Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 11.11.17

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

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • Sr P admitted this morning that his campaign in Brussels has failed to garner support from a single leader of a EU state. 
  • Sr P went on to burnish his victim status – the norm for all nationalists – and insisted that the only consideration should be 'democracy'. As if the rule of law were totally irrelevant. 
  • As the mess drags on, the total of companies which have left the region – on paper, at least – has risen to over 2,000. And Barcelona is now threatened with the loss of huge convention business and with being dropped as a candidate for the EU Medicines Agency, when this moves from post-Brexit London. Milan is said to be the main beneficiary of this development. 
  • A poll taken among 5 Spanish friends at dinner last night resulted in the unanimous guess that a nationalist coalition will win the December 21 elections in Cataluña. No one would venture a prediction on what Sr Rajoy would do then. But, who'd be daft enough to do that?
  • Political party supporters/activists are called militantes here. Says a lot, I feel. 
  • The Spanish are high consumers of water. So, this year's low rainfall has inevitably led to low reservoirs. Actually, the lowest for 22 years. Here in Galicia, we're being encouraged to use water 'rationally'. I fear this will be ineffective.
  • Europe's biggest inland beach will be open from the year 2020 in a town well over 400 km from the nearest coast.  But only 50km from Madrid. See here for details.
RussiaMr Putin has accused the USA of meddling in the country's upcoming presidential election. Fake news?? Or just a joke?

The UK:
  • On my first evening back in Pontevedra, I was chatting to the waitress in my regular bar when she laughed and touched me on the arm. I had to tell her that, if we'd been in the UK, I'd have now been able to accuse her of sexual harassment. She laughed a bit more. 
  • Another bit of dangerous madness: How quickly we transition kids [from one gender to another] is the new measure of an enlightened society. See the agonised article on this at the end of this post, by someone who's horrified at what's happening in the UK and the USA. Spain doesn't seem to suffer from this insanity. Yet.
Social Media: Facebook's first president has made an amazing admission - That the company's guiding question has always been “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Social media, he said, “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology”. By rewarding us with a little rush of satisfaction when people respond to our posts, it trains us to post more often. Its designers “understood this consciously – and we did it anyway.” In other words, the creators of Facebook, Instagram and all the rest deliberately set out to make their product as addictive as possible. So, how to row back? And make the bastards pay more tax.

I've been trilling the praises of the godello grape for years but this week I enjoyed a couple of glasses of one I'd never had before – Dona Delfina, from the Roandi Bodega. I'd certainly go along with this sentence from this page: Doña Defina Godello, a tribute to the family’s matriarch, transmits a rich variety of olfactory sensations and on the palate. I doubt you'll be able to get it outside Spain(Galicia?) but feel you should be aware of its existence in case you're visiting Galicia.

By the way, this was during a special fish and chips lunch which the owners of my regular bar kindly treated me to on my first day back. As per a (very successful) Jaime Oliver recipe involving beer in the batter!

Finally . . . During a visit last week to friends in Dorchester, I was treated to a trip round the adjacent town of Poundbury. This is being built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall – i e the Prince of Wales – and it religiously eschews all architecture that could possibly be labelled 'contemporary'. It's a bizarre but fascinating pastiche and, in truth, I don't think that I'd have any difficulty in living there, despite all its artificiality. The first phase looks very much like an old Cheshire village. Other commentators are rather less uncritical: Architecture writer Jonathan Meades labelled the town a "cottagey slum" and a "Thomas Hardy theme-park for slow learners". On the other hand, ARCHITECT magazine's Witold Rybczynski takes a view closer to mine . . . Poundbury embodies social, economic, and planning innovations that can only be called radical. Well, I think that's positive.

Today's Cartoon:

Oh, no! He's created another 26 new cardinals!


Children sacrificed to appease trans lobby: Janice Turner

From Topshop’s cave-in on changing rooms to the SNP’s guidance for schools, there is a mindless rush to appear right-on

Travis Alabanza is a performance artist who, in the tradition of Leigh Bowery, Boy George or Bowie, dresses to astonish and subvert. Blue lipstick, beard stubble, fab shoes, frocks, mad hair, attitude. What Travis isn’t, however, is a woman.

Yet when Topshop in Manchester wouldn’t allow him to try on clothes in the women’s fitting area, he exploded on Twitter: “Not letting me use the changing room I decide is shit, sort it out.” Within hours Topshop declared all customers “are free to use any fitting room located within our stores”.

Note: Topshop hasn’t built solid, separate unisex boxes as in, say, Urban Outfitters. They are just permitting men — any man — to walk into a flimsily curtained space where giggling teenage girls check out a friend’s new dress in their bras. Topshop’s female customers were baffled. Why sacrifice our privacy and safety? (When the US company Target adopted this policy, predatory men exploited it to snap photos under cubicles.) Why not create a discrete space for the few “non-binary” people like Travis to change?

Fair question. But the current trans movement is doctrinaire, uncompromising. Led by mainly older trans-women — ie born men — it won’t acknowledge women’s rights or feelings. It fights for two principles. First, “self-definition”: a person is the gender they “feel” inside, so a trans-woman “is” a woman even without physical change or while retaining male genitalia. Second, “affirmation”: everyone must acknowledge this inner gender identity. Hence the right to waltz into women’s private spaces is sacrosanct.

For months, researching the rise in referrals to gender clinics of teenage girls, I’ve been shocked at how the trans lobby, abetted by a cowed LGBT movement and deluded politicians, are prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing of children to attain those two goals.

This week the Scottish government published its transgender guidance for schools, drawn up solely by activist groups such as Mermaids. If Justine Greening implements a highly contentious women and equalities committee report, such rules will apply everywhere. On changing rooms it states: “If a learner feels uncomfortable sharing facilities with a transgender young person, they can be allowed to use a private facility . . . or to get changed after the trans young person is done.” So if a girl objects to showering with a male-bodied pupil, she must go elsewhere or wait outside. For overnight trips: “If a transgender young person is sharing a room with their peers, there is no reason for parents of the other young people to be informed.” So you have no business knowing if your daughter is sleeping alongside someone born a boy.

It recommends schools allow a child to change gender without parental consent. Moreover, if parents are not wholly behind a child’s decision: “It may be useful to approach the local authority for additional guidance”, ie report them to social services, perhaps to question custody.

This craze to expedite gender transition in children goes against all clinical advice for “watchful waiting”. The young brain evolves, children change their minds, puberty is troubling for many reasons. Yet the Scottish guidance allows no one to dispute a child’s view, maybe acquired on Reddit and Tumblr, that he or she is in “the wrong body”. Or to suggest that a child may simply be gay. The apparatus of medical transition, a hormone regime causing sterility, plus surgical removal of healthy tissue, is seen as wholly positive. PE teachers must tolerate girls using binders to strap down their hated breasts “which can lead to shortness of breath and can be painful during physical exertion” because they have “a positive impact on a young person’s mental health”.

We are being ordered to endorse a practice reminiscent of Chinese foot-binding or the Victorian tight-lacing craze where girls fainted to achieve the tiniest waist. Should we also hand out fresh razor blades so self-harm wounds don’t go sceptic? Or “affirm” anorexics’ delusions that they are fat?

In my research I heard from teachers, doctors, parents and trans-folk aghast at children being pushed towards drastic treatment before they can possibly understand how it will affect their future relationships and lives. None would speak out publicly: like Topshop, they feared being labelled transphobic.

Because how quickly we transition kids is the new measure of an enlightened society. Announcing proposals to let 12-year-olds change their legal gender, the SNP equalities secretary Angela Constance boasted that “Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI rights.” This proves the SNP is more right-on than even Corbyn Labour. 

Meanwhile the Tories, in a cynical pursuit of youth votes, push for legislative changes they don’t even grasp. “Being trans is not an illness,” said Theresa May recently, “and it should not be treated as such.” So why does it require surgery, drugs and lifelong patienthood?

While trans children are a liberal totem, 50 more are being referred to London’s Tavistock clinic every week. “If there was a 1,000% rise in six years in any other field,” said one doctor, “there would be a major inquiry. Instead no one asks why.” Because trans kids are becoming, as in the US, an industry that makes careers, brings Children in Need and Lottery grants, humanitarian prizes, plaudits, MBEs; it provides a legion of photogenic young foot-soldiers to help secure older trans demands, and for the private clinics, who’ll put your 13-year-old girl on testosterone, it is a mighty cash cow. 

But in a decade, when our adult children turn to ask, “Why did you let me do this? Why didn’t you stop me?” we may wonder if this was progress or child abuse.


Anthea said...

I find the whole transgender question very worrying. It seems as though serious decisions are being taken far too lightly, sometimes involving medical intevention with physical consequences which might not be reversible later.
A friend of our son has three sons and a daughter. The daughter, youngest of the four, decided she wants to be a boy like her brothers. Okay. So far they have let her have a boy’s haircut and to wear boys’ clothes. Her name has been shortened to a boyish version. Friends and family AND TEACHERS are encouraged to treat her as a boy. I am hoping that that is all they do. The child is only 7.

Our own daughter always preferred trousers to skirts and decided she was a boy called Elliott after watching ET. We played along and she grew out of it. People used to call this being a tomboy!

Cari Corbet-Owen said...

Hi Colin......Just had to smile when I read this:

"On my first evening back in Pontevedra, I was chatting to the waitress in my regular bar when she laughed and touched me on the arm. I had to tell her that, if we'd been in the UK, I'd have now been able to accuse her of sexual harassment. She laughed a bit more.
Another bit of dangerous madness: How quickly we transition kids [from one gender to another] is the new measure of an enlightened society. See the agonised article on this at the end of this post, by someone who's horrified at what's happening in the UK and the USA. Spain doesn't seem to suffer from this insanity. Yet."

PS. I'v been trying to find a way to contact you. Peter and I are going to be heading your way again later this month. We'd love to get together over a glass of vino when we are there....but I've lost your phone number. probably won't remember us as we've never met, but Pieter gave us your number and we called you but weren't able to get to meet. Love to hear back from you....I will get any follow up comments at my email . Kindly Cari Corbet-Owen

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Cari. Though I was aiming for a laugh, rather than just a smile . . .

Let me know when you are getting near Ponters. Dates are important as I will be in Portugal 16-26 Nov. By the way, which Pieter? I know 2 Dutchmen of that name here . . . Apologies for not remembering.

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