The Albufera Natural Park in Alcudia. | T.AYUGA

Many a long year ago, Max Bygraves records used to be heard at night by the Lago Menor in Puerto Alcudia. For musical entertainment, a gramophone player on the terrace at the Jolly Roger sufficed in the days well before the sound systems that are now subject to the attention of the noise police and the limiters.

Fifty-one years on from its opening and the Jolly Roger is still going strong. Max alas isn’t, but he was a particular favourite in the old days of simple holiday pleasures. If only Max were with us now, because “fings” most definitely “ain’t wot they used to be”. They weren’t even in 1960 when he recorded ‘Fings’. Now (in 1960), there were just jams rather than trams. Monkeys were flying around the moon. Dad and mum once paddled down old Southend. Paris had become the place for outings (before the boom and everyone started to go to Madge-Orca).

Today, rather than Lago Menor, we should refer to Estany Petit. Is this a case of how things used to be? Not really, no. The little lake was created as part of the 1960s project for the massive tourism and residential centre. There hadn’t been a little lake as such until the 1960s, the final full decade of the dictatorship and when everything was supposedly in Castellano.

Albufera, unmolested for millennia until the British engineers started to drain it and build canals in the late 1800s and the first attempt at a tourism centre was made in the 1930s, was to be reclaimed as far as to what is now the first section of Playa de Muro. It didn’t always used to be. When town halls were ordered to firm up their municipal borders, Sa Pobla managed to negotiate away its beach. In 1954, its neighbour, Muro, had perhaps realised that things weren’t always going to be the same. Sa Pobla didn’t, and the summer night entertainment of singing folk songs by the temporary shacks installed on the beach by Sa Pobla villagers was to be lost forever.

They could do things like that back then - put up makeshift dwellings on the beach. There weren’t the regulations, those for beach use or for noise; who was going to be annoyed by the summer night singing anyway? The same question applied to Max and his records. But more than just the absence of the regulations, there was the security. Temporary homes on a beach weren’t about to be targets for vandals or thieves. The Guardia Civil made sure of that.

A gradual erosion of the sense of security started with Franco’s death. This is something that has been said often enough. The transition had various consequences, one having been the power to protest. The new age hadn’t quite dawned on the Guardia when they fired rubber bullets at farmers protesting about the building of the motorway from Palma to Inca. Even though a reputation for toughness of policing endured, society was free - or freer. And a product of this growing freedom impacted on personal security. But when exactly?

I raise the question because this article has been influenced by an interview with an author from Sa Pobla, Melcior Comes. His latest novel (in translation) is ‘The Day of the Whale’. ‘Balena’ in Catalan, ‘Ballena’ in Castellano, it has nothing to do with Magalluf’s Punta Ballena, as the whale in question is found in Albufera. The story’s setting is all the development of Alcudia and Playa de Muro (what might have been the beach of the author’s home village). A contrast is made between the hotels, the houses and the clubs and a “Mediterranean paradise” similar to that of centuries ago.

The year for the novel is 1994, when he was fourteen. Partly autobiographical, he explains that over the following years, things started to disappear, in particular a freedom that children and young teenagers had when he was fourteen. “Mallorca is a more dangerous place now.” So, from Melcior Comes, one is given an impression as to when the sense of security began to weaken. He also offers a view of how things altered, not in the original boom years, but in the 1990s, when “anyone who was willing to gamble financially, had the opportunity to benefit greatly”. It was the time when “big tourism” arrived. The Berlin Wall had come down and “the Germans arrived en masse; the years of the first great globalisation”.

Novels are far from being the only source of nostalgia. For Mallorca, there is a feeling of paradise lost, with the urges to reclaim the past and undo, if not perhaps physically then definitely abstractly, a different type of reclaiming - that, for instance, of Albufera. But a feeling of things not being as they used to be is always determined by a moment in time. In the 1990s, things weren’t as they had been. Yet had the first globalisation not occurred in the sixties?

Security and the urban environment are subject to constant change. That’s how it is, and technology plays its huge part. It was technology, the jet plane, that facilitated the sixties’ globalisation. Advance nowadays means that the only gramophone player you are likely to come across at the Jolly Roger is at its weekly car-boot sale.