The BBC seem reluctant to tell the British public much about the events unfolding in Catalonia.
Cynics like me believe that the reason for that is simple,the Conservative placemen that run BBC do not see any good for the British ruling elite in reporting this ,only damage by association with Madrid’s flouting of democracy.
Yesterday in Twitter and Facebook I simply said “right folks off into Barcelona to show some solidarity to our Catalan friends ,taking my Saltire along”
The response was truly amazing around 1,000+ likes and retweets / shares before I even managed to leave the house.
Countless good lucks,send our love ,take lots of pics etc.
Welcome as all this support is it did put me under a little pressure,indeed so much so that as a reformed smoker the urges came back with a vengeance.
Fortunately good sense prevailed ,before you ask.
You must be wondering why would I feel the pressure ,well you see I didn’t actually know precisely where the protestors were going to be yesterday, I have only lived here for a relatively short time.
I live in a small seaside town halfway between Barcelona and Tarragona, it is a nice peaceful place ,not a hotbed of radicalism.
It is the sort of place where the Siesta is strictly observed, and the restaurants close for lunch.
My two contacts in the Independence movement were unavailable, one because of the dreaded “my battery ran out”,the other informed me that allegedly when you are doing hip replacement surgeries the Hospital Management discourage the use of mobile phones.
There was nothing else for it I would have to go in blind.
The train into Barcelona takes me about 45 minutes,it is a scenic route running alongside The Mediterranean Sea ,somewhat prettier than Barrhead to Glasgow Central route,although before I get some of my buddies giving me pelters I better even up the score.
Leaving Barrhead Station it is scenic passing Nitshill and Preisthill.
I alighted at Barcelona Sants,a hub where I then changed to the tube to get to The Ramblas.
Not knowing where I was actually going I could feel the pressure build at the thought of having to come back today and admit my abject failure and the resulting humiliation spurred me on to find the Independinistas.
My first port of call was The Bank of Spain ,in Plaza de Catalunya I knew that protests had been held the previous day at the bank and the Ministry of Finance, problem being I had no idea where the Ministry was located.
As I walked toward the bank down the very pretty Ramblas I felt encouraged at the sight and sound of a helicopter hovering above the Square.
My hopes were to be dashed ,as I got closer I could see several police vehicles ,however no protesters and loads of tourists.
I then decided to set off for the Ministry of Finance Building I roughly know where it is,but not entirely sure of exact location.
I decided to Google for the location , I challenge you to try on a phone with very little ram and only a smattering of Spanish.
I knew it was not wise to ask a policeman for directions that could end up messy, so with my appalling Spanish I started to accost complete strangers in street.
Firstly I hoped to see someone with a Catalonian Flag on their person ,a sure sign ,alas as would be revealed later they were all elsewhere giving it laldy.
“Sorry mate I’m from Wigan, sorry I am a stranger myself “etc etc
In desperation I now began walking around aimlessly hoping that I might just stumble into the Independinistas.
When you see the pictures from Barcelona of literally millions lining the street bedecked in flags ,singing the Catalan Anthem, how hard can it be ?
Very hard is the answer, after an hour of hopelessly walking around the streets a stroke of genius struck.
Find a boozer and just get hammered Aye you can take the boy out of Barrhead.
My luck was to change I found not only an English speaking barman but a committed Catalan.
While quaffing a palate cleansing ale mine host not only informed where the day’s protest was being held he produced a map and gave me directions ,also the alternative of public transport to Arc de Triumf, maybe not as famous or grand as the Paris one however still a magnificent structure.
Ladies and Gentlemen your first picture ,as requested.
I took the option of walking ,for those of you unfamiliar with Barcelona the majority of the streets are tree lined and contain some of the most beautiful buildings you could possibly imagine, Viva Gaudi!
The closer I got to the park the more I began to see those elusive Catalans bedecked in flags.
It is the same when you are going to a football match the closer to the stadium you get, the more scarfs and fans you notice and the more you begin to sense the atmosphere.
The helicopter was back hovering high above the massed throng of Catalan Independinistas, if the BBC had been estimating the crowd it was around 500 , personally I reckon nearer 50,000 by the time I got there.
Every direction I looked I could only see scenes like this people all massed together in common cause,it immediately reminded me of Freedom Square 2014 ,if a little warmer,even in that great summer we had for campaigning.
I opened my rucksack an attached my Catalan flag around my shoulders and tied it securely, then I took out my Saltire and attached it to the pole and proudly held it aloft.
I swear to you within seconds people started to approach me and smiling and hugging and thanking and asking questions.
I swear I had a lump in my throat and I had only just arrived.
” we thank Scotland , we know you have spoken up for us,nobody else has”
It hit me like a punch to the gut I could sense their feeling of betrayal ,their feeling of abandonment.
My platitudes and sympathy seemed inadequate ,they are right to feel abandoned.
I looked around and saw that I was not alone .
I never managed to get through the crowd to that flag ,however it was good to know there were at least two Saltires here supporting the Catalan struggle.
What was sad was that there were no German,Italian,French , Greek or any other countries on view,perhaps somewhere ,though I saw none.
I saw Basque flags ,local flags from towns and regions from all over Catalonia and for sure not a single Butcher’s Apron.
We should all be very aware this too is our struggle for if Madrid succeed in crushing the Catalans and the democracy the bar stewards in London will quickly take note and do similar or worse to Scotland’s aspirations.
I was aware of lots of similarities from our Referendum people full of joy and hope ,people of all ages ,shapes sizes , mothers and grandmothers with prams ,kids with face painting ,and all with a common goal of a Better Catalonia a better future for their children and grandchildren.
I told you my Spanish is appalling ,my Catalan is non existent except for the fact it has a lot of French similarities so I can pick out a few words.
As we all know only too well our European friends tend to be better at languages than us ,and we have all felt that embarrassment.
I am grateful to some of my new friends for translating some of the chants and for going some way to educating me in the nitty gritty of the struggle.
I confess to not knowing much ,indeed I would recommend you read WeeGinger Dug who has a far greater grasp than most of the intricacies of the Catalan situation.
One of my new chums told me her father is a Catalan Policeman they have all been told they must assist the Guardia Civil to ensure the vote does not go ahead.
He like most ,if not all of the local force are torn between their love of Catalonia and their duty ,it is an absolute impossible situation for them,they need the wisdom of Solomon.
The chants are (translated) ” we will vote ,we will vote” it lasts a long time and they do seem so determined.
” the streets are ours” and of course the universal “united ,united ,we’ll never be defeated”
There is as expected when any of the speakers mention Madrid or especially Rajoy the booing and whistling reach a crescendo .
I also loved that all the chants were accompanied by lots of drums beating in unison a great addition ,perhaps for IndyRef we could ask Orange Ludge if we could borrow their big drum minus the big fat tattooed drummer.
My pal Pau holding my Saltire and his Catalan flag, I am useless at selfies.
I asked if they thought the vote would go ahead , they pondered on that one and said truthfully ,”we just don’t know ,we do not know what they will do when we go to the polling stations on October1st. We will go ,no matter what ,we will try to vote and to win.
Cue second lump in my throat ,as I felt the passion and frustration of these lovely ,lovely people.
They are getting the same shit we have heard a thousand times from our Unionists and their Scottish lackeys.
No you can’t, No you won’t ,Not allowed , no currency , No EU membership ( remember that one). UN won’t recognize you , nobody will trade with you , you are too poor ,too weak ,and too stupid ,oh yessiree Madrid obviously borrowed the London playbook.
I spent several wonderful hours in the company of these lovely people and felt more than a little sad when it came time to leave,emails and phone numbers exchanged I took my leave feeling happy and sad at the same time.
Happy to have met so many lovely people ,happy to have done my little bit to aid their cause ,and sad that the world and especially the EU have not stepped in to protect their democracy.
Please do not think like the BBC that this is only of passing interest ,it directly affects everyone in UK not just Scotland.
If Madrid succeeds in crushing these people they will have the precedent to do the same to us and start arresting our politicians ,suspending Devolution and removing our right to decide our own future in a democratic manner.
The Great Repeal Bill was the starter ,and our lack of response to that is a worry .
Nobody knows for certain the future , however even if Madrid wins this particular battle they cannot ,and will not win the war.
Democracy always triumphs over force ,that is why yesterday’s location was to me very apt.
Viva Cataluyna !