2013 12/04

The History of the Catalans from Catalonia

This video was uploaded to YouTube in March of this year (2013), so is a very recent attempt at increasing awareness of the Catalan plight around the world. Even at half an hour it’s very fast-paced and I had no trouble sticking with it. And though the text is sometimes difficult to read it plays like a film trailer with evocative music that keeps you gripped. I thought it a great potted history of the Catalan state from the year 988 to the present day. If you’re outside of Catalonia and you don’t know what all the fuss is about I suggest you give it a watch.

As the quote from Carl Sagan at the start reads, “you have to know the past to understand the present”. Read the rest of this article…

2013 04/04

La Diada de Sant Jordi (St. George’s Day)

Oil painting by Raphael

‘Saint George and the Dragon’ by Raphael (1505-1506)

I have written about La Diada de Sant Jordi before when I wrote about Valentine’s Day in Spain. But I thought I could expand on it a little this time around and mention a few other things that might interest you.

Many countries around the world have Saint George as their patron saint and most celebrate it on April 23rd (the accepted date of Saint George’s death in 303 AD).

Here in Catalonia (and a few other regions and cities in Spain) St. George is the patron saint too. And the Catalans certainly need little reason for a celebration. Read the rest of this article…

2013 28/02

Is the “English Gentleman” dead?

A friend was visiting Barcelona a while back. We met for breakfast and put the world to rights as we always do. He suggested he might like to write something for my blog. I had no idea what to expect. This is what he wrote.

Is the “English Gentleman” dead?

The English Gentleman book cover

The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal by Philip Mason

Ask a Barcelona barman or a Tottenham policeman and the answer is probably, “Yes.”

However it is interesting for me to notice that the concept is never translated. Whether in a Russian or Japanese conversation the words are always English. Was it a peculiar concept? Did people want to find it in Englishmen they met? In my travels, particularly to more isolated communities – like the peoples of Eastern Europe before the Wall came down – I think that they did.

Perhaps, with the advent of cheap travel, the hooligans now travel with the gentlemen or perhaps the gentlemen no longer exist!

In the 18th and early 19th century the English elite were fairly dissolute and were thought by many to be showing a bad example. Dr Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby school from 1828 to 1842, is credited with devising and encouraging the concept of the gentleman. It is a suit of many styles, fashioned to individual taste, but always of the same cloth. The gentleman was an enigma but you recognised him when you met him. Essentially he did things because he knew that they were right, not because they brought him personal advantage. Read the rest of this article…

2012 19/11

Spain’s Secret Conflict: A Documentary

image from Spain’s Secret Conflict

Spain’s Secret Conflict

The documentary, Spain’s Secret Conflict, was made back in 2009 yet recently was the first time I’d seen it. It’s one of the most concise explanations of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain that I’ve seen. Even if it’s not so secret a conflict any longer.

Gary Gibson’s 40 minute documentary starts during the Independence Poll in Arenys de Munt in September 2009. The first poll of it’s kind in Catalonia, this symbolic poll went ahead despite being banned by Madrid and picketed by the far right-wing Falange.

As Gibson says at the end of the documentary…

“Through these polls the Catalans are sending a clear message to Spain: for 300 years we have had to listen to you and do what you tell us. Now this is what we have to say.”

I wouldn’t say this is a completely one-sided documentary (though it is clearly pro-Catalan). There are personalities interviewed from both sides including: Read the rest of this article…

2012 09/11

Would an independent Catalonia be economically feasible?

CatDem logoThree reports have been commissioned by the CatDem Foundation to answer the question, “Would an independent Catalonia be economically feasible?”. Now of course, considering who the reports were commissioned by you don’t need me to tell you the conclusion. But all 3 make for interesting reading. They’re not particularly long, 11, 7 and 14 pages respectively. But they give some insight into the fiscal implications of an independent Catalan state.

From the CatDem press release…

As part of a general reflection about the “National Transition” that Catalonia is going through, the CatDem Foundation has put together three reports that analyse the economic feasibility of an independent Catalonia. These documents closely analyse all the possible consequences to the Catalan economy if it were to become an independent State. The reports focus on three different areas. Read the rest of this article…

2012 01/10

Tom Chant: Wild & Wonderful in BCN Episode 2

The fascinating Wild & Wonderful in Barcelona series continues with a documentary on long-term Barcelona resident Tom Chant.

From the website…

Wild and Wonderful Episode 2: English experimental and free jazz musician Tom Chant.
A long-term resident in Barcelona Tom is currently active groups including the Cinematic Orchestra, the Eddie Prévost Trio, Sucette – a computer music duo with Ben Drew, Marseille Figs – a country, pop, free-jazz racket and the London Improvisers Orchestra and Barcelona based IED8 and Banda de Improvisadores de Barcelona (BIB). Tom bought his first soprano saxophone in 1995. His first recordings from this period were with the Sycophants, on the Ninja Tune and Lo Recordings record labels. In 1997 Tom began recording with Jason Swinscoe, founder of The Cinematic Orchestra.

Tom Chant: Wild & Wonderful in BCN Episode 2

Wild & Wonderful in BCN links

2012 07/09

The National Day of Catalonia (La Diada Nacional de Catalunya)

La Diada Nacional de Catalunya

La Diada Nacional de Catalunya (Source)

The National Day of Catalonia or La Diada Nacional de Catalunya is celebrated every September 11th, a historic date in the Catalan calendar. The day commemorates the 14 month Siege of Barcelona, and when on the 11th September 1714, Catalan troops were forced to surrender to the Castilian forces of France and Philip V of Spain. It was unfortunately all pretty much downhill from there for the next 250 years. All institutions of Catalonia were destroyed and they became part of the Spanish kingdom.

Many Catalans have been battling this repression ever since. Most recently from the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco. The National Day of Catalonia was reinstated after 94 years in 1980, five years after Franco’s death in 1975. Catalonia today is at least an autonomous community. Though this is still far from acceptable for many.

Where’s the Diada de Catalunya happening?

La Senyera

La Senyera – The flag of Catalonia

The 11th September is a Catalan holiday so don’t expect to get much done. Instead go out and enjoy the celebrations (and political demonstrations). Floral tributes are laid at the statue of Rafael Casanova (yes, that’s who Carrer de Casanova is named after). His statue is in the small square at the corner of Ronda de Sant Pere and Carrer d’Alí Bei. Read the rest of this article…

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