at msm Mallorca Online Issue No. 442

Headlines of March 7th to 20th, 1998

Branson plays tenis
Branson plays chessThe Branson Family
Photos: The Reader

BEHIND THE SCENES

Richard Branson and his family

The empire Richard Branson has built over the last twenty years is now world class. Directors of the world's best airways, Coca Cola and Hilton Hotels, now recognise him as competition in his own right. To the British he is their symbol of "success; the casually dressed billionaire; the bearded Adonis".
Mallorca is still his favoured location and when something special needs to be celebrated, it is to Mallorca that he comes.
One of his greatest dreams, I am told, is to create the Gorgeous Palace near Banyalbufar which everyone can share and Mallorca will be proud of. This is in addition to his already-famous La Residencia at Deià.
Richard Branson came this week to La Residencia. He booked nine suites altogether which were occupied by over twenty members of his family - Mom and Dad, sisters and their offspring. It was Branson's father's 80th birthday. An interesting time for an observer to view the man behind the razzmatazz in a typical family situation.
Interesting, also, to see the man as a member of a large family and the emphasis and importance he places on family and friends. Here is Branson really at his best, an adoring father and son and extending it to sisters and nieces and nephews and bonding it together in a way that's difficult to describe.
Branson is a great listener, his conversations are brief, there is the slight hesitancy in the speech, the hint of a stammer, that makes him seem a little more vulnerable and endearing. He speaks to the waiter and always thanks him, he speaks to him in the same way he speaks to the directors of one of his companies. He seems void of discrimination.
I've been told that his brain can work on four or five different levels at the same time. I counted five telephone calls he received during one game of chess he was playing this week with his friend Peter Emerson, Richard won the game. He was taking, on average, about seventy five telephone calls per day whilst on this "retreat".
The attention that Branson gives to his son and daughter is even more interesting. He takes time to teach them a little tennis, watches them, chats to them, sometimes in longer conversations than he has with anyone else.
Branson's wife, Joan, has the same natural dignity. A blonde Scots woman with no pretensions whatsoever, her two feet planted firmly on the ground, she sometimes seems surprised at the high profile and the attention given to them. All heads turn when they enter the swimming pool area or the restaurant and it is as though she's saying, "Why in the world are they looking our way?" It's obvious also to the observer, that she provides stability at home whilst her husband lives intensely, whether he's ballooning or fighting in court or expanding the empire. Her son, Sam, ten years old and rambunctious as hell, pays attention when his mother speaks, he's almost oblivious to others attempts to discipline him.
Richard Branson's empire seems to know no limits. His interests are widespread, he enjoys tennis as much as ballooning and yet the brain that works on various levels still takes care with details. He seems to take note of everything, as Camelot knows so well.
There also seems to be a great deal of fun in his life, the broad smile comes easily, all the values seem to be in their right place. I think he knows, as did Shakespeare, that when the cloud capped towers and the "gorgeous palaces" are created, whether here in Mallorca or elsewhere, we are, in the end, "all actors" and really, "such stuff as dreams are made on..."


 
Maria del Mar with childJuan Francisco, arrested
Photo: El dia del mundo

HORRIFIC EVIDENCE

A man, who believed that his wife was being unfaithful, stabbed her during an argument at her mother's home early last Saturday morning.

"I was very nervous and feared that a separation could lose me the custody of my children", claimed Juan Francisco B.G., an unemployed building worker in a statement to police after he gave himself up.
Juan Francisco, 24, who has a police record for robbery, confessed to stabbing his young wife 14 times after a heated quarrel.
According to the police report, the accused went to visit his wife María del Mar, who was living at her mother's home in Son Espanyolet (Palma). "I thought she was being unfaithful, lost my head and stabbed her", he told police. During the quarrel, Juan Francisco pushed his wife to the ground and began punching her, but she managed to escape to the bathroom. The accused then grabbed a knife from the kitchen, followed her and stabbed her from behind. When she turned to defend herself, he stabbed her on the face, neck, arms and legs and left her bleeding and semi-conscious on the floor.
María del Mar's young stepbrother, who was in the house at the time, dashed to a nearby bar to get help from his parents. However, as they took the lift, the husband escaped down the stairs and disappeared.
He told police that he threw the knife in a rubbish tip near the scene of the crime, got on his bicycle and "cycled for miles not knowing where I was going", he later told police when he gave himself up the following morning. "I have come to give myself up because I stabbed my wife during a quarrel".
Although police searched the rubbish tips, the weapon has not been found.
National Police investigating the crime, spoke to family and friends of both the accused and the seriously injured woman who confirmed that the pair had a "conflicting marriage". "Juan Francisco was very aggressive and had mistreated my daughter on several occasions", reported the injured woman's mother.
It has since been confirmed that María del Mar reported her husband for cruelty last February and then started legal separation proceedings.
The accused was taken before the judge last Monday morning who ordered him to be sent to Palma prison to await trial.
María del Mar, 19, mother of two young children, is in the Intensive Care Unit of Son Dureta Hospital. Her condition is said to be "extremely critical" as one of her lungs has collapsed and one side of her body is paralyzed. Doctors reported that, during the next few days, her life was in the balance.
"No woman should resign herself to humiliation and suffering at the hands of her husband", was the theme of last Sunday's International Women's Day, in Palma's Parc de la Mar. The message was even more poignant considering the news of the brutal stabbing of María del Mar only hours before the three-day Island "Women's Caravan" ended that morning in Ses Voltes. Hundreds of balloons were released in Palma and all over the world, signifying "equal rights for the women of Afghanistan and the world".

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