Like a character in some fantasy story who finds out that he has been ‘away’ for longer than he thought and he has to undergo a period of catching up, I am discovering that life has gone on unremarked by me in the old country!
Thanks to the miracle of my LMB and it being the end of the calendar year I have been glutting myself on a surfeit of reflective programmes looking back on the past year. Only absent since June and in spite of the fact that Spanish television does occasionally feature items from the United Kingdom (especially if they concern the royal family!) I felt that these programmes were detailing a country which had somehow passed me by. Who are the major officers of state now? What disasters has Brown had to deal with? Who are these people?
There has to be a fulcrum of involvement somewhere in my personality where the concerns of Catalonia and Spain are balanced with the concerns of Britain and Wales. An interest in one is obviously not exclusive, but at some point I have to realise that I am not living in Britain and, while friends, family, memory and the bulk of my wealth are all still firmly in the UK, I no longer live there and no longer intend to live there.
I wonder how my future job (now only six days away!) will influence my attitudes. I expect to agree with the persistent Mr Barkis in ‘David Copperfield’ and find that my perceptions of reality are materially influenced by the partnership of the Spanish Government in the proceeds of my remuneration. You will remember that he said, "It was as true . . . as turnips is. It was as true . . . as taxes is. And nothing's truer than them."
When you pay taxes you belong. By right!
But the New Year will have to see me take a much more serious approach to the learning of Spanish. At the moment I am relying on the osmosis method of language acquisition. This always seems to work in novels and films, but in real life it is a little more problematical. One of my favourite episodes of The Simpsons is when the True Hero of the series, Bart, is sent to France on what is supposed to be an educational trip. In fact he is forced to work as a slave in the vineyard of two unscrupulous brothers who treat him in the way that most of Springfield would like to see him punished. However, our Intrepid Hero escapes and during a traumatic walk along a single street he changes from being a monoglot American to fully bilingual in as clever a few seconds of animated film as you are likely to find.
The drawback is, of course, that it builds up expectations that, in spite of my repeatedly walking up and down streets in Castelldefels, do not transfer.
It is a salutary experience to discover that The Simpsons does little more than tell untruths!
Another illusion shattered!
Still new beginnings, new hopes, new job, new colleagues, new prospects, new country, new . . . so much.