Shame about the weather. Arrived at Palma airport just after midnight and after the standard hire car ‘do you want to take out extra insurance for just €98, which we strongly advise?’, ‘no’, ‘but we really do advise it, sir, because…’, ‘no,’ ‘but sir, if you have any accident of any kind whatsoever…’, ‘I took out extra insurance in England,’ ‘well, that’s as maybe, sir, but there are several things which aren’t…’, ‘no, thanks, really,’ ‘but, sir, under Spanish law, you could well end up in jail for several years even if a fly even shits on the car, but with our extra cover…’, ‘no, I’ll risk, it’, ‘but are you sure, sir, because we do strongly advise it, sir, and figures show, sir, that almost 90pc of renters who don’t take out our extra cover…’, ‘no, now can I have the keys?’, ‘of course, sir, immediately, but can I urge you to think again, because?’, ‘no, thanks, really,’ (cont P92). Shame about the weather.
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But actually, I don’t care, not one bit. I am on holiday, and if you start getting pissed off because the ashtray in your room rattles if you get up quickly and go into the bathroom and is there any chance they might supply you with a different one? you might as well stay at home and watch archive programmes of The One Show. Me, I’m relaxed. So it’s overcast and there is just a hintette of drizzle in the air, and it’s not quite the 26c promised on Accuweather, closer to 18c, but what the hell. The wifi works perfectly in my room if you stand on a chair and hold it your phone up to the corner just above your window, and a lukewarm shower is far, far better for you in the Mediterranean climate so ignore all those Brit whingers who ‘didn’t pay top dollar for a four-star hotel just to spend ten minutes running around in a shower just to get wet! Wait till I tell Tripadvisor!’ Holidays are for relaxing, going with the flow, taking one day at a time, being honest with yourself, keeping in touch with your sponsor – sorry, wrong blog.
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The really good news is that not only is the wifi fine, except in my room where it can be a tad flaky, but then I didn’t fly 1,500 miles to Spain just to sit in my room surfing the net, but the magic browser extension recommended to me which fools your laptop into thinking you are still in Old Blighty means tonight I shall be able to watch the second leg of Brentford v Middlesbrough on Sky Sports. But it gets better, far, far better: on Sunday I can watch live the match between Manchester United and Arsenal. Yes sirree, and here’s hoping United don’t fuck it up as they did a couple of weeks ago against West Brom. (Technical note: you can’t watch Sky Sports or BBC iPlayer on a laptop or tablet if you are abroad. Name of magic extension on application.)
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I asked my friend on reception where to go for a little more peace and quiet and she says the centre of Mallorca is the place for that, the tourists don’t bother. But first it’s off for the mandatory trip to the local hypermarket (©Mark Powell) to find some cheap trainers. My open-toed, Greek athlete
style, brown leather sandals are fine, but I forgot to bring the trainers I bought especially for this trip (at Sports Direct online, £79.99, reduced to £24.99 – yeah, right) and just in case – just in case, I’m really not expecting the worst – it does start drizzling, trainers might be better than sandals (though nothing as uncool as ‘sandals’, mind, these are those far more acceptable Greek athlete style brown leather ones. (Oh, and note to self: as my daughter keeps telling me, socks and sandals are something of a no-no, the kind of thing male librarians with OCD wear). Right, that’s it. I’m off.
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Well, after my pessimistic description of the weather, admittedly larded rather a lot with hyperbole, in the event it turned out rather nice. Took off in the centre of Mallorca where, I was assured it isn’t quite as touristy as the coast, but just a few miles down the road, decided I was too knackered for a longer drive, and instead headed back to a town called Pollenca (no, not Pollenta, keep up at the back there) which on its outskirts is more or less Anywheresville, Mediterranea, what with half-built blocks which look like a health and safety nightmare until they are eventually covered in plaster and paint, by which time they look half-decent but are still a health and safety nightmare, but the town itself is medieval, so there’s the relief. Populated by British and German tourists, of whom the Krauts are all, oddly, at least 20 years younger than the Brits.
On the main square there are any number of eating places, almost identikit, with terrace, but it was crowed when I arrived and walked through, and even more so when I walked back. Not what I wanted. I finally found a pleasant place with an inside terrace where I and a couple on the other side of the terrace were the only patrons (only because the mob were happy to put up with sitting cheek by jowl with other members of their mob. Do I sound snobbish? Hope so). There I had a smoked ham and goat’s cheese bruschetta with a couple of glasses of lager and, courtesy of my magic browser extension which kids the world on I am still in Old Blighty.
Tonight, now, in fact, again courtesy of the magic extension (which surely by now deserves caps – Magic Extension) it’s Middlesbrough v Brentford playing for the Championship third promotion spot final. I’m with Brentford, who ‘have a mountain to climb’ (©Gary Commentator), but only because Chris and Richard at work are diehard supporters.
Incidentally, I’m glad I blew another £2,000 on hiring a car, because although the hotel and facitilities are fine, the area is another bit of Anywheresville, Mediterranea, with added Thai, Chinese and Indian restaurants. Who on earth comes to Spain, only to stuff themselves on Thai, Chinese and Indian food beats me. Would you go to Bangkok and demand tapas? No, nor would I. Pip, pip.