Colombian writer, Juan Gabriel Vásquez has a short piece in the Guardian today explaining why British football fans, with no team in the European Championships, should opt to support Spain instead. Most of his reasons concern nonsense along the lines of 'Spain is different' and 'Zapatero likes gays' (apparently this is an appeal to Guardianista sympathies). He also mentions that he lives in Barcelona, and that football is more than just a game here, which is true. What he doesn't mention is that (at least, based on a very unscientific survey of my colleagues and acquaintances) half the people you ask around here won't even be supporting Spain themselves.
There's a minority of people who are calling for a Catalan national team. I don't see any problem with this: the precedent has been set by Scotland and Wales, both of which have their own football associations. Indeed, the two 'biggest' Welsh clubs even play in the English league, just as Barça and Espanyol could play in the Spanish league. Personally, I don't see much point in creating a Catalan football team but I also can't really see any argument against it. If enough people want it, they may as well make it happen.
I'll probably support Russia this time around as I have an inkling that they may already have it all sewn up.
Another cover from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy here. In case you didn't recognise it, this is a Mariah Carey song. I actually think that his R. Kelly cover is better. Speaking of which – has anyone seen Trapped In the Closet? I've seen a bit of it. I can't work out if Kelly is a tortured genius or a complete lunatic.
We spent the weekend in Rome and have the Primavera Sound festival fast approaching.
A fifteen year-old in London is being threatened with prosecution after City of London police caught him with a placard reading "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult." at a demonstration outside the cult's London headquarters. The boy was told he wasn't allowed to use 'that word' and after refusing to get rid of his placard, was served a court order.
The City of London police have been nvolved in controversies concerning the Scientology cult before. Their chief helped open the cult's HQ in 2006 and was full of praise for their spiritual enrichment of society. Without much more evidence to hand, I'd say that this whole things stinks and that another police force (like the Met) should take over the policing of the cult's headquarters… it sounds like the City of London police has far too close ties to be able to act in the spirit of Britain's law. Freedom of expression is being rep
Incidentally, the fifteen year-old's placard was poorly written, in my opinion. "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" is slightly misleading because 'cult' and 'religion' are not mutually exclusive terms. A far simpler "Scientology is a cult" would probably have done the trick and would still have been perfectly accurate.
Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV), the green-left coalition party which forms part of Catalonia's tripartite government, may be close to splitting over the drought issue. Representatives of the party from the Terres de l'Ebre region have dissolved their regional grouping and set up a critical current within the party. The problem is that as greens, they feel that they should oppose and diversion of water between rivers (something that I too would like to avoid). However, their party in government in Barcelona has approved numerous measures which go against key green positions, partly because they don't want to split the Tripartit.
Another thing worth noting is that ICV leader Joan Saura, along with about five other Consellers (Catalan government ministers) is being investigated for corruption after paying friends just under €12,000 each for 'research' papers that may not have been completely necessary. Not quite as bad as anything Jordi Pujol did for his family and friends, but the wolves are baying for blood.
Meanwhile, the PP and ERC leadership crises continue to bubble away. For analysis of the PP situation, check out South of Watford. For analysis of the ERC situation, watch this space.
Good to see that Berlusconi's coalition of the willing stands up for what's important. Sadly, an Italian recently said to me that the Roma people "aren't the historic people of Italy" and that they therefore should be extradited. Of course, when you ask "to where?", there's no answer. But let's not dwell on the details, eh? Berlusconi and his Lega Nord friends are hard at work on the new populism: how long before the PP see the opportunity?
We're off to Rome in about a week so I'll try to assess the local feeling while I'm there.
Incidentally, we just had a fantastic weekend in Hackney. London Fields went down very well with a few cans of Belgian lager.
As seen in this fluff piece by the Guardian's Man In Spain for nice hotels under €100 in Barcelona:
Great value for money considering its locaton around the corner from La Rambla. The California offers decent, clean rooms and markets itself as gay friendly, though this is more subtly played than in hotels like Axel, in the "Gaycelona" district of Barcelona.
As any fule know, the so-called gay district is called 'Gayxample' from the Eixample neighbourhood. It seems that Graham Keeley's articles either consist of reheating AP and El País stories or churning out ignorant tosh. Has no one at the Guardian yet noticed that while Keeley is filing tons more stories on Spain than there used to be, they are predominantly ripped off or simply inaccurate? Maybe it's reading Flat Earth News but this guy is really beginning to annoy me.
Guardian, sort it out!
P.S. I was going to say that Graham Keeley doesn't know his arse from his elbow but I suspect that I'd have been picked up for bad taste. So I didn't.
I had a dream last night that I received some sort of prize from the communist mayor of Cerdanyola. I think it was for coming 1st in a treasure hunt.
But after I had a chat with him, I realised that in fact he was none other than Federico Jiménez Losantos, former communist, right-wing shock jock and utterly mad conspiracy theorist. Also, he only had one hand.
It was an imagery-laden dream and while not exactly terrifying (I had won first place, after all), I can't help but wonder what the significance might be of having Losantos talk to me in my sleep, in Catalan.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of not only Søren Kierkegaard but also Karl Marx. So whether you dig dialectical materialism or swing to existentialism (or take a spoonful of each), today's a pretty good day to kick back with a pipe or a treatise on the organisation of the church in Denmark and just chillax. As Marx would have put it.