How to survive in the mountains in Mallorca

I’m lucky to know some really fantastic people in Majorca, after my daughter’s recent accident on a Sunday walk, my friend Steevi Ware wrote this article for us, and any other person out walking on the island. Steevi Ware has been a full on “Prepper” since 2012 but has always had a fondness for the outdoors lifestyle. His main passion lies in power production, water filtration and satellite communications. Here’s his article written with everyone in mind. And, Steevi is offering a FREE survival course to anyone who is interested so please get in touch with him via email:  steevi@beprepared.today

Steevi Ware, Mallorca, Phoenix Media

Steevi Ware

HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE MOUNTAINS 

How would you survive in the mountains if something happened to you or a companion? Worst still what if you were alone and there was no mobile phone coverage where you were? Well there are some simple steps you can take to make your life a lot easier should the worst happen.

The main things you need to do happen before you even leave your house for your trip. The first thing you should always do is tell someone your intended route and what time you should be back home. Failing to do this may mean no one even knows you’re missing or in trouble. A quick text message to a neighbour or an email to your family members means that if you don’t return when you say you will at least the emergency services will know where to start looking.

Secondly is to leave prepared. It might sound obvious but having studied numerous cases of survival, there isn’t one single thing that puts people in danger, it is normally a combination of small, what might seem at the time insignificant, details such as not having the correct clothing, your mobile phone battery being low and not having and navigation tools to hand.

Here is what I recommend you carry:

  • A Jacket. Needs to be lightweight and waterproof with a hood.
  • A jumper and a spare set of socks. No matter how warm it is during the day it can get cold at night, especially when it’s raining.
  • Good quality gloves and hat.
  • A hi-visibility jacket. Like we have to carry in our cars for breakdowns. It makes it easier to be spotted just in case you’re unconscious.
  • Water bladder 2 litres filled with just water. Needs to be water so it can be used to clean wounds.
  • Plastic bottle of water 500ml. As a back-up supply of water and vessel to collect more water on the way.
  • Fire kit in a waterproof zip lock bag. This could consist of a lighter, fire starter and cotton wool.
  • A whistle.
  • Mobile phone.
  • Alternative power source for phone.
  • Energy bars and nuts (high protein food). Not essential but important for morale.
  • Compass and map of local area.
  • Emergency foil blanket. 1 per family member.
  • Drinking straw. This can be used to drink water directly from rocks.
  • Small compact first aid kit.
  • 6 short bursts signify distress.
  • A mirror. For using the sun to attract attention.
  • Strong enough to pull a person if case they fall or to tie you together in fog.
  • Gorilla Tape. Thin small duct tape that has 1000 survival uses such as making a temporary splint for a leg or sprained ankle.
  • Good quality Knife. For general use and fire preparation.
  • Note pad and pen. To take note of your GPS co-ordinates as well as what treatment was administered and when.
  • Wind up torch. This gives you the possibility for continuous light without the need of batteries.
  • Let’s face it you can never have too many tissues. Not only for general use but also for fire lighting.

I have all of this and more in my eldest son’s hiking bag and other than the water it weighs no more than a kilo.

If one of your party sustains a deep cut or twisted ankle then knowledge of basic first aid is paramount. But for those of us too busy to take a first aid course, don’t panic technology is here to help. The St john Ambulance have a free app that will take you step by step through most minor incidents up to and including preforming CPR. The step by step guide has been designed for laymen to follow and offers clear instructions with diagrams.

Photographer, Vicki McLeod, Sa Trapa, Sant Elm, Mallorca Assuming you have done as much as you can but evacuation is needed, what should you do then? Well this is simple call 112. However what if you pull your phone out and there is no signal? Well don’t despair 112 might still work. But before you call the emergency services, there is something I recommend you do. If you are lucky enough to have a smart phone, go to location settings, you will be able to see your GPS co-ordinates, jot these down in exactly the same format as they appear on the phone. Then try and make the emergency call. If it won’t connect, turn 90º and try again and so on until you have completed a full square. The reason for this is that there may be a cell tower behind or to the side of you that when turning the phone’s antenna can just pick up.

Then say “Auyda / Help GPS …………” and give your GPS co-ordinates before anything else. The reason behind this is that all 112 calls are recorded. There might be just enough mobile phone signal to tell them where you are before the signal is lost.  At least that way they will know where you are to send someone out to find you. Then of course if the call holds, tell them the nature of the incident how many are in your party and any other information you can. Most importantly of all, stay calm and speak clearly. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Spanish talk calmly in your native tongue.

Here in Spain you can also try to send a txt message to 112. The advantage of this is it will send when coverage is reached. Don’t rely on this method as you don’t know who’s at the other end.

If you’re on your own and you cannot get a signal I’m afraid you face the real possibility of spending a night on the mountains. This is where our 2 main points from the start of the article come into play. 1) whoever you told will notice you’re not back and alert the emergency services and 2) the kit you are carrying in your rucksack will be able to keep you safe until help comes.

When something stressful happens our body reacts in a very specific way, Adrenaline (Epinephrine) kicks in, our heart rate increases as well as our breathing.  This can be bad news if you have sustained a cut and are losing blood. The faster you heart pumps the quicker you lose blood so at the same time you are attending to you wounds, try to calm down. A very good technique is called square breathing this involves taking a breath in for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds and waiting for 4 seconds. Adopting this method will help you easily to calm down.

Then take stock of your situation, you will need your wits about you to get through the next 24 hours.  In survival we like to refer to the rule of 3 which reminds us how long we can survive without certain things, it goes:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

And whilst 3 hours without shelter is probably a bit extreme for out mild climate here in Mallorca the rule of 3 gets us to prioritise what’s urgent in the order that it’s needed.

Photographer, Vicki McLeod, Sa Trapa, Sant Elm, Mallorca

SHELTER

So first things first: find shelter. If the injury you has sustained is serious you may well be going into shock which is a serious medical condition, you may have very little time until the Adrenaline wears off so every minute counts. Never try to complicate things, there are very few Bear Grylls or Ray Mears qualified people out there. So if you can find a natural shelter use it. There is no architectural price for shelter building your main and only focus is to get out of the elements. Another side effect of shock is risk of hypothermia so you will want to get a fire started as soon as you can. Carrying a disposable lighter in your rucksack or the type of lighter that is wind resistant is of paramount importance. Again there are no prizes for how you get a fire started so long as you do.  The easiest way to build a fire is in the pyramid format. You start with very fine tinder on the bottom (or our cotton wool and fire starter from out kit) followed by slightly larger twigs called kindling then gradually getting bigger until you have logs around the size of your upper arms. You don’t need anything bigger at this stage. Keep it fuelled and gather as much firewood as you can as you will be surprised at how quickly it burns.

Another advantage of fire is it can be seen from a great distance. The general rule of survival is 3 x lit fires next to each other signifies distress. But failing that, putting lots of greens on your current fire will produce a plume of smoke that likewise can be seen for many kilometres.

HYDRATION

The next important step is hydration. It’s very important to stay hydrated during a stressful situation. So check how much water you have and make sure to drink regularly. I would say at least 50ml every hour providing you have enough to last a day or two.  Remember you don’t know how long you will be stuck in your current position. There are many different ways to purify water should you have access to it, such as boiling it for 5 mins. Despite what you might think water can be boiled in a plastic bottle or even a paper bag so long as the flame doesn’t directly touch the vessel and there is enough water on the heated side.  The fact of the matter is that even impure water might take around 5 -7 days to make you sick so if you need to drink just drink. Remember the drinking straw in our kit; use it to suck water from an overhead rock. Water naturally filters when passed through rocks so it would be a better way to drink water than for example a puddle.

To summarize, keep calm, take action and stay focused you will soon find out that having a routine will help not just physically but also mentally as well.

Follow the above steps and you will have the maximum chance of survival in the mountains.

The final advice I would offer is joining hiking group there are many out there some who charge and some that are free. Either way you will be safer with more people to help and chances are the route will be properly planned and no doubt you will have more experienced walkers a long side to help should anything go wrong. Remember the best way to survive in the mountains is not to take risks in the first place.

I know it’s a lot to take in but please don’t be put off walking in the mountains, we are blessed here in Mallorca with many beautiful routes which offer breath-taking scenery and are in fact very safe.

For anyone interested I can offer a FREE basic mountain survival course to cover not only all of the above but also what kit you should carry and why. If interested please register by emailing me steevi@beprepared.today or visit www.beprepared.today which is a not-for-profit website where I hope to share my survival skills.

Photographer, Vicki McLeod, Sant Elm, Sa Trapa, Mallorca

TECHNOLOGY:

Nowadays you will find there are many devices and apps on the market that can help you with your hiking here are some that I suggest:

Spot Messenger:

The spot messenger is a satellite one way communicator with S.O.S function. If you find yourself in trouble push the S.O.S button and so long as you have line of sight of the sky, the message will be transmitted and someone will come looking for you. What’s great about this unit is the GPS co-ordinates are transmitted with the message so the emergency services know exactly where you are. There is also a tracking feature where every 10 mins your position is transmitted and people can follow your trip on a Google maps type browser. This particular unit needs to be purchased and has a yearly subscription. The other advantage of this unit is you can take out an additional insurance policy from GEOS which will send out a rescue team should local services not be able to attend immediately.

Delorme Inreash SE:

Like the Spot this is also a satellite messenger however it has 2 main advantages over the Spot. The main one being that it is a two way communicator meaning you can receive messages as well as send them. Not only is this useful for keeping friends updated about your trip but also in a survival situation you can advise the emergency services of what the issues are. Again this has a dedicated S.O.S button as well as a tracking feature. The subscription is monthly but you get a lot for your money and I personally won’t leave home without my one even if I am just going to the shops.

The other advantage is that it works of the Iridium satellite network which currently is the only network to offer 100% pole to pole global coverage. It means that if you are in a boat it will work in any sea in any country.

GPS:

A GPS (Global Positioning System) handset is a great way not only to tell you where you are but also where the nearest town, village or more importantly where you parked your car in the case you find yourself lost. They normally have the option to plan your route upfront meaning you have less chance to stray and get lost. The carry an initial cost but as there is no communication facility there are subscription free. There are many makes on the market but if you don’t know where to start Garmin are a well-known brand with many levels of handsets.

Phone Battery booster:

There is nothing worse than running out of battery power on your phone as we mentioned above. With today’s “battery hungry” apps even a fully charged mobile can run out by the end of the day. I get around this by always carrying an additional power source. In fact I have 2. The first is a power jacket which is like a case for my phone, it slips on the back of the phone and when I turn it on will charge my phone fully. Other than the weight you can hardly notice it’s attached. Then the second is a solar powered trickle charged battery bank with universal charging cables. I strap this to the top of my rucksack meaning that whilst hiking its continually topped up and can charge my phone fully one and a half times.  On a sunny day it would also provide me with enough power to make an emergency call thanks to the solar panel.

APPS:

Apps are a great way of being prepared most are free. Here are the ones I recommend:

  • St Johns Ambulance app:

As mentioned above a great first aid app that’s easy to use.

  • Rain Alarm:

A highly accurate rain app that hasn’t let me down yet it will show you the direction of the rain as well as the intensity, which knowing before it rains helps you better plan your route ahead and stops you getting caught in the open in the middle of a thunder storm.

  • One touch S.O.S:

For urban as well as rural areas, providing you have mobile coverage and your location services enabled pushing the big S.O.S button will send up to 3 pre-set messages out to your 3 chosen contacts to let you know you’re in trouble as well as where you are.

  • Find My Friends:

Again this app needs mobile coverage but it’s a great way to keep tabs on your family members. Even in the mountains it will transmit your location as and when the mobile signal is available. It also has an emergency feature.

  • Signal Finder:

This apps runs in the background of your smart phone so can cause battery drain but it will show you the location of the nearest signal tower, which is very useful if you need to make an emergency call.

Sources:

New Year, New Yous (PT 2)

Last week we revealed the first batch of Resolutioneers who have set their intentions for 2015: Adam, who wants to take up fighting again, Aimee who wants to stop multitasking, Diane who has vowed to stop drinking wine, Yucca who wants to get back into her car again after having her leg amputated and Helen who is learning new skills in order to help the Cancer Support Group. This week we have the rest of the class of 2015. Wish them well, some of them have set themselves quite big goals.

Sally Trotman Sally Trotman

“I want to develop my singing career”

Sally actually has three resolutions. 1) To develop her professional singing career as a wedding singer and to keep her hand in she’s going to start going to Open Mic nights. 2) To find ‘Mr Right’ (does he exist I wonder, she’s hopeful) and to do that she’s going to join the local church choir which she hopes will be a good way to meet new people. And 3) To develop her Astrology work as she is also a professional astrologer and wants to get herself published in the UK. So three big steps for Sally.  Will she be in print in a UK paper by Easter?

Mathilde RecoqueMathilde Recoque

“I want to learn to play guitar”

Mathilde who runs Century 21 in the Balearics is from a large family. When she and her son went home for Christmas her sisters sat around the living room and played guitar for them. “I really wanted to join in; it’s so wonderful to be able to play an instrument. I’ve promised myself by next Christmas I will be able to play along with them”. Mathilde has enlisted the help of a very talented musician, Benji, son of Tracey Evans to help her learn, and she also has her friend Charlie who is ready and willing to help her. I’m expecting at least a version of Smoke on the Water by Easter.

Frank Leavers Frank Leavers

“I want to quit smoking”

When I catch up Frank he’s already stopped smoking. “23.52 on New Year’s Eve” he tells me. “I’d been meaning to do it for ages. I started smoking at 16 and I’m now 63. I’ve got to do it now, for myself, and my grandkids: we’ve got four and there’s another one on the way.”  I’ve always known Frank to be a smoker, but apparently a lot of others have been surprised when they find out about his vice, “I’ve always been discreet, lots of people didn’t know I was a smoker. I’ve never smoked in front of my grandkids but I did smoke in front of my children when they were younger.” He says he’s doing pretty well but thinks that he might start to struggle more when the summer comes along, “I used to like sitting in my back garden with a glass of wine and a smoke”. Like many smokers he wasn’t even enjoying it when he gave up, “It is part of the reason I’ve stopped, I feel quite glad, and I hope that I’ve packed it up for good. There used to be a kind of smokers’ camaraderie, you know you’d all go outside to smoke, but now I’m the only person going outside, everyone else has given up and you ask yourself, Why am I doing this? It’s pathetic.” Frank has one piece of advice for spouses of smokers, “Don’t nag. Nagging doesn’t work, it has totally the opposite effect”. Good luck mon brave, hope to see you at Easter still smoke free.

Richie Prior Richie Prior

“I want to get fit again”

I meet up with Richie outside of Nice Price in Portals. We’re there because we’ve decided they have the best crisp selection as they are his weakness. “I want to get fit and feel better in myself. I’m going to drop the crisps and restart Bikram Yoga which I do in Palma. I’ve run two marathons in the past so I know I can do it”. We talk about deadlines and goal setting and measure his waistline. He says by Easter he will have lost 10cm from his tummy. If you hear any rustling noises whilst he’s doing the Radio One Breakfast Show then you might want to enquire what it is he’s eating, hopefully not Wotsits.

Lesley Woodward Lesley Woodward

“I want to write a blog about my creative process”

Lesley is an artist specialising in embroidery and mixed media, creating collages using papers and fabrics – dyed, painted, stitched, or any combination of the above – usually layered and replete with elements of pattern. Her work includes framed wall pieces and wall hangings. Having been inspired by the book `Share like an artist´ she has decided to start a blog about her work. Showing and explaining the processes. A lot of the visitors to her website are from textile and design students and because she taught at The London College of Fashion she thinks this could be a worthwhile extension of her work. You can get her off to a flying start by liking her on Facebook: LesleyWoodwardEmbroideryMixedMedia Lesley hopes by Easter to have mastered the digital world, with a little bit of help from her friends and myself as well.

Julia Ball Julia Ball

“I want to start my dream business”

Julia is in the process of launching a Bridal & Communion Gown & Apparel shop. “I have off the peg designer gowns from England and Australia and bespoke dresses that I have designed, and all of the communion dresses will be bespoke. I have an occasions cart for hire for all events, bespoke jewellery, tiaras, and shoes. I really want people to enjoy the process of choosing the dress so we will be doing the fittings in a downstairs lounge in my new shop. I am really passionate about brides having the dress that they dream of wearing but at a reasonable price. I have done so much research that I know I can beat the wedding boutiques in Palma and offer a much better service”. On the day that I visit Julia she has just signed the lease for her shop in Cas Catala, on the same parade as the Allen Graham shop. “I want to open it in March, we will be looking for REAL women, not stick thin models, but real looking women who want to model for us. I’m SO excited!” So by Easter I am hoping to visit Julia and try on one of her frocks (being one of those non-stick thin women she’s looking for).

                                                                                                                                   

I’m going to chase up these intrepid “Resolutioneers” around Easter and see how they have got on so far. If you have anything you can offer them to help them on their way to achieving their goals then please get in touch. You can email me at mallorcagrapevine@gmail.com

 

 

New Year, New Yous (PT 1)

“New Year, New You” and all that. Just before Christmas I put the shout out asking for people who were thinking of making resolutions for 2015. I got quite a response. In fact such a response that we have part one this week, and part two next Sunday. There are many schools of thought on New Year’s Resolutions: “Why bother, you’ll only let yourself down next week?” “Why wait until January 1st to change, you can change now!” But my favourite is: “New Year’s Day is like the first page in a new notebook so try to set out with good intentions and write neatly with your favourite pen”. Whatever your own opinion of making changes in your life, please wish our New Year’s Resolutioneers well as they embark on some ambitious plans.

Adam Grant, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod, Photographer, Copywriter

Adam Grant

“I want to fight again”

It’s a beautiful sunny Saturday when I meet Adam for the first time. We instantly get on very well and talk a lot about our own personal histories and journeys in Majorca. He has three resolutions, 1) to fight again 2) to learn more about NLP and hypnosis and 3) to learn how to meditate and start a Tai Chi practice. The fighting sounds pretty amazing, he used to fight and is working on getting himself back into condition, and wants to concentrate on a martial arts/boxing practice. Neuro Linguistic Programming and hypnosis both sound like something that will take a great deal of work to get into, and I know that meditation and Tai Chi take decades to master, so he’s setting himself some very big goals this year.

After about an hour of chatting about his old life in Leicester and why he moved to Majorca: to give his kids a better life; about the band Madness; his kids who he loves and is extremely proud of; doing business in Majorca; his two beloved sons who are both promising footballers; Magalluf, politics and, did I mention his sons who he adores, we get around to the reason why he has decided on these resolutions. “I want to keep pushing myself and inspiring my sons to keep pushing themselves as well.” He’s already running daily and training physically; what he thinks is going to be the hardest is sitting still and meditating. Having met him and experienced his super quick mind and boundless energy, I am inclined to believe him. I’ve put him in touch with Kate Stephens, a meditation teacher, so his resolutions have started to take form.

Aimee Jaak, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod, photographer, copywriterAimee Haak

“I want to stop multitasking”

I’ve known Aimee for quite a few years; she’s responsible for encouraging me to develop my photography career. She’s a pro photographer, specialising in weddings and portraits, and she’s very, very talented. She’s always busy with her photography and aside from that she’s got two other roles: as an English language teacher to two kids in Hong Kong where she used to live, and as a specialist in setting “high stakes” medical questions for midwifery exams (she’s also a medical professional). Aimee’s decided to stop working at 6pm every day, and not work on weekends, and as a fellow self-employed person this just seems to be impossible to me, but she disagrees. “At the end of the day it’s down to me. I want to make my clients happy; I want to do my job well and give them excellent quality. I love to work; it’s very rewarding for me. But I can see in the long run it could make me boring…” Aimee tells me about how she doesn’t feel that she’s ‘in the present’ and doesn’t pay enough attention to the people who are important to her, but she also wants to be the best that she can be. “It’s frustrating because only you will know your true potential, I have to learn how to discriminate and know when to let it go”. How will she know if she’s reached her resolution goal? “I am going to ask myself, When I am eating, how fast am I chewing? Do I feel comfortable to be in one place without the need to move on?” This could (subtly) be the hardest resolution of them all….

Diane Hughes, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod, photographer, copywriter Diane Hughes

“I want to stop drinking”

Diane loves to cook; she’s very good at it as well. She’s also a great copywriter. I go to see her at her apartment, where she’s just had a brand new kitchen fitted, it looks great and I am very jealous. “I want to stop drinking wine Vic,” she tells me, “I feel like if I do then I will be taking control of my health. It’s just so cheap to buy wine in Majorca, not like in the UK”. I ask her what are her trigger points, when does she fancy a glass of wine? “When I’m cooking, I like to have a glass then”. Ah, I completely understand that, although neither of us are at the Keith Floyd level of cooking with wine, I can see that a new kitchen coupled with plonko cheapo are a tricky combination. Good luck Di!

Helen Pitt, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod, photographer, copywriter Helen Pitt

“I want to learn how to take photographs”

Helen is a fundamental part of the Cancer Support Group. She started as a member and after being given the all clear from her own doctor has become a passionate and dedicated worker helping other people and their families to cope with cancer treatments and all the different practicalities and emotions that surround that. “I am one of the lucky ones, I feel like I am in control, and I want to share what I have learnt about cancer and illness with others”. Helen knows about the value and importance of promoting the Group’s events to spread the word and raise funds. “I want to be able to photograph the events that we do and I don’t want to have to rely on other people for that. I want to be able to do it myself.” Helen has booked to go on a course with Diana Hirsch who is a great photography teacher based here in Majorca. I’m fairly confident that once she’s been on Diana’s course Helen will be capable of taking some great pictures. “I also want to learn how to use Social Media to promote the Group”. It’s at this point I jump in and offer my help as her Social Media mentor as that’s what I do for a great part of my living, and we make a further date to meet up.

Yucca Stevens, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod, photographer, copywriter Yucca Stevens

“I want to drive my car again”

Yucca (pronounced Yoo-ka) is originally from Belgium but she’s lived in Majorca for quite a while.  One day in 2012 she was suffering from cold feet and was wearing a pair of slippers in her apartment. Ironically she slipped and fell, breaking her right shinbone. Her story is quite incredible and very unlucky as following continual mistakes, a sloppy misdiagnosis from her doctor and after eight operations she eventually had to have her leg amputated above the knee. The operation happened in mid-2013 and she has been dealing with the loss of her limb, and acclimatising herself since then. When I meet Yucca I am very impressed with her matter of fact approach and her determination to make 2015 a much better year than 2014. “I love being out and about, before my accident I was very active. I am planning to start Hatha Yoga, I have met a teacher and I am hoping that she will be able to take me into her class. The big thing I want to do is drive my car again. It’s a Golf convertible and I love it. It hasn’t gone anywhere in so long! But it needs to be adapted for me to drive without my right leg and that’s going to cost a bit. I’m not sure how I am going to manage it, but I have to find a way”. Of all of the people that I have met so far Yucca has the most to gain from seeing out her resolutions, and you can tell that she is very serious about making them happen. “And I have to get a job. I used to run my own Real Estate agency so that’s my specialty; I speak English, French, Flemish and Spanish fluently.” We talk a bit more about her new situation and how she has to see things from a different perspective now, “There’s plenty of public places that aren’t all that accessible you know”. Finally she mentions the potential of her going swimming in sea in the summer, I can imagine that this could be even more challenging than driving, but Yucca is very determined to get herself back into the world and back on track. Watch out world, here she comes.

                                                                                                                                   

I’m going to chase up these intrepid “Resolutioneers” around Easter and see how they have got on so far. If you have anything you can offer them to help them on their way to achieving their goals then please get in touch.

Simon Says

Simon Peters, Oliver Neilson, Mallorca, photographer

Simon Peters, December 2014

 

To look at him now you might not know that Simon Peters was thought of as the black sheep of the family, a bit of a daredevil and in fact a trailblazer. I first met Simon a few years ago: every year for the past five or so he has come to visit me to ask me if the businesses that I do PR for would give him prizes for the Help For Heroes’ raffle. He’s always struck me as a lovely chap, very friendly and dedicated to his charitable causes. It wasn’t until I heard that he had been the stadium announcer for Elland Road, the Leeds United FC ground, in the 70’s and 80’s that I started to realise he might have what you could call “an interesting past”…. So one sunny winter’s day recently I invited him, and his lovely wife Wendy to lunch to find out more.

Simon’s life started out more or less conventionally, he was destined to go into the family tailor business and that was that. He did his National Service and spent twelve years as a travelling sales man for the business. But it was the late sixties, the era of pirate radio stations, and you can blame Radio Caroline for what happened next. “We were starved of music you see, these pirate stations were playing this music and it was just wonderful!” Simon began to wonder if perhaps he could become a DJ. He had been frequenting the Mecca Locarno Ballroom run by Jimmy Saville who taught Simon about RPMs (revolutions per minute) and how to keep people dancing on the floor. “There were lunchtime dance sessions which you could go to for sixpence, and then go back to work or college having danced your socks off, completely drenched in sweat. But there wasn’t a way of getting access to the music aside from going to the ballrooms. This is why the pirate radio stations were such a hit. Of course, they were shut down eventually and then Radio One started and the BBC started up some local radio stations as well Leeds being one of the first, so I decided to ask for an audition. They said there weren’t any jobs available but that I could stay around and just see what came along. So I started to spend time at the studios. My first big break came when a band called “The Equals” came in and no one knew who they were so I got asked to interview them. I was “Young Simon” who knew about the bands of the moment you see”.

Then Simon had a big idea, “When I played football on Sunday mornings I always knew how my team had got on, I should have done as I spent most of the game picking the ball out of my own net. They called me Cinderella Peters as I was always missing the ball! We never knew if the other teams in our division had won or lost. So I spoke to our Sports Editor, John Helm, and in September 1969 “The Sunday Soccer Scene Around Leeds” was launched. At the start the jingle was almost as long as the programme but it grew. Amateur soccer on a Sunday caught the interest of quite a lot of professional players as well and I had quite a lot of them come in to the studio to talk to me about it. One time one of the guests on the show, Billy Bremner said to me “Anybody who plays football listens to you” I was absolutely flabbergasted”.

The Beeline Advert

The Beeline Advert

 

Simon had also decided to start his own business, a mobile discotheque. “Nobody really understood what a mobile disco WAS you see. They’d ring me up and say “We’ve seen your advert, but what do you DO exactly?” It was through his mobile disco advert that he met Wendy who had called him for her daughter’s birthday party. “I got him through the Yellow Pages,” she joked. “I flicked open the book and it fell open on the page which had his mobile disco advert on it. He came to play but because his car had broken down he had to come back the next day for his equipment and that was it. We were married in 1971. He’s been a marvellous husband and father, and grandfather”. (And dear reader, soon to be a great grandfather). Wendy also joined him in the mobile disco business and became a force to be reckoned with in her own right.

Wendy and Simon with some of the Beeline mobile disco equipment, note the bees on the garage wall!

Wendy and Simon with some of the Beeline mobile disco equipment, note the bees on the garage wall!

 

So Simon the soon to be ex-travelling salesman, became established in the Radio Leeds studios, not only with his weekly soccer show, and as the “go to guy” for any interviews with pop stars of the day, but also as the radio librarian. ““I was on every company’s mailing list EMI, CBS all of them. I was always being sent tickets to concerts and new records to listen to. I really enjoyed doing interviews and I would make a real effort to prepare by doing my research on all of the different artists, and they could always tell when you’d done that, and they liked that” He’s had the privilege of meeting and interviewing musical legends, and has seen countless bands and singers perform across many genres of music. Showawaddy, Dame Vera Lynn, the Village People, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey, Neil Sedaka, Sweet… “I didn’t ever get star struck but I did get unstuck when I was asked to interview “Sweet” live on air, they just kept messing around with my interview notes!”

“In 1975 I had to interview Slade onstage at the Odeon before their rock musical film “Flame” premiered. The cinema was packed with girls. When I said “And here is Noddy Holder….” the girls surged forward and I was pushed over and trampled! Then a year later Wendy and I were in Manchester having lunch with a relative in the Post House Hotel. Suddenly I heard “Oy Simon” in that distinctive Brummy accent, I turned round and there was Noddy and the boys. It was quite something that they should remember my name after only having met me once.”

Simon ready for action at Elland Road

Simon ready for action at Elland Road

 

Simon, like any good Yorkshire man, loves his sport, especially cricket and football. When he saw an opportunity to get involved with his team, Leeds United, he went for it. “I went down and offered my services at Elland Road as the Match Day Announcer, and I got the job. It was a dream come true!” They were certainly wonderful years for Simon: “Don Revie OBE (the manager at Leeds United until 1974) would send us all hand written letters of thanks at the end of each season, he wrote to everyone”. When Revie quit taking up the England manager job and Brian Clough took over his position at Leeds it was quite a different story. “Someone from BBC Radio Leeds would have to go to the club to interview them about the upcoming match and no one ever wanted to go to interview Clough, he wasn’t a popular man at all.”

Simon in familiar fundraising role.

Simon in familiar fundraising role.

 

Simon became one of the most recognisable voices in Leeds and across Yorkshire but he was working like a trouper. “On Monday nights it was pointless for me to go home after my show as I was due back in to open the station on the 6am to 7am breakfast warm up slot. One night I overslept and had to do the show in my pyjamas!” On the other end of the evenings he could suffer as well, once falling asleep in a Johnny Mathis concert, much to Wendy’s horror, “I couldn’t reach him to nudge him and he was sitting there in one of those comfy chairs with his eyes closed, leaning over to one side.” “Well,” Simon replied, “it was lovely and warm in there, and the music was very soothing!”

Even so with all of this success and happiness his family did hope that he would re-join the business “I had been earning really good money selling clothes. Wendy got the delegation: my father and uncles all came to see her to reason with her and try to get her to get me to “see sense”. But I didn’t want to stop doing what I was doing and so they had to cut me out of the business. It wasn’t until years later I heard that my dad told someone “That’s my boy” when my voice came on the radio that I had any idea that he was proud of me.”

Life started to change in the 1980’s when their daughter Lia married a Spanish man who worked as an airline pilot. They had met when she and Wendy were travelling to Torremolinos on a holiday that Lia had won as part of a “Miss Lovely Legs” competition. Then after that came two granddaughters: Chloe and Elkie. The family were living in Majorca and soon it became apparent that meant so would Simon and Wendy. “It was a huge step for us to leave Leeds, but the pull of the girls was just too strong”. It must have been very hard to leave their lives in Leeds, the radio, the football their social scene and friends, but Simon and Wendy moved to Majorca in 1986. He began a new career as a holiday rep and had many years of adventures with all the different visitors and colleagues that he met over the years

Oliver Neilson, Wendy Peters, Simon Peters, Mallorca

Wendy and Simon

 

“People didn’t think we’d last in Majorca” but soon they were settled. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when they got involved with the Cricket Club. “It was the only thing we really missed from the UK”. Wendy became the scorer and Simon found himself in charge of fundraising for the club which he did very successfully and then moved to raising thousands of euros for the Help For Heroes charity for which he became very well known for on the island.

Simon finally retired in 2013 after 26 years as a rep. “I chose the right time I think, I was 77 after all!” Now this year he has been troubled with illness. Thankfully he has Wendy, his “Nurse Gladys” by his side to make sure he eats his greens. “It was a terrible shock to me to hear that I wasn’t well, I’ve never been ill in my life” I’m sure we all wish him well and hope he is back fighting fit very soon.

One of Simon’s many traits I think is to see the chink of opportunity and go for it. I’m sure he has had knock backs in his life, we all have them, but his positive attitude just shines through him. He’s a charmer, an inventor, a raconteur, and a grafter. Does he have any regrets? “I believe that if you don’t ask you don’t get, if you see a chance you have to chase it up and follow it through. Follow your heart, if you feel this is what you want to do. I would have hated to have spent my life thinking, I could have been a DJ. When I walked into the studios in Leeds I couldn’t have known I was going to make such a success of it all”.

Simon Peter’s life so far has been a rich, varied and adventurous one. When I set out to write up our four hour long chat I knew I stood no chance of fitting all of Simon’s stories onto one double page spread, and if I were him, I’d be rather proud of that.

You can read more articles about people on the island at http://www.mallorcastories.com

Words: Vicki McLeod

Pictures: Simon’s archives, and Oliver Neilson

 

 

“It has to challenge you”.

Counting reps for Hugo.

At the beginning of 2014 I accidentally started to do a new sport called Cross Fit, and with it came the need to learn a new language: AMRAP, CFWU, KB, OHS, WOD ….. mysterious acronyms for things I had no idea about. “Have you done the WOD? How did you do?” “I’ve bust my PB on the AMRAP WO” “You’ve got to do 21, 15, 9 OHS then KB swings”… WTF?  Well, if you have ever taken part in a CFWO (Cross Fit Work Out) then you would probably have heard of them: As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP), Cross Fit Warm Up (CFWU), Kettle Bell, (KB), Overhead Squat (OHS) and the big one, Workout of the Day (WOD). Why was it accidental? Because I had signed up for the online world wide game, the “Whole Life Challenge” (more below) which takes many of its ideas from the culture of Cross Fit. But what is that? Cross Fit? Being angry whilst doing aerobics? No, it’s a major life changing activity with added happiness benefits, but I can’t take the credit for getting myself into exercise, that’s got to go to the amazing, and inspirational physical trainer Lidia Villalonga.

Lidia with Quique

There are some people born to empower others, and in my opinion Lidia is one. She is a proud, modern Majorcan born and bred and she lives what she preaches. She trains early in the morning before the sun comes up so that she is fit and ready, and then she goes to work at the Sporting Fitness gym at the Country Club in Santa Ponca and spends her day helping a huge range of people to reach and exceed their goals. I am in awe of her determination, patience, intelligence and person-ability, because you’d think that someone who makes you do push ups may not be so popular? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Even when we’re struggling to finish a punishing set of Kettle Bell Swings we still love her. Why? Because she’s always honest, she respects her clients, she has a fabulous work ethic, and she genuinely encourages every body to get better. She’s also incredibly busy so we have to do our interview over a salad in the club where she tells me about her childhood and background.

When Lidia was a little girl she loved to go to her father’s shop and play but she knew from quite a young age that she would not go into the family business as she was drawn to a completely different life. “Although I loved it, I told my parents that I did not want to work for them when I was a grown up, I wanted to be a sports teacher. I loved”, she corrects herself, “Love all sports. I play them all. I love them. My dad said to me, “Are you sure?” because a sports degree was normally taken by a man. But I was sure.” She convinced them, and at the tender age of just seventeen moved from Majorca to Barcelona to take a degree in sport. “I left my mum crying like crazy in the airport, and me too, claro! But they were fantastic years. I loved studying.” Lidia stayed for six years, five for her degree and a further one to gain her masters. Although she adored living in Barcelona it was never on her agenda to stay longer than her course. “I love Majorca and my family is here. I couldn’t be anywhere else. Of course I want to travel and to explore the world, but I will always need to come home as well.

Lidia with some of the gang.

“My dad didn’t get the same chances as I did, when he was nine he had to go to work, and he built his business out of nothing, from a market stall to having clothes shops. He always said that you have to give the best to your client if you want to have business. I have learnt everything from the example of my parents. I owe them everything, I don’t think I will ever be able to say thank you enough”.

As we know, that old saying “The cream will always rise” still stands true, and soon after arriving back on the island Lidia found herself with the opportunity to work for Sporting Fitness at the Country Club in Santa Ponsa. “I started off part time, I was very happy because I was helping people who need help with their training. I was, and am, very motivated to help people improve their health; it makes a big change in their lives. And as the people got to know me I started to make my way in the club. To me my bosses are my clients in the gym, they are the people I work for”.

Lidia with Sabine and Gusi

It was at this gym, four years ago, that she discovered a brand new sport, Cross Fit, via “Another personal trainer, Rob, who was, and is, very passionate about it. It was completely new to me, but I liked it, I liked the philosophy and the ideas behind it, and very soon I was studying and then qualifying to teach Cross Training”.

What is Cross Fit? How to define it? In the interests of this article I nipped over to crossfit.com for this definition: “CrossFit is many things. Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades. He was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains). (VM: by that they mean improving on your personal best records, for example).  CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit is also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective”.

So, why is it good for us? Lidia answers, “You have to work all of your body together, you don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it, it’s intense and you use functional movements like squats, push ups, sit ups. They are essential to your life. It is the best metabolic exercise EVER”.

It’s also a lifestyle as it’s not just about what you do with your body that counts, it’s also about what you put into your body that makes the difference. If you know someone who is attending Cross Fit sessions then it is quite possible that they also know about a “Paleo” diet. The theory behind it is that our bodies have not evolved at the same rate as farming techniques and we simply can’t digest grains (e.g. pasta, and bread) or dairy products.  Think “caveman” and you’re more or less there. “There comes a point where you are working really hard in the gym and you won’t want to spoil that by putting food into your body which is not good for you, and that’s when you really start to make a change.  People make their own minds up, and when they do that this is when it really works. You won’t want to go back”.

Bonding

That’s how I found myself eschewing carbs and dairy for a good chunk of this year in favour of higher protein and generous portions of vegetables. It’s also how I found myself competing (ha! Me!) against much fitter people (I lost, of course, but they still clapped because they are nice team types who want everyone to have a great time) and seriously growing to love the idea of being fit. It’s also how I found myself engaging in the Whole Life Challenge which encourages you to win points for good lifestyle choices including daily exercises (Cross Fit inspired exercises or as you wish, from playing Football to dancing Zumba, up to you) and stretches, nutritional goals and lifestyle changes. The interaction with the other people playing the game is a vital component as well, as Lidia knows. “If you feel part of something then you are more likely to keep taking part. The Whole Life Challenge was a very good way to build a community in the gym with people of all walks of life and fitness levels coming together. People get to know each other, go through some tough workouts together bond and become friends”.

The down side is outside of the Challenge you have to try to keep it going, and I am lucky enough to have some friends at the gym now that want to keep training outside of the game days. I tell Lidia that I was in the gym recently and voluntarily did a WOD (see above) without her egging me on which involved 45 “burpees” (sadistically difficult squat, jump, and press up combinations) and I felt proud about feeling sore in my legs. She grins from ear to ear. “You! …People who hated sports and now love to go to the gym, who can feel the power and strength and confidence in their own bodies, those are the best for me. It’s the biggest reward a trainer can have”.

As we approach Christmas and then the New Year it’s always a time for indulgence and then reflection. We may well set out to change things in our lives, but what prevents us from achieving these goals? Lidia knows, “People want everything without changing anything. That’s the sort of person who will fail. They want to lose weight or get fit without making any effort. But when you want to change you have to be outside of your comfort zone. If it doesn’t CHALLENGE you it won’t CHANGE you”.

I have never before, ever, in my life, ever had the experience of feeling strong and fit and full of potential the way that I have felt this year. Even though I remain the slowest person in my group, I really don’t care as I am still a winner as far as I am concerned because I am there. Imagine being the person who finishes the WOD last and still getting a round of applause, not because you’re last or because you are in some way deserving, but because you’re part of a team and that means that everyone encourages and looks out for everyone else. It’s a remarkable and addictive experience, and I can highly recommend it, and it’s entirely down to Lidia. As I interview her and learn about her background her own ethos and her love and respect for her own parents, as a parent myself, it just makes me love her more.

I can hardly wait for the next challenge which starts in 2015 on January 17th. Join in. Don’t be scared, it could be the most exciting day of the year, and possibly the first one of many brand new achievements for you, if you want it to be. To enquire about the gym and the WLC go via www.spcountryclub.com.  For more articles about people on the island visit www.mallorcastories.com.

Words and pictures by Vicki McLeod

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of a devil?

Diablo V, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod If you’ve noticed a new voice on the afternoon show on Radio One Mallorca over the past few months, you might have wondered who on earth “Diablo V” is and how he got that daft name. It’s the first question I mean to ask him when we meet to do his interview, but his naughty grin tells me all I need to know. Instead we start to talk about first records, record shops, growing up with vinyl and the Saturday morning ritual.

“I feel a bit sorry for kids now”, says Diablo,  “They aren’t ever going to have that experience of saving up all of their money and rushing down to the record shop on a Saturday morning to listen to the new releases to see what they are going to buy. These days we’re all bombarded by new music all of the time, it’s harder now for bands to break through and get noticed”.  I agree and we talk about what it was like for him as a boy who wanted to be a DJ back in the era when DJ-ing meant “putting on records” before the club scene changed all that. “My parents didn’t believe that it was possible to make a living as a DJ. When I left school I went and trained as a computer programmer and then went to work as a trainee systems analyst for a transport company. I knew I had to find a way to prove to my parents it was possible to earn a living in the music industry, but I also didn’t want to disrespect them.” So he started to work his day job and got himself several night jobs DJing in clubs in London and at the “Raindance Raves”. “It was back when music was less complicated, it was a mixture of soul and dance, and it was either good or it was not. There was no in between”. He soon started to attract the attention of promoters and began to secure paid work which eclipsed his day job and slowly but surely he worked his way up.  Diablo found himself in the position of being in the right place at the right time as dance music became more and more popular. “There was an eruption in the scene, and people went from worshipping bands to following DJs. BOOM!”  Of course, like every DJ worth his salt, eventually he found himself in Ibiza.

“Although I was born in Barcelona, my parents moved to London when I was young and I don’t yet speak Spanish very well. When I first moved to Ibiza it was before the season had started so the clubs were not open. My cousin got me a casual job labouring. Because my Spanish was so bad, I used to do pranks to get on with the other workers and have fun like turning the paint upside down, putting flour in the cement bags, and hooking up doors to fire extinguishers so you would regularly hear the shout of “DIABLO !!!!”  When club owners started looking for DJs the word got round that ” Diablo can DJ” and that’s how the name came about. Then the “V” came later, when Ministry of Sound took me on as a World Tour DJ, they explained that when they were selling me around the World people would google “DJ DIABLO” but that this would be a problem as there are hundreds of Diablos. So after a few weeks of talks, discussions, suggestions and web checks, we finally went with DJ DIABLO V – I’m the only one!”

I ask him about his most memorable gigs and he starts to list clubs and fellow DJs that even I’ve heard of: “Milton Keynes Bowl, Amnesia, Fantazia, Carl Cox …” the list goes on.  But what is it like I ask to be in front of a big, big group of people and feel their energy? His face instantly breaks into a wide grin, “Fantastic. It’s like being plugged into the mains. But you have to pay the bills, so not every one of your gigs is going to be amazing, it’s not until you get to a certain level that you can decide to pick and choose what you do”. As we talk about how the music industry has evolved Diablo gets serious, suddenly he’s not just the radio one prankster. “It’s not only musicians who have had to change the way they promote themselves in the music industry, it’s DJs too. “If you are a very good record producer then you have to also be able to DJ and do live events in order to earn money as the pirated music downloads has crippled record sales, and vice versa.”

Diablo V, Radio One Mallorca, Vicki McLeod, Phoenix Media, MallorcaDiablo first made it over to Majorca in 2010 when he was working for The Ministry of Sound. “I’d never been here before even though I’d lived in Ibiza for six years. My hotel was in Magalluf and I didn’t like it. As soon as I got there I wanted to change my flight and get out of there as soon as possible, but I played my gig and it went well. Another DJ, Martin, told me to give Majorca a chance and he took me to see Port Andratx. I realised how wrong I was about the island. It was much more what I had expected Majorca to be like.”

Diablo V found himself back on the island in 2012 when he worked as a resident DJ for the two of the biggest businesses in Magaluf: BCM and MCP. It was, in his words, with a wry eyebrow raised, “a long hot summer” but he started to make friends there. Then the opportunity arose for him to travel to Australia to Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. “I went there with the promise of a gig and I had my first two nights’ accommodation booked. The Aussies were kind of used to the “Too cool for school” type of DJ, do you know what I mean? The really serious posers, very production led rather than listening to the crowd and playing what they want to dance to.  I found myself in the middle of a Surfing crowd, I did really well that first night and they loved me. I DJed for some really famous surfers and they started speaking about me to their friends and one thing led to another. I really like the way of life over there, surfers are a great bunch of people, they live for living, it’s not about who does what or who wears what, it’s all about the personality, the character of the person. I like that a lot”.

IMG_6335When the season in Australia was finished it was time for a turning point for Diablo V as he realised that he needed to settle down a little and start to make a home for himself. “I hadn’t had a home of my own for three years. I’d been on the road for so long that I had become a nomad. And I had to decide where to set myself up.”  Australia or Majorca? Why did Majorca win? “Because it’s more central for accessing the rest of the world, and I love the island so much”. He’s certainly got himself settled in now with his regular weekday afternoon show on Radio One Mallorca (102FM and 105.6FM) from 2pm to 4pm, “ Next year I want it to be a lot more interactive with the audience and I’m planning some big pranks and fun and games”). Plus his regular nights at Mood Beach Bar in Costa D’en Blanes on Fridays and Saturdays where he plays soul and house with live saxophone accompaniment from Adrian Sanso-Ali. “I can’t wait to play the Mood pool parties next summer, they’re going to be amazing!”

One of the things I think I like the most about Diablo is his niceness, he is a polite, courteous guy who has a tonne of determination and talent. But you’re nowhere on Majorca without your network, and he’s built up quite a good one so far, “I’ve been very lucky that I have people who I would consider as councillors. I’ve got “go to” people that I ask for advice and who have helped me a lot: like DJ Doc C, the people at Radio One and Mood and Des Mitchell, the legendary DJ. Before you ever get to Majorca if you are in the music industry then you know about Des. Even with all his fame he’s a genuinely nice guy which is a rare commodity. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have people around me who I can ask for advice from, people like Des.”

And what about New Year’s Eve, where’s he going to be to see the year out and welcome in 2015? “Originally I was going to be in Australia, but I changed it as I wanted to be here. I’m going to be at Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes DJing and playing feel good happy tunes with a live act as well. For me Mood is the best of everything, I like a lot of venues but the crowd at Mood have enabled me to cross genres of music and play a big variety of different styles.  New Year’s Eve is going to be a perfect end to a brilliant year for me. It’s an expression of everything I have learnt about the island and its people. I’m an old school DJ, I don’t want to play one style, I want to play music that makes people happy, and gets them smiling.”

I ask him if he has any New Year’s Resolutions and this happy, friendly, and very smart guy looks at me, grins and says decisively “No, right now there’s absolutely nothing in my life I want to change”.

Photos and text by Vicki McLeod

“It’s a universal story”

Drew Donovan

It’s a very damp afternoon in Palma when I meet up with Drew Donovan, the director and actor. It definitely doesn’t feel very much like Christmas, yet, but Drew is already in full on festive mode. I’ve caught up with him in between rehearsals for this year’s Isla Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” and it sounds like it’s going really well.

PHOTO CREDIT Aimee K Photography (2)“We loved being in the theatre that we performed in last year, but we needed to move into a bigger venue to increase our audience size. We’re very lucky to have had the opportunity to use the Teatre Municipal Catalina Valls, on Paseo Majorca, right next door to the Bulletin offices. Right now we’re working on the Spanish subtitles for the show as we want to make it as accessible as possible to a Spanish audience as well as the English audience.” And it’s not just the theatre which is bigger, the cast has grown as well, “I’ve had to double up on kids for this year, because we have a lot of school matinee performances and I just couldn’t, couldn’t, ask that of the kids: that they should miss so many afternoons of school leading up to Christmas. Plus some of the actors from last year were not available so I’ve had the opportunity to recast some major adult roles”. Drew tells me that they are working in conjunction with the Ajuntament of Palma this year who are helping with the ticket sales. All the school shows are sold out which is marvellous news. If you want to bring a group of ten or more to an evening performance then you can pre-reserve with Isla.

The Christmas Carol company onstage PHOTO CREDIT AIMEE K PHOTOGRAPHYIt’s that classic Christmas tale. Ebenezer Scrooge, the famous miser is visited during the night of Christmas Eve by three ghosts who force him to reflect on his past and evaluate his future. But why is it important to Drew? “I wanted to do it twenty years ago, I worked on “A Christmas Carol” as my first professional job out of acting college, but there wasn’t a role for me in the cast, I worked as the driver! It was always my ambition to play the role of Scrooge, and last year I finally managed to achieve that”.  Drew moved to Majorca with his Swedish wife when his first child was still quite small. “We had our first son in New York, and we stayed for a year after that. I was working on and off Broadway in the theatre, but financially New York City is not the easiest place to be. Sandra’s mom owned a place in Soller so we were already familiar with the island and it seemed like a good place to raise a family. We had to cut our teeth a bit, like anyone who moves here, but we’re quite settled now.” Family life is very important to Drew, you can tell as he starts to tell me about how his own Christmas will unfold this year. “We’ll be doing our Swedish Christmas with the “Smorgasbord” of ham and salmon, beer and song!” I ask him if he feels he will miss out on turkey and all the trimmings, but no, he’s just celebrated an American Thanksgiving and had his chance to enjoy that feast. “I love to play Santa Claus for my kids, and that’s part of the Swedish tradition as well, every year you are supposed to be visited by Santa and that’s Papa’s job to dress up. You know your kids are getting old when they start to notice you’ve left the room at the party and then comment on your absence when Santa turns up! But I loved that innocence and fun when they were a little bit younger, I loved putting on the outfit, getting really close to them and then gazing into their eyes when they had no idea it was me”. Drew’s played plenty of roles associated with Christmas, not just Scrooge and Santa, but Jesus as well, but what other parts would he like to play in his career? “I’m probably too old now to play some of the more romantic Shakespearian roles; I would have loved to have played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, that’s a great part. But I would like to have the chance to do more Shakespeare, or perhaps Stanley from “A Street Car Named Desire”, I’m quite at home playing tortured characters. “I ask him about what frightens him, what would challenge him and he immediately answers “Anything where you are carrying the show on your own. You’d worry, am I good enough, am I up to the job, do I have the emotional depth. But I’ve been in the situation and you have to go through the process of fumbling with the part, learning about the character. Then you begin to get to know them, you learn your lines, get “off the book” and then you can find the moments and the truth in the situation.”

PHOTO CREDIT Aimee K Photography

What then is the truth of Scrooge, of “A Christmas Carol”; the message is still very relevant to us isn’t it? “Yes, it is, it’s about doing things selflessly for other people.  I think it’s an important lesson for everyone to keep learning: the themes of the story are forgiveness, helping your neighbour and being a kind person. It’s the same as following the example of great people such as Martin Luther King and Ghandi and trying to emulate their courage and loving actions.”  The intention is to let the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” become a new tradition here on the island, last year it was very well attended, and this year the hopes are that this will be repeated. “I would like to keep it coming back”, says Drew, “it could become a family tradition that people look forward to. Like you always put the same ornaments up on the tree, so going to the show every year also becomes part of the holiday season here. It’s a universal story; we all fall from grace from time to time, it’s important to remind ourselves not to take things for granted”. And with that Drew walks back out into the rain sodden streets of Palma, which have taken on a distinct look of Victorian London as the evening has drawn in.

Ticket prices are 10, 12 and 15€. The show will run from December 12th until the 21st. You can find more information at http://www.christmascarolmallorca.com or http://www.islatheatreproject.com. To read more articles about people on the island visit http://www.mallorcastories.com

Text Vicki McLeod

Production photos Aimee K Photography