"THAT wumman downstairs just said the wean looks like a monkey."

The words soared over my quivering bottom lip on an updraft of sheer incredulity. My little prince, my Sweetie Boy, this newborn package of perfection that so many people had likened to daddy. The missus just started laughing.

For weeks, I had walked Youngblood, tucked up in his pram, around every nook and cranny of Barcelona – a most pleasant by-product of making a baby with a lady living in a different country – and lapped up the compliments.

You have about as much chance of stopping a Spanish woman looking inside your pram as convincing crocodiles to go vegetarian. You have absolutely no chance of preventing them from telling you how best to bring up the little person inside.

My Spanish, at that stage, didn't stretch far beyond ordering lunch. My Catalan was even worse. It made it easy just to nod along and smile now and then.

As long as they simpered over the wee barra and said "que guapo" a couple of times, I was happy. They always did. He was such a handsome child.

Well, they did until that morning. "Que mono"? Why on earth would she say that?

"Mono means monkey, right?", I asked La Duquesa on my return to barracks. Turns out I was at the beginning of an Iberian episode of The Broons. You know, those hilarious ones in which Paw thinks he's heard the bairn say she's bought four goats, uproots the entire family to the Russian steppes in search of suitable grazing land and finds out she really said she's got a sore throat.

"Yes," she chortled, "but 'que mono' means 'What a cutie'. You're going off your nut for nothing."

There and then, the decision was made to learn the lingo before I mistakenly took the meat cleaver to someone for offering to stand me an afternoon vermouth or praising La Duquesa on her considered dress sense.

The neighbours would enquire, without fail, about the baby's welfare every morning. The ladies at the café in the Community Centre made such a fuss. It began to feel plain rude being unable to engage properly with them.

I had already learned rudimentary Japanese before embarking upon three weeks in rural Kyushu to craft a riveting feature on volcanic sand baths. If you missed it, I can send you a weblink.

Impressed by the methodology, I dived into the Spanish book-and-CD set from the same series, gorged on vocabulary and took the Buddhist approach to verb tenses: deal only in the present.

Within six weeks, it was possible to hold detailed pavement debates on the wisdom of independence for Scotland. Catalans are up for that sort of thing. Basques are, too.

The fact is that David Moyes would have had no shortage of opportunity to practice his Spanish during his time at Real Sociedad. Instead, the way his time there ended this week was so predictable and depressing.

His failure to speak the language is at the core of his many failings there. Worse still, it looks like he never really tried. Another example of the insular Brit unaware that, rightly or wrongly, he is coming across as inconsiderate and uninterested.

In San Sebastian, talk remains of him and his assistant, Billy McKinlay, living with their backs to the club and its people, cocooned in their own little bubble in the most expensive hotel in town.

La Duquesa stayed at the Maria Cristina not so long ago. She tells me it is, indeed, the bee's knees. Why would you still be there after a year, though?

Would you not want to immerse yourself in a neighbourhood? Spain is a lovely place to live and the place to live it is on the beach and in the street. The food, the weather, the nocturnal, family-friendly culture, those underrated wines and the invitations to sample them in other people's apartments are very different to here, but that is surely the appeal.

How I would have liked to savour it for longer.

When we pass our favourite restaurant on arriving back in Barcelona these days, the waiters on the terrace react to our children with the same vigour their predecessors reserved for Columbus reporting in to Queen Isabella after his first trip to America.

These are the men who led me through the bounteous custom of the Menu del Dia. Three exquisite courses with wine for under 15 euros.

The full bottle is left on the table without restriction. "To a Spaniard, that's an invitation," observed one of many accomplished topers I call my friends. "To a Scot, it's a challenge."

Moyes was in the culinary capital of Spain. He had a proper football club in Real. It is questionable how much of that he took time to appreciate.

Moyes will get another job in England, no doubt. Those Spanish exercises he once claimed to complete on his iPhone will fade from memory. San Sebastian will be just a blip.

How sad. That splendid city offers so much to make life merry. It deserves better treatment than that.