1 December 2022: Spanish politics; Economic policies; Suicide rates; A primary school shock; Insane TikTok wealth; & 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

This is a useful article – albeit from the traditional right-of-centre viewpoint – on Spanish politics and on the national and regional economies. I confess to being unaware that Galicia is one of 3 regions outperforming the other 14 as regards its economy and inward investment.

Nor was I aware that the NW corner of Spain – Galicia and Asturias – has the highest percentage of suicides among the 17 regions. More than twice as high as some of them. I’m tempted to ask, in the case of Galicia, whether going the wrong way down a highway or risking a zebra crossing at night in the rain counts, if fatal, as suicide. Which could help to explain the numbers . . .

There was a foto in a local paper which surprised me. Nay, almost shocked me. It was of a male primary school teacher. In the UK, these are as rare as unicorns. Possibly because all job applicants have to prove they’re not a pedophile . . .

Something which hasn’t surprised me . . . To see the We Buy Gold shops/kiosks reappearing in Pv city centre. Tough times.

The UK 

Someone’s comment on the recent UK census – echoing my own – I’m surprised to see there were only 2.5% identifying as ‘black’. From the  TV ads, I’d got the impression it was 100%.

If speciously stressing your corporate commitment to environmental concerns is ‘greenwashing’, does this amount to ‘blackwashing’?

Quite a headline – from the right-of-centre Daily Telegraph: Britain is fast descending into chaos, and the Tories are powerless to stop it. Who governs the country? Not the Conservatives, who increasingly appear to have given up completely. Time for a new centre party? Again.

The UK’s GDP:-

1. In absolute terms, 5th in the world

2. Per capita – 20th.

Which must say something, given that the 2nd number is more important.


It’s reported that domestic public support for the war on Ukraine is down to 25%. But, even if true, will this make any difference? I rather doubt it. Polls probably don’t keep Putin awake at night. Moscow is already willing to respond to Ukrainian peace initiatives, but these probably won’t arrive for quite some time. Especially if Ukraine keeps on getting fancy new weapons.

The World Cup

There’s clearly been a huge investment in both people and machines related to VAR. But with what results? Certainly a high proportion of matches littered with stoppages, leading to lengthy extra time periods. And certainly some justice. But is everyone happy? Well, this commentator – with whom I agree – certainly isn’t: The 3 most contentious penalty awards during this World Cup read: 2 for Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and 1 for Lionel Messi’s Argentina. It’s almost as if there is an attempt to keep the two biggest names in the tournament. Of course, that’s a tongue-in-cheek statement that belongs to conspiracy theorists, social media and those, if serious, who want to risk being sued for libel. It just can’t be true. But they were, let’s just say, odd. Seriously, though, each of those decisions has given the use of the VAR, already an acronym which fiercely divides opinion, a bad name. Or a worse one. It has not been a good World Cup for those strangely kitted people in their full refereeing uniforms in the video operations room, the same as those worn on the pitch.

An observation: Perhaps because of the success of England’s women’s football team, most TV programs now seem to be fronted by pretty females and to include pretty female players. To which I have no objection whatsoever.

On the subject of studio commentaries . . . As ever, the foreign ex-players put their British colleagues to shame in terms of intelligence and insight. Which probably explains why so few top-flight UK team managers are British.

The Way of the World

The estimable Caitlin Moran, in the full article below: Everyone seems to be quitting jobs to moo like a cow, honk a clown horn or be inventive with quiche for strange gentlemen on OnlyFans. A former Love Islander makes £800,000 a month from hers. Which is peanuts. A Leeds student who dropped out of university has made £2 million pouring baked beans on herself and “pretending to be a giant”. 


El dumping fiscal:-

1. El dumping fiscal es la lucha entre las comunidades autónomas para conseguir las sedes sociales de las empresas, gracias al margen que tienen para regular determinados gravámenes.

2. El Dumping Fiscal es la forma de hacer negocios de manera negativa, aunque según la Organización Mundial del Comercio no está prohibida, pero si es condenable. En este caso relacionado con las empresas, el principal objetivo de estas es el ahorro del pago de los impuestos.

Did You Know

Between 1350 and 1800 in the Mediterranean, ‘perhaps 1.5m Christians fell victim to slavery’, to say nothing of the large numbers of Slavic peoples enslaved during this period. So, it was going on long before the European states got involved in it. Possibly since the dawn of human history. So, who should recompense whom? Apart from the UK and the USA, I mean.

Finally . . . 

To amuse . . .

For new readers:-

1. 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.

2. Should you want to, the easiest way to to get my post routinely is to sign up for email subscription. As opposed to using a Bookmark or entering the URL. 


Talking tampons, Twitter meltdowns and feminist fury: Caitin Moran, The Times

There is an episode of Broad City – possibly the greatest comedy of all time – where irrepressible extrovert stoner Ilana is randomly picked to run her company’s Twitter account, on the basis that she’s the youngest person in the office, online all the time and a bit “edgy”.

For the first 7 minutes of the show, this goes well – her posts are funny and knowing, and retweets go through the roof. Then, inevitably, she takes it too far, there is a massive Twitter outrage and a fraught meeting follows.

Ilana’s boss: “You’re fired.”

Ilana: “But I just got promoted.”

Ilana’s boss: “You tweeted an extremely graphic bestiality video.”

Ilana: “But it’s ‘Mr Hands’! It’s a staple of early digital culture. Google it!”

Ilana’s boss: “It’s a guy f***ing a horse.”

Ilana: “It’s to promote a deal on colonics. It’s brilliant.”

Ilana’s boss: “It’s a PR nightmare.”

Ilana: “You’re welcome. Now we have a PR nightmare. Cool.”

I was put in mind of this last week, when – with the absence only of the horse – almost literally the same scene must have played out at the head office of Tampax, USA, which is absolutely having a PR nightmare right now.

In mid-November, @Tampax posted: “You’re in their DMs. We’re in them. We are not the same.”

On the Twitter Hoo-Ha Scale, this scored a solid nine: #boycotttampax was trending within minutes. Twenty-four hours later, Woman’s Hour was doing an earnest discussion on it. The distress was caused because Tampax seemed to be crowing that while a man might be DMing a woman – hoping to have sex with her – Tampax was already “inside” the woman, doing whatever the absorbent cotton plug equivalent of “cock-blocking” is. “Tampax just sexualised period products,” a typical response – from more than 50,000 – ran. “A product preteens and teens need to use. It’s revolting.”

At first, I admit, I was on the “Tampax US – WTF?” team. As my brother Eddy once pointed out, “‘Woman’ is the rudest word in the world.” Almost everything to do with women’s bodies – breastfeeding, tampon usage, pubic hair, knickers, bras – gets viewed through a wearying lens of sexualisation. However workaday these actions/items might be to women and girls, at some point breastfeeding on the bus will be seen as “putting on a show at the Moulin Rouge”, bum-warming knickers are treated as “tempting sex-curtains”, and tampons are now “your new boyfriend”.

Given that women spend less than 1% of their lives actually having sex, the amount of time we’re presumed to be sexual is quite knackering. I was prepared to be feministly furious about Tampax US for ever.

However, when I took Ilana’s advice – “Google it!” – I found that “We’re not the same” is, indeed, “a staple of digital culture”. It’s a meme. And it changes the whole inference of Tampax’s tweet. The meme’s mechanism is to appear at first as a boast – but to then pivot into self-deprecation. The most apposite example is, “You’re in her DMs – but I’m in her most upsetting conversations with her therapist. We’re not the same.”

Once you know this template, Tampax’s inference goes from “I’m inside her – being sexual” to “I’m inside her – stoically absorbing all kinds of oomska and groo, as is my job.” If you know the context, you get the joke. If you don’t, it just seems… a demented PR nightmare.

What this brought home is the flaw in social media: it’s a gigantic “out of context” machine. Twitter theoretically allows you to talk to the whole world – but, in reality, no one can talk to the whole world. In real life, we select what we say based on who we’re looking at. I wouldn’t use a millennial meme when telling a “risky” joke to a 60-year-old: it would likely end in confusion, anger or a very awkward Christmas.

Very often, when genuine offence and upset are caused on social media, it’s by the equivalent of verbal friendly fire – you weren’t supposed to be in the path of that chat. It wasn’t meant for you. And yet, there it is, in your Twitter timeline – absolutely looking like it was meant for you. It has no backstory or character reference. Viewed in isolation, it’s impossible to gauge the true intent.

In a way, Tampax’s Bad Week is one of the more surreal controversies of recent times: after all, let’s not forget, the original post was from someone pretending to be a tampon. But there’s no context at all when an inanimate yet oddly sassy object starts cracking jokes from an official, corporate account. Which is sad, as I wanted to end with a gag about the @tenalady account “taking the piss” – but it still feels too soon.