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Taken aback, I shook my head – hesitantly. ’ Unimpressed, the girl stared at him – stonily. ’ Undaunted, Jock proceeded with his spiel – confidently. ’ He winked conspiratorially. ’ ‘Would these be full-page or half-page display ads you require, sir? To run daily, bi-daily, or weekly? ’ Jock shifted uneasily on his feet. ‘Uhm-ah, no. ’ He looked furtively over his shoulder, leaned towards the girl and muttered out of the corner of his mouth, ‘What I had in mind was a coupla three-line entries in the personals.

The ‘Daily B’ offices are located just round the corner from the Bar Ca’n Miquelet, in the Passeig de Mallorca, a wide avenue skirting the banks of the Torrente La Riera, Palma’s so-called ‘river’, which only really appears following one of the monsoonlike downpours that occur infrequently throughout the year. Jock’s approach to the girl at the advertising desk revealed yet another of his various personae – this one the smoothtalking entrepreneur. I wasn’t surprised to note that, the moment he adopted this guise, he effortlessly shifted his 33 A BASKETFUL OF SNOWFLAKES accent from his native Scots to a laid-back mid-Atlantic drawl.

But the waiters sported their outfits with apparent pride, and, lulled by the nocturnal chirruping of crickets in the surrounding pines, it would have taken the most unromantic of souls not to have been seduced by the summer-night magic of Sa Masía – no matter how deftly contrived. But this was now Mallorca in winter, and a chill had descended on the island with the setting of the sun, the drop in temperature all the more marked after the unseasonable warmth of the Calmas de Enero day. As we approached, we could see that the inner courtyard was in darkness, save for the pale glint of moonlight on the cobblestones.

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