19 November 2022: That border disaster; A neofascist fight-back; B or V?; New Scrabble words; A funny diary; & Other stuff

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 España/Galiza

I see that EU MPs have called for a truly independent inquiry into the fatal events on the Melilla border with Morocco a few months ago. Fat chance. There won’t even be a non-independent one.

The ‘far right’ – but popular – President of the Madrid region – Isabel Días Ayuso – says that Franco’s appalling Valle de los Caidos must be preserved, to the extent that la vanguardia* y las tradiciones are protected. Presumably going for the (neofascist) Vox vote.

*The RAE gives vanguardia as:Avanzada de un grupo o movimiento ideológico, político, literario, artístico, etc.

Having has numerous problems with the dreadful Renfe web page over the years, I wasn’t too surprised to read it has taken someone 4 days to get a ticket from Ourense to Madrid.

Quote of the Day 

A voice of sanity? Oxford is now the top university UK for both science and the humanities. Louise Richardson is its head and she said this week: Students have no right not to be offended because “education is all about being uncomfortable”. But her tenure ends next month. What then?

The Way of the World

An interesting observation from Carole Midgley: I do wonder what showbiz wordsmiths will write about in 50 years’ time, now that celebrities are so dull. I have just reviewed ‘The Ghost of Richard Harris’, a superb documentary about the late hellraiser and, while you feel for his liver and certainly his wife, a biographer could get a book out of every year of his life. This is a man who once went out for a newspaper and was gone for eight days. When his furious wife opened the door to him he said: “Why didn’t you pay the ransom?”. Once, while well-refreshed, he drove a truck under a low bridge, lifting it clean off its pillars. When pulled over, he said “Sorry officer, I’m just delivering this bridge to Limerick”. I’m not glamorising alcoholism, merely noting from a selfish journalistic viewpoint that people like him, Peter O’Toole, Oliver Reed and Elizabeth Taylor were walking copy generators. Compare this with, say, Mark Wahlberg whose daily routine now involves getting up at 3.30am to pray, work out, fast for 18 hours, and go to bed at 7.30pm. When Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t balancing her chakras she’s doing two-hour daily workouts rewarded with celery juice. Anne Hathaway had a baby and declared she won’t touch alcohol again until he is 18. Better role models perhaps, but who would you rather read about?


1. B or V? A helpful(?) guide.

2. Spain’s different languages. My understanding is that there’s very little difference between Valencian and Castilian.


1. Pinder: Pensioner Tinder.

2. The official US Scrabble dictionary has just added another 500 words to its pages, some of which have already featured here. They include: zedonk, vax, guac, convo, adorbs, sitch, pageview, subtweet, deepfake, unsub, unmute, deadname, allyship and folx(ungendered ‘folks’).

The highest-scoring new word is probably fauxhawk.

Finally . . . 

To amuse:-


2. My Week: Elon Musk*


Sometimes I buy things on a whim. Such as my new MAGA hat. And Twitter, for $44 billion. And this helicopter.

“It’s so inefficient!” I shout through my headphones to the pilot. “Those spinning bits at the top! Do they even do anything?”

“Don’t press that button!” the pilot shouts back, pointing at a red one.

So I press it. And then we plummet 4,000ft, before they start spinning again.

“You’re a maniac,” gasps the pilot.

“And you’re fired,” I say. “Get out.”

Then the pilot asks if I’m sure I don’t want to fire him once we’ve landed, because we’re still actually quite far up. Which is interesting feedback.

“I thought you were supposed to be a genius,” he says.

“OK, you can stay in this helicopter,” I tell him, “if you give me $8.”


Part of the reason I founded SpaceX was to conquer the lonely emptiness of the galaxy. But even outer space might not be as empty and lonely as Twitter’s offices.

“Is your office like this?” I ask Mark Zuckerberg, in a DM.

“DEAR BELOVED SEND ME 1 BITCOIN,” replies Mark. Weirdly, he’s in Nigeria.

Must be him, though, because he’s paid for a blue tick.

“Everybody gather around!” I shout, to the few people there are. I point at one guy and ask him if we can make the app load faster.

“Search me,” he says. “I’m a cleaner.”

“You’re fired,” I say, because I reckon we can do that with robots.

Then I tell everybody else to speak freely, because the last thing I want is yes-men.

“Well, with the benefit of ten years at this company,” says one of them, “I am mildly nervous about your plans.”

“Bad attitude,” I say. “Get out.”


There’s a small problem with the robot cleaners. In that they’ve started cleaning up all the other cleaners. It’s the same AI that was supposed to make Teslas drive themselves. Didn’t work there, either.

“But never mind that,” I tell the tiny handful of people who are still here, “because I have a plan for you all to get extremely hardcore and work long hours at high intensity.”

“Does that include the hours we spend stuck inside robot cleaners?” says one of the human cleaners, who seems wedged in quite tightly.

“No,” I say. “But relax. Because I’ve invented a tiny submarine which can go inside the robot cleaners, too, and get you out.”

“You’re mental,” says the cleaner.

“Ignore him,” I tell everybody else. “He’s probably a paedophile.”


I’m DMing Zuckerberg again. He’s the only person who understands what I’m going through.


Too right. His pivot to the Metaverse has cost Facebook billions. But that’s because the old school media guys don’t get it.

“But they’re finished,” I tell him. “Because this is the age of citizen journalism! Open source news! And what sort of idiot needs the truth to have a gatekeeper?”


“Not right now,” I say. “But thanks.”


My new plan is to get rid of all the features on Twitter that don’t do anything useful. Although I’m worried that then it would just be a blank screen.

Today, anyway, Donald Trump is calling. “Elon, you’re a beautiful guy,” he says.

“But the worst tweeter. It’s embarrassing. And I am the best. People tell me. Women. You should let me back on.”

“Maybe,” I say. Then I tell him that some people are saying I’m killing the whole site. Although I’m starting to think it might be worth Twitter dying just to own the whining libs.

“That’s exactly what I thought,” says Trump, “about America.”

Then he says I might not have heard, but he’s about to run for the presidency again.

“And it’s going to be so beautiful,” he says. “So wonderful. And there will be so much winning. And I was wondering if you could donate a few million to my campaign.”

“Hey hang on,” I say. “You haven’t even given me $8. You could be anyone. Is this a scam?”

“Absolutely,” says Trump. “But also, it really is me.”

*according to Hugo Rifkind

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.