Monday, February 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 February 2017

Morning high (7.44am): 7C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 21 February - Sun, 16C; 22 February - Sun, 18C; 23 February - Sun, cloud, 18C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 3 tending to Variable during the morning.

Nice morning, nice day to come.

Evening update (20.00): Nice it was. High of 18.1C.

The Movable Case Of The Bus Station

The Puerto Pollensa bus stop saga is a consequence of the semi-pedestrianisation: the one-time stop by the tourist information office at the yacht club roundabout had to go.

The permanent solution is the establishment of a type of bus station on the Formentor bypass. It is not a new solution. When the town hall administration of Joan Cerdà attempted and failed in introducing its pedestrianisation project in 2009, the intention had been for the bus stop to be relocated to the bypass and specifically to the area which is now a car park by the roundabout leading into the calle Tramuntana.

So this has long been the preferred option, but of course there has been the stop-gap solution - the stops for both local and Palma buses along Roger de Flor. These became a major issue last spring and summer because of the noise and the fumes. The delegate for the port, Andres Nevado, told me in June that the permanent solution, i.e. the bypass, would be realised within two to three months. He also said that this solution wasn't one that the town hall could provide; it was a matter for the Council of Mallorca.

He showed me a Google Map presentation of where this "bus station" would go. Not where the car park is, but on the other side of the Tramuntana road on what is a plot that would needed to have been developed in order to accommodate it. That, it seemed to me, was rather curious. Buses would therefore be in front of apartments. The issue with noise and fumes would be shifted somewhere else, though admittedly not as intensively, given that the road is open to one side. The problems in Roger de Flor have been exacerbated by the trap created by the church for the local buses.

What has now emerged is a plan which shows the bus station to be sited where it had been intended to go back in 2009: on the car park. This plan was pinned on to the entrance of someone's apartment and then shared on Facebook.

That was almost two weeks ago. On Tuesday last week, the town hall was being taken to task via its Facebook page about the ongoing issues with the buses on Roger de Flor. The town hall's response was that the stops on Roger de Flor had always been temporary and that they will not be there for the tourist season. Therefore, the inconveniences of last summer will not be repeated.

So, some time between now and April or May, it would seem that the stops will move. Will this, therefore, be to a permanent site, as in the bus station shown on the plan with the message that says there is no date for it to be operative but that it will be at some point this year?

Meantime, it was somewhat ironic that the town hall should post a photo of a bit of road repair on Roger de Flor. It had been necessitated because of the volume of bus traffic.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 February 2017

Morning high (7.50am): 9.1C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 3
Three-day forecast: 20 February - Sun, 16C; 21 February - Sun, cloud, 17C; 22 February - Sun, cloud, 17C.

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

Cloudy start. Sunny spells later. A mild and calm pattern at present, the next few days fairly warm and sunny.

Evening update (20.00): Pleasant enough. High of 17.6C.

When Palma Went To The Dogs

The announcement last week that the scheme for an "urban forest" in Palma will include a conversion of the former dog track may well have had some scratching their heads. There used to be greyhound racing in Palma? There did indeed, and the "canódromo" is a further relic of a sporting past on the island which is littered with abandoned arenas of some form or another, such as the El Tirador velodrome - right by the dog track and also to be part of the forest - that was opened in 1903.

The origins of the track lie with two men. One was the gentlemanly figure of the Marquis Villagragima, son of the Count of Romanones. Towards the end of the 1920s, the marquis - a regular visitor to England - came across greyhound racing and thought that it would be a splendid sport to be imported to Spain. He was therefore behind the establishment of the Club Deportivo Galguero Español ("galguero" coming from "galgo", the Spanish word for greyhound) and the first track to be built in Spain in Madrid.

The other person was Miguel Rosselló Andreu. From a wealthy Porreres family, he had sought a military career, only to be struck down by typhoid. Seeking alternative ventures and with the aid of military nobles, he got to know the marquis and, soon after the Madrid track was built, so were two more - one in Valencia and the other in Palma. Initially, and prior to obtaining the land for the track, races were staged at the trotting track. Despite greyhound racing being almost totally unknown to the paying (and betting) public, these first races were a great success, thus confirming the commercial value of there being a dedicated track.

Rosselló was to also become a breeder. There was commercial sense to this, as the first dogs to race in Palma had to be imported from Ireland and England, which at the start of the 1930s was far from a straightforward procedure. There were greyhounds but these were ones suited to coursing, which had existed prior to the dog tracks, and not to races of some thirty seconds. Obtaining dogs was just one obstacle. Another was a 1932 prohibition on betting. This, though, was to be lifted two years later. Subsequently, and despite the Civil War, greyhound racing began to flourish. Republican Spain could count on tracks in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, while Nationalist Spain had Tenerife, Las Palmas, Zaragoza, Seville and Palma.

At the end of the Civil War, the former sporting club became the Federación Española Galguera. By this time, greyhounds for stud had grown old, and importing dogs was impossible because of the world war. Breeding in Mallorca and the Canaries did, though, help to sustain the sport, which held the first official championship under the auspices of the new federation in 1940. Legendary studs of the era included Mallorca's Panama, the father of a dog who acquired even grander status, the bitch Costa Rica II, which was to win the first Balearic championship, also in 1940, and the Spanish championship in Barcelona the following year.

Palma was to come to be considered to be one of the finest of tracks in the country. By the mid-1970s there were sixteen tracks, but the sport was never widespread across Spain. Various tracks closed, and so the focus was on the Canaries - where there were once eight tracks - Barcelona with four, Valencia, Madrid and Palma.

The final Balearic championship was held in 1980, the same year that the national championship was also staged in Palma. Two years later, the national federation stopped subsidising the various regional championships, a decision which heralded the gradual decline of greyhound racing.

As can be seen from the fact that tracks were confined to only a few parts of the country, it was never a sport that took off in a way similar to, for example, England. This lack of popularity and an absence of funding were to bring about its end, though just as importantly, if not more, were the efforts of those opposed to the racing of greyhounds and in particular the conditions in which they were kept and the ways in which they were treated.

From the start of 1990s, the British organisation Greyhound in Need, founded by Anne Finch, helped to investigate the treatment of dogs and to bring this to wider public knowledge. One by one, the tracks disappeared. The last one to close was in Barcelona in 2006. Palma's canódromo, meanwhile, ceased to be in 1999.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 February 2017

Morning high (7.47am): 5.3C
Forecast high: 15C; UV: 3
Three-day forecast: 19 February - Cloud, sun, 15C; 20 February - Cloud, sun, 15C; 21 February - Cloud, sun, 15C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 3 occasionally Variable in the afternoon.

Pleasant morning. Decent sun expected today. Tomorrow a slight risk of rain.

The Bus Services PR Game

When are direct bus services from the airport to tourist resorts not direct bus services from the airport to tourist resorts? Answer: when the regional government which dreamt up the scheme for direct bus services determines otherwise.

There seems to be precious little sympathy for the taxi drivers, but neither they nor the government is coming out of this affair with a great deal of credit, and where the government is concerned, it has moved the goalposts from what was originally said. This was that there would be direct bus services to the resorts, an intention which no longer holds good. When the director-general for transport, Jaume Mateu, let it be known that these services will be stopping in "pueblos" with 15,000 or more inhabitants, it was a further red rag to the taxi driver bull. He didn't actually specify which these pueblos will be, but they certainly include Inca and Manacor, because that much is known. Which other ones? Llucmajor along the route to Cala d'Or?

President Armengol, arguing earlier this week that citizens in certain towns have the right to a good system of public transport, referred to Sa Pobla and Son Servera, neither of which have populations of 15,000. So how does this marry with what Mateu has said? It doesn't, and the impression being given is that the government is making things up on the hoof. Initially, there was never any mention of there being stops anywhere other than in the resorts. Had this been decided but not revealed? Or have these additional stops been added as a way of getting the public more on the government's side (the public in the relevant pueblos, that is)?

These bus services are therefore becoming new bus routes, simple as that. In which case, why - and the taxi drivers have asked the question - aren't they going to operate all year? And one wonders how feasible these services are in terms of serving both residents and tourists. Assuming, for example, the service which starts at Cala Bona fills up, then what happens to the residents of Manacor who might be waiting to be whisked off to the airport?

Improvisation is what one perceives, and improvisation in the name of winning the PR game against the taxi drivers, who do themselves few favours by trotting out some of the arguments they do with precisely the same PR aim. They are appealing to a public that may hold anti-hotelier sentiments (and this public is sizable) by suggesting that the hoteliers are implicated with the introduction of the services. It was said that the bus services are a government way of placating hoteliers as it will compensate hotels for the tourist tax. What!? By way of explanation, this is because hotels will save some money because of the bus services. While hotels do incur some cost with transfers, the notion that this has all been set up to appease them is frankly ridiculous.

One of the most sensible observations amidst an increasingly nonsensical situation has come from Bartolomé Deyà of the university's tourism faculty. There are tourist customers for everyone - buses, taxis, transfers - and the bus and taxi markets are different. Amen.

Friday, February 17, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 February 2017

Morning high (7.58am): 5.6C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 18 February - Sun, cloud, 15C; 19 February - Cloud, sun, 15C; 20 February - Cloud, sun, 15C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 3 tending to Variable 1 to 3 in the afternoon.

Fine morning, a bit foggy in areas, but lifting to give a decent day.

Modelling The Green City

Let me say this. One, Palma is given too much attention. Yes, it is the capital, it has around half the population of Mallorca, it is the centre of the commercial and political universe on the island. It still gets a disproportionate level of attention, though. Two, its town hall councillors have an unerring capacity to unleash barrages of statistics designed to doubtless impress the citizens but which instead induce comas of numbed-by-number. Want to know the percentage increase in film shoots for adverts for the past twelve months, the rise in the number of passengers on a particular bus line, the budget elevation for rubbish collection, the percentage of full-time workers in the non-tourism sector in a certain quarter of the year? If you do, then there's a councillor (usually either Joana Maria Adrover or Neus Truyol) who will oblige.

Which isn't to say that Palma councillors are unique in this regard. Or that their utterances are of such a uniquely great abundance in order to ensure attention. As the third government in Mallorca - after the actual government and the one that would like to be, namely, the Council of Mallorca - it has a duty to follow the communication rules of its betters and numb the citizens into servile submission under the sheer weight of percentage points.

The follow-on from all this quantity is the quality. Increases here, rises there, and therefore things are better. More employment, more rubbish being collected, etc. There's nothing wrong with this, but too often the qualitative message is subservient to the quantitative announcement. What people really want to know is how are lives being improved, how is the city being improved. Not by numbers but by physical evidence of action and firm commitments to action that lead to qualitative enhancements.

I come, therefore, to praise the next mayor of Palma, Antoni Noguera. When he first landed the job as one of the plethora of the city's deputy mayors, there was less than clarity as to one of the responsibilities that had been assigned to him. Or rather, that he had assigned to himself. Deputy mayor for the model of the city. What did that mean?

We are now discovering what it means and also what pledges to improve "livability" are to do with. And we need look no further than the scheme for the urban forest to understand where Noguera is coming from. In essence it's about more green space, but it comes with the additional intention of offsetting the impact of rising temperatures by virtue of this very greening. Applause there should be for the scheme. Palma doesn't have enough green space. Providing more is desirable in different ways, not least because of the qualitative value in terms of quality of life.

Noguera has been making other contributions. There is the plan to cut lanes of traffic by two along the Paseo Marítimo. There are further ones in respect of the number of new restaurant and bar licences. In other words, there will be limits, and for once a town hall initiative affecting the city's business has been greeted with seemingly total approval. The thinking is to avoid there being ghettoes of bars and restaurants and little or nothing else. Create a mix of business, and a greater sense of civility is established.

Likewise, and although this doesn't come under Noguera, there are the changes to the use of the public way, the most controversial aspect of which has to do with terraces. It can seem as if certain councillors have it in for terraces (and they may well do), but the principle isn't wrong in wishing to create more space for people just to walk. In a sense, this is similar thinking to the urban forest and to the opening-up of the Paseo Marítimo by creating a real link between the urbanised city and its sea: the perception and reality of more space, of less clutter, of greater quality.

But is Noguera getting ahead of himself? The plan for the forest includes the velodrome and the Es Fortí military club. The town hall says it will expropriate the former. A desire to take Es Fortí out of private hands might prove more problematic. While one applauds what he wishes to create, the actual plan for the forest is still no more than a draft. Yet he says that it will be completed, along with the planting of thousands of trees along the Riera torrent, by the time the current administration finishes.

Has he been spinning as he moves towards the time when he succeeds José Hila as mayor, promoting his projects as means of guaranteeing - were there to be any doubts - this succession? One hopes not. His is a worthwhile project. Palma might just attract ever more attention, and in this instance it would be highly merited.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 February 2017

Morning high (7.00am): 6.7C
Forecast high: 17C; UV: 3
Three-day forecast: 17 February - Sun, cloud, 16C; 18 February - Cloud, 15C; 19 February - Cloud, 15C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3.

Hopefully some more reasonable sun today. Note the UV rating edging up to three for the first time in a fair while.

Evening update (21.00): High of 17.5C. 

The Vogue For Bloodletting

Given all the shenanigans involving what one tires of being told are "anti-austerity newcomers" Podemos, it has been easy to overlook that pro-austerity oldsters, the Partido Popular, are lurking in the murky political undergrowth ready to pounce on the next unsuspecting electorate - in the Balearics, that is.

Away from the islands, and in the safety of The Land That Time Forgot, the PP's national hierarchy lumbers on, a giant staggering through a forest of political half-light, never turning the torches on the corpses that are strewn across its path or are buried in a court's archives. Seemingly immune to the convulsions and eruptions everywhere else, there is a serenity for the PP, capable as they are of closeting themselves within the contentment of another electoral job done (if only just) and of pulling down the shutters to avoid the inward glares into their Jurassic lair.

The PP were forgotten at the weekend. This was not how Pablo Iglesias had intended it. The Podemos knockout to decide a winner was duly timed to coincide with the PP who were gathering only a short distance away. But because everyone was interested only in the left and even more left hooks being delivered by Errejón and Iglesias, no one took any notice of the PP. Podemos were a show, a spectacular, a political prime-time reality broadcast played out in the real-time of up-to-the second voting intentions. Time had indeed forgotten the PP. Their dullness in this post-modern political world of citizen online councils, speakers with piercings and a long mane of hair tied up in a sort of bun, and election brochures stolen from Ikea is the very thing which sustains them. They seem otherworldly, of another and former time.

Iglesias had hoped that having the two congresses at the same time would enable the citizens to draw comparisons. If the citizens did do this, then the comparison would have been between a tetchy bunch of upstart Herberts and the grim familiarity of Mariano Rajoy. In a world of convulsions there is something to be said for a leader who sports a tie, is attended to by a barber with a certain degree of frequency and can at least attempt to converse with Trump.

The cosiness of the PP's gathering was such that controversy was a distant cousin, one for the sentencing of "caso Gürtel" and for the machinations across the sea in the Balearics. And it is here in the Balearics that the national hierarchy would much prefer that a son, who at one time - now long ago - had been looked upon with benevolent, austere goodwill, would quietly disappear. But the hierarchy is not alone in having been confounded, nay startled by the sheer persistence of he who refuses to lie down - José Ramón Bauzá.

We did all rather chortle when Bauzá made it known that he was intending to attempt to once more become president of the party. There is still some chortling, but as the time moves nearer for a regional congress at least a year overdue, there is Bauzá, steadfast in his belief that he can return as the re-conquering hero of the Balearic PP. Never mind that he did his best, and mainly succeeded, in delivering a sharp instrument into the heart of Balearic society and much of his own party; he seems convinced that all that will be forgiven.

The show that the Balearic PP are planning will be bloodletting on a scale that is biblical in its abundance compared with the streams that washed across the feet of Errejón and Iglesias in Madrid last weekend. The long-time favourite to become the party's new president, Biel Company, should win in the kind of canter suited to a man with his agricultural leanings. But Bauzá has pulled two agrarians out of the hat who are his latest cheerleaders. One says that Bauzá was the best president that the Balearics has had. Both are one-time friends of Company but they no longer share company.

Company was once a friend of Bauzá's, too. It was Bauzá who made him environment and agriculture minister, but it was Company who helped to deliver the knife. Hauling in agrarians is Bauzá's way of showing he's every bit a man of conservative, farming sod as Company is. 

Bauzá was aghast to see that Company had surrounded himself with members of the hierarchy at the PP congress in Madrid. Here was affirmation of what Madrid hopes for and which the temporary leader of the PP in the Balearics, Miquel Vidal, also hopes for - a single candidate who can pull the factions together. There is little chance, not while Bauzá continues along a path that may result in a humiliation greater than the defeat of the PP he presided over two years ago.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 February 2017

Morning high (8.18am): 11.1C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 16 February - Sun, cloud, 16C; 17 February - Cloud, 16C; 18 February - Sun, cloud, 15C.

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

Cloud and some fog giving way to a bright and sunny day (with any luck).

Evening update (21.30): Pretty good. High of 18.7C.

The Pleasant View From Podemos

The Palacio de Vistalegre in Madrid is not what one might describe as a lovely building. Unlovely might be more accurate. To the sides of its main entrance are two enormous grey slabs with poky windows. They look like some nightmarishly anonymous apartment edifices of a Brutalist East Berlin style. To the front of these are great plinths on which two bulls stand. This is a convention centre built on the site of a former bullring and which has incorporated another.

Symbolically, this curious juxtaposition of highly unattractive, functionalist architecture and national image appears to say a great deal about the occupants of the Palacio at the weekend. The bull, representative of a monarchical, Francoist, conservative Spain that plays fast and loose with animal welfare in the name of honour and tradition, is a manifestation of what Podemos reject. The Brutalism reminiscent of collective dwelling might be said to belong to a political society that Podemos hanker after.

As far as the bulls are concerned, one has to feel that Podemos were playing an ironic joke by selecting Vistalegre for the second time of asking. As for the architecture, rarely has a convention centre been more inappropriately named, but as a symbol of Podemos, is it entirely accurate? Not if you do not consider Podemos to carry the legacy of communism, and any number of "Podemistas" will insist that they do not. But such a legacy helped partly to explain why they all gathered in Madrid at the weekend.

The navel-gazing combined with internal factionalising that have consumed Podemos energies for several months led to Vistalegre II and to the votes to decide the direction in which the party will now head. And one factional aspect had to do with communism; in particular the electoral tie-up with the United Left, which is unashamedly communist.

Podemos, under the combined umbrella of Unidos Podemos, didn't do as well as had been hoped at the June election. This was one reason why Iñigo Errejón had been promoting a less scary Podemos image. He wanted the party to adopt a fluffy demeanour instead of its anxiety-engendering stony face. The Podemistas who went to Madrid or hit the online citizen participation button were torn between a rock and a fluffy place. They chose rock.

There will be those who make an assumption that Podemos are more or less indivisible from communism anyway, but the assumption is far from accurate. In the first place, Podemos do not avow established political philosophies. There may well be strong echoes of these but they are not dogmas as such. And because of this disavowal of established thinking and organisation, there was great unease that the party should have chosen to team up with an established party at the election. And moreover, that it was a party known for its communist leanings.

A key point with Podemos which is all too easily forgotten is that they appealed to a broad spectrum of society. It was pluralist. One only has to look back at opinion polls and actual polls to appreciate that support wasn't only coming from left-leaning society. Partido Popular voters gave Podemos their support as well, seduced by the anti-corruption message and their own disenchantment. In a way, therefore, Vistalegre II was all about Errejón seeking a reconnection with this wider base that had initially served Podemos so well in propelling them to where they had got. The hook-up with the United Left seemed to cause a flight of support.

Pablo Iglesias, having seen off his rival, now has the mandate to move towards what PSOE spokesperson Mario Jiménez has described as "Pabloist-Leninism", a lurch most certainly further towards the radical left. For PSOE, there is an opportunity, it believes, so long as Pedro Sánchez doesn't manage to return as its leader. The centre-left is there for its taking and any thought of accords with Podemos are now firmly out of the window.

But what of Podemos? Are they strengthened or are they weakened? Both. Iglesias has the grip he wanted. He had instilled a certain fear factor by having stated that he would have immediately resigned had things not gone his way at Vistalegre. The Podemistas, many of them, would have sensed a weakening without the most visible face the party possesses. Some may well have been swayed to back him for this reason alone. He is still very much an asset rather than a liability with greater charisma than his rivals.

Nevertheless, there is a weakening. Errejón and his supporters, according to the voting, represent around a third of Podemistas. Errejón himself faces being purged, and it isn't beyond the bounds of possibility that there might be a formal split. In which case - whither Podemos? The next opinion polls are going to be very informative.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 February 2017

Morning high (7.17am): 9.2C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 15 February - Cloud, 15C; 16 February - Sun, cloud, 16C; 17 February - Cloud, 15C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 4, Variable at times in the morning. Swells of one metre.

Clear sky, moon's bright as sun comes up. But forecast to be mainly cloudy later.

Evening update (22.00): It wasn't cloudy later. It was nice and sunny, with a high of 19.7C.

Saint Valentine's Day Massacring

The Council of Mallorca has been undertaking its version of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. No submachine guns have been involved, only the small fire of a campaign aimed at "dismantling" Saint Valentine, disassembling the old fellow, taking him apart and leaving him divorced of romantic love.

Saint Valentine himself may or may not have been physically disassembled when it came to the act that led to his martyring. One reason for such uncertainty is that there were various Valentines who may have been the saint. The chances are that he was combi-Valentine, made up of components, and moulded into saintliness with legend fully attached. According to the inexact history books, he copped for it in 275 when in Rome. And when in Rome in those days, it wasn't a wise thing to be going around being a Christian. If 275 was the date of his untimely end, then at least he wasn't a victim of Diocletian, who pushed martyrdom to unprecedented levels.

Valentine supposedly got into trouble for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Not each other, you understand, though this might be taken as something of a theme for the Council's massacring. His legendary association with weddings was to come to the aid, several centuries later, of Geoffrey Chaucer. In 1382, Chaucer scribed Parlement of Foules, which wasn't a parliament of fools but one of birds. On Saint Valentine's Day, according to Chaucer, every bird went to choose a mate, and his work was written to mark the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia.

One of his lesser known works, it was to have a profound influence, as it popularised the concept of romantic love. Without Chaucer, it is unlikely that we would have Valentine cards, Valentine candlelit dinners, Valentine city-breaks for lovers or any of the contemporary manifestations of the saint. Indeed, had it not been for Chaucer, I wouldn't be writing this and the Council of Mallorca wouldn't be engaged in its disassembling.

It wasn't as though Chaucer invented romantic love within a courtly setting. Other mediaevalists had done likewise, none more so than Andreas Capellanus with De Amore, which has come to be known as The Art of Courtly Love in English. But it was a combination of this early literary tradition and Chaucer that propelled not only Valentine's Day along its path to eventual full-blown commercialism but also inspired the dominant romanticism of Spain's literature. Despite Cervantes' lampooning of this chivalrous love, the influence remained and did so to an extent that society - part of it anyway - reflected the unreal world of literature more than literature did society.

What this bred (so to speak) was a much broader society based on what the Council of Mallorca now wishes to dismantle. This is the ubiquitous message of romantic love in which love is presented as a utopian state and that love is worth anything that it might take in order to achieve it. The mediaevalists' portrayal of romantic or courtly love placed enormous emphasis on the lengths that had to be gone to, and a current-day view suggests that this persists in creating dangerous situations that foster jealousy, control, possession. dependence and ultimately mistreatment.

Nina Parrón, the councillor for equality, believes that Valentine's Day is a celebration of "unbalanced relationships" in which the "myth" of romantic love dominates and limits love to a single way of wanting. It is this myth that the Council wishes to demolish in promoting "respect-based and equal" relationships. Furthermore, it is couching this against the background of the campaign against gender violence. Valentine's Day reinforces the presentation of a love that is not real and so leads to unequal relationships, in which violence may exist.

In addition, this leads to a stereotyping of relationships that exclude alternative ones - lesbian and gay. All of which has prompted the less than left-wing Balearic Family Forum to denounce what it considers to be the demonisation of love by the Council, which is doing so using public money. The forum argues that the Council is seeking to impose gender ideology in a totalitarian manner. "To try to say that romantic love is the same as imposition, disrespect, submission and dependence is a crude means of imposing gender ideology."

The Council's president, Miquel Ensenyat, accepts that some controversy has been aroused. But controversy is useful in order to engender debate. If the campaign makes people asks questions, then good, and he has placed it in the context of the "serious problem of gender-based deaths".

So, will people today be thinking deeply of the controversy as they head off for their Valentine's meals? What will they believe that the cards they receive really represent? Will they side with the Council's view or the family forum's view? What do you think?