HEADING FOR THE HILLS
WHAT A FAVOUR THE COUNTRY OF MY BIRTH HAS DONE, HIGHLIGHTING THE RISKS OF THIS MISINFORMATION AGE I TAKE MY HAT OFF TO THE INNOVATIVE CATALANS, THE SMALL BUSINESSES AND COOPERATIVES EVERYWHERE
I am a star fish on a high wire; that’s being self-employed for you: two decades and counting, flailing, edging forward centimetre by centimetre, paying my way in Catalonia, trying everything to keep my balance.
I can see the end of the wire. We (my partner being self-employed too) are getting closer, now in our sixties and flagging. But weekend breaks are mirages. There is no let up, quite the reverse, not least because of squalls and economic storms and the ultimate brain fart that is Brexit. Yes, stupidly, most of our income remains tied to that sinking island that is being asset stripped by some unsavoury, cunning liars whose wealth is only outweighed by their greed. They feed off an archaic electoral system, the misplaced trust of a minority and the current penchant for populism and a peculiar jingoism that would be laughable if they were not fostering prejudice. And they are killing off small businesses left right and centre. Please remember, though, that it is only supported by a fast diminishing number, a fact that in itself sums up one nation’s existential crisis.
What a favour the country of my birth has done, though, highlighting the risks of this misinformation age, while bolstering so successfully member states’ belief and unity within the European Union. We need to stick together for a host of reasons, not least because of cooperation in the face of climatic collapse and, of course, neighbour Ukraine’s struggle and exemplary courage.
Being a writer is precarious at the best of times, but at least I can vent. Then there is the marketing of exquisite olive oil from our valley which is worthwhile. Welcoming guests to our farm cottage was, until Covid, another piece of the economic puzzle. The mistake has been to leave for far too long most of our eggs in basket case Britain. So the hunt is on for other places to peddle our wares. Weirdly, I have been preoccupied of late with my predominant Scandinavian roots and suddenly we have the chance of shipping olive juice to Sweden. Is there something in the power of thought?
How grateful I am to be Catalan, if only a resident. If dual nationality was an option I would take it in a heartbeat, but we all know that may not be in my life-time. Perhaps I need to dwell on it a bit longer. You never know. Will power.
But we are here, thank goodness, sustained by the nature, the culture and our dear, unconditional friendships. And I take my hat off to the innovative Catalans, the small businesses and cooperatives everywhere. May you prosper. And may not all weekends be mirages.