A Postcard From: Barcelona
Today is National Independence for Catalunya day (you’re reading this after the event), and the atmosphere on the street – as always – is intensely pro-separatist. I can think of few nations in history which have flourished after partition (I think of the horrors after Tito’s Yugoslavia) but it’s hard not to feel the intense passion that periodically blossoms when the subject of independence arises.
Stories abound of the financial mistreatment of Catalans by the Spanish government, which if true seem incredible considering Catalunya’s position as Spain’s financial powerhouse. If London was this fiercely independent there would be riots, along with accusations of xenophobia and nationalism, but Barcelona is broadly socialist in spirit and the mood is celebratory and inclusive.
What’s noticeable against the UK’s attitude is how vociferously proud of its heritage it is, moreso I think than most other European countries. Britain does not break into spontaneous song or wheel out giant effigies on St George’s Day, but sometimes you grow tired of living in a so-called sophisticated society and yearn for something earthier, which is probably the start-point of my hispanophilia. Honest expression beats world-weary cynicism any day.
Having lived in – and not much enjoyed – France, where the locals were superficially friendly but generally mean-spirited, I prefer these energetic, generous Latins and the angry arguments about politics and art that blow up like summer storms and are just as quickly forgotten.
On my travels again next week, so the next postcard will be from a different part of Italy – Sardinia.