’Alcudia, Mallorca – Day three.

No overcast sky today, just bright sunshine from the off, although there is still quite a breeze. As usual I am still in the initials stages of ‘going on holiday’, which is marked by a ongoing drive ‘to do something’. And ‘doing something’ is, as far as I am concerned, the essence of a non-holiday, especially if it is backed up by that drive. But it’s early days yet, just day three.

As it was I did nothing yesterday, just spent many hours in a pub called O’Malleys watching the football on Sky Sports 1, and won myself £67 with three bets on Crystal Palace getting the better of Liverpool. For scousers, their defeat was even more heartbreaking because it was Steven Gerrard’s last-ever home game for Liverpool, and there is little else scousers like than a sentimental ending. To use a current cliché, sentimentality is ‘in their DNA’, which is one reason, quite possibly the only reason, why in the centuries old Liverpool (the city) v Manchester (the city) why I am firmly in the Manchester camp. As far as scousers are concerned, the ending they wanted was Liverpool coming out top, with Gerrard not only scoring, but preferably scoring the winning goal.

Well, he didn’t, so boo sucks to all you scousers. I did try to sunbathe today, but not only have I not yet shaken off that ‘drive to do something’, but I burn easily and have been badly sunburnt in the past, so 15/20 minutes is all I shall allow myself. And if I go home with a body a rather paler shade of whipped cream, tough. So it is back in O’Malleys, after a glass of Rioja and a bit of tapas across the road (O’Malleys with its Sky Sports is almost exclusively patronised by Brits and the odd Scandanavians wisely stick to egg and chips, sausage and chips, bacon, egg and chips and baguettes every kind, of which chip baguette, I’m assured, is by far the best-seller.)

At the moment, while I write, it is half-time between Swansea and Manchester City. After the first few minutes, when the odds became worth it, I put a fiver on Swansea to win, so, of course, Manchester City were 2-0 up within minutes. But all is not lost: Swansea pulled one back on the brink of halftime and the way the are playing could well go on to take the match. If it hadn’t been for two great saves by Hart, it might already be 3-2 to Swansea.

The next match is The One: Manchester City v Arsenal, with United fourth in the table and Arsenal third. No bets on this one, I’ll just lose, but anyway the odds don’t really make it worthwhile. I spent some of yesterday tracking down some remote parts of Mallorca, and if the weather is more overcast than not, I shall take off and do some exploring.

. . .


The hotel I’m staying in is fine. Not exorbitant luxury, but then I wouldn’t want that, three floors close to the seaside in Port d’Alcudia. I was going to go to Alcudia old town the other day to have a mooch around, but being stupid, I set off just before lunch and the traffic was awful. So in stead I set off for the centre of the island, changed my mind after a few minutes and drove several miles down a rural road to Pollenca. The guests are mainly British and German, with a few French and Swedes (I think, could be Norwegian and Danish) as well as some Spanish. Oddly, the Brits all seem to be about 20 to 30 years older than the others. Why, I could not even start to speculate.

Port d’Alcudia obviously started life as a small port serving Alcudia, but is now pretty much built-up and if you have been to any seaside resort, you’ll know what it looks like – tat shops, supermarkets which seem to sell spirits by the acre (and that’s no much of an exaggeration. When I am out tomorrow, I’ll take a piccy of one of them), bars, bars, cafes, tapas restaurants and a marina with hundreds of yachts, bit and small. It is quite busy, but I’m told not half as bad – by which I mean busy – as other resorts. Nor does there seem to be a ‘get pissed at all costs’ element roaming the streets.

I haven’t been out at night, but I would most certainly hear any yobs from Cardiff, Derby, London, Driffield, Lincoln if there were. But it’s now only May, perhaps they turn up later in the summer. I’ve looked at a map and jotted down the names of small towns and villages in the centre of the island, and shall take off when the mood takes me – rule No 1 for my holidays, plan nothing. The weather started well today and stayed that way, but might be a little cloudier tomorrow and Tuesday, so if it is, and my mood is taking me, that’s when I shall head off.

. . .

The biography of Somerset Maugham is a great read. I wish other writers could write with the same straightforward fluency as Selina Hastings (aka daughter of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon – for all the snobs who are reading this who might like to know). I have previously read her biography of Evelyn Waugh, although I can’t remember much about her book – as opposed to Waugh’s life (I’ve read several biographies of the man), but that, too, was immensely readable.

Actually, in some circles ‘immensely readable’ might be something of a putdown, but I don’t mean it like that at all. I knew very little about Maugham until I heard this biography serialised a few years ago as Radio 4’s Book of the Week, but since then I have read several of his short stories (and have many more to go – in a fit of enthusiasm I bought all four volumes of his collected short stories, a novel, The Magician, and his A Writer’s Notebook).

So far I find him rather likeable. But as I am only 86 pages into a 549-page book, perhaps that will change, although from what I remember of the serialisation, I don’t believe it will. I have written about Maugham before in this blog, but one of the main things I remember from the broadcasts was just what an industrious man he was, how disciplined he was, sitting down to write every day, and how despite his more recent reputation for being a nasty, cruel piece of work, he was probably more sinned against than sinning. But enough of that here. I might write more later.

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