Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why I Write (and) What Tom Wrote


I bother to write blogs for a number of reasons but one motivation is communicating with readers about Catalunya/Spain/Europe and related subjects.

Recently I received a comment from Tom (an architect in London) and we exchanged a few emails.
 
His description of Barcelona as a" fabulous seedy, ancient, proud, buoyant place" is as accurate a string of adjectives I have ever read about the city, and pleasingly free of clich├ęs. In fact what he wrote about Spain was certainly as insightful and well put as anything I can do and his connection with this country intrigued me.

With Tom's  permission, I quote from him verbatim below:

"My mum was a refugee there during the Nazi period. My childhood in suburban Bristol in the west of England was improved by her experience. Our Christmases were always marked with turron de jijona which I still love. But it has to be good. The second-rate stuff is an insult.

The architectural scene in London isn't great. We can't rely on booms to fuel our economy anymore. The edge isn't as sharp as it is in Spain. Perhaps a social movement will coalesce out of the Spanish experience.

I found myself reading Saul Bellow's Letter from Spain the other day which is dated around 1948. The picture is of pure suffering. The indignados are referred to again.

The story of Spain is of suffering. The biography of Picasso describing decrepit flats in Madrid tells the same story of poverty.

We were in Galicia this summer. Of course, the suffering has been put to one side by material improvements exactly the same as anywhere else in Europe. And one sees on the beaches how well the Spanish play, how good-natured the young are with each other.

I love the bird-like clatter of their fast tongues. I would dearly love to convert my tourist Spanish to something better.

Spain is really something. The whole construction boom, the corruption, the political ignorance, the cynicism of the wealthy - none of that detracts from the wonderful country - Los Picos, Galicia, Madrid, Barca, Menorca, the Pyrenees, the pines, the sea . None of it detracts from Barcelona's gothic Cathedral - a remark which applies a thousand times over. Or the food.

One hopes the poisons of cheap wealth will not alter defeat what's great about the country.

It has not been blessed with great politics. Yet it is seems a country at home with the modern condition. It has embraced change
."

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