27 June 2022: Gypsies in Spain; More local snippets; Ukraine realities; Struggling women; & Other stuff

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de Esàña/Galiza

When I came to Spain, I regularly heard the comment: “I’m certainly not racist. But I hate gypsies.” I was reminded of this when reading the first article below last night – with its pretty accurate comment from a truly admirable gitana: “In Spain, there is brutal anti-gypsyism.”

Some local snippets:-  

– More than 50% of the babies born in Pv province are to mothers/people with wombs aged over 35.

– Our petrol prices in Galicia rose by twice the EU average in March

– 20 years after it happened, the case of the Prestige oil disaster is still going through international courts. Some lawyers might yet retire from a lifetime working on it.

– Despite high unemployment levels, employers in Galicia’s hostelry sector are still finding it impossible to find what I read last night are now waitpersons.

– Last year, only the immigration of foreigners allowed the Pv province population to stay stable. Local numbers fell.

– Even better . . .

A national snippet – A driver down near Madrid was caught doing 287kph, or 172mph. 

A blast from the past . . . Eva Perón and a few fat generals and bishops in Spain some time ago:-

The UK 

There can be few more ironic things than a fundamentally dishonest man telling us that we must have “really honest discussions”. Yet that is where we’re at with Johnson at the G7 meeting.

For those who don’t think much of cricket, a truly astonishing shot made to look easy . . . Here and here.

Ukraine v Russia 

Richard North’s probably correct overview: There is no logic or happy resolution in the way this war is being fought, or in the way the support of the “free world” is being marshalled. One can define the extremes of action necessary to bring an end to the war as follows. On the one side, we have the stance attributed to Marcon, who seems to believe that Ukraine should do a deal with Putin which will involve ceding territory to Russia – most likely the whole of Donbass, the Azov Sea littoral and Crimea. On the other side, there is the Zelensky view that the war should be fought to achieve a complete victory over Russia, the end point being the restoration of Ukraine’s 1991 boundaries, at which point a final deal will be agreed with Putin. As it stands, the “Macron scenario” may or may not be achievable. Russia has yet to conquer the whole of Donbass and one must assume that Putin will keep going for as long as he is able, until that objective has been secured. But, if there might be doubt about whether Putin can achieve his final objective, there is very serious doubt about whether Zelensky can achieve his. Short of an almost complete collapse of the Russian military – which isn’t being ruled out – the Ukrainian armed forces do not have the capability to recover the occupied territories. As it stands, the “Macron scenario” may or may not be achievable. Russia has yet to conquer the whole of Donbass and one must assume that Putin will keep going for as long as he is able, until that objective has been secured. But, if there might be doubt about whether Putin can achieve his final objective, there is very serious doubt about whether Zelensky can achieve his. Short of an almost complete collapse of the Russian military – which isn’t being ruled out – the Ukrainian armed forces do not have the capability to recover the occupied territories.  . . .  The current level of support delivered and promised by the “free world” may be sufficient to enable the Ukrainian military to frustrate Putin’s ambitions, but it is by no means enough for Zelensky to achieve his. And, if peace is dependent on one side or other achieving their objectives, then all we can expect is a stalemate, with no possibility of a settlement in the foreseeable future. What we have at the moment is a recipe for a never-ending war.

RN is none too confident about the West getting its (expensive) act together in a way which would help Zelensky achieve his objectives. See here.

The Way of the World 

Trad wife, feral girl or bimbo? Women are struggling to find a solid identity in a fluid world. A backlash against liberal feminism and the social upheaval of the pandemic have erased the old certainties: See the 2nd article below,

There are 3 main exam boards to choose from for O and A level exams in the UK. One of these, OCR, is dropping works by major writers from its English literature syllabus – in order to demonstrate its “commitment to greater diversity”. Instead of towering figures from the literary canon, pupils will be studying little-known but impeccably diverse writers, including numerous “disabled and LGBTQ+ voices”

Quote of the Day

A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was. The The 17th-century moralist, Bishop Joseph Hall once observed that 


Un hándicap: Una desventaja o circunstancia desfavorable.

Finally  . . .

It had to be something truly awful to beat a pug in the Ugliest Dog in the World competition and it surely was. Hard to believe someone thought the contestants were ‘adorably odd’, as opposed to ‘utterly repulsive’ and a disgrace to the canine world.

For new 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.


1. María José Jiménez, the first gypsy  graduate in Galicia: The Voz de Galicia

Social worker and Humanities graduate. María is also a feminist and fights to end the discrimination the gypsies suffer on a daily basis. She asks that they be the ones who have her own voice: “In Spain there is brutal anti-Gypsyism” 

You have to be honest. And to ask if you have ever had prejudice or discriminated against someone for the simple fact of realising that he/she is a gypsy. The answer in 99% of cases will be Yes. A resounding YES. That is why it is necessary for people like María José Jiménez to raise their voices. To say how the community feels and also to explain what is to be achieved in this revolution that she and other people are leading. 

María José is Galician, she was born in Lugo but has always lived in Ourense, where her parents reside and live by street vending, like many people in her community. But this has not prevented them from always being very committed to the education of their children. In fact, María José was he first Roma woman in Galicia who went to university, and in addition to graduating in Social Work more than 20 years ago, she also obtained a degree in Humanities. Her sister was the second and her brother has also been able to train professionally. Just this simple fact should be enough to dismiss a large part of the prejudices that society displays with this community. 

Day to Day 

And yet, every day she continues to feel discriminated against for the simple fact of being a gypsy. But it doesn’t just happen to her, she says it’s a common evil. And she gives examples: “I can give you millions of real situations, mine, my family, and the gypsy community. The examples are many. You can’t enter a supermarket without a security guard following you through the aisles, without letting you do your shopping in a normal way. When you try to rent a house, even with a salary and a bank guarantee, you are denied access to a basic good for the simple fact of being Roma or having surnames that are linked to the Roma community. When you go for a job interview, on equal terms with the rest of the women, equality is not accorded there either.”

She also denounces the fact that her community is not part of any political project, because they don’t take it into consideration, much less if they are women. “Gypsy women don’t have the right to question. We don’t have political discourse. We aren’t considered a grassroots political subject. We are nobody. We scream in the desert. Under no project, whether left or right, do we mean anything. We are a national minority that is not recognised. Our rights are not guaranteed at any time and in any area of ​​life. And that exists every day. It is not something specific that happens to you once a month. And it’s not just me who suffers. The entire gypsy community in Spain and in Europe suffers from it”, she clarifies. In addition, she doesn’t mince words in  sayin that “In Spain there is a brutal anti-gypsyism.” But the truth is that she doesn’t have to tell us to know that it’s true. Another thing is that we don’t want to recognise it, because that means showing our colours publicly: “The questions, the difficulties, the handicaps and putting sticks in spokes have always come from society and from the economic and social system that we have in Europe. It is a racist system. The Roma population is the most discriminated against in Europe.” 

María José is a social worker and she recognises that she feels great satisfaction in being able to exercise her profession. “I am in charge of a housing department at a national level, with an important team of workers under my charge and carrying out intervention work in housing for families in a situation of social vulnerability,” she explains. And she clarifies it because her position as president of the Feminist Gypsies for Diversity association, “has never been linked to a dependency on work. “Filling my fridge doesn’t depend on my activism, much less on my professional and political development,” she says. 

A fighter 

No one has given her anything. Quite the contrary. And, even so, she insists that she has not shattered stereotypes by the fact of being a woman, a university graduate, a feminist, having a profession and, on top of that, her own discourse. Because there are more gypsy women like her. “Honestly, I haven’t broken any mould. But I have had to fight fiercely for many years of my life, in different areas, to be considered a worthy, trustworthy, professional person with certain attitudes on a personal level. We always have to be demonstrating”, she stresses. She also indicates that in this internal revolution that is taking place, the gypsies want to have their own voice: “Nobody knows better than the Roma community what is needed, what is wrong and what needs to be changed. We don’t need a white corporatist payo* who puts himself at the head of millionaire foundation spreading the cause of gypsies and selling it to the highest bidder. That, too, is a disease we’ve suffered from since the 70s in Spain.”

* 1. Ignorante y rudo  2. Entre gitanos, que no pertenece al pueblo gitano

2. Trad wife, feral girl or bimbo? Women are struggling to find a solid identity in a fluid world. A backlash against liberal feminism and the social upheaval of the pandemic have erased the old certainties: Charlotte Ivers

There is something going on with the girls. Isn’t there always? From Victorian Britain to Beatlemania, young women are usually up to something that makes everyone else sigh and ask, “Oh God, what now?”

That said, the traditional moral panic has fallen somewhat out of fashion recently, with column inches instead dedicated to the question of whether we are experiencing a crisis of masculinity. Indeed, some of those column inches have been mine, leading one of you to accuse me of misandry in the comments. This, I think, was unfair. Some of my best friends are men, as I believe the defence goes in these circumstances.

Nevertheless, I am happy to redress the balance. We seem to be experiencing something of a crisis of femininity. As with everything unholy in this world, you can see it on TikTok. A trend has emerged in which young women idealise a “trad wife” lifestyle. Do you want to marry a rich man and become a housewife? Well, I have good news: there are any number of influencers out there ready to tell you how.

This, we are told, is an act of politicised rebellion. An act of anti-capitalism: dropping out of the labour force. An act of feminism: redistributing wealth from men to women. So too, now, is being a bimbo. According to BimboTok, getting an education and working hard are the tools of the capitalist system. The revolutionary act is to be hot and dumb.

Not for you? I can’t say I blame you. Never mind. Why not try feral girl summer instead. Feral girl summer is another internet trend among young women. It espouses a lifestyle perhaps best epitomised by slouching, hung over, to the kitchen in your underwear in pursuit of last night’s pizza, before going to the grimiest club you can find and hammering tequila shots. It is a reaction against traditional standards of femininity

It is also a reaction against last year’s viral trend: hot girl summer, which was eventually condemned for putting undue pressure on women. And yet the revolution devours its children. Feral girl summer is also cancelled, according to some commentators, because it too puts undue pressure on women, just in a slightly different way. Are you keeping up? Congratulations if so, because I am not.

Where is it coming from, this explosion of prescriptive lifestyle trends? Some elements of these movements are jokes, no doubt. But, as with any decent joke, they are striking towards something real. There is also an extent to which something that has always been present is now made more visible by the internet: the desire to differentiate oneself, and to belong, spawning subcultures. But we are also seeing the results of a backlash. Against liberal feminism, which told young women we could have it all, when we can’t. Against capitalism, which told us we would have better lives than our parents, when we won’t.

All these things form part of the story, but they are not the whole story. I suspect, too, that we are seeing a consequence of the huge social upheavals of the past couple of years. During the pandemic we were all forced to look at our lives with new eyes. Were we happy? Did the things we had spent years working towards mean anything? Now, as we rebuild from the foundations, it is no surprise that many of us are searching for new identities to cling to, new rulebooks to follow.

I suspect this is most acute among young women. There is a particular freneticism to being a woman below the age of about 35: always a sense that you are running out of time. First there is the ever-looming threat of ageing out of your so-called hot years (ugh), and then there is the overwhelming pressure to settle down and have a family (ugh). It is a period of rapid change in who you are, and of even more rapid change in the way you are perceived. Consequently, losing two years of that time is disorienting in a unique way.

Hang on — doesn’t this sound rather like someone projecting her personal insecurities onto a whole generation? I don’t think it is. My pandemic-induced revelation has been that I don’t want any of the things that bring this pressure: marriage, children, stability. As for the hot years, I can only hope they lie ahead.

“This is ridiculous,” I hear you saying. “She’s only 27. How can she be so sure of what she will want in the future?” Sorry, did I say “you”? I meant “me”. Because I know how silly it is to be so confident of this. I simply don’t know how I will feel in a few years’ time. And yet. And yet, and yet. And yet I cling to it regardless. Because it is something solid. Because it is something to hold on to in a world that is constantly shifting.

In that sense I am doing exactly what the young women on TikTok are doing. Creating a story about who I am. Creating a structure, a rulebook for life. We all do it. It is why young men are enthralled by Jordan Peterson. Why older women read agony aunt columns. The world is large and scary and constantly in flux. We all want someone to take us by the hand and say, look: this is how you do it. This is how you get it right. Young or old, male or female, feral or bimbo.