30 May 2022: Empty Spain; Real Madrid; BJ’s style; The egregious NRA; Modern feminism; Singing your way to longevity; & Other stuff.

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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 

Inflation just keeps on rising, now up from 8 to 9%. Uff(Oof), as the Spanish say.

HT to  Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for this. An interesting video (in English) about the ‘empty part of Spain’. The pronunciation of Spanish names, says Lenox, is a bit dodgy, but no doubt somebody else wrote the script. The video talks of ‘woeful ignorance’ about this reality and I have to admit I’d never heard of the Serrania Celtiberica. I’m (a tiny bit) surprised there’s no mention of massive EU subventions behind the  growth in high-speed trains.  

The Guardian brings us: Bandits, beaches and Roman baths – Andalucía’s wild side.

Probably an accurate take on Real Madrid – Implacable self-belief carries Real Madrid to Champions League glory.

I wrote about Galicia’s specious claim to Celtic uniqueness . . . Here’s a ‘famous’ Celtic rock group from . . . down in Valladolid. Thanks again to Lenox for pointing me in their direction.

The UK  

The article below takes a sceptical view oh the Gray report. It reveals, she says, No 10’s sloppiness and entitlement in hideous Technicolor.

France

The relevant minister regrets that children at Saturday’s match were hit by tear gas and pepper spray. As well she might. Roll on the independent investigation into police behaviour before, during and after the match.

The USA 

Something  on the NRA  from Orivate Eye:-

The Way of the World

The writer of this article claims that: There are serious confusions in the discussion around feminism, women and truth today. . .  The notion that women are either devils constantly weaving deceits or angels whose every utterance is the gospel truth is incredibly regressive. In this sense, the Heard/Depp trial has shone a light on some serious problems in what passes for feminism today. The cry of our post-#MeToo era is ‘Believe women’. But over the past couple of years it has become painfully clear that this does not mean all women. ‘Belief’ is a luxury enjoyed by rich women and right-on women, but it is often denied to poor women and women who are ‘problematic’ in some way.

Spanish

Punto y seguido: Full stop. As in: Las cosas llegarón al punto y seguido. Things came to a full stop/to a head. [My computer turned ‘seguido’ into 1. squid and 2. segued]

Intemperie: Weather; weathering; outdoors

Finally . . .

Might be of relevant to some readers: Singing in a social group such as a choir may help protect cognitive function and treat aphasia in older adults.

For passing readers: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

THE ARTICLE 

In a too-Gray report, No 10’s sloppiness and entitlement blaze in hideous Technicolor. Camilla Long, The Times

If ever I need to torture a Russian agent, or horribly neutralise some dinner party bore, I will read out pages 16 and 17 of the Sue Gray report. It is here that the world’s driest civil servant reaches her zenith. Of course it’s possible that Boris Johnson’s birthday was, for at least some part of its sagging 20 minutes, really jolly good fun. But the one Gray seems to be reporting sounds as dull as a conference for photocopier salesmen in Hull. No crowds of people, no songs, no Colin the caterpillar cake, no pics of Carrie, no Lulu Lyttle, who actually said she’d attended. He must have been thrilled.

Every single word of the aptly named Gray report reads, unsurprisingly, like ditchwater. The press has done a much better job of revealing the licentious mess at the centre of Downing Street, presided over by the indecisive, chaotic “shopping trolley”, as Dominic Cummings calls Johnson: the endless, numerous parties, including three in one night, while they sniggeringly wrote the rules for the little people.

Gray, by contrast, has bent over backwards to soften blows and conceal identities and offer up lame “official photographs” as if anything officially released by Johnson would convey the truth, adding, weakly, that nearly all of the No 10 press office came in over the pandemic. Doesn’t she get it? Everyone worked full-time over the pandemic. In fact, the only people who weren’t working were people in Downing Street, who were dancing, singing and vomiting while sneering at the cleaners who actually tried to help them, by washing down the walls where they’d spilt their cheap red wine.

I know it’s not cool to go on about the parties — as Johnson himself put it, as if addressing one of his cheated-on wives: “Move on” — but I don’t want to move on when I read the details. Just as some people are triggered by jokes about trans women, I find disorganisation, sloppiness and incompetence triggering. Who, for example, invites 200 people to a party during the most severe lockdown of the whole pandemic? How is it that 83 whole people were fined? And who has a physical fight — or, as Gray limply puts it, “an altercation” — at a drinks party in front of colleagues? How are these people in power?

Johnson claims he has changed the entire senior management, but I don’t think anything has changed at all. The country is still being run by 22-year-old drunk comms lightweights in red trousers who didn’t quite make it to Google. One of these creatures stayed at one of the parties until 4.20am, alone for the last hour. If that isn’t a one-act play, I don’t know what is. What were they doing? Trying to locate the corporate slide out of the building?

Read any of the reporting and a picture emerges of extreme Gen Z entitlement and people just doing what they want. There is no one, for example, to tell them the working day does not finish at 4.30pm. No one questions why there is still an “internal events team” when internal events should not, by law, be happening. No one thinks to ask whether it’s really appropriate to do karaoke in Downing Street. Of course it is, if your cultural idols are Ed Sheeran and Kylie Jenner.

People also seem unsure of the chain of command — even senior figures: Lee Cain, the prime minister’s former head of communications, tells Johnson’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds — Party Marty — that one of the bigger parties is “somewhat of a comms risk”, but still lets it happen, and even goes.

Reynolds himself, who uses more exclamation marks than a Love Island influencer, is now being lined up as ambassador to Saudi Arabia. I know politicians are useless, but what kind of a system allows a man like this to fail upwards? Is it a system mired in laziness, corruption and mediocrity, like the one run by Boris Johnson? They must have looked at him messing up every single policy launch and just thought: “I know what he’ll want — a party.”

I often wish he’d simply been made mayor of Britain, an entirely novelty/ceremonial role, rather than prime minister, so he could do all the narcissistic self-validating comms stuff with his tech muppets — the videos, the silly projects, the parachuting into Ukraine — without being responsible for anything, especially not the gnarly important stuff, like inflation and the cost of living. Next year, when people are ill because they can’t afford food, we’ll be so glad we wasted six months debating the booze suitcase.

Johnson comes from a background where it is regarded as beneath one to make an effort: men like him are loath to stick to the rules because that would involve admitting the rules apply to them. He exists in a terminal fantasy where he is the son of some swashbuckling lord, a man who believes “personal responsibility” is for train drivers and secretaries. The problem with acting comically sloppy and silly and having a mad private life, however, is that your team will begin to think that is the way to behave, and eventually they will take it too far, which is how we end up with members of Downing Street staff, despicably, being rude to cleaners.

Johnson may have sacked everyone in Downing Street — apart, obviously, from himself — but who has the careering shopping trolley replaced them with? It’s not going to be better people, is it? Just the first person who says Yes.