I actually picked up a copy of the first issue of Catalonia Today in Plaça Catalunya in Girona in June 2004, as that is coincidentally the very month I moved to Girona from Barcelona with my family. We had made the move in search of a calmer environment in which to raise our baby son, who had been suffering from health issues since his birth and did not sleep for more than a few hours without waking up in distress, even at the age of one and a half. Girona was my wife’s hometown, and we were seeking out family support to help look after our son so we could get some rest and be able to lead a more normal life while we figured out what was going on with him, since the doctors were not proving to be of any use.

It worked. A year or so later he was a healthy young boy who could not eat wheat or dairy products, as I had figured out that he had an intolerance to both. Neither the doctors nor anybody else believed me at the time, but thanks to my insistence on trying an elimination diet, we found that to be the problem. I digress. But only slightly, because that is how I came into contact with Catalonia Today at that early stage. My wife and I had a translation company at the time, and I have to admit I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the English in those early issues, which were mainly full of articles about Catalan politics that I struggled to fully understand. But I kept picking up my free issues from the rack in Plaça Catalunya to get my dose of a local English newspaper, until one day I went for lunch with the editor and her husband – I think you know who I’m referring to – to talk about the idea of my company revising the English in the paper. I honestly can’t remember if I approached them or they approached me, but after a very pleasant lunch in the city centre I realised this was a project I would like to get further involved in, and so not only offered my English proofreading services but suggested I write a regular column – The Cultural Tightrope – with reflections on the life of a guiri living in Catalonia. And that is the column you are reading now, many years later.

It was originally intended to be humorous, and I believe it has had its moments in that respect, but nowadays reflects the musings of a middle-aged man searching for meaning to life through anecdotes of his life in Catalonia.

As you will know if you have followed this publication for some time, or just from reading this edition, we also had our moments in the sun when it comes to television. I myself had a weekly show about football – The Week in Football, or more affectionately TWIF – where we discussed the fortunes of Catalonia’s biggest clubs, Barça, Espanyol and Girona. I was fortunate enough to have a large group of interesting guests from varied backgrounds who were happy to come on TV and talk about the most important of the less important things, i.e. football.

I was also asked to do some one-to-one interviews for the TV and ended up interviewing some fascinating people who had landed here in Catalonia. You can still find these online if you do a search under the show’s name of Small Talk. And finally with regard to the TV, we also took turns reading the daily news in English for a while, which proved much more challenging than I had anticipated; I was relieved when we packed all that in, to be honest. TWIF I loved doing, however, and it did actually lead to greater things as I was subsequently contacted by FC Barcelona to become the club’s official online league commentator in English, which I did for three seasons. As a result, my commentating voice can now be heard on the Netflix series FC Barcelona: a new era. The screaming voice as Barça score their fourth at the Bernabéu is mine.

But I feel like this column is becoming a little too wistful now, and I’m in danger of falling into a deep wormhole of memories, so we will have to stop here by saying what a wonderful journey it has been to work on this magazine for the past 20 years. My heartfelt thanks to all those who have made it possible. Except that Scouser Neil (there you go, we managed to get a laugh in at the end).


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