Thursday, June 28, 2012

What would George Orwell say about Europe?



An interesting response to this question from Hugo Brady:


"Orwell disdained other British socialists who were 'too pure' to be patriots. Yet he was in every sense a good 'European': he fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish civil war, wanted to translate Émile Zola (J'accuse!) and hated passports and border controls. In other words, he was ready to accept the complexities of European inter-dependence and think outside of national boundaries when the cause was right."

Read more here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aragonese: Spain's most endangered language



With only 10,000 native speakers (worldwide) Aragonese has been listed as one of about half of the world's 6,900 contemporary languages that could disappear in the next 90 years.

The main cause of the serious state of this northern Spanish tongue is that some adults in the community are speakers, but very few children learn it or use it.

Also known as Aragoieraz, Altoaragonés, Aragonés, Fabla Aragonesa, Patués or High Aragonese, it is classified as Indo-European, Middle Indo-European, Late Indo-European, Italic-Venetic, Italic, Latino-Faliscan, Old Latin, Spoken Latin, Hispanic, Pyrenean-Mozarabic, Pyrenean.

The variations and dialects have been divided into Western Southern Central and Eastern Aragonese.

[Source: here.]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spain’s striking coalminers


A new global union named  IndustriALL has begun their first online campaign, aiming to pressure the Spanish government to negotiate with coal miners who have been on strike, and occupying their mines, for several weeks now.

George Orwell wrote the most compelling account of life down the mine that I have ever read and the Chilean miners disaster and subsequent rescue in October 2010 taught us about the grim reality of the working life of underground miners.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Diagonal Avenue













Here is the woman who walks
With a chest like a man
Carrying two
Bowling balls in a bag

And here is the hair-lip man
Who pours two packets of sugar
Into his coffee cup
With two hands as two fists

Here is a different man
Who gesticulates
As if he is
Casting a fishing rod

Just behind is the group leader
In clandestine conversation:
“You said we were gonna do this thing.
Why you wanna back out now?
We came here together
And we gotta be strong
This is no time
To be chicken shits.”

                                 [B.Hetherington]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Barcelona poems"

Some excellent poetry about aspects of the city, put together by Mark Lamoureux and published through Swiss "Kolektiv" Dusie. 

Some of my poetry about and inspired by Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain can be found here, here here, here and here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The “Grandparents Who Protest” confront Barcelona’s mayor

I usually enjoy it when those in positions of power are approached by ordinary people and treated as a human being who has made important decisions.

In this case, Xavier Trias is encircled by a clutch of the Iaioflautas outside a restaurant and finds himself checking his mobile phone while they calmly launch polite tirades against his party’s budget cuts at him.



At the start of the video, the mayor does that characteristic, irritating Catalan shrug and says “I don’t understand…I’m only talking about things that relate to me.”

To me, this video is notable for the good-natured tone of their harangues and his evasiveness, though he is not led away to a more pressing engagement by any minders.

Next month Trias will have completed his first year in office: a time of brutal slashing of a range of public services.