martes, 24 de octubre de 2017

The heart of the matter

This morning I was in Albinyana, a small town some eighty kilometres southwest of Barcelona, to check on the work the painter had done on the outside of our weekend home, which we have permanently rented out as our financial circumstances are not what they were when we, on a whim, decided to buy the place. I had a funny misunderstanding with the tenant. I told him to hide his little indoor plantation in case the police came inspecting door to door, as this is strictly forbidden while growing a few plants in the sun has so far been considered acceptable. I meant of course la policia nacional in the event of a government crackdown, but in his answer he alluded to els mossos d'esquadra coming after the Spanish population once independence is declared. Such is the state of mind of those who only watch the so-called neutral news coming out of Madrid. One wonders, if we were such dangerous idiots here, why hadn't we kicked out their kind well before to ensure us of a secure majority? We have always taken them into account, the others who don't like the movement, and have always failed to make them see things our way. They have always been like a millstone around our neck. If they preferred to stick with Spain, which is their full right, they could at least have chosen to support a Catalunya neutral party and not be so enthusiastic about Mr Rajoy's idiocy. But hey, that's how it is, we all together make up Catalunya, it's just that it got us cheating a little. Protect oneself against the lie. And now we want them to stick with us and be okay about it. The Spanish may not always have been welcome if they were too openly displaying a dislike for the local culture, but Barcelona is also an industrial town where all creeds of Spain had one thing in common: they were poor and looking for a better life. Barcelona is built by these people, further up the hinterland it gets more Catalan all the time. So we don't want any of them to be scared. We want them to stay with us if we somehow, miraculously, manage to get a good deal out of this ever-expanding madness.

With the foreigners we have a better understanding, certainly those who were not born with the Spanish language. They won’t speak out, as they fear to be the first to feel the consequences of their boldness, and they are wise to do so. But they feel okay here in their majority, as the reactions to the 17 August attacks made clear. They will stick with us. Catalan society can be quite distant at times, but it grants its inhabitants freedom of opportunity. Many communities have realised this by now and are doing relatively fine.

Our movement is peaceful. There is no other way, as you can’t expect families and seniors to resort to violence. The Catalan independence movement, which has always been more defensive than anything else, is about numbers. We like to be with more than a million every time we go out on the street. A million, that’s quite a few heads. I have been to every Diada since 2010 and published my impressions on, never missed a beat, and I have seen the common people of this country. It’s the people with roots and those who feel welcome. We know and have always known we can’t resist free roaming force. All we have is a couple thousands mossos on our side, certainly not all of them, and we can’t expect those to die for us. We know we are helpless without help. But I guess we can get angry. I believe we have a right to show our anger to the world. We are being played in a most cruel way for which there is no justification. No law or principle or common profit can rectify what is about to happen. It is now up to the govern to declare independence immediately after the senate has approved crackdown, expected at some time during Friday, though it may well be dragged into the late hours. There is at least something of a standstill, as slowly individual concerns raise their voices. Rajoy knows it’s going to be bad publicity and he will have to balance the pros and cons well. So perhaps they all stay put and refuse to fall asleep. How much more Hollywoodesque does did need to get to see you move your butts y’all?

I had taken the motorway down there to be on time for my appointment, but on the way back chose the country road, leading through a string of small villages in the Penedès wine region. It's a beautiful valley, not unlike Toscana, dotted with cypressed estates and crumbling hamlets and horrific warehouses. I have learned not to see the latter and enjoy the slopes full of vineyards, with further away the dark green steeps of pine covered mountain ranges. Calmly cruising behind some lorries and listening to Berlin, one of my all-time favourite albums, I contemplated people's ever changing moods. For one, I suddenly get addressed in Spanish in every shop I visit, and not the sometimes sloppy version one often hears here but rather a slowly pronounced perfect castellano, as if everybody were practicing for the upcoming Spanishness test. Until very recently, most shop assistants would start in Catalan and grant me to answer in the empire’s tongue. As people usually hold me for Swedish or French or something indistinguishable Balkanese, they couldn't suspect me of being an undercover agent, could they? People also seem to have dressed up a bit. Whatever you may say about Madrid, its inner quarters are quite elegant, definitely more so than the Catalan countryside where folks prefer jeans and a T-shirt or a sweater, depending on the weather. The sidewalks are cleaner as well and cars better parked, as if nobody desires an encounter with the police, whereas this used to be low on our list of worries. Funny, how revolutions cast their shadow.

I have often wondered about the elasticity of time. Some days rush by while others can't seem to end, and this would make me consider the possibility of stretching into forever the final moments before a great, impending disaster. I realise now this is only achievable if one is totally free of any worries, taking in every second as a separate holy moment, something quite untenable when all are under stress. As liberated as you may feel yourself, when everybody around you is close to a nervous breakdown, the air is filled with levels of downward energy hard to shake off. I guess it would be best to repair to a shed or cave at safe distance from the freaked-out multitudes and smoke an enormous joint, but as my work as an in-company teacher keeps me inside the greater Barcelona area this solution unfortunately is not available to me. I shall therefore continue my journey to the heart of the matter a few days more. Be good.

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