Photos: The Reader
BEHIND THE SCENES
Richard Branson and his familyThe 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..."
Photo: El dia del mundo
HORRIFIC EVIDENCEA 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
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