Having escaped police violence during Catalonia’s independence referendum on October 1st, trouble arrived this week in the town of Sant Cugat, where I live, just north of Barcelona.
We spent from 5.30am on Sunday morning at the local library, or biblioteca, less than 100m from my home in Sant Cugat del Vallès, a town of 87,000 just over the hill from Barcelona. My partner and her father are from the French part of Catalonia, or Catalunya Nord, as it’s known. None of us could vote in the independence referendum, but after the authoritarian behaviour of the Spanish authorities in recent weeks, we wanted to help protect the voting centres.
“We just want to vote”
This is the message, in English, that many Catalans have been sending out to the rest of Europe, in the run up to this Sunday’s planned independence referendum.
We’re all here, nose to tail, thanks to the “border controls” that the French government, brought into force following the Paris November 13th attacks. In a previous article, I documented my recent slow crossing from Belgium into France. That crossing was rip-roaringly rapid in comparison to today’s torpid crawl. This is the real deal, with three 120 kilometre-an-hour lanes slowed to nothing, then funneled into one. It’s a farce.
I wrote about this absurd situation at the Belgium-France Border, along with the anxiety of crossing a national border while carrying a piano, a collection of lampshades and a large collection of worms, over on blather.net. I’ve been running this website that I’ve been running since 1997. It’s been dormant for a while, but with the help of my co-editors, we’re slowly re-vitalising it.
Bonjour Monsieur, what do you have in the coffre?
I have a piano, several lampshades and a box of garden worms.
Real change rarely comes quickly as we would like – it’s one of the tough lessons of environmental campaigning. But when it eventually does arrive, it can be very, very sweet, like the satisfaction of saving an immense forest in the far north of Europe.