2 June 2022: Healthcare variation; UK myths; Dutch plans; Kingly Frogs; Funny rules; & 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 or Galiza 

In the UK, a ‘postcode lottery’ in public healthcare is considered an anathema. Here in Spain, no one seems to bother about it. Service in Pais Vasco is said to be far superior to that in Valencia, Andalucía and, above all, Murcia.

I’ve learned from Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas that Galicia, with 20% of its total, is the national leader in ‘community land’, which is neither public nor private. It’s collectively owned and can’t be be divided, sold off, embargoed or traded. It can only be used – as per ‘owners’ votes  – for agricultural or commercial use. I’m left wondering if the forests behind my house – apparently controlled by a ‘Community of the Mountain’ – fall into this category. 

Spain’s government has a customer service bill going through the system. Inter alia, this would make it obligatory for companies to offer a real human responder on a phone call, if requested. Possibly after a few hours’ wait.

Trans-surgery is profitable business, here in Spain as well as elsewhere. And it might well not be justified. Or morally defensible even. A worrying article here.

I read this in an article on Ukraine and thought: That’s no different from Pontevedra’s Sunday flea market. Or at least the ‘Gypsy Corner’ (ever-growing) bit of it: We are at the flea market in old Moldovanka where you can get almost anything: second-hand shoes, skirts, harpoons, typewriters, squash rackets, dolls in varying states of collapse, and a disconcertingly high number of knives and other weapons. But at least we’re not being bombed or shelled.

The UK  

US cultural obsessions have impacted the UK, leading to a distorted view of realities, says the (American) writer of the article below. Some fascinatingly wrong numbers therein.

The Netherlands

About 20% of people smoke in the Netherlands, where the price of a pack of cancer-sticks is currently just over €8. The government plans to gradually raise this to €40 by 2040, reducing the percentage to 5%. Unless others follow suit, this is expected to provide both an incentive for smugglers and a headache for Dutch customs officers. As we know here in Galicia, the Dutch are good at smuggling. I can’t see this attack on smoking taking place here in Spain but who knows. Maybe in 20 years’ time.


France is desperate for a king says the writer of this article. President Macron seems to think they already have one.


Macron is said to be spending millions of euros on a “master plan” to  promote French against the world’s lingua franca of English. Bonne chance avec ça, mon ami.

Finally . . .

My father was an RAF pilot during WW2, stationed first in the USA and then in Germany, in Lübeck. I imagine this document was for dinners in the latter RAF place, rather than in the USAF place:-

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.


How the US left has warped our view of the UK. New poll reveals the extent to which we have imported the fetishistic and self-destructive obsessions of woke America: Lionel Shriver, The Times

Readers of my comment piece of six weeks ago might have despaired that Americans are so ignorant that they know nothing even about themselves. Respondents in a US YouGov poll had wildly overestimated the size of their country’s racial and sexual minorities, suggesting that the culturally dominant left’s pet causes have fantastically distorted Americans’ perceptions of their own population. For example, participants imagined that 41 per cent of American adults were black, whereas the true percentage is 12 per cent. They were off by a factor of 3.5.

Behold part II. The Campaign for Common Sense has commissioned YouGov to conduct a sister poll in the UK, whose results are still unpublished. (This is thrilling. Opinion writers piggyback on proper reporters, and rarely break news.) Surprise: the UK survey duplicates the exaggerations.

In part I, I speculated that most Britons would overestimate the size of the UK’s black population (according to the Office for National Statistics, about 3 per cent). I was right. Respondents hazarded that 20 per cent of the UK was black — a proportion seven times greater than reality. (One in nine respondents thought 30 per cent of the UK was black; they were wrong by an order of magnitude.) As for Muslims, Brits’ median guess was 15 per cent of the adult population (true: 4 per cent). For Asian adults, Brits went for 17 per cent (true: 7 per cent). Add these figures up (52 per cent), and Britons hazily perceive that more than half the adult population comprises ethnic or racial minorities. The correct proportion is 13 per cent. Tellingly, when respondents were asked directly the proportion of British adults who were white, the median answer was 65 per cent (rather than 87 per cent): precisely the real proportion of whites in the United States.

As for sexual minorities, Britons suppose that 5 per cent of their compatriots are transgender, although government estimates put the true number between 0.3 and 0.6 per cent. Even at the top of that range, likely to be too generous, the 5 per cent median estimate is more than eight times too high. Brits think 10 per cent of their fellows are bisexual (true: 1.3 per cent), while putting the gay and lesbian population at 15 per cent (true: 1.8 per cent). Those approximations are eight times too high. Perhaps the British imagine the UK’s below-replacement fertility rate is due to nearly a third of their people having unproductive reproductive habits, but no: overwhelmingly hetero Britons either don’t want many children or don’t feel they can afford them.

Throw in the fact that respondents also overestimate the proportion of British adults who are vegan or vegetarian by a factor of five (20 per cent v 4 per cent), and the same pattern emerges as the one that glares from the American poll: the left’s fetishistic obsessions, especially with race, gender and sexual preference, have grossly magnified the size of minority identity groups in the minds of the general population.

Yet the British poll betokens an additional embarrassment. Those are American left-wing obsessions, dutifully shipped across the Atlantic in the hold of the Queen Mary 2. Don’t imagine that the nasty, divisive ball of wax we once called identity politics and now thumbnail as “woke” is a British invention. No, this noxious stuff was cooked up in US universities, later to contaminate the full range of our institutions like a Wuhan lab leak. The consuming preoccupation with skin colour, the rage for swapping sexes, those 100-and-counting “gender identities” your police forces embrace: they’re all imported to the UK from your former colony, alongside Domino’s Pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which at least enjoy the dignity of being physically produced here.

Thus after a single black American is killed by a police officer in the far-off Midwest, droves of Britons trooped the streets chanting the BLM rallying cry, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” when this country’s constabulary isn’t armed. What’s wrong with you people? As the progeny of your adventurous forebears, shouldn’t Americans be copying you? Have some self-respect. Come up with your own self-destructive manias.

Or, aping an American truism, British multiculturalists will sometimes assert, “Britain has always been a land of immigrants,” a claim that’s manifestly false. Bang out your own tired platitudes! Even the expression “decolonising the curriculum” numbingly parroted by British academics was coined by a professor at the University of Chicago, and it’s not the US with a history of colonialism.

American-style misconceptions aren’t all your fault. British television holds up a fun-house mirror to its audience. According to the Creative Diversity Network, as of 2021 ethnic minorities are over-represented in British programming in comparison with their share of the population by nearly a factor of two. Black people are over-represented by 2.5 times. Although gay, lesbian and bisexual people constitute 3.1 per cent of the population, they constitute 14.2 per cent of the cast in television productions — 4.5 times real life.

This distortion is more drastic in adverts. A 2019 YouGov study found that 37 per cent of British adverts featured black people. A 2018 Lloyds Banking Group study discovered that representation of minorities in UK advertising had doubled in only three years to 25 per cent (twice the proportion in the population). That was pre-Floyd, too, so that figure could have climbed since. So if you’ve noted that every effort to sell you car insurance looks like a general assembly meeting of the United Nations, that impression isn’t all in your mind.

Yet two poll responses seem very British. Americans’ guess at the share of their compatriots who earn more than $100,000 a year — 38 per cent — was impressively accurate (true: 34 per cent). But Brits’ estimate of how many compatriots earn more than £100,000 a year — 20 per cent — is crazily high (true: 3 per cent). Britons also imagine that 5 per cent of their fellows make more than £1 million a year (true: 0.04 per cent, statistically zero), a misapprehension probably borne less from optimism than resentment. Alas, the number of rich folks who can be squeezed to finance free everything for the rest of us is disturbingly wee.

There’s nothing wrong with being mindful that Britain is growing more heterogeneous, or with accepting the many ways we can love one another. Yet there is something wrong when a large, loud country imposes the worst of itself on a small, storied island. As the fixations of the rowdies across the pond loom too large, the instinct of the cowed UK mainstream is to self-minimise. Maybe it’s a bit boring, but most Britons are still white, still straight and still eat bacon butties.


  1. Yes, the hill behind your house belongs to a “Comunidade de Montes.” These common associations are quite old. Ours supposedly dates from the eighteenth century, at least. The profit from them is destined to the village or parish it belongs to, sometimes in the form of dividends, others in betterments of the community. It’s a medieval institution that has, surprisingly, survived.


  2. Montes: Hope your comunidad keeps their bit clean to reduce fire spreading risks. A stray cigarette butt and whoosh. Back in 2006 give or take a year or 2, a nasty fire got to within 150 metres of my abode. I was in Lisbon that day, and stayed in Lisbon … after all I didnt have a hose pipe, and it was a six hour drive.

    The Times article was quite nauseating. A clear example of opinionated drivel very typical in the MSM. I consider myself antiwoke, but the writer makes claims about the left without ANY evidence whatsoever. And let’s face it, watch Fox news for a couple of hours and their god fearing guests, and you may have a different view on how peoples ideas and beliefs have become so distorted. The other point I found quite nauseating was how ignorant people are. Still if America is to blame, then it is time to arm our teachers, place gun toting security at the gates, and send everyone your prayers when it all goes wrong (because prayers as we have seen will always do the trick). I despair, and upon completing my rant today, will head to the hills, literally, and continue chopping wood for our Bilbaina in winter.
    Personally, I think a lot of people watch far too many of those not so real realities, scroll through FB, Twatter and Instagram like addicted crack heads, and think that First Dates is with real people from real life. I asked an 18 yr old the name of the Spanish PM the other day, she had no idea.

    P.s The Twatter reference was not a spelling mistake.


  3. The 2006 fires were terrifying. They surrounded Pontevedra and actually reached the trees in the garden of a house I had in the hills. But they made for beautiful dawns.

    It’s private finca owners who don’t clear their (very combustible) undergrowth around here despite a legal obligation.



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