Sunday, 17 August 2014

From Catalonia to Caledonia

After completing book two of The Great Scottish Land Grab I promised my wife a holiday.

We got cheap flights out to Barcelona for a week and I tried to put the novel out of my head. Didn't work but at least I had left the laptop at home...

We were staying in an apartment hotel, one of the better ones with a reasonable kitchen and a fantastic pool on the roof. Managed to sunburn myself on day one... Shouldn't let Scots like me into hot countries...

Everywhere we went I noticed these colourful flags, yellow with four red stripes. Some with a blue triangle and white star.


Kind of hard to see unless you zoom in really close...


I assumed football colours. Lot of football supporters in Barcelona then.

Always dangerous to assume. I google searched and found the flag is a symbol of Catalonia independence, the Estelada.

No, I couldn't escape the referendum debate on holiday...

It is a beautiful flag, bright colours... at least when new. Some of the flags had obviously been in the sun a loooong time.

Once I knew what the flag represented, I found myself comparing it to the Yes and No Thanks posters and stickers that I've seen around Scotland.


Nowhere near as bright or colourful but still a barometer of how Scotland feels about independence.

Divided.

There are clusters of Yes. Clusters of No Thanks. There is definitely a rich and poor divide. I've seen far more No Thanks posters in affluent areas. Conversely, More Yes posters and stickers in what I would class as less well off areas, including my own.

But nothing is never as clear cut as one would like. Why is it that only one house in these three has Yes posters up?Why is it that in many affluent areas there are no No Thanks posters to be seen?

In Barcelona, while I had initially thought there were hundreds of these colourful flags, I quickly began to notice the large gaps between them. Whole streets with not a single flag in sight.

If you're interested in comparing the Catalonia independence call to that of Scotland's, Debating Europe has a handy beginners guide to some of the issues: Arguments for and against Catalonia independence. However, as an outsider who is only starting to learn about Catalan, I'm wary of assuming this is an unbiased site.

FT.com published this in April: Catalonia to forge ahead with referendum on independence. The comments section revealing for the views in English about proposed independence.

Wars of Spanish secession was also an interesting read while I was away.

I'm back in sometimes sunny, sometimes drizzly Scotland. I met one gentleman this week who was adamant he would leave Scotland and take his business with him if Scotland votes Yes. I contrast this with the only man who offered an opinion on Catalonian independence while I was away. He was against it.

Yet for every person I meet in Scotland I meet who is against independence I am meeting an equal number who are for it. Who are looking to a brighter future, a more colourful future, one where maybe we won't need any more food banks, maybe even job centres...

I'll leave you with my Estelada, something to remember Barcelona by...


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