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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 14 February 2021
14 February 2021 @ 14:13

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'

Happy Valentine’s Day to the romantics among you. . . 


The UK: Folk there seem to have moved on from wondering - as I am - when they’ll get jabbed to wondering when they’ll get the certificates the will allow them to have a summer holiday outside the UK

The world: Covid has robbed us of the ability to properly weigh risk.

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain 

Needless to say. Spain has a gender identity bill going through the parliamentary motions. See here. It’s pretty controversial, I guess. Spain’s right-wing voters are inevitably unhappy about it, as this ABC article shows.

I've mentioned before there's a place in North Galicia called Bretoña, reputed to be the location of a 6th century monkish group from either Great Britain or Little Britain (Brittany) - Britania or Armorica. See the map here. What's really interesting/amusing about this is that Galicians believe the migration was the other way, with Galicians colonising the British Isles, including Ireland. 

The article relates that: In the 5th and 6th centuries emigrating Britons also took Brittonic speech to the continent, most significantly to Brittany and Britonia(Bretoña). Needless to say, there's no trace of a Bretonic language in North Galicia nowadays. Indeed, there's no trace of the Brits who came to Bretoña either. (Incidentally and confusingly, there's also a village called Bretoña quite close to Pontevedra but I doubt it has anything to do with ancient Brits. Unless some pensioners have settled there.)

It’s a shame there’s no trace of a Bretonic language in Galicia, as this would surely help in the (impossible?) task of proving that the region/country is entitled to join the Celtic League as the 7th Celtic member.

The UK and the EU

Reader sp asks me if I’m keeping a list of the ways the Daily Telegraph thinks ‘The Project’ will fail. I’m not, of course, as this would be an odd thing to do for someone who believes it’ll fail in due course. I’m reminded of the comment that: Only a fool makes predictions. Especially about the future. So, I think it’s legitimate to  speculate on the collapse, while declining to forecast exactly when and how. 

The Way of the World

A nice observation: Football, at its highest level, has become completely detached from the lives of its supporters — the perfect symbol of the financial gain and cultural loss from what we now call globalisation.

An even nicer observation: The divisive agenda of woke activists is the very opposite of ‘anti-racism’. Every time one of our institutions gives room to performative wokery, it denies space to genuine opportunity for ethnic minorities See the full article below.

A propos . . . Breastfeeding is now chestfeeding: Why are the language police trying to wipe out women? To placate the angry, vocal few, one sex is being written out of the lexicon. It must stop. [I think I said that a few days ago]. See the full - and rather angry - 2nd article below 

Finally . . .

Here’s a tale that tickled me this week. Bear in mind that a Casino in Spain is usually/always just a private club, not a gambling joint:-

A group of friends in their 40s get together to choose somewhere to go for lunch, and finally they decide on the restaurant in the Casino because the waitresses are stunning and very friendly.

Ten years later, the same group of friends, get together to choose somewhere to go for lunch, and finally they decide on the restaurant in the Casino because it has a wondeful menu and a wide choice of wines.

Ten years later, the same group of friends  get together to choose somewhere to go for lunch, and finally they decide on the restaurant in the Casino because it is a quiet place, without too much noise and has a no-smoking policy.

Ten years later, the same group of friends get together to choose somewhere to go for lunch, and finally they decide on the restaurant in the Casino because it has wheelchair access and even a lift.

Ten years later, the same group of friends, now in their 80s, get together to choose somewhere to go for lunch, and finally they decide on the restaurant in the Casino because they all agree they have never been there before . . .


1. The divisive agenda of woke activists is the very opposite of ‘anti-racism’.

Every time one of our institutions gives room to performative wokery, it denies space to genuine opportunity for ethnic minorities: Charles Moore 

The subject of today’s column furnishes so many examples that I am spoilt for choice. I think I’ll start with Winston Churchill, because everyone has heard of him.

On Thursday, a conference was held on the “racial consequences” of Churchill. Its speakers condemned him. Kehinde Andrews, professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, said Churchill was the “perfect embodiment of white supremacy”. “The British Empire was far worse than the Nazis”, he added. No one defended Churchill. The conference was held at Churchill College, Cambridge, at that college’s instigation. The college was founded in 1964, with the great man’s blessing. It is also the home of the Churchill Archives, by far the most important collection of his papers.

Here is my second example. In 2019, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the charity which looks after charities, chose the experienced Karl Wilding, already on the staff, as its new chief executive. It was criticised for picking “another white man”. Once appointed, Mr Wilding announced his urgent priority to improve the NCVO’s Diversity and Inclusion. He and the board commissioned “independent consultants” to report on the situation. He also met “#CharitySoWhite”, a campaign group devoted to attacking white dominance of charities. It was a pre-requisite for the consultants that NCVO should admit to institutional racism, so the eventual report was a foregone conclusion.

In the course of its inquiries, the leading consultant claimed she had been shocked by a meeting with Mr Wilding. He was the oppressor, she judged, and had exhibited the sin of “white fragility”.

During Covid, Mr Wilding had scored an extraordinary hit for the charity sector – securing £750 million from the Government to save it from collapse. This did not save him. He recently left his post at the NCVO. A leak of the consultants’ report this week claimed there had been “bullying and harassment” on the basis of race. The new-ish chairman of the NCVO, Priya Singh, grovellingly acknowledged it was “a structurally racist organisation” (and equally dreadful about homophobia, transphobia etc).

Both these stories reveal organisations which are unfair and ungrateful to those who help them and indulgent to those who hate them. Churchill College could never have raised the money to exist at all without the respect in which the statesman himself was held. The NCVO would have precious few charities to oversee if Mr Wilding had not obtained that huge subvention from the Government.

The question, then, is, why did Churchill College and why did the NCVO (including poor Mr Wilding) and why do bodies such as the National Trust or Historic England or the British Museum give room to those who detest what these organisations do and try to oust the people who run them?

Simple fear is part of it. No one wants to be accused of racism, harassment and “microaggressions”. Most realise that, if they are, their colleagues will not dare defend them. It feels easier to give in – though it isn’t. But I think there must be another feeling in the minds of the institutions blowing with this gale. They half-believe that people like Pror Andrews and organisations such as #CharitySoWhite are right – a bit hot-headed, perhaps, but on the right track.

It is true, as a general proposition about human nature, that people who dominate tend to exploit the rest. Western nations have dominated most of the world for more than 200 years, so there is a history of (among many other, better things) exploitation. It should be told, and that tale will involve Churchill, if only because he was the last globally powerful Englishman. Any painful consequences of the past (along with many more beneficial ones such as the spread of Christianity, the rule of law and modern medicine) for minority-ethnic people alive today should not be hidden. Wrongs that persist must be righted.

But it is a mistake – indeed, for the institutions involved, a potentially fatal mistake – to accept all “anti-racists” at their own valuation. What is emerging as this attempted Cultural Revolution spools out is that Martin Luther King’s ideal that people be judged by “the content of their character” not by the colour of their skin has been rejected by organisations such as Black Lives Matter.

Instead, they have set up doctrines uncommonly like those of apartheid South Africa, except that the racial hierarchy is reversed. Whereas apartheid demeaned blacks people above all, woke “anti-racism” demeans white people. It does this explicitly. The very name #CharitySoWhite is a small example. (You can prove it by imagining how people would rightly abhor an organisation called #CharitySoBlack designed to stop black people running charities.) Whiteness is seen as badness: so it must be extirpated. This is a racist doctrine. It is pretty much as simple as that.

When our institutions accept such critiques, they are not only digging their own graves; they also ignorantly and patronisingly accepting the unwarranted claim that the authors of these critiques speak for most ethnic minority people.

Surely anyone who wants BAME people to prosper would favour greater opportunity. And surely opportunity is less likely to open up if they are taught (literally taught, as happens in some schools) that society is against them. Every time one of our institutions gives room to this performative wokery, it denies space to genuine opportunity for ethnic minorities.

There are millions of ethnic minority people in this country doing jobs well and, as a result, often getting better jobs. Some of them, funnily enough, are Conservative MPs, elected mostly by the votes of supposedly racist whites. Several have reached Cabinet level. One, Rishi Sunak, is even Chancellor of the Exchequer. There are no BAME politicians of comparable importance in the Labour Party.

A more junior minister, Kemi Badenoch, eloquently defends British culture against Critical Race Theory, speaking in a language – English – which is not her first. She is also active trying to overcome minorities’ suspicion of Covid vaccines. Like Priti Patel, she suffers a flood of social-media abuse as a result, some mentioning her other “race-traitor” sins, such as being married to a white man. Despite the BBC’s strengthened impartiality policy, Emily Maitlis approvingly retweets the editor whose reporter seemingly attacks Mrs Badenoch at every turn.

In BLM-style woke ideology, the rise of ethnic minorities is seen as a positively bad thing. The ineffable Professor Andrews puts it thus: “Do not be fooled: a cabinet packed with ministers with brown skin wearing Tory masks represents the opposite of racial progress.” He would seem to prefer an all-white Cabinet, then.

Within government today, discussion is inconclusive. There are strong voices, such as that of the No 10 Policy Unit head, Munira Mirza, which understand exactly how wokery can intimidate BAME people who not agree with its doctrines. Dr Tony Sewell’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, expected next month, is likely to show reasons other than ubiquitous racism for some disparities. Why, for example, are young black males and young white males, doing worse academically than all other ethnic groups? Might it have something to do with weak family structures?

Also within government and officialdom, however, are nervous voices daunted by the task of turning round the oil tanker of nonsense. They need urgently to understand that if they accept the essential woke premise that Britain is a racist state, they must accept the implied conclusion – that Britain must be destroyed.

2. Breastfeeding is now chestfeeding: Why are the language police trying to wipe out women?

To placate the angry, vocal few, one sex is being written out of the lexicon. It must stop. Lionel Shriver

When designing the constitution, America’s founders feared democracy’s natural pitfall: the tyranny of the majority. They were leery of the ignorant masses and, originally, voting was largely restricted to landowners. But a competing danger — the tyranny of the minority — is arguably worse. At least when majorities tyrannise, a large number of people get what they want.

In the West’s current frenzy of inclusivity it’s often majorities whose wishes are at risk of being ignored: most recently non-trans people, and in particular, “women”. If I can still use that word.

Last week Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) NHS Trust delivered another blow to this once-straightforward class of humanity.

Midwives were instructed to cease referring to “breastfeeding” and prefer “chestfeeding”. “Breast milk” was to be known as “human milk”, “breast/chestmilk”, or “milk from the feeding mother or parent”.

Indeed, the latest guidelines suggest the word “mother” is best avoided. “Birthing parent” is better. When that awful W-word can’t be avoided one must say, “woman or person”— which seems ominously to imply that there’s a difference. These changes will be implemented in the trust’s written materials — leaflets, webpages, letters, and emails. It later clarified that the new terms were to be used alongside, not instead of, traditional terms.

The updated policy was designed by a team of “gender inclusion midwives”, one of whom describes “themself” as “non-binary”.

Who did not design this policy and who was not consulted?

The overwhelming majority of the people who use BSUH’s maternity services: women. This strained, clumsy, impractical lexicon is meant to cater instead to the tiny number of natal females who transition to male socially but not medically and give birth. As of 2017, the UK had two such people. To coin a phrase, the policy is not for the many, but the few. Women don’t matter; people who have renounced being women do.

The health trust is doing nothing new. The obliteration of women via the elimination of the word “women” and the insulting, dehumanising reduction of women to their biological functions or constituent parts (“people who menstruate”, “people with cervixes”) are indicators of a widespread, but frankly baffling, theatrical deference to transgenderism. We’re elevating the perceived rights of a minuscule minority above the rights of a vast majority.

So who cares if women are raped by biological men in prison, endangered in domestic violence “refuges”, distressed by “people with penises” in dressing rooms, or compelled to consign their sporting competitions to pointless farce when bruisers who “identify” as female win every contest. The interests of roughly 200,000 transgender Britons (about 0.3 per cent of the population) trump the concerns of about 34 million British women.

The columnist Janice Turner wrote a terrific essay on this subject for The Times last month. Consider this an update. Let’s start with “chestfeeding”, a contrivance that Microsoft Word underscores with a chiding red squiggle. The computer is right. Chestfeeding is not a word. That’s because human infants cannot extract nourishment from a chest. The only body part that produces milk is called a breast. For medical professionals to misidentify this aspect of the anatomy can only make patients worry about the quality of their education. By the by, the neologism “chestfeeding” is gross.

The trust’s inane linguistic makeover exemplifies not merely the tyranny of a minority but the tyranny of a minority of a minority. The trust’s verbal acrobatics are the product of a handful of trans activists, in complicity with supine authorities desperate to appear upstanding in ultra-contemporary terms. These days, that’s an all-too-common symbiosis. But these manglings of the English language are not necessarily at the behest of the majority of trans people. Trans people will, however, get the blame.

For this variety of news story does the trans cause no favours. Surely for rational people, the principal trans cause is to be treated like everyone else and be left in peace. Hear, hear. I’m all for that. But bend-over- backwards social obeisance that rides roughshod over half the human race backfires big time. It stirs hostility in compatriots who might otherwise regard transgender people with genial, live-and-let-live acceptance. Appearing patently absurd to most ordinary people, NHS sexual health advisories to “people with vaginas” and cancer charities’ appeals to “menstruators” are destined to draw popular derision. “Chestfeeding” is a gift to the trans community’s detractors. Although the lousy optics are not your average trans person’s fault, this is terrible PR.

The purpose of “inclusive” new lingo that offends most of the people to whom it applies doesn’t seem to be ingratiation. This movement to deform language in the service of a narrow political agenda clearly entails an element of proselytising, or at least of subliminal advertising. If even faintly up to date, any woman who reads a BSUH maternity leaflet that is full of bizarre avoidances of the word “woman” and “breast” knows full well which minuscule population these awful lingual contortions are meant to accommodate. The trans issue is thus put implicitly front and centre, even more so than whatever vital medical information the NHS is trying to communicate. The conspicuously weird language is intended to make the sacredness of transgenderism paramount.

I remain unconvinced that the majority of the trans community requires or wants all this elaborate pandering. Just because you’re trans doesn’t mean you’re stupid. If you’ve transitioned from female, but have kept the regulation equipment, then you know that an NHS invitation for a cervical smear still pertains to you. If you get pregnant you also know that “maternity services” pertain to you — and for the NHS to call them “perinatal services”, a BSUH rebranding sure to confound most patients, doesn’t make your circumstances any less personally complicated and emotionally fraught.

I also remain unconvinced that most transgendered people want women to be discomfited, insulted, or erased on their behalf. I refuse to believe they all yearn to relabel pregnant women as “birthing bodies” or reduce all women to mere “individuals with cervixes”, because these ungainly word games wouldn’t seem to make the real lives of trans people any better. The sole party the painful euphemisms seem palpably to benefit is the administrators who introduce them. Excited to find themselves on the ideological cutting edge, they get to feel warm and fuzzy inside.

As Turner noted, the left’s verbal assault on sex and biology lands overwhelmingly on women. But insisting that the NHS also reduce male patients to “people with prostates” would merely multiply the asininity.

These fashionable but fatuous lingual atrocities are unlikely to stick, sliding in the long run from hypermodern to passé. We’ve seen the avant-garde urge to radicalise through renaming before. The firebrands of the French Revolution contrived their own version, replacing the Gregorian calendar with the French Republican Calendar. Twelve newly christened months and 10 newly christened days of the week were cleansed of any reference to religion or royalty. But this bold exercise in equality and secularism lasted only a dozen years; it’s once more a chilly février, not Pluviôse, in Paris.

In time, we’ll probably look back on “chestfeeding” with perplexity and amusement, citing such semantic abominations as evidence of an era when certain brands of zealotry ran amok. I hope I live long enough to see the day.

Fair enough, let’s keep making an effort to bring into the fold groups who’ve been shafted or ignored in the past. But making room for minorities needn’t and shouldn’t crowd out the majority. While majorities can abuse their inherent power, they can also suffer abuse. It’s an odd argument to have to make, but majorities have rights too. When those rights are violated, the injury is to a multitude. The overwhelming preponderance of Britons want the NHS to treat “men” and “women”. In our eagerness to include, let’s not leave most of the country out in the cold.

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