Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 20.12.17

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.

  • The Times: An eleventh-hour split in the Catalan separatist camp opened today as the leaders of the two main pro-independence parties traded barbs as the region prepares to go to the polls. If the parties can't agree on a governing coalition, Catalonia could face fresh elections early next year, which would prolong political uncertainty in Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.
  • El País: Has a go at forecasting the result of tomorrow's elections here, in English. Brave.
  • A couple of recent letters to the Financial Times:-
  1. Sir, The most telling gauge for the commitment of the Catalans to independence was witnessed on the occasion of Spain assuming direct administration of the state’s government on Monday 30 October; this followed the Legislature’s vote to separate on the previous Friday. That Monday, the bureaucrats and officials of the newly-declared independent state showed up for work and carried out their duties — like any normal day — but under the imposed Spanish authority. Did that not strike anyone else as unusual behaviour for rebels and outcasts? Perhaps the Catalan civil servants feared the loss of job security, pension and position if they publicly supported independence and demonstrated accordingly? It does not speak well of the strength of a nation’s economy when the most sought-after jobs by that nation’s “best and brightest” are not found in the private sector, but in the Civil Service. It tells you that something is very rotten in Denmark . . . or in this case Spain. Ted Gaffney Waterford, CT, US
  2. Sir, I can’t but agree with Ted Gaffney’s concern about the civil service being the most sought-after job in Spain. Besides job security and other privileges (working hours, extra holidays) not available in the private sector, civil servants are immune to the economic conditions of the country. While the private sector has had to downsize drastically to survive the economic crisis, the overlapping, bloated and frequently inefficient administrations have not only not adjusted, they have actually grown — and recovered past wage adjustments which are the envy of the working taxpayers. Benigno Bueno Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain
The EU
  • A bit more on one of its major headaches, possibly overstated: Brexit may be preoccupying the European overlords but they should be looking over their shoulders, not across the Channel. The Habsburg empire - the original multinational, multicultural and multifaith European entity - is quietly reforming, in a loose and nebulous way. The new governments of Austria and the Czech Republic, along with Hungary, Slovakia and Poland find themselves with a lot in common – namely a common difficulty, Brussels. . . The problem of refugees and illegal migrants is one only if it is the major point of contention. . . There is a sense that the EU is meddling too much – from minutiae such as the notorious bendy bananas to the appointment of judges in Poland – and also that there are double standards. . . Finally, whatever mechanisms of democracy exist in the EU, the fact is that what Germany says goes. These other members will be pushing back against all that.
Brits in the EU
  • Richard North's Xmas message: Not in a million years could anyone have expected that Brexit, a year-and-a-half down the line, would be in the hands of a delusional prime minister and a fractured cabinet, with no prospect of a successful resolution. 
The UK
  • See the end of this post for an article on a "BBC job advert for Head of Change that is beyond satire'.
  • Good to know that the cemeteries of La Coruña and Lugo are 'among the prettiest in the world'. Must take a look.
  • Xmas ads: Thank God for the mute button on my TV remote.
  • Which reminds me . . . Turkish Airlines says it's happy to take us wherever we want to go. It would be a bloody funny airline if it didn't . . .
  • Xmas Cards: I gave up mailing these many years ago and resorted to one of the e-card companies. This is something which parallels my own thinking: When young, I loved choosing cards, thinking who I would send them to, making lists. Receiving was an equal pleasure. But as the years passed the lists grew longer, the sense of obligation stronger, the numbers greater, and the pleasure drained away. Cards brought only a stab of guilt that one had forgotten to send the giver one. All the fun had fled. So I wrote a short note to everyone on our list explaining that we’d stopped sending cards but hoped to keep in touch in other ways. One of my silly attempts to be rational about life. It hasn’t worked. I still get cards and still feel guilty. Yet something within still rages against the reduction of real gestures to token ones, the shrivelling of the heartfelt into the mechanical, the curtseys and bows, the mwah-mwahs and “hope you’re well”s; the little genuflections of life. As a toddler I loathed with a passion being forced to kiss ancient aunts. Too much of human existence turns out to be one equivalent or another of being forced to kiss aunts. And I dare say aunts would say the same of me. We need more general amnesties in life.
Today's Cartoon

Another letter from Mrs May


BBC job advert for head of change is beyond satire

The BBC comedy W1A has been praised for skewering the impenetrable jargon and management speak so popular with the corporation’s executives. However, even the show’s scriptwriters would have drawn the line at a real job advertised on the BBC website.

The corporation is looking for a Head of Change earning up to £78,000 a year, but applicants could be forgiven for wondering what, exactly, their duties would be. The introduction gives a sense of the jargon that follows, stating that the successful candidate will be expected to “influence the success of the Terms & Conditions programme with far-reaching impacts” while also “leveraging opportunities for benefits”.

The full job description, which runs to four A4 pages, only serves to cloud the issue further. The Head of Change must “engage senior stakeholders to understand change impacts” and ensure that the “change environment is understood”, while simultaneously acting as a role model for “good practice change management competences and behaviours”.

The word “change” appears 77 times in the job description. “Oversee and gain senior stakeholder buy-in for the design and planning of the required change management interventions required to successfully embed the change,” reads one task.

Strong interpersonal and communication skills are deemed essential for the role — presumably to improve the clarity of future job specifications.

The advert has been circulated among BBC journalists infuriated by the jargon adopted by senior executives and human resources staff. Many noted that the job title appeared to have drawn inspiration from the satirical “head of values” and “director of better” posts filled by Hugh Bonneville and Sarah Parish’s characters in W1A.

Previously the BBC has been criticised for using opaque and exotic job titles such as identity architect, controller of knowledge and controller of vision. Other vacancies on the BBC website include Doctor Who digital marketing manager, localisation senior executive and senior tester, content discovery.

In October, external consultants commissioned by the BBC urged managers to whittle down the corporation’s estimated 5,000 job titles to improve pay transparency. The corporation is said to have been working on a review for more than a year and hopes to reduce the number of titles to 575. “We understand that this has not yet been implemented and we would recommend that it be completed as soon as possible to provide more clarity in relation to job titles,” the report by Eversheds, a law firm, said.

The BBC, however, is not the only British broadcaster to have been seduced by Silicon Valley-style job titles; Sky employs a director of know-how.

Last night a BBC spokesman said: “It’s true the BBC is changing as we modernise and become ever more efficient, and head of change is a common job in businesses up and down the country.”

Sources within the BBC said that change management was an established area of business strategy, especially for organisations operating in fast moving sectors such as the media.

The head of change is within the corporation’s deputy director general group, which is responsible for departments including HR, finance and legal. The terms and conditions project on which they will work relates to the streamlining of staff contracts.

The one-year fixed-term role is listed under grade 11, the BBC’s highest pay band below senior management, meaning it will come with a salary of between £50,581 and £77,788.

According to its advert the BBC’s head of change will:-
•Ensure that there is a defined and agreed vision, a clear picture of the future state, a fit for purpose Target Operating Model, and that the change environment is understood.
•Lead and manage stakeholder engagement and communications, set up advocacy and ensure ‘change agents’ are mobilised.
•Provide thought leadership and leadership for the change management profession — inspiring others and applying knowledge and experience to grow CM maturity.
•Identify overt and covert organisation culture and its influence on the change.
•‘Flex’ to changes in focus.


1. Sting rings Alan Yentob to complain that BBC News has used a picture of his wife Trudie Styler instead of Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian leader.
2. A subtitling malfunction quoted Jeremy Corbyn praising Prince Harry “and Hezbollah”, rather than Harry and his brother.
3. A cab driver is interviewed live on air after being confused with the editor of a technology website who had been booked to appear.
4. Viewers are confused when a BBC logo is redesigned, omitting details (such as letters B, B or C — or numbers)
5. The broadcasting HQ includes an “Albert Square hot-desking area” and a “Queen Vic meeting room”.

Answers 1. W1A, 2. BBC, 3. BBC, 4. BBC and W1A, 5. BBC


Sierra said...

Czech Republic - now called Czechia in English (read this on another website earlier today)

Eamon said...

Probably San Amaro cemetery in the heart of La Coruña is the one mentioned. Facing the cemetery and looking to the left is the British Cemetery but you have to phone to get a key to enter. Here is a link to a picture of same. There are British soldiers from the Napoleonic wars buried there.

jan frank said...

The Czech Republic is indeed officially called Czechia, just like Blighty is called officially The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Rather a mouthful. So most of us call it the UK, and refer to Czechia as Czechland. OK?

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear Eamon,

One is never too old to learn... Didn't know about that British Cemetery in Coruña. Is that where the casualties of the Battle of Elviña are buried??


Eamon said...

HistoricAl go to the following site to practise your English and also learn a little more history.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

An Irishman telling me to practice my English! That's rich! Between you and Colin, my dear man...!

Meanwhile, that is a nice link you sent me, but it does not answer my question. Will have to do a little more research, or stop by the place when next I visit the 'little town of 250,000 inhabitants'...


Colin Davies said...

Well, we wouldn't if you could manage it, of course.

As for your query . . . .

Eamon said...

Well grateful look at how I "spelt" the verb to practise.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Spelling, my deer Emon, has remarcablee liddel two du with commend of languach...

Given the choice (with a gun to your head), what would you rather have: Gibbon's spelling or his style?? To give you but one example.

In the meanwhile: Marry Grismas to you & yours!