15 October 2021: Low Covid rates; The food waste law; New politics?; Ivanka; An annoying TV ad ; & DGAF.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Spain’s national Covid incidence rate is down to 40.5 per 100,000. So, good progress towards the 25 per 100k point, at which we might see the end of compulsory mask-wearing. Here in Galicia it’s already down to 15.0 but the chances of regional relaxation seem to be nil in this case.

An admirable anti-waste measure but I can’t see it not raising prices

Could (tribal) Spanish politics improve and see a return to the astonishing Spain of consensus and pact? Here’s one answer.

If you own a property in Spain but aren’t resident here, the Hacienda isn’t at all interested in whether you make any money from it or not, or whether it actually costs you to maintaIn it. Rather, it imputes some annual income from it and taxes you – admittedly not hugely – on this notional gain. Opportunism, in other words. Rather like El Tráfico finding endless ways to extract revenue from you, if you drive here. Anyway, if you are a property owner, you probably should read this.


I guess this report is credible. Certainly plausible . . . Donald Trump was going to appoint his daughter Ivanka to be President of the World Bank, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was able to talk him out of it.

If misery loves company, British shoppers, alarmed at the rising risk of an involuntarily abstemious Christmas, might enjoy hearing that even in Joe Biden’s America, unburdened by Brexit, governed by the supposedly competent technocrats of modern progressivism, it’s going to be an unholy holiday scramble to fill the space under the tree this year.

The Way of the World 

You’d have to be very naive not to think this Xmas ad would be controversial. See below for example. Just what the company wanted? Or did the youngsters in its ad agency misread the public mood?

Quote of the Day 

The West, after almost half a century of rapid globalisation which it thought would make the world look more like itself, is discovering that dependence on China for most of its products, and Russia for most of its energy, is a combination that is weakening its own fragile liberal democracy.


Not exactly news . . . A lexicographer reminds us that many of the words and spellings we [Brits] see as irritating Americanisms are, in fact, older, perfectly acceptable English. ‘Fall’ for ‘autumn’, for example. And ‘trash’. Not to mention ‘gotten’. And all those words, like ‘harbor’ without a U. But someone has (legitimately) asked: Imagine never being able to say autumnal again?

But this is news, to me at least . . . DGAF: Don’t give a fuck. I really should have guessed.

Finally  . . .

Someone has claimed that: Thanks to the global supply chain mess, Covid’s biggest scalp will be globalisation. I don’t know about that but I do know that rising electricity prices have been the death of sheets-ironing in my house.

Will there ever be a better female singer? Or a better songwriter?

Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here

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Why the new John Lewis advert is everything that’s wrong with modern Britain. The retailer’s home insurance ad is a vision of destruction that’s peak 2021, but you can’t criticise it without being called transphobic.   Judith Woods, The Telegraph

Has anyone else seen that astonishing new advert for Ritalin? Oh sorry, I mean that commercial for John Lewis home insurance? You know, the one where the little boy trashes the house to a Stevie Nicks soundtrack and we’re supposed to think it’s cute because he’s wearing his mum’s frock and lipstick?

To paraphrase a rival retailer: this isn’t just an ad for insurance, this is a terrifying snapshot of all that’s wrong with Britain right now. For a start, what in the name of millennials was John Lewis thinking?

Presumably the storyboard was dreamed up by Generation Rent, who have no idea – no concept – of how much blood, sweat and toil grown-ups put into buying a house and making it nice. 

Here was a child running riot, hurling an umbrella, toppling over a lamp, sending a glass vase spinning through the air, smearing kitchen doors, and acting like an extra from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, hyped up on contraband American cake sprinkles. The end result was unbelievably stressful, upsetting and – to use the snowflake vernacular – triggering. So horribly triggering! Not least because, judging by the harmonious state of the place and those neatly plumped Jonelle cushions, the cleaner had obviously been in that very day.

Home insurance adverts are supposed to feature a doleful golden retriever with half a sofa in its jaws, or maybe a winsome baby dolloping handfuls of Sudacrem into the DVD player.

I’ll even accept the shocked-parents-returning-home-after-teenager-has-house-party scenario, because the mess looks worse than it is and there’s a rather touching hug from Mum at the end as Dad shrugs, smiles and picks up the phone to report the carriage clock breakage.

Householders like me – and I happen to have John Lewis insurance, which is possibly why I’m taking it all so seriously – want to be comforted with reassuringly low-fi catastrophes, not wilful destruction from a strutting little so-and-so Living his Best Life while his sister and mother are reduced to slack-jawed bystanders.

Sorry, son, oversized leopard-print heels are no excuse under law, and certainly not under domestic legislation in my house.

Look as a swathe of social media erupts. That’s transphobic!

Listen as another swathe responds. That’s not transphobic – see his aggressive display of toxic masculinity!

Hark, here’s another. How dare I judge this character? I don’t even know his/her/them/their pronouns!

Oh, and that quip about Ritalin. It’s no joking matter! In fact, it probably constitutes a hate crime. I ought to be reported, cancelled forthwith and with force. Whatever. Go troll somebody who gives a proverbial.

According to Claire Pointon, customer director at John Lewis, the thinking behind this magnum opus was as follows: “The ad playfully highlights the things that could happen as Reggie dances around, freely expressing himself, from knocked vases and picture frames, to paint on the carpet and nail varnish along the banisters.”

See what I mean? Aside from flinching at this vision of destruction, all this talk about “free expression” is terribly 2021.

I really hate the John Lewis ad. I hate the idea of a kid going from room to room systematically breaking and spoiling things that other people in the house might love and leaving a horrible mess that will take hours to clean up. Poor sister. Poor mum.   — Lissa Evans (@LissaKEvans) October 13, 2021

Great in theory. In practice, this individual’s flamboyant freedom of expression is materially impinging on his sister’s right to make unexceptional art, and his mother’s right not to encounter flammable glittery debris lodged inside the kitchen hob and a rocketing insurance premium after she’s put her claim in for everything touched, smashed and stained by her in-house Wreck-It Ralph.

Here’s the thing; would John Lewis really pay up? We all know getting payouts from insurance companies makes the Kwasi Kwarteng vs Rishi Sunak battle over a business bailout look like a squabble in a sandbox.

What is so “accidental” about this kid deliberately tipping a paintbox on the rug? He needs a clip round the back of his white male privilege, he does.

I’d like to think that after the cameras stopped rolling, his mother was incandescent and his sister stole both his Nintendo and his school trousers. But, of course, these are fictional constructs.

Although many children do dress up and dance around their homes the advert is a dramatic, fictional story created to entertain. We hope our customers will appreciate this ad in the spirit it was intended. — John Lewis & Partners (@JohnLewisRetail) October 13, 2021

Over at John Lewis, however, this ad – whose slogan is “Let Life Happen” – is considered to be an homage to the zeitgeist. And to be fair, they get it right more often than not. Stop the world I want to get off.

I have no argument with boys who want to wear frocks. Or necklaces. In this scenario, it’s the high-octane drag-queen drama and in-yer-face-fabulousness smeared over the banisters that irritates. Boys will be boys, after all, even in garish blue eyeshadow.

Three years ago, John Lewis ran a not dissimilar but markedly better advert featuring a little girl in her ballet gear losing herself in utter abandon to the strains of Tiny Dancer. As she twists and pirouettes around the sitting room, she almost breaks a picture frame, nearly pulls down the curtains and, in the final shot, a glass vase seems destined to topple over onto the wooden floor.

But nobody makes us watch. And the absence of that heart-in-the-mouth denouement is the difference between a sweet, funny commercial that still makes me smile and one that gives its mortgage-paying, home insurance-buying audience PTSD.

I’m genuinely curious to know whether “my son dressed up in last season’s Alice Temperley and went on a Ru Paul spree” counts as a valid reason for an insurance claim. My friend, similarly furious, claims she’s tempted to put it to the test by upending gender norms and letting her 10-year-old daughter ride a motocross bike up and down the stairs before playing paintball in the bedrooms. I have a hunch it won’t count as “accidental damage” – even if she borrows her brother’s leopard-print heels.