Lucia Graves and Her Nostalgia for Mallorca’s Past

In my last post, I mentioned that Lucia Graves was nostalgic about how Mallorca was before its tourist boom. Here are some quotes from her book, A Woman Unknown: Voices from a Spanish Life. The following excerpts take place in the 1950s, which is quite remarkable, considering how advanced the rest of Western Europe was at that time.

If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the soft warmth of the winter sun on the nape of my neck, and hear the sheep bells and the occasional shouts of the shepherd somewhere up in the olive groves above our house, and the long silences between his shouts- back in the quiet days of my early childhood. I find it easy to enter that uncluttered memory chamber.

It was a genuinely rural society, almost untouched by twentieth century modernisation or even the industrial revolution; where carts were much more common than cars, cooking was done on charcoal fires, and women still fetched water from the fountain for their daily needs…

…the tourist boom would take all the young workers away from the olive groves and the fruit orchards to work in the new hotels that lined the sandy shores on the other side of the island. The rugged land, which had for centuries been a source of production, would soon become a landscape to be consumed by tourists- to feed the mind and not the body…

It was my world, and I understood it; I could see how things worked, how the lives of the village people blended in with the mountain, the farmland and the sea. It wrapped itself neatly round the kernel of my home- so different from the homes of my village friends- where my father worked in a room filled with books, or was out in the garden picking tangerines or digging up weeds; where my mother sometimes sat and read by the fireplace with a cat on her lap… where at night my parents would listen to the BBC on our large wooden radio, while my brothers and I cut out illustrations from English or American magazines- coloured pictures of a faraway land of telephones, red sports cars and electric washing machines that did not seem quite real to us- and then pasted them with care into our scrap books. Real life for me was what went on outside the green wooden gates of our home. Once a week a sheep was slaughtered by the village butcher and once a year- for St. Martin’s, in October- most families killed a pig to make sausages for the months to come…