Saturday, September 15, 2012

The West Iberian tragedy

I'm just back from my first-ever trip to "Portugal".  I don't think I've ever been so moved by a visit to any "country".  As I was travelling around, I kept thinking back to Councillor Alex Gallagher's words of wisdom about the tragedy of one island being split into two political states.  How much more tragic, then, for the mere peninsula of Iberia to be split into three political entities, one of which is a British colony.  And this unnatural state of affairs has been going on for bloody centuries.  Everywhere I looked, I could detect on the faces of the West Iberian people the pain of partition, the heartache of separation, and the terror of unnecessarily high levels of representation at the Olympic Games.  I asked a young boy if he was proud of his country's silver medal in the London 2012 canoe sprint, and he gave me a vacant look.  Some might think that was because he couldn't understand my language, but in my heart I knew it was because a "Portuguese" silver means very little to these people - it would have meant so much more to have seen West Iberian athletes contribute to a Greater Spanish gold medal.  I asked a local woman if, as I expected, the European economic crisis had hit West Iberia harder due to the insanity of separation.  She replied no, that although times were hard "Portugal" was still coping better than its larger neighbour Spain.  And I could see how much this shamed her.  She longed for the intra-peninsula solidarity of shared pain.

And yet, and yet.  In spite of the fact that there is no living memory of anything but Iberian partition, the fortitude and irrational optimism of the "Portuguese" people is nothing short of extraordinary, and a shining example to us all.  We can only hope that a better, brighter, and above all Spanish future lies ahead of them (by God they deserve it), and in the meantime I'm sure they remain in the thoughts and prayers of us all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Photos on Tuesday : Arbroath

Welcome along to the second of my pre-scheduled posts, designed to keep things ticking over while I'm off on my travels.  I have a feeling this particular set of photos will look somewhat less than exotic to Tris, Munguin and Marcia, but Arbroath is quite a trek from my own neck of the woods!  They were taken in early August.  I had been to the abbey and cliffs a couple of times before, but this was the first time I had seen the signal tower museum.

Click on any photo to enlarge.