There I was pottering down one of Palma’s long, leafy avenues today en route to a meeting when I came across a complete scrum of media with zoom lenses poised and cameras ready to roll. Too curious to walk on by I approached them and asked in Spanish whether someone famous was about to arrive. ‘Do you speak English?’ a friendly voice asked. ‘I am English,’ I replied. ‘We’re waiting for the results of the post mortem on Stephen Gately. He was in a pop band called Boyzone.’ Even I, Rip van Winkle of the mountains, knew of the band and had heard the sad news. One of the photographers sucked his teeth. ‘Can’t put a positive spin on a story like this, can you?’ No you can’t but why indeed, would one even try? Inadvertently I had walked right past the Palma mortuary nestled in a tranquil spot in the city. How strange that this quiet, and anonymous place should become the target for such international media frenzy. Stranger still was the thought that thousands of visitors across the island were probably enjoying the last vestiges of an October sun, lying on the beach or dawdling over a beer in a bar, blissfully unaware of the events unfolding in the Capital.
When I’d finished my meeting, I found the same media hanging about the mortuary. The results of the post mortem, they told me, had been announced. Singer Stephen Gately had died of natural causes. ‘What a terrible waste,’ I said. ‘Yes,’ the same chummy member of the paparazzi replied, ‘but I suppose if you’ve got to go, you could do a lot worse than Majorca.’ So he’d managed to find a positive spin after all.
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