Back last night from Porto Cristo. The holiday went well apart from the travel, which I’ll come to later. Well, ok, now. We got to Palma airport on time, and found our transfer bus for the ‘45 minute’ trip to Porto Cristo. That turned out to be nearer two hours as we went round the island dropping off families at the identical new-build resorts inflicted on the east coast of the island. We were so glad to find Port Cristo was unlike them – a small town where Majorcans lived and worked as well as catering for tourists. It’s basically a small bay with beautiful little beach, and, off to the side, a large marina full of fantasy sleek white yachts and power boats. Madame and I were both pretty tired out from work and other stuff we’ve had to cope with, so we didn’t do much other than enjoy the heat and read books. I carefully worked my way through The Origin of Human Nature by Albert Low, a riposte to Richard Dawkins and the neo-Darwinists and an intellectual adventure in itself. That took a lot of concentration and for relaxation I enjoyed The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, the latest in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series; I particularly like the monstrous Irene and her attempts to bring up her prodigy six-year-old according to the dictats of political correctness, Freud and Melanie Klein. She is second only to Mr Hyde in the pantheon of Scottish literary monsters (says he pretending to know squat about Scottish literature!). I also read bits of an interesting book about hit songwriting, which, although it grates with the ‘I am an Artist’ pretension, makes some good points about why some songs connect to the emotions and some don’t.
There’s more …
One day we went to the Caves of Drach, an enormous series of caverns lit with extraordinary subtlety and imagination in 1935. There’s enough space for an auditorium seating a couple of hundred people for a short classical concert performed live from rowing boats on a lake in the darkness. During our visit there was a party of Italians, mostly senior citizens, displaying the worst and best aspects of their national stereotype (respectively: the inability to stop talking for five seconds, even during the concert, and a sense of riotous fun as exuberant as any primary school outing when boarding the rowing boats to leave the cavern; you just had to love them).
Our hotel was the Felip, a refurbished Art Nouveau (I think) building overlooking the marina, and probably cheaper than most of the horrors we had seen people being deposited at in the tourist complexes. On Friday night we took a chance and went to a concert we’d seen advertised – the Marta Elka group, performing to a very small audience (about 25) in a gallery theatre. Marta sang and played superb jazz viola; she was backed by an excellent percussionist and one of the best acoustic guitarists I’ve ever seen. It was a bit of a strain to listen to a whole set by a singer songwriter when you don’t understand a word of the songs or the between song banter, but the musicianship was a treat nonetheless.
For our return journey the transfer took a full three hours, as we went round endless streets of whitewashed breezeblocks, boasting English breakfasts and Karaoke. We then got to the airport two hours before takeoff, every single minute of which was occupied in queuing – at check-in, at security and to get onto the plane.
We were only away five days, and spent in total one of those travelling in planes and buses, but it was a good break – time to relax and reflect.
Here’s Marta Elka: