11 December 2021: Covid . . ; The Spanish nationality calvario; A moribund British clown; And an American one; & exocentric verb-noun compounds.

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’


Two doses of a vaccine are not enough to stop you catching the Omicron variant, UK scientists have warned. But a 3rd booster prevents c. 75% of people getting any Covid symptoms. However, the UK Health Security Agency says vaccines were still likely to offer good protection against severe Covid that needed hospital treatment.

Spain: The heath situation is not as bad as it has been in previous waves due to the high vaccination rate which means that hospitals are not seeing the same high volume of Covid patients. 

Cosas de España/Galiza 

According to El Mundo, the Campofrío advert I cited yesterday is full of actors who owe the Tax Office some back-taxes. Otherwise – the paper asks – why would they allow themselves to appear in it?  

A bit of a shock . . .

The UK 

Matthew Parris in The Times today: The Conservative parliamentary party has long suspected what the country is now learning fast, viz. that Boris Johnson has been rumbled. And that, for him, it’s over. But Parris exhorts the Tories not to replace a charlatan with another sham. Specifically, Liz Truss – the (over)ambitious Foreign Secretary. Truss, he saysvery possibly correctly  – is, at least, no moral reprobate but look hard and there’s nothing there: nothing beyond a leaping self-confidence that’s almost endearing in its wide-eyed disregard for the forces of political gravity. God forbid. Hasn’t the country suffered enough? 

Parris ends with: After 3 years of clowning, it is depth, honesty, thoughtfulness, managerial skills and a certain understatement that the party and the country should be hungering for. It will soon be time for candidates who embody these quieter attributes to come forward. Amen to that.

Who on earth could have predicted that Johnson’s star would plummet so quickly? Apart, that is, from everyone who’s had anything to do with him since his puberty.

The USA. 

Who’s going to be surprised that: Donald Trump said he had cut all contact with Binyamin Netanyahu for congratulating Joe Biden on his election victory, telling an Israeli interviewer: “Fuck him.” 

It’s worth bearing in mind that, in that weird and wonderful country, this psychologically impaired (i.e. nuts) cretin could again be president in a few years’ time.

Quote of the Day

Still on BoJo . . . The wonderful Caitlin Moran: Johnson has long used language in the way many of us use Christmas decorations — chucking on a load of brightly coloured balls to cover up truly ugly things. His other long-term tactic seems to be “having another child”.

When the majority of Brits start laughing at everything you say, you are the walking dead.


Says the estimable Don Pablo: There’s a common type of compound noun which describes a person or a device that does something. Like a can opener, a corkscrew or a gamekeeper. These are ‘exocentric verb-noun compounds’. Such words are formed from the 3rd person singular of a verb and the plural of a noun. The resulting combination is always masculine singular, despite the fact that most of these words end in S.  Don Pablo lists some of the more common and more interesting ones here.


Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas recently used skeevy, another word I didn’t know. He tells me it’s: Informal American for unpleasant, squalid, or distasteful. As in ‘a skeevy Vegas motel’. 

Finally  . . . 

As someone has said: In our modern, image-conscious world, going bald is many men’s worst nightmare. Now we know that Assyrians clay tablets more than 2,600 years old included a recipe for baldness. This called for the head to be bandaged with pulverised cress for 3 days before being shaved on the 4th day. The head would then be washed with alkali and anointed repeatedly with oil. This was to be followed by a further 3 days of anointing with crushed cedar and cypress oil. Once this was complete, the patient would be cured. As I’m not follically challenged, I’m lucky enough not to have to put myself through this. Especially as, in 2,600 years, it clearly hasn’t been proven to work

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