Adios 2019 and Hello 2020

2019 comes to an end…

2020 is fast approaching. But let’s rewind just a little. To just before Christmas in fact. The UK held a general election and I predicted (more or less)  hung parliament or at best a small majority for the Tory party. Well I go that one wrong didn’t I? The scale of the Tory victory took more than a few people by surprise. The result means that the UK now has (potentially) five years of Boris (real first name Alexander) Johnson as Prime Minister. I remain unimpressed but it should mean an end to all this Brexit stalling nonsense that has gone on since the 2016 referendum. That is, if Boris’ promises are to be believed. All that can be said right now is ‘we shall see’.

Meanwhile a politician from an extremely left wing party  is about to be made the vice-president of Spain. One Pablo Iglesias the leader of the (in my opinion) almost communist Podemos party. Seriously this lot think that Venezuela is the model for success. Suffice to say that nobody voted for that but that is the way proportional representation voting works kids! The main left wing party PSOE had to do a deal with other parties as the country has been without a government for the majority of 2019. The mind boggles!

Old enough…

But enough of politics. Dani is now old enough to stay awake well into a new year. He says he will not go to bed until 2am – well into the new year.  He is also wise enough to understand the celebrations. Not that new years day means anything particularly of course it is just another day. The previous day’s (or year’s) issues are not suddenly erased as if they have gone away. Far from it. He will understand that in a few years time. For now I am just happy that he is excited by tonight’s celebrations. This year he will celebrate with his Spanish cousins Susana and, for the first time, Roberto.

Into the Roaring Twenties….

We are about to enter the twenties! We will be spending this new year and start of a new decade in the wonder down-under, a.k.a. Australia. After a lot of whispers, ifs and maybes it has become reality all of a sudden and for me at least, in a bit of a rush. I am not prepared for it. But that will soon have to turn around. Focus man, focus….
At least I will be far way from the Brexit farce that has run and run for over three and a half years now. While 2020 is supposed to be the end of this fiasco I fear it will continue beyond. But then so could Dani’s mum’s new job. These projects are notorious for over-running. I should know. I have worked on enough of them.

It is now 20 years since the big millennium new year celebrations that everyone made such a fuss about.  Wow! Twenty years ago. It seems like only a few years ago. I wonder where we will be in another twenty years. If I am still here I will be 75. Dani will be 26 years old and could even have his own family. But right this second he is reading a wrestling magazine – still very much a child…hahaa…

Great for Dani

My first thoughts when this Australia thing reared its head (many months ago) was ‘what a great experience for Dani’. Great for any young child I would have thought. But as always such things are easy to say and need to be put fully to the test.

My second thoughts were not what you may expect. They were; ‘what about me?’. At which point I was stuck. Really. It may seem odd but it really does not excite me at all. Certainly about 20 years ago I would have jumped at the chance. Not so now however. Maybe I really am too old. Is all this old dad stuff more than I thought? Not just a light hearted name tag after all?

I need to get my head around this move now; and fast. It is real and imminent. But I have to admit that it is difficult. That said, you can be sure that I will keep you informed on how this pans out.

Santa and the Gender Nonsense

Not even Santa is safe

Gender nonsense? Well not quite what you think. As we enter the last days of Christmas 2019 it gives me the chance to discuss a subject I have been meaning to write about for some time…

But this is a tale of political correctness and/or so-called diversity and equality in its most ridiculous form.

Recent news stories suggest some of these self-styled gender harassment groups are saying that Santa should be changed to be gender neutral. Yes; this is the world my boy is growing up in. But then the world is hardly a grown-up place these days is it?

Apparently, it’s just not fair that Santa is a “he/him”. A man no less! Shock, horror.

Spanish Santa

Ironically, in Spanish, “Santa” (saint) would indicate a female saint. The letter “a” on the end being the most obvious indicator that a word is feminine. A male saint would be “San”. Perhaps one of the more famous examples being San Sebastian – also the name of a well-known Spanish northern city.

It brings me nicely onto a subject that that has been bubbling under the surface for a while now in parts of Spain.

Las/Los…os/as…Nothing is off limits

Some local councils and even some national political parties have taken to printing leaflets and booklets in a gender-less manner. Here is a typical example:

They will now often write things like “…a todos/as…” which means ‘to all’ – both masculine and feminine.

In normal (official, grammatically correct) Spanish, if all the people in a group are female then todas is used. If all are male or it is mixed-company then todos is the correct word. It is just the way it is. (Note the use of the letters “a” and “o”.). This is always the case. In other words the masculine form is the one that takes precedent. Clearly some feminists and their allies (many of whom could be male) cannot deal with the evolution of a language. They are trying to redefine language. It begs the question: What will they want next? Will they insist that all nouns are made gender free – or neuter? So, in Spanish the feminine and masculine definite articles “La” and “El” would be replaced by some new neuter format? Do not be surprised if these crazies try to have the whole language changed to suit this agenda. I am unlikely to see it but my son may well have to live through that battle.

Maybe if this is to happen it will happen first to the German language where they already have masculine, feminine and neuter words in “der, die und das”. Will they drop the der and die and use the neuter “das” for everything? We shall see…. They do say that languages are constantly evolving anyway. So why should this matter? I suppose it is not a big deal in that respect, but this is not a natural evolution is it? It is more like an imposed agenda. The point is that these people are spending (wasting?) tax-payer’s money on this stuff.

Calling “it” how it is?

Now in English – unlike most other languages -we don’t really have that masculine/feminine word thing. It always came as a bit of a shock when we started trying to learn foreign languages in school. (Usually French and German back in my day.)

But the English language does have something that the Spanish language doesn’t really have (or at least not directly) we do have a neutral form of addressing things – usually objects but also animals – as “it”.

Insult or not?

It used to be an insult – sexist even – to refer to a girl or woman as an “it”. Yet now, surely, you couldn’t possibly be accused of being sexist for calling a woman “it” rather than “she” or “her”. Totally crazy when you think how in recent years it has been so easy to brand men as “sexist” for (at times) saying the slightest thing against or about a woman. How things can change so quickly. The next time a woman has a go at me I will simply tell it to go away!

Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019 has come and gone and now we look forward to the new year…

Happy and easily pleased

It has been a busy Christmas period. Dani certainly seemed to enjoy it and was more than happy with what Santa brought him. Basically, what he asked for in his letter to the man in red and white. He certainly delivered on the Lego front. He was even pleased with a new pair of shoes. That surprised the adults in the room. Usually kids are not too impressed with clothing as presents. Good for him.

There was also a retro surprise in his stocking. An apple and mandarin. Just like his old dad used to get. Ok; I also received some “proper” presents back in the day… He was happy with all of it.

And yet on Christmas Eve  I could hardly get a smile out of him when he planted his “Santa please stop here” sign. He can change moods at the flick of a switch. I wonder where he gets it from?

Dani is now quite excited by the new year’s celebrations. Now that he is old enough to stay awake and witness the final seconds of the old year making way or the start of the new. 

Dinner and Over-indulgence

It is odd just how many of Santa’s little helpers there are these days. Even more odd is that most of them seem to be found in pubs.

Dani managed to spend a fair amount of time with his little cousin this Christmas. A pair of elves at times but both looked smart when it came to dressing for dinner.

 

While the young boys ate well, this old dad really over indulged. This is the first time I have ever eaten myself to a standstill. Quite literally. I have heard people talk about eating too much over Christmas but never done it myself. Naturally I always eat my fair share – and then some. But this was a first. I could not eat or drink another thing by early evening It felt like I would never be able to eat ever again. Then lo and behold; Boxing Day *was more-or-less a repeat. How on earth did I manage that? I still don’t know…

Back to Madrid

So now is the time to regroup and take it (slightly?) easier for a few days. Now it is back to Madrid for the new year and another big feast on its eve – Noche Vieja.

Good food and good wine. Plus a few beers maybe. It is what the Christmas celebrations are all about for me. For my son this year has been mostly about Lego. And on that note he is happy; and with the three kings still to come…We are not even half way through the twelve days of Christmas.

*Footnote:
For those who do not know… Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day. The 26th of December, known in many countries as Saint Stephen’s Day. The term “Boxing day” is, I believe, a mainly British thing. It comes from the days when the servants to the rich traditionally worked on Christmas Day and were given boxed gifts to take back to their families the following day. Hence Boxing Day!  Well, that’s one school of thought and as far as I intend to take it. But if you know a better quick explanation of the meaning of “Boxing Day” please let us know.

Christmas is coming…

This year, just like the last, Dani will spend Christmas at his nana’s. As you can probably guess Dani still believes in Santa. Why wouldn’t he? He is only six years old. 

Letter to Santa

Fortunately he is easily pleased. Long may that last (fingers crossed). And just to emphasise that point here is his letter to Santa Claus.

What a great kid! If not completely honest. He has not been particularly naughty though. He is just “normal” – whatever that means… Simplicity is everything. What a great little letter. Making Santa’s life so easy too. Not only that he is making mine easy in the bargain. Maybe even making other relatives lives that little bit easier? Who can say?

All I can say is that I have a feeling that Santa will leave him some Lego.  Under the tree and in his stocking at the foot of his bed. At least I hope so. I think he deserves it, don’t you?

A Toast to the Coast

A couple of week ago Dani was down in Torre del Mar. A typical – non too glamorous seaside town built in the 1970s. It is not the best or most famous resort in the south of Spain and it definitely does not have one of the best beaches.  But the local council have made a real effort in recent years. They have updated the main shopping streets and made the beach very kid friendly.

While the beach is hardly going to attract many tourists for the quality of its sand it is a very long playa. They have managed to create compacted path the full length of the beach. It is suitable for walking, running and even cycling. There are plenty of places to stop off and let the kids play. Climbing frames, assault courses and other attractions keep the little ones interesting

They have even designed beach showers based on the town’s lighthouse (faro).  As modelled below by Dani…

So it’s hats off to Torre del Mar for making the most of what they have.

Will Greta go after the Great British Cuppa?

That’s cup of tea to the uninitiated. Also referred to as a brew, cup o’ cha, or simply cuppa.
Now unless you have been living on Mars this past week or so you will know that Greta Thunderbirds – or is it Thing-bug?  Thongbird? Well whatever… She has been awarded the honour of being Time magazine person of the 2019.
Does she know about the teabags?
Will Greta go after  the Great British cuppa? Does she not know that most teabags are made with plastic? More to the point how many of us mere mortals realise that most teabags contain plastic? Think about it. How else do they stay intact? If it was just made of some paper surely they would simply disintegrate under the pressure of boiling water.
I never knew…
To be more accurate I had never even thought about it. Then, by accident I found myself questioning the humble teabag. While watchng an ad for those ubiquitous coffee capsules I noticed a short message on screen. It said ‘NOT for use in garden compost’ – or something like that. So I wondered about tea bags. Then Dani’s nana mentioned that she had heard that teabags are not fully biodegradable. So naturally I looked it up and this is what I found…
Most do contain plastic. Including many of the top best-selling brands. Also the plastic is in such minute particles that it would surely be getting into the body every time we make a cup of tea. Doesn’t sound good des it? But fear not. The old dad has some top advice below…
Back to Greta…
This girl certainly divides opinion. Almost everyone I know cannot stand her lecturing and posturing. Her wires are probably being pulled by others so maybe it isn’t all her fault. Not that I am in awe of her. I am one of those who thinks she is being used and wish she would just shut up. She is what is known as a ‘useful idiot’ (see below).
The only people who seem to really like her are impressionable school kids and dopey politicians and celebs who think it gives them some kind of street cred. (Michael Gove an obvious example of such dopey politicians).
I think it would seriously damage her already overrated credibility if she attacked the Great British teabag. Tea making and drinking is like a ceremony in the UK. And in other countries too. So my advice to Greta would be; keep your mouth shut and your hands off our teabags.
What can you do?
There are of course 2 simple solutions.
  1. Make bags with no plastic. Some already do; Co-op 99 tea for example – in the UK. There are others examples too – search online for more.
  2. Everyone can go back in time when tea was made from loose leaf in a tea-pot.
Option 2 is easy and anybody can do it. Simply sieve the brewed tea through a tea strainer.
There. Simple.
Anyone fancy a cuppa?
Footnote:
In political jargon, a useful idiot is a derogatory term for a person perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals, and who is cynically used by the cause’s leaders.
The term was originally used during the Cold War to describe non-communists regarded as susceptible to communist propaganda and manipulation. The term has often been attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but this is unsubstantiated.

Bullshit burger feedback

So; some regular readers did respond to my bullshit burger rant the other day. And there were some very good points too. Here is a snapshot of some of it. Well all of it actually…

Top criticism

Several people actually pointed this one out:

If the big fast food chains really want to show how great they are and how much they care for the planet then why don’t they close all of those drive-through restaurants?

What is the point of having veggie burgers (see previous post also of course) if half the clients are going to sit in a queue of cars burning fuel while they wait to place their veggie order?

Why don’t they park up and stand in the building like other people? Forget standing. They can sit  in the bloody places if they want to….the lazy f**kers!

Where are the veggie bars?

Another reader pointed out that if these veggie burgers were so popular, or were going to change things at all, then the big fast foodies would have set up separate veggie/vegan (totally meat-free) restaurants. Then let’s see how well those do. But of course, we know that is never going to happen. The reason is simple and was touched upon in the previous post. Most people simply do not want to eat this crap on a regular basis. Veggie kebab anyone? After a night out drinking… No, I didn’t think so.

Summary

So it is clear that the big burger makers (and others of course) don’t really care that much about the environment. They are indeed just virtue signalling. What a surprise eh?

I don’t want kids to miss out on their burgers. The opposite in fact. Kids definitely seem to love these places. While I definitely do not. But I will still take Dani there occasionally – well as little as I can get away with to be honest. But that’s hardly the point here. Especially when his mum already takes him from time to time.

Finally…

As for burgers in general; I love them as much as my son. I just prefer to go to a smaller, independent restaurants where you can – if you want – watch them make the burgers from a slab of meat. Rather than the mass produced variety.

Bullshit Burgers

I have just read this post – as you do, checking for errors etc – and I am thinking maybe this one needs filing under ‘Grumpy Old Dad’. You decide and let me know…

Vegetarianism/Veganism

OK. “Bullshit” may not be the best word to use here. In fact it is probably the last thing a vegan wants to be associated with. Well, maybe after the bull’s meat I suppose.

But the latest gimmick from Burger King is exactly that. Just a gimmick!.

I use Burger King in this post because they have recently put up loads of posters in Madrid advertising their new Burger Vegetal – basically a veggie burger. Those posters caught my eye whilst taking Dani for his swimming lesson last weekend. It immediately struck me as complete virtue signalling. “Look at us aren’t we great?”

Why? I hear you ask: Or at least you should be asking….

Well; because the latest trendy thinking is that the planet is in complete jeopardy and one of the main reasons is (apparently) that we eat too much meat. Or that we just eat meat! if you listen to the crap that the eco-loons pump out. They actually think we should all stop eating meat and that might just save the planet.

I am sure that all the other big burger chains are doing something equally cringe-worthy. That place with the golden arches and the silly clown for example, has some veggie burger on the menu. They will all be doing similar publicity stunts.

Now for the record Dani loves going to Burger King and would go there every day if I let him. But he has never asked for a veggie burger. Yet!

OK. Here is the scenario…

Now; most vegetarians – especially vegans – will almost certainly not want to eat anything that is prepared in surroundings full of meat products. A big fast-food burger chain would be their worst nightmare. The thought of cross-contamination from meat reaching their veggie meal would make them cry. Literally in some cases I believe.

If my assumptions are correct – and I challenge anyone to say otherwise – then nobody (hardly) will buy these things. Real veggies will not go for it and meat eaters will always go for the Whopper, quarter-pounder, Big Mac or whatever it happens to be. 

On the other hand, if the likes of Burger King are still selling these veggie burgers in (say) six months time then clearly the so called vegetarians out there are not real vegetarians. Right? The chances are that they will have been bought by people just following this latest veggie trend. Or maybe they will just be bought by non-veggies who want to give them a try while still eating meat. That’s logical right?

Either way, there are not, and never can be, enough vegetarians out there to “save the planet”. Whichever way you look at it this vegetarian “burger” thing is total bullshit!

And so…

…back to my initial point: Why are these big burger chains virtue signalling? It seems that every company now has to pretend (at least) to be on this ‘Look at us! We are saving the planet’ bandwagon. It’s not that trying to make a difference is bad (per se). Everyone can do something to make the world a better and cleaner place to live – whether you believe in all of the ‘end of the world’ scare stories or not. But can’t they come up with something better than a f*cking veggie burger?

The Luddite in me – An old dad trait?

This past week one of the headline news stories was that the Mayor of London (one Sadiq Khan) was attempting to stop the Uber taxi company from operating in the capital city. Citing (mainly) the lack of safety as it was revealed that some 14,000 journeys have been made with uninsured and unlicensed drivers.

Gut Feeling

I have mixed feelings about companies like Uber. My gut instinct, as a kind of modern-day Luddite (see below), is that we do not need them. Also, while not inherently bad, they are also not ‘the greatest thing ever’ as some would have you believe. Uber operates on new technology and not all new technology is necessarily a good thing. Despite large parts of the media repeatedly telling us the contrary.  (That is one Luddite view I actually do believe)

Listening to the younger generation you would think that nobody was ever able to get from A to B before Uber. This complete lack of awareness seems commonplace nowadays. In London there have always been alternatives to the famous black cabs. Local private taxi firms have always existed. Then there is public transport (including night buses) plus the old-fashioned forms of transport – cycling and walking.

Above all, I do think there is a real problem with the younger generation not being able to survive without their mobile phones. What the hell do they think we did before mobile phones and the internet? Are they really that stupid?

In my experience…

Personally, I have only ever used Uber once. In Madrid. That was only because the “normal” taxi service was on strike and I needed to get to the airport very early on a Monday morning. I think I wrote about it in a previous post – try this one. My preference in a large city would always be to use the fully licenced local service. Not some global, distant company that has nothing to do with the area in question.

It seems that these companies spring up with no real tangible assets or hardware. They operate via mobile phone “Apps” and the internet and take a small percentage of the booking fee while other people take all the risks (e.g. investing in a vehicle) and do all the work. How is that progress?

And don’t get me started on those fast food delivery services. Who the f*ck thought those were a necessity?

On the other hand…

Now for the other side of the argument. There are always two sides of course.

In big city centres getting a regular taxi can be easy. Outside of the centre this is not the case. This is even more so in rural areas. And this is where Uber has become popular. Also, Uber drivers need to operate to the Uber rules so you can track your taxi’s arrival on the “App”. This means that the whole service will generally be more reliable than the old private hire taxis ever were.

There will clearly be political reasons why London’s mayor is doing this. Just being seen to be doing something is no doubt the main one. I am sure that Uber will come up with some excuses and new means of vetting drivers that will quickly be accepted by the same politician. The whole thing will blow over as these things tend to do.

Speaking of which… What happened in Madrid? What was the result of the licenced taxi drivers’ strike? Anyone know?

A bit of history…

Luddite is defined online (ugh! apologies for that) as “a person opposed to new technology or ways of working” and classed as a derogatory term. Yet the history of the Luddites is far more interesting.

Back in the late 18th century the textiles mills of England were harsh places to work. Despite this the workforce were generally well behaved as they needed the pay. They were also highly skilled. However, when the industry introduced machines which could produce the textiles much faster and more efficiently. They could also now be operated by much lower skilled workers. The old workforce saw that the need for their skills was coming to an end, so they set about secretly sabotaging the new technology by breaking up the machines. Fairly soon the secret movement early activist movement was formed and became known as the Luddites.

The name is said to be derived from a person called Ned Ludd. But it turns out that Ned Ludd was a fictional character. It is more likely that they took their name from a lad named Ed Ludlam – who did exist – and was said to have destroyed two knitting frames in a factory in 1779; in a ‘fit of passion’. By the time the “Luddites” had started their campaign (about 1812), whenever any machinery was broken people would say “Ned Ludd did it”. (For some reason that reminds me of the movie 12 Monkeys – but I digress…)

In this case the established – and fully licenced – taxi service are the Luddites. And I have to say that I am more or less fully on their side in this whole argument.