Monday, 12 June 2017


The Spanish have long had a habit of borrowing, or rather inventing or at least changing the nature of, English words ending in "". To my knowledge the ones that have been around longest are "el camping" for a campsite, also used by the French, and "el parking" for a car park. Then along came the rather ridiculous term for jogging, "el footing". Who decided that that was anything like a word, goodness only knows. In beauty circles you can have "un lifting", a facelift. (Incidentally, I was once told that a "Salford facelift" is when women in Salford pull their hair into such a tight ponytail that the skin of the face is stretched up and back, just as if they had had cosmetic surgery, but at far less cost!) and then there is "un peeling", which I assume is exfoliation, a process of removing a layer of skin, something which has always struck me as quite barbaric!

And now I have come across a new borrowing: "el manspreading". At least his time they have borrowed a term, albeit a relative neologism, actually used in English. Some men, when using public transport, have a tendency to spread their knees wide apart, thus encroaching on the space which would normally be occupied by the person sitting in the seat next to them. The standard, very British, reaction is for the person whose territory is being invaded to swivel their legs away from the encroaching knee and huddle into the remaining space without making a fuss, other than perhaps a resigned sigh. Madrid's transport people are, however, not putting up with it and have invented a new sign to go in their buses, advising against "el manspreading". Now we just need one advising against "el showing everyone what colour your underpants are", to remind young man to please pull their trousers up properly!

Someone who seemingly knows how to do things in a manly fashion is Vladimir Putin. Interviewed recently by the film-maker Oliver Stone, he replied, “I am not a woman, so I don’t have bad days. I am not trying to insult anyone. That’s just the nature of things. There are certain natural cycles.” And at the gym he would apparently prefer not to shower next to a gay man as would not want to "provoke him". How wonderful to feel so confident in oneself!

It's funny the sorts of things that come out in interviews like that. During the recent election campaign, in a television interviewTheresa May was asked if she had ever done anything really naughty, presumably as a child, whereupon she confessed to having run through fields of wheat with some friends. How shocking! I guess she has made up for it since, buying expensive shoes and leather trousers, not to mention being responsible for some bad policies.

And now Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem about her:

Published on Saturday 10 June 2017

In which her body was a question-mark
querying her lies; her mouth a ballot-box that bit the hand that fed. Her
eyes? They swivelled for a jackpot win. Her heart was a stolen purse;
her rhetoric an empty vicarage, the windows smashed.
Then her feet grew sharp stilettos, awkward.
Then she had balls, believe it.
When she woke,
her nose was bloody, difficult.
The furious young
ran towards her through the fields of wheat.

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