dijous, 9 octubre de 2014

Letter sent to Brussels MEPs on "the Catalan issue"

Us ajunto a continuació una carta que he enviat als diputats del Parlament Europeu el 7/10/2014, però primer, una petita explicació de per que l'he enviat. / Below, a letter I sent to Members of the European Parliament on 7/10/2014.

Al final del dia, sabeu per a qui treballen els politics? Per a nosaltres. 
Els estem pagant per a treballar per a nosaltres, servir-nos, ajudar-nos etc, i no pas per a posar pedres en el nostre camí. Personalment crec que no n'hi ha prou en triar-los un cop cada 4 anys, i 4 anys despres, si veus que no han fet allò que els hem demanat, canviar-los. No, no n'hi ha prou - jo crec que cal estar damunt d'ells sempre, vigilant, pressionant, felicitant, per a que compleixen amb els seus deures. No sé si és "cosa dels anglesos", però a banda de la pressió al carrer, sempre he cregut en el poder de la paraula i cada cop que em sembla necessari faig una carta als politics explicant-los el que penso. Aqui tenim diversos nivells de politics - municipals, catalans, espanyols, europeus - però tots tenen el mandat de treballar per a nosaltres.
Per això, en aquests temps surreals quan sembla que el govern espanyol ha oblidat que està treballant per nosaltres - i hauria de proposar solucions reals als desitjos dels milions de catalans - he mirat cap al proper nivell de representants, Brussel·les. Igual com tots els ciutadans europeus (i mundials), tinc dret a enviar-los una carta/email expressant les meves inquietuds sense temor - de fet, és possible que escolten més a la gent "del carrer" que els lobbys i alguns politics que mouen només per interesos foscos (toquem ferro!). I aixi, ja he enviat la següent carta a gairebé tots els euro-diputats, les adreces electroniques dels quals es poden trobar a la pagina web del Parlament Europeu. I us animo a fer el mateix, cada u amb la seva carta expressant el seu punt de vista, ja que en aquesta lluita tots tenim la responsibilitat d'aportar la nostra gra de sorra. Aqui va la meva com exemple del que es pot dir:

[We pay politicians to work for us, don't we? Isn't that how democracy works? So, why won't the Spanish govt move a finger to look for solutions of the "Catalan issue"? What about the next level up of political representatives - will Brussels act to solve this? Here's the letter I sent to 70% of the MEPs in Brussels t'other day...]

Dear Sir/Madam,
I’m writing to you as a British and EU citizen who has lived in Catalonia for the last 25 years. I am extremely concerned about the current situation here, and especially by the silence of European institutions which should be working for EU citizens.

The situation: numbers way in excess of a million people (10-20% of the total population!) have rallied on the streets of Catalonia every year since September 2012 demanding their right to have a vote on their own future in events organized by civil society associations (not political institutions). Polls indicate that over 70% of Catalans believe such a vote should be held, and around 86% say they would immediately accept whatever the result was. A similar number of Catalan MPs (representing over two thirds of the Parliament) were voted into power with this mandate and are currently doing exactly what they were elected to do – prepare this vote. The vote has been called for 9 November 2014.

The issue basically comes down to the fact that political leaders should, or even must, work to find solutions for the citizens they represent, which is what the Catalan government are doing. However, the Spanish government are ignoring these wishes of a huge amount of their citizens and are attempting to ban this vote and refuse to offer an alternative – for example, a vote on a different date with a different question. If the Spanish government are unwilling to work for their citizens, then that responsibility must be taken up by Brussels. I do not believe that our democratically-elected representatives should try to hide, illegitimize, or ignore the needs and desires of citizens – let alone threaten us!

Over the last few days the struggle between the Spanish establishment and the Catalan people has taken a bizarre twist as the Spanish government says it is a merely legal question, based on the constitutionality of the vote rather than its legitimacy or democratic necessity. However, many legal experts (see link) have shown that even this argument does not hold strong as the vote, in the terms it has been prepared by the Catalan Parliament, is actually constitutional. The Spanish Constitution may well be based on the unity of Spain, but it does not impede a public expression questioning the Constitution itself or the current political and territorial make-up of Spain. Whether it allows for the actual break-up of Spain is another question, which is not on the table now – this is a bridge to be crossed if we arrive at it (though I do expect the EU to intervene swiftly and pro-actively if such a political re-organization has to take place.  Remembering that just this week we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the reunification of Germany within the EU, we can see that the EU has a history of reacting positively to events which could otherwise cause difficulties for all involved).

To sum up, though, independently of the trivial (in the bigger picture) issue of the constitutionality of this vote, or whether the final Yes/No decision of Catalans would be better or worse for the European Union, there is a much more relevant and deep question at stake here for Europe. As David Cameron famously said after the Scottish referendum, democrats allow the will of the people (to hold a vote) to be carried out, overcoming any technical obstacles which may legally impede it. 

Literally millions of Catalans merely want to use their democratic right to express themselves and I find it hard to believe that the European Union can say it’s merely “an internal matter” for Spain and Catalonia. Spain has shown time and time again that it is incapable of dealing with this issue in a democratic way, and now it’s time for Brussels to act – it is after all “an internal matter” for the EU too as we are all EU citizens with EU rights. I call on the European Parliament to use their power and legitimacy to ensure that millions of Catalans (and EU citizens) do not lose faith in the European project, a project which we believe was set up for the benefit of its people. Catalonia has a long history of openness, democracy and consensus-building and opened its doors to Europe a long time ago. The Catalans have always shared a belief in European values and the EU project. Given the present crisis of disaffection in the EU - with many voters turning to the far-right, xenophobic or other Euro-sceptic parties aiming to undermine the EU project – I find it hard to believe that Brussels can wash its hands of “the Catalan issue”.   
Now is a perfect opportunity to show once more what politics is really about in the EU and who politicians should be serving! The European Parliament must take a stance, and swiftly, and ensure Spain allows this vote to go ahead – the best solution for all involved; Catalonia, Spain and Europe.

Thank you for your time and attention,

dimecres, 8 octubre de 2014

It's in the trees!! Kate Bush (2)

... llavors vendrien grans singles com The Man With The Child In His Eyes (escrita quan Kate tenia 13 anys!), o Babooshka, i poc a poc, vaig perdre-li la pista. Fins al 1985, quan jo tenia 18 anys, i va treure el LP Hounds of Love amb una serie de singles (videos a baix) que tornaven a deixar-me sense paraules! Corrents cap a la biblioteca, vaig agafar el LP i ho vaig gravar en seguida i durant 1 o 2 anys va ser un dels meus favorits. Una obra maestra - i tornava a demostrar la excentricitat i geni de la Kate; la primera cara (recordeu quan els discs tenien 2 cares?), els hits, i la segona cara una mena de concept-album.
Llavors, entre universitat i la meva emigració cap a Catalunya, i la poca regularitat dels LPs de Kate, i pocs radio-friendly singles, li vaig tornar a perdre la pista fins ara. Pero aquest any ha programat una serie de concerts per primer cop en 34 anys i torna a estar en boca de tothom la seva imaginació artistica, i aixi ara he decidit no tornar a perdre-la i comprarem els CDs i farem un gran esforç per entendre la seva arte. Ara, per fi, entenc les lletres dels hits del Hounds of Love, i encara m'agraden més! 
.... so, after Wuthering Heights and another couple of great singles I remember - Babooshka and The Man With The Child In His Eyes (written when she was 13!) - I lost track of her until 1985 when the amazing LP Hounds of Love came out. A string of amazing (see below) hits on Side A, and some kind of concept album I still haven't understood, on side B (remember sides As and Bs?!). To tell the truth I've only just really understood the singles themselves - which you are about to enjoy. Maybe that's what I love about her; the mystery. Oh, and her English-ness, and her voice, and the songs' arrangements and originality, and her bravery, and career moves, excentricity, imagination, beauty, committment, talent, lack of fear....
So, I swiftly borrowed the album from Barnsley library, taped it and played it to death. Then I emigrated, and with other things on my mind plus Kate's lack of radio-friendly singles over the last 20 or 30 years, I lost track again - till now. Now, with the long awaited, but totally unexpected, come-back concerts she's back into all our minds once more, and this time I ain't letting go. Between my hard-earned savings and Father Christmas  I intend to complete my collection of her music, and make an extra extra effort to understand it!

dissabte, 4 octubre de 2014

Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush

La primera cançó de Kate Bush va sortir, i va arribar al numero 1 de les llistes, quan ella encara tenia 19 anys. Repetim, 19 anys! Evidentment és basat en la novel·la Wuthering Heights, que ella acabava d'escriure. Veure-la cantant amb aquesta veu tan espectacular, i aquests balls, i dient no-sé-que sobre una novel·la... pos, en aquest moment em va impactar moltissime i encara avui en dia trobo que és una de les cançons més impressionants de l'historia, una joia que no cansaré d'escoltar mai!
Jo en tenia 11 anys quan ho vaig sentir, en a les 14 o 15 quan vaig comprar el meu primer toca-discs, aquest va ser un dels primers singles que vaig comprar. També per aquell edad vaig llegir la novel·la per primer cop, i ha acabat sent el llibre que més cops he llegit (4). És una meravella i Kate ho encerta de ple amb la seva lletra i musica.
Tot aixo em vé al cap ara perque, aquest passat mes desetembre Kate ha decidit a tocar en directe, despres d'uns 30 anys sense fer-ho. La gent que ha tingut la sort de veure-la diuen que és un concert excel·lent, com no podria ser d'altra manera amb una de les cantants més originals d'Anglaterra.
Kate Bush is back in the news. First concerts in 30 years, and to make up for not going, we're having a mini Kate-revival at home; CDs, singles, Youtube videos galore.
So, remember when her first single came out, Wuthering Heights*? Just seeing, and hearing, it on Top of the Pops blew my mind back then, and it still blows it now. How can a song written in an hour by an 18-year-old be so impressive, reaching the listener on so many levels? Beautiful, and original - have you ever heard anything else like it?
A few years later, when I bought my own first turntable, this was one of the first singles I bought. Around the same time (15 years old?), I read the book Wuthering Heights for the first time, humming the words as I read... a book which would go on to become the book I've read most times (4). So, to cut a long story short, I love the book, love the films, love the moors, and love the song! And I love our extremely-English excentric singer, Kate Bush :)
So, I'll post this song again (it originally formed part of my successful series of posts on songs-related-to-literature a couple of years back).

*Footnote: I have to confess, for years I was amazed by the song and her singing but mis-understood half the lyrics. The most blatant confusion being the "Wuthering, Wuthering, Wuthering Heights" she sings at 0:44s As I'm pretty sure that Yorkshire folk like myself pronounce the name with a clear U, Kate's "English" pronunciation threw me into thinking she was singing, "want to be, wanna be...."! Not knowing, originally, that the heroine's name was Cathy, Kate's peculiar way of pronouncing it also threw me - "can't be"?

dijous, 2 octubre de 2014

This week in Catalonia

Un resumen rapid dels esdeveniments ultimes pels lectors no-catalans, i la meva proposta de la Jugada Final....
a vore, encara que el referendum (consultació) sí que és permès per la Constitució espanyola (a cap banda diu que no es pot oferir una opinió publica questionant la unitat d'Espanya - fins i tot la Constitució és "passiva" en la seva defensa de la democracia, i permet qualsevol tipus de llibertad d'expressió. Altra cosa és si permetria el proxim pas, la ruptura d'Espanya, però això no és la questió ara per ara), tinc clar que els Tribunals amb l'ajud del govern i establishment espanyol s'asseguraran que és declarada il·legal. I aixo és el que es vendrà a fora de les nostre fronteres. Per tant, insistint en fer la votació el dia 9N de qualsevol manera, fins i tot en ciutats amb ajuntaments en contra, i veient que els votants del "No" no hi aniran a votar, minvaria molt la credibilitat dels resultats finals. 
Estic amb Mas, o es fa bé del tot (a ulls de fora) o no es fa.
Aixi que, per a mi, cal la maxima pressio per anar a votar el 9N per a aconseguir que la gent a fora vegin la situació i m'alegro que els partits estan treballant per aixo (que seria la sortida ideal per a tothom) però, mentrestant, anem lligant el pla B ... eleccions. Sempre amb la porta oberta per si a Madrid veuen la llum i accepten que el 9N és la millor opció.

Ja sé que lo bonic de la politica catalana és la pluralitat de partits etc, però crec que no és el moment ara per anar a eleccions en nom dels partits, amb tots els entrebancs que causaria. Catalunya té una bala per a guanyar la Jugada Final - que això és un moviment de ciutadans, no politics - i hem d'estar segurs d'usar-ho al moment oportu, i jo crec que ja ha arribat. El dia 1 o ? de novembre, convocaria eleccions per a la primera data possible. Amb una llista unica que es basaria en la societat civil. Per exemple: 

1. Escriptor català famos (Cabre?); 2. Entrenador de futbol famos (Pep); 3. Scientific prestigios; 4. Metge conegut internacionalment; 5. Director de cine; 6. Professor d'universitat conegut internacionalment; 7. Artista; 8. Arquitecte; 9.Music; 10. ... aneu agafant l'idea? 20. Muriel; 21. Carme; .... ANC, Omnium, altres grups .... 68. Mas; 69. Junqueras; 70. Herrera; 71. Fernandez ... 72 fins 135, membres dels 4 partits en ordre ABCD ABCD ABCD.....

Programa electoral: punt 1, Declaració imediata d'independencia. Punt 2, al segon dia, viatge d'una comissió del parlament cap a Brussel·les per negociar etc. Punt 3, convocar referendum i elecciones noves per prepara el nou país.
I va que xuta. 
So, if you want to know what's happened over the last few years in Catalonia, check out my previous posts here. I will now take the story up post-11th September 2014. 
Firstly, the Catalan Parliament drew up and passed a new law on public consultations - one of the autonomous powers that Madrid had accepted for Catalonia a few years ago. The idea being that if you hold a "non-binding public consultation" (or referendum, for the laymen like us!) it would be legal and accepted by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Even though the Spanish govt have been telling us that this is not the case , legal experts insist that the Constitution does not impede people expressing their opinions regarding the constitutional and territorial make-up of Spain (whether it would accept breaking up Spain following a Yes vote is another kettle of fish, but not the issue now. First, let's vote). Link here
So, they passed the law in the Catalan Parliament a fortnight ago and last Saturday used this law to call the 9 November independence "referendum" (i.e. a non-binding consultation - but presumable a huge Yes vote would push things over the edge!).
So, on Monday (29th) the Spanish govt passed the affair into the hands of the State Council, a "superior body", to decide whether to refer the law and referendum to the Constitutional Court. This amazingly independent and neutral State Council is presided over by a guy who was General Secretary for Health under Franco, before Franco seated him on the Council. After Franco's death, he joined the PP (current governing party, founded by one of Franco's ministers) and was its treasurer around the time that the slush fund scandal was apparently in full flow. He is now a key player in the most important decisions taken in Spain. Try reading that again, swapping Franco's name for Hitler. Get where I'm going?
By Monday evening the 12 judges of the Constitutional Court had already issued a temporary suspension of the decree and the vote. 12 judges, nominated by the two main parties in Spanish politics (separation of executive and judicial powers is for wimps!), with a clear bias and many with murky backgrounds reaching back to Franco's regime too. The President of the Court apparently was a member of a right-wing party campaigning against the introduction of the Constitution itself during Spain's transition to this so-called democracy in the late 70s.
Catalans hit the streets in protest on Monday night.
Meanwhile Catalan town councils have been voting all week on whether to support the vote or not. Currently over 90% have voted to support it!
Spanish govt figures are saying that this suspension of the vote means that it's illegal to prepare it, promote it or even talk about it really! The Catalan govt made the tactical decision, on Tuesday, of deciding to take a pause in the actual physical preparations (TV ads, mailings, etc) so as not to allow possible legal actions against Catalan public workers, and they transfered the full weight of the legal responsibility to the Catalan Parliament as our elected representatives. A committee of MPs have been nominated to oversee the vote and take whatever steps need to be taken to keep this going. They have already been threatened with court cases.
And there you are for now. What's next? Personally, I believe that if the Spanish govt keep insisting its illegal (and the Catalans, that it is legal), holding the vote on 9 November could be confusing for international eyes - which are the important ones here, the ones who will have to recognize the eventual declaration of independence. So here's my proposal/prediction for the next step if it turns out the the vote can't go ahead, despite, of course, always working with this aim in mind:

If the referendum isn't going to happen, they need to call a snap election as soon as possible. Catalan politics works on a PR system, where every party publishes a list of 135 candidates to cover the 135 seats. Depending on how many votes each party gets, the first ten or 25 or 30 etc of its candidates get a seat. So it's a very plural situation with 4 or 5 parties currently forming the pro-vote majority. But holding a traditional election would just give us the same situation we're in now. Personally, I think Catalonia's secret weapon should be deployed now - that is, that this is not a political thing, it's a society-led campaign. I think the parties should take the back seat and draw up this list:

1. Famous Catalan author; 2. Famous Catalan football manager (Guardiola); 3. Internationally renowned Catalan scientist; 4. artist; 5. musician; 6. architect; 7. philosopher; 8. doctor; 9. you get the picture?? Admired non-political members of Catalan society ... up to number 20. Number 21-30, key members of the grassroots organizations behind the independence drive. etc. MP number 68 gives you the majority in Parliament. So, number 68; first politician, the current Catalan President Mr Mas, 69 to 135 other party members in a strict ABCDE ABCDE ABCDE order. 

Electoral programme: Point 1. Day one, immediate declaration of independence. 2 Day two, parliamentary commission travel to Brussels to negotiate. 3. Organize referendum a.s.a.p. to verify this and call normal elections with a view to constituting and governing the new free country of Catalonia. The end.

UPDATE: Friday 3rd October; six different Catalan parties (representing about 70% of MPs) held a 7-hour meeting yesterday. They agreed to do everything in their power to push on and ensure the Catalan people WILL vote. Intelligently, they refused to give more details. Game on!

diumenge, 28 setembre de 2014

History in the making

So, at 10.35am on Saturday 27th September 2014, in a solemn act within the walls of the historic Catalan governmental palace in Barcelona, the 129th Catalan  President - Artur Mas - signed the decree calling the Catalan "independence referendum" for 9th November. And here he is:

Artur Mas speech in English por vilawebtv

divendres, 26 setembre de 2014

What happened on 11th September?

So, finally, what happened on the 11th September?
Well, firstly, why is Catalonia's "National Day" on the 11th ? A long story, better explained by Wikipedia or some of my previous posts but in a nutshell; in the War of The Spanish Succession, Catalonia backed the wrong guy, the guy from Austria - with the support of a variety of other European countries such as England and Holland. They lost. England do not come out of this very well, as seeing they were losing, they cashed in their chips with the Treaty of Utrecht, got some gains such as Gibraltar, and left the Catalans in the lurch. They held out alone before Barcelona finally fell, after an epic year-long siege, on 11th September 1714. This was effectively the end of the war and any kind of independence Catalonia had enjoyed within the confederation of the Spanish kingdoms. This day is now commemorated as Catalan National Day with a series of emotive acts during the day, and some kind of independence reivindication act in Barcelona. These events have got bigger and bigger over recent years, with over a million people in 2012, perhaps 1.5 million in 2013 (when they/we formed a 400km human chain), and this year....

.... police estimates say there were 1.8 million people there this year! That is one hell of a load of people (out of a population of 7 million) but who am I to argue with the police! Just looking at the pictures and maps it is clear that there were at least a million, probably a lot more.
To spice things up this year, the idea  was to occupy the two main avenues/boulevards/streets which go through the centre of Barcelona diagonally before intersecting. These roads are about 30 metres wide and we did 12km of them, thus occupying a minimum of 360,000 m2 - plus huge pavements and the many people spilling into side streets away from the crowd, and intense sun. As experts seem to think you get between 2 and 4 people in a square metre on a typical demo, then do the numbers. Anyway, perhaps between 10 and 20% of the population of Catalonia were there. Can you imagine something similar in another country? And the organization? 7000 volunteers got this organized, registering people, selling t-shirts, publicizing it, finding parking spots for 1000 coaches, ensuring the red/yellow effect came off, organizing concerts, stages, speeches, covering press needs etc... This was not a government or political party organized event, just one more example of how the independence movement here is the best example in 21st century Europe of a bottom-up movement pushing its "leaders" onward!
We each had to wear either a red or yellow t-shirt and find our allocated strips in the street so as to form a huge V shape in the colours of the Catalan flag.
Here are some news articles and videos on these links. What you will notice is that, much more important than the numbers are the smiles. A beautiful, emotional, peaceful time was had by all.

Excellent photos

More cool photos.

Videos and photos - aerial shots.

La diada de Catalunya from Alexandru Costin on Vimeo.

dijous, 18 setembre de 2014


Problemes amb internet tota la setmana m’ha impedit publicar un anàlisi calmat sobre lo que està passant avui a Escòcia, i així ara només faré aquestes 4 ratlles....

Comencem amb un contundent, Catalunya no és Escòcia i visa versa.

Parlant des de la distancia, i així potser m’equivoco, però tinc l’impressió que a Escòcia el tema de l’independéncia és top-down, o sigui un idea que bàsicament ve de “dalt” i després mou les masses. Crec que l’idea del referendum, encara que fos el somni per una minoria (?) de gent, rep la espenta gran bàsicament del partit SNP i sobretot del seu líder, el Alex Salmond. A les eleccions del 2011, el SNP va obtenir un 45% del vot però una majoria de diputats – 65 dels 129. Així van complir la seva promesa electoral i van posar en marxa el referendum – amb l’acord de Londres, ja que el govern britànic ha respectat la majoria democràtica. Des de llavors que han passat per mil debats civilitzats i la publicació de tot tipus d’informes sobre els pros i contres, i poc a poc, la gent s’ha anat sumant – fins arribar a avui, que ja deuen rondar el 50% a favor del Sí. 

També hi ha molt de motiu polític en la campanya del SNP. Pel que entenc, un dels arguments principals és que a Londres sovint surt un govern conservador (Tory) i ells mai voten conservador. Trobo que aquest argument fa aigües, perquè un cop independent, que pensen? Que Escocia mai tindrà politics de dretes ? Trobo que d’aquí xx anys els empresaris o conservadors escocesos muntaran el seu partit i serà un país “normal”, ple de dretes, d’esquerres, de gent bona i dolenta. No serà una utopia, sinó un país “normal”. 

A Catalunya està més que clar que és al reves. Un bottom-up moviment, on centenars de milers de persones, i entitats de base, han pressionat fins fer esclatar la política tradicional catalana i aconseguir que un grapat de partits, representant 2/3part del parlament han decidit organitzar un referendum. Però no està acceptat pel “Londres espanyol”, Madrid, ni s’ha pogut tenir cap mena de debat o campanya civilitzat. Una altra gran diferencia és que aquí els partits pro-referendum sí que son de dretes i esquerres i no passa res, ja que saben que tots cabran en el nou país.

Per que mirem a Escòcia, doncs? Crec que simplement per 2 motius; 1. enveja, que ells poden votar.  2. Si acaben votant Sí, obligarà la UE a pronunciar-se per fi sobre el futur de “nous” estats dins de la UE. Evidentment els acceptaran i així veurem més clar les mentides de Madrid.

Que votaria jo? Ni idea. No tinc prou informació ni he seguit el debat de prop, per saber com els anirà millor al futur. De vegades és millor poder portar endavant el teu país, però també sortir d’un gran (per mi) país com és el Regne Unit, pos, fa mal. Escocia no és Catalunya, però les diferencies entre Espanya i el Regne Unit encara són més grans. Catalunya no té res a pelar dins Espanya i hi ha mil motius per marxar, però és diferent allà, on la democracia encara funciona, relativament. Repeteixo, lo millor és que deciden els escocesos!
Well, I was going to write a couple of well-thought-out posts on the Scotland vote, but we’ve been without internet for almost a week and the voting is already on us. So here’s just a quicky before the celebrations (?) start.
Catalonia is not Scotland, and visa versa. Yes, I know half of Catalonia is in Edinburgh tonight and the other half is home praying but I just thought I’d point out a couple of differences. Or at least the way I see it, though I could be wrong, being more than 500 miles away....

The Scottish independence process is basically a top-down movement. Although many Scots have probably dreamt of the idea of independence for years, I think the whole idea of actually going for it now comes from one party (or even one person, according to a buddy of mine), the Scottish National Party. The SNP won the 2011 elections with 45% of the vote but a majority of MPs (65 out of 129). So they carried out their campaign promise to organize a referendum, and the British government went along with it. It’s called democracy and is, apparently, the least bad political system known to man. Over the last couple of years, Scotland has been able to hold civilized debates and carry out Yes and No campaigns to ensure everyone has enough information to be able to make a decision. Little by little the Scottish govt seems to be winning and bringing more and more doubters over to its side, to the point where it is something like a 50/50 Yes/No split now, with the results coming out in a few hours.

Besides this, another point I think I’ve picked up on is that the Scottish process is a very political one. A chief argument seems to be; if they go independent they won’t have to put up with any more conservative governments (and will live in a left-wing utopia forever?). Personally, I think this is a weak point as I’m pretty sure that once a few years have gone by, a right-wing Scottish party will appear of course. 99% of “normal” countries in the world have both left and right-wing politics and I don’t see why Scotland will be, or should be, any different.

The Catalan process is as different as chalk and cheese. It’s definitely a grass-roots bottom-up movement where it’s the consistent force of hundreds of thousands of citizens which has forced the politicians in power to make a move. To the point that in just 4 years, we now have a 2/3 majority of MPs in favour of independence, and organizing a referendum. The “Spanish London”, Madrid, though, refuses to allow it and so any hope of a calm and collected debate and campaign is out of the question. Basically if it goes ahead, it will be a unilateral referendum, whatever the consequences...  Another difference is that here the pro-indy parties are from across the political spectrum; right-wingers, radical left, greens, republicans, you name it, they’re included!

So, what’s with the Scottish obsessions this week? 1. Envy. All we wanna do is vote too!
2. If Scotland does vote Yes, this will force the EU to explain whether “new” states will be allowed in the EU or not. Obviously they’ll say yes (can you imagine EU wanting to get rid of economically stable democratic countries?), so Madrid will just have to take another slap in the face!

And yours truly? What would I vote? No idea, I haven’t followed the question closely enough to be able to judge what’s for the best. Obviously I know the benefits of small countries governing themselves, but I also know that the United Kingdom is still a comparatively great country to belong to. Catalonia is not Scotland, but an even bigger difference can be found between Spain and the UK. I can see a thousand reasons for Catalonia to get the hell out of Spain, but the UK is different - it's a country where basic ideas like respect and democracy are still, relatively, intact, and maybe they can still get on together.... who knows? Let the Scots decide, is the best option... and may the most convincing arguments win!

dimarts, 9 setembre de 2014

Big day on 11 September in Catalan independence process

So, you're wondering what's happening in Catalonia? 
Well, the Catalan government is still promising an independence referendum on 9 November. And the Spanish government is still saying this isn't going to happen. Meanwhile all eyes are on Scotland (more on that another day) and on this Thursday, 11 September. This day is Catalonia's National Day - when they remember losing their independence through the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. Different activities are always organized and over the last few years a key component has been the huge gathering in Barcelona in favour of independence. This year, they hope for a million people to come together - and to complicate matters, position themselves in yellow or red shirts so as to make a 12km V-shape in the colours of the Catalan flag!! Watch this space to see if they can pull it off - or we, as we'll also be there !
They/we will be occupying the two principal roads crossing Barcelona which form a V-shape; that's V for voting, voluntat (will power), and victory as in Winston Churchill's famous gesture. In England we also give another meaning with a different V-shaped gesture which may actually be a clearer message to send to the Spanish government...

dilluns, 8 setembre de 2014

September gurls - Big Star

Encara mig de vacances - només treballo de tarde fins que comencen les classes el dia 15 - aprofitem per fer coses per casa i estar en els xiquets. Podriem estar recollint les garrofes que, encara que no hem de guanyar ni un euro, ens cauen al mig del jardi i algù les ha de netejar - però preferim anar en bici o anar a les festes de Tortosa o anar a la platja....
Still half on holiday, as I'm only working afternoon-evenings till the kids go back to school and our students start on the 15th. We should be doing the traditional activity in September - picking up our carob beans but... the thing is that this used to be an important task back when people had very little and everything counted. Carob beans provided a good source of food for livestock in the winter. When people stopped depending so much on the land, the next generation would still collect them to sell as apparently they are used for interesting processes. The seeds from the bean, correctly processed, provide an interesting thickening agent for ice cream and many medicines apparently. Nowadays, though, even this market has fallen through the floor and you'd be lucky to get a couple of €uros for a sackful of beans despite the back-breaking work it entails, in hot sticky September weather. I'd leave ours on the ground but the problem is they fall on our "nice neat gravelled" patch of the garden [see photo] so need collecting anyway, whether we sell them or not. Plus they attract rats. Rats just love to eat them.
However, given my back and leg problems, I'm gonna take it easy - in 15-minute sessions (probably still be after them when next year's harvest comes along!). Much prefer to go to the excellent secluded beaches we have around here...

dimarts, 2 setembre de 2014

Sort of back to work now...

Ok, ja tornem a estar aqui, almenys en cos. La ment encara està mig de vacances - i si afegim que fins el 15 de setembre els xiquets no comencen l'escola i jo només treballo de tarde-nit, pos, encara farem alguna cosa més; festes de Tortosa, platja, alguna piscina ....
Hem passat 3 setmanes a Anglaterra, i ara toca tornar a adaptar-nos als horaris/menjar/ritme de vida/temps aqui ja que 3 setmanes donen per molta desconexxio!
Finally back here again - back home? Who knows, as "home" is a tricky concept! After 3 weeks in England where we completely disconnected from our normal life, now it's the time to adapt once more to timetables/eating habits/work hours/weather etc here. Luckily it's a soft landing for me as, even though I started work yesterday, the kids are still off till the 15th and I am only working afternoon-evenings until then, so there'll be plenty of time for beaches and playing still... and maybe a bit of blogging as we have many things to mention regarding our holidays!

dimarts, 26 agost de 2014

Anything goes - Ella Fitzgerald

And finally, imagine adding the amazing songs of Cole Porter to the voice of Ella Fitzgerald - pure magic! While other 18 year olds were looking out for Bruce Springsteen or U2, there I was looking for special offer on Ella Fitzgerald jazz cassettes!

dilluns, 11 agost de 2014

T'ain't nobody's business if I do - Bessie Smith

From Billie Holiday, someone (probably my brother) said you should try Bessie Smith. So, off to Barnsley library we went...

divendres, 8 agost de 2014

Summertime - Billie Holiday

A l'estiu el blog se calma una mica, i habitualment fem uns quants apunts pausats i tranquils sobre un tema o grup de musica en concret. Aquest any, també. 
Quan tenia 15 o 16 anys, era una esponja amb ganes de saber-ne tot sobre tot tipus de musica, i ves per on, vaig acabar descobrint a la Billie Holiday - basicament per l'historia d'ella. 
As usual the blog will slow down over the next few summer weeks, with a few mono-themed songs to keep the heat at bay (which doesn't necessarily mean I have gone on holiday and am not sitting behind the front door with a loaded shotgun, Mr. Burglar).
This year, jazz/blues singers. When I was about 15 I had a huge thirst for music knowledge. Raiding my parents' collection, local libraries, friends' LPs, studying music magazine, I wanted to know and to hear everything. So as friends were listening to the latest 1982 hit, for some reason - basically for her tragic history - I stumbled across Billie Holiday.

diumenge, 3 agost de 2014

Looking back, and onwards...

Interrumpim aquesta serie d'apunts interessants per posar una mica de publicitat - encara que més que publicitat, són més ganes de compartir en vatros la nostra satisfacció a la feina ben feta que hem aconseguit fer aquests anys gràcies a la confiança de la gent que ha volgut treballar en nosaltres.
En fi, potser heu vist a la columna de la dreta que tenim un altre blog on intentem posar apunts sobre temes de llengua o alguna feina que hem fet? Bé, ara hem fet una pausa de l'estiu per mirar cap enrere i resumir aquests ultims 3 o 4 anys. Si us interessa, clikeja aqui. Si no, pos, igualment vaig a posar un exemple a continuació - vam tenir l'oportunitat de posar l'anglès a aquesta joia d'espot promocional de Tortosa.
Interrupting this run of interesting blog posts with a cheap plug for our work! Seriously, more than publicity for our humble little company, I just fancied sharing with you our satisfaction with the variety of work we've managed to do over the last few years thanks to the amazing clients who've taken on our services.
Some of you may have noticed that over here on the left I link another blog - the one I run with my partner (and wife), speaking (far too rarely) about language issues or highlighting some of our work. Well, the latest post is a sort-of summary of all we've done over recent years. If you're interested, click here. If not, you're still getting one example below - we wrote the English subtitles for this brilliant promo video of Tortosa (where we live).

dijous, 31 juliol de 2014

Bordo Sarkany at the Tortosa Renaissance Festival

Una de les coses que més m'agrada de la Festa del Reneixement, a banda dels 72 hores de desconectar totalment del segle 21 i la feina, i gaudir amb familia saludant la gent que no has vist en tot un any, i bevent cervesa i menjant pel carrer etc, és la possibilitat de veure grans musics pel carrer. Aquest any hem descobert aquest grup.
The Renaissance Festival in Tortosa is a great time - 72 hours disconnected from work and worries, just enjoying a grand time with family meeting all your friends out and about, eating and drinking, checking out all the activities - and for some, the "enjoyment" of staring at a telephone screen meanwhil to be able to inform other people what they are doing - but above all, for me, I love all the live music. This year we discovered this great group from Hungary. The videos are not from the Tortosa festival as I was too busy having a good time to get all my electronic devices out (as the actress said to the bishop)...

dimecres, 30 juliol de 2014

Tortosa Renaissance Festival

Com cada any des de fa 19, hem tornat a celebrar la Festa del Reneixement a Tortosa. Aquí unes paraules en anglès i unes fotos que intenten captar una mica la grandesa d'aquesta festa.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that's only true if you're a good photographer with a good camera, and not taking photos of moving people in the middle of the night... so, to try and give some kind of idea of how amazing the Tortosa Renaissance Festival (click) is, I'll throw in a few words before the dodgy photos.
Four days of non-stop activities, re-living the 16th century splendour of Tortosa. Mornings are more for browsing the oldie-worldie street markets and checking out some amazing buildings, old universities, convents, palaces and the like, while listening to street musicians or joining in with activities for the kids or investigating interesting exhibitions of 16th C documents and objects. Middays, with the sun high and 30º in the shade, are for resting. On an evening, time to dress up in home-made Renaissance-style clothing and hit the streets of the old part of town. About 20 groups of street theatre, acrobats, musicians, are found in every public square all night, or parading the streets. Thousands throng the streets, enjoying the vibes, checking out great food, drinking beer, dancing, singing, or going to more formal open-air theatre shows until the early hours ... 2am, 3am, you name it! Just like the old days!