Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
- Until this week I thought a 'bag-for-life' was one of those large non-plastic bags sold by supermarkets for around 5 pounds. But they turn out to be the large, white plastic 'multiple-use' bags which folk are supposed to use many times but don't. The end result is the production of even more environment-damaging plastic than with the old, single-use bags. Some wit has labelled them 'bags-for-50-yards/metres'.
- Possibly the latest development in the Bones-of-Franco saga.
- 10 mountain trails for the walkers among us.
- And a couple of nice Andalucian villages to visit.
- Signs of life in Spain's boom-to-bust ghost towns.
- More anti-tourism measures.
- The impact of climate change on Spain.
- Bismarckian power politics returned in 2018. Trump, Putin, Xi and Erdogan were among the narcissists, bullies and authoritarians who ruled the roost. But for all their chest-beating – on tariffs, regional disputes and repression at home – they succeeded only in making the world poorer and more miserable. How sad that most of us would include the president of the USA in this list of reprehensibles.
- 'Godfrey Elfwick' is an amusing parodist/satirist. See one of his articles below.
- As someone has commented about his tweets, in today's loony world, it's increasingly hard to know who's a parodist and who's a right-on social justice warrior (SJW). The BBC recently mistook Elfwick for the latter and reported a comment as if he were. The temptation is to laugh at this but, as I say, it can be so hard to know. Impossible even. We need a war or a plague to set our priorities aright . . . .
- A new word for me: Retcon. 1. A situation, in a soap opera or similar serial fiction, in which a new storyline explains or changes a previous event or attaches a new significance to it. 2. To employ such a device. Retroactively convert, I guess.
Finally . . .
- Back in the early 90s, my then wife told me (rather forcibly) that women were entitled to demand a number of good to very good things in their lives. I responded with empathy but also with the comment I'd just read of a prominent feminist of the time that women certainly could have/achieve everything, but not simultaneously. Now - almost 30 years later – I see that Michelle Obama has been saying on her recent book tour: I tell women that “You can have it all, but not at the same time”. Plus ça change . . . Good advice never goes out of fashion.
© [David] Colin Davies
The Winterfest Carol of Godfrey Elfwick
Last night, as I was safely tucked up in bed with a kale smoothie, I was visited by three apparitions, each one determined to change my outlook on the toxic nature of Chr*stm*s.
The first ghost appeared at midnight, a shimmering androgynous specter floating in front of my window.
‘Godfrey Elfwick, I am here to show you the error of your ways. Come with me on a journey into your past…’ they said, proffering me a semi-transparent hand.
‘Erm, excuse me, what are your pronouns?’ I inquired respectfully.
‘I’m sorry what?’ was the answer.
‘Well, do you prefer to be referred to as he, she, they, xe, xie, ze, ve, yo…’
As I listed all 592 currently available pronouns, I could see the spirit’s eyes begin to glaze over, and so I took hold of their hand. My surroundings went out of focus, quickly transforming into another familiar setting.
I saw a handsome teen hipster, sitting by himself in the corner of a school canteen. Chr*stm*s trimmings adorned the walls and ceiling. Other students were greedily tucking into turkey slices and piles of fries, laughing and sharing childish japes. But the young handsome boy (who, of course, was me) sat alone with his plate of parsnips, a disapproving frown clouding his elegant features.
‘Do you see how unhappy you were?’ the spirit declared.
‘Unhappy?’ I replied. ‘No! I was at that moment planning my next protest against the lack of lunch options for vegan, gluten and lactose intolerant students…which subsequently turned out to be a great success.’
The spirit looked a little confused. ‘Oh really?’ they said, ‘Well no matter…take heed, for before this night is through, twice more shall ye be visited by phantoms!’
Once again my surroundings blurred, and I found myself back in bed.
An hour or so passed, and I had almost drifted off to sleep when there came an almighty crash from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found a man wearing a gaudy dressing gown, who was obviously very comfortable in his body positivity, searching through the cupboards and throwing various boxes and cartons on to the floor.
‘Hast thou nothing decent to eat?’ he yelled.
‘Why yes, my Whole Foods delivery came yesterday afternoon,’ I replied indignantly, ‘Can I tempt you with some organic watercress cakes?’
‘What the fuck are they???’ he bellowed, ‘Nah, I’ll pass thanks. We’ve got stuff to do.’
Without first obtaining consent, he grabbed my arm and I was once again whisked to another location.
This time I found myself peering through the window of a house, where a man and woman were arguing.
‘Well if you hadn’t lost your job, we would have been able to buy Timmy a Nintendo Switch this year!’ the woman was yelling.
‘You’ll wake the poor kid up,’ replied the man, whose face I suddenly recognized.
‘That’s right,’ came the voice of the comfortably rotund spirit next to me. ‘That man there was fired from his job after you sent a 10-year-old tweet of his viral, and now he and his wife can’t afford to buy their child any good presents this year. Because of you, Timmy will be opening a PlayStation Classic on Christmas morning. How does that make you feel?’
‘Perfectly happy,’ I said, ‘there is no place in this world for jokes about the larger type of person.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked my awesomely-sized ghostly companion.
‘Well,’ I replied, ‘he had tweeted something horrifyingly detrimental on the subject of, (trigger warning) “fat people” (end trigger warning) which could cause all manner of offense among those of a larger girth.’
‘Oh really? I didn’t know that. Wow. What a bastard,’ said the spirit, and he promptly returned me to my bed.
I must have fallen asleep at some point because at 3am I was woken by the sound of a sinister bell tolling. I’d forgotten to put my iPhone on silent again, bloody WhatsApp groups…I looked up and standing at the foot of my bed was a tall, hooded figure.
It simply pointed at me and in a booming voice filled with toxic masculinity, said ‘LET ME SHOW YOU YOUR FUTURE.’
I suddenly found myself sitting in a Starbucks. The foreboding spirit sat beside me, but it was clear we were invisible to those around us. There was a deathly quiet. Every customer was staring at their phone screen. There was a sign above the counter which said ‘PLEASE REFRAIN FROM OFFENDING PEOPLE: PROBLEMATIC SPEECH IS ILLEGAL.’ Another next to the entrance proclaimed:‘WHITE PEOPLE ARE CHARGED 60 PERCENT MORE THAN MINORITIES IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT.’
Suddenly there was a commotion at the counter. A man was having an argument with a non-binary person.
‘But I didn’t KNOW what your preferred pronoun was!’ the man was insisting. A barista pushed a red button on the wall and an alarm sounded.
‘NO! please, you don’t understand!’ cried the man. ‘It was a mistake…he, er she, looked like a man to me…I just…’
At that moment, the door to the Starbucks burst open and several police officers ran in. In an instant, the man was on the ground being tasered.
‘NO! AARGH… I…DIDN’T KNOW…!!!’ he screamed.
The apparition next to me turned and said, ‘THIS IS THE FUTURE THAT WILL BE IF YOU CONTINUE ON YOUR CURRENT PATH.’
I looked at the man, his body spasming, his face pleading for mercy.
‘Fantastic!’ I replied.
‘Oh, forget it,’ the hooded specter said. He clicked his bony fingers and I was once more in my own bed: safe in the knowledge that the future was going to be woke AF.
Godfrey bless us, every one!