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Saturday, April 11, 2009

A gleam of hope!


Nothing brings out the difference between the land of my birth and my adopted country than a bank holiday.

Not, you understand in the manner of the respective people. Catalonia is as capable of “taking its pleasures sadly” as Britain and I have seen Spanish people ‘enjoying’ themselves at various festive occasions with that dogged, slightly hysterical forced gusto that is so characteristic of Britons when they know that things are really not going that well. As usual.

A Bank Holiday in Britain is the one time when you know that the hose will not be necessary. Your plants will have their thirst quenched by the liberal amounts of water which will, as surely as Big Brother will plumb new depths of moral, psychological and scatological horror with each new series, fall liberally from the skies and give that particular gleam to the traffic jams of cars lined up trying to get (in spite of past experience) to the seaside for ‘a little bit of sunshine.’

In Catalonia for the past week or so the weather has been (with one or two bright exceptions) bloody. But now, at the first morning of the Bank Holiday weekend opens, we are greeted with bright sunshine. I would, by way of celebration, skip skittishly onto the balcony to take my cup of tea within the envious stares of the Lesser Breeds Without the Law who parade for my endless enjoyment on our perennially unfinished paseo – but we have run out of milk.

It is these little hiccoughs in the smooth line of quotidian delight which remind me of my national predilection to shake my head sorrowfully and say, “I’m not surprised,” in a voice reminiscent of Ada Doom recollecting ‘something nasty in the woodshed.’

For the British ‘something nasty in the woodshed’ is a symbol for the imperfection of experience which seems to be our lot; it is the fatalistic dread that we all have about the cringe-making horror that the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games is going to be; the sullen resignation we display as the pound goes into free fall against every currency including cowrie shells; rain on Bank Holidays.

But, as L P Hartley didn’t say, “Catalonia is another country; they do things differently there.”

So, I’ll just pop out to the shops for the milk to revel in the Balcony Experience and enjoy the sunshine while it happens.
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