4 June 2022: Hateable Spain? Even emptier Spain?; Transgender ‘drivel’; Football leagues; & 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

This is a list of reasons to hate Spain, from a young Brit who’s lost his gruntle. As there’s more than a grain of truth as regards each one, anyone thinking of coming to live here should read both the article and the responses below it. And take the excellent advice from the editors therein.

I’m very happy here but doubt I would be if I’d come here as a young man expecting to work. On the other hand, my Madrid-basesd daughter – who came here in her late 20s – does have a good part-time job with a major US consultancy, though I suspect she was one of the few people in Spain qualified for it. Neither of us would want to return to the UK, as the key net balance is positive for each of us. In other cases, the (many)negatives might well outweigh the (many)positives, as they do for Nick Anders. Certainly, if you come here expecting to make money teaching English, you’re in for quite a shock. The going rate hasn’t much increased in 20 years, meaning it’s worth far less in purchasing power, in a country which has indeed become rather more expensive.

Of course, if you want a real hatchet job on ‘this glorious country of Spain’ – also with many grains of truth, some of them large – this is the book for you. To be sure, this isn’t Dreamland for everyone. Nice as it might be to visit on holiday. For all I know, France, Greece and Italy are similar.

Here’s something on the spelling of local town/city names in certain regions of Spain,

The Spanish government seems to be schizoid about ’empty Spain’. On the one hand, it worries about depopulation there but, on the other, has just announced it’s cancelling inter-regional buses. Making life even tougher in the outback.

Yet another roundabout rant – will I ever get used to local norms?? Following a learner driver into a roundabout, he/she signalled right but went straight on, and a car coming the other way signalled right but turned left and cut across between me and the learner. Good job I was alert to the possibility/probability. And followed the most important driving rules – Never expect a signal and never believe any that might come.

The UK  

End Times for BJ? Boris Johnson is sleepwalking into an ‘inevitable’ vote of no confidence, says one political observer. But no impressive replacement has made his or herself visible so far.

The EU

Uefa has apologised to both Liverpool and  Real Madrid football clubs for the ‘frightening and distressing’ scenes’ before, during and after last Saturday’s match and has said it’ll commission a report. It’s a start. The French government has yet to show any remorse. Though President Macron is reported to have asked his government to clarify what happened, to determine the responsibilities and to explain them in detail to our compatriots, the British and the Spanish. Many of whom won’t be getting their cash and passports back. Interestingly, policing was very different for France’s match against Denmark at the same stadium last night. Which France satisfyingly lost. 

The Way of the World

[UK]Civil servants are being fed gender drivel. What passes as ‘training’ on trans issues turns out to be anti-scientific nonsense with little regard for existing laws. Here are some facts I learnt by watching an “inclusion workshop” for civil servants. A brain in a jar “knows” if it is male or female and, if transplanted into the “wrong” body, would exhibit distress. This country has no legal sex-based rights. It is impossible to define what “woman” or even “female” means. There is zero conflict between women’s rights and trans rights, so beware colleagues asking too many questions; they’re probably bigots. See the full article below. One wonders when this madness will end, as it surely will.

Finally . . .

This will be of interest to very few  . . . A schedule in a local paper has finally allowed me to understand where Pontevedra FC now stands in the Spanish leagues, and how these compare with their English equivalents. It turns out that, as regards Galician cities, not only Vigo and La Coruña have teams in higher leagues but also Ferrol. Which I didn’t know.

Primera Liga(Premier League): Celta Vigo

Segunda Liga(Championship): CD Lugo (Deportivo La Coruña and Racing Ferrol in the playoffs)

Primera RFEF(League One): Pontevedra, just promoted

Segunda RFEF(League 1): 6 teams

Tercera RFEF/(League 2:16 teams

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.


Civil servants are being fed gender drivel. What passes as ‘training’ on trans issues turns out to be anti-scientific nonsense with little regard for existing laws: Janice Turner, The Times

Here are some facts I learnt by watching an “inclusion workshop” for civil servants. A brain in a jar “knows” if it is male or female and, if transplanted into the “wrong” body, would exhibit distress. This country has no legal sex-based rights. It is impossible to define what “woman” or even “female” means. There is zero conflict between women’s rights and trans rights, so beware colleagues asking too many questions; they’re probably bigots.

A:gender, “a network supporting all trans and intersex staff across government”, trains thousands of civil servants annually, from the NHS to the Cabinet Office, yet it forbids its presentations being recorded. Having endured 90 minutes of anti-scientific, legally fallacious twaddle, I can see why it avoids scrutiny.

Concerned women civil servants secretly taped and sent it to me, as they believe this “training” violates central principles of the civil service code: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. In particular it breaks the rule that they cannot frustrate policies once decisions are taken “by declining to take, or abstaining from, action which flows from these decisions”. It is their job to implement decisions, not to undermine them.

This A:gender session is conducted by Emma, who tells us she is intersex, having a vagina and uterus but XY chromosomes. She claims that as many people are intersex — 1.7 per cent — as have green eyes. The more precise figure is about 0.018 per cent. But intersex here is deployed to muddy the very idea that human sex is binary.

Indeed, the difference between sex (biology) and gender (a social construct) seems to confuse Emma. “You’d look at my nails and make-up and realise I am female,” she says. We are asked to position ourselves on spectrums of “woman-ness” and “man-ness” and told if some days we wake feeling more manly or womanly than others, we may be “gender fluid”.

Emma states that while sex is randomly “assigned at birth” there is a “biological component to gender identity, like height or ethnicity: it is inherent, innate”. That’s where we get to brains in jars having a gender, even though the myth of the “sexed brain” has been comprehensively debunked by distinguished science professors such as Cordelia Fine, Gina Rippon and Sophie Scott.

This might just be tiresome gender woo-woo if it wasn’t being taught as fact to people who write and implement the small print of public equality guidance. Emma warns that defining a woman as an “adult human female” is a transphobic dogwhistle, equivalent to antisemitism. She claims that sex-based rights, which feminists speak of defending, don’t even exist. “We have equal rights!” she cries.

Although a civil servant herself, Emma seems unfamiliar with the 2010 Equality Act in which “sex” (explicitly defined as male or female) is a protected characteristic, and single-sex spaces are allowed if they are a “proportionate means to achieve a legitimate end”. Female sports, domestic violence refuges or changing rooms are among our sex-based rights. But Emma isn’t fussed about exact wording: “gender identity” is not a protected characteristic in law, but she tells us to think like it is.

Then Emma turns to the controversial debate about reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The government recently decided not to introduce “self-ID”, whereby a person can change the sex on their birth certificate with a simple declaration. “Many anti-trans groups spoke out in a very clever way [to stop it],” says Emma. “Like you could wake up and identify as a man and we’d be legally obliged to treat a person that way. If that was the case, there’d be nothing to stop someone identifying as trans in bad faith, a violent male prisoner could be transferred to the female estate.”

Except that is exactly what happens. A trans woman with a gender recognition certificate is treated as female in any risk assessment even if she’s a sex offender — and despite male offending patterns enduring after transition. Prison psychiatrists have warned that rapists in men’s jails are increasingly identifying as women, in hope of accessing victims. (Karen White is one of several trans prisoners who have sexually assaulted female inmates.) Besides, self-ID does mean a man can literally just wake up and legally become female.

“I’m a civil servant,” says Emma. “I’m not allowed to be an activist. I’m just sitting in my back bedroom in fluffy slippers.” But she is training government employees to disregard laws, while agitating for change. Most concerning, she tells us to perceive colleagues who defend existing sex-based protections as transphobic.

Women civil servants say they are scared to speak up for fear of bullying and suffering professionally. Their union, the FDA, won’t protect them. It has passed a conference motion stating there should be “boundaries” on gender-critical speech, while banning “trans-exclusionary language”, which could just mean insisting that NHS cervical smear guidance retains the word “woman”.

So much government policy reveals civil servants have absorbed the A:gender view that “gender identity” always trumps sex, regardless of the impact on women. The NHS Annex B guidance tells hospitals anyone can ask to be put in an opposite sex ward, and compares women who feel unsafe housed with male-bodied patients to racists. The Ministry of Justice says female prison officers must (barring “genuine religious or cultural reasons”) search any prisoner who identifies as a woman. The Office for National Statistics removed the sex question from the census, which was overturned in court. If civil service training so flagrantly breaches its own ethical code, no wonder public servants don’t follow the law.


  1. Spain certainly has its issues. I can make a very long list and I have only been here a year and half. However, we all suffer from ‘The grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome. We tend to see the positives in advance, the negatives in the present and fail to imagine the outcome in the future. Expectations are difficult to match when comparing living conditions. Like those Insta moments, no one sees the difficult journey taken to get that one good image.

    Life is complex, language, customs & cultural differences, business, banking, health service… I can go on and on about the Spanish bureaucracy… All creating barriers to overcome when relocating (emigrating) to another country. At least some of us are fortunate enough to have a choices and come and go as we’re pleased.

    Maybe I sober up’ one day, but in the meantime, we can support one another. Offer advice and share our stories, experience and positive solutions, not just complain. I still love and appreciate Spain and Galicia in particular. I hope the love affair continues.


  2. A few years ago I read Nick Anders comments, which are themselves from many many years ago.
    And to this day people comment. He makes some valid points, but can’t help feeling he was not prepared, had done no research, learnt no language and didn’t have much money. He appears to have walked in his new life somewhat blinkered.

    Of course life here has its ups and downs. But, name me a country that doesn’t. I remember when my Dad retired to Thailand, to a small island. My first visit was a week. Loved it, thought yeah I could enjoy this. Second visit I stayed 18 days, after only 10 I was ready to leave. It was after 10 days I thought, yup, nice for a break, but long term, no thanks. I had seen enough in 10 days to put me off. Incredibly my Dad is still there after 15 years.

    Galicia has its ups and downs, but the pros outweigh the cons, at least in my experience.

    I do resonate with you Colin on roundabouts. And driving in general. It is quite possibly my biggest bug bear about life here. Even my two excellent Spanish friends who sell insurance agree with me on this, and regularly pester me to install a camera in my car.


  3. Thanks, David.

    I didn’t realise the article had originally been posted a while back. It appeared in one of my feeds this week. I probably saw it and posted about it years ago!

    Yes, a camera is a good idea. I had one but it was stolen when I foolishly left a window open one day, along with my satnav. I expected them to turn up at the flea market but I missed them if they did.



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