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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part IV. North East

Snow is not the Answer

Steve Porter
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapOporto, Ponte Dom Luis

A youth gets on the train at Manlleu. He has spiky hair, platform shoes and very wide flares. He is carrying a Union Jack bag—currently in vogue. It is a national flag but one with its fair share of negative connotations for me. I associate it with the British Empire, the monarchy, Glasgow Rangers FC, and even the British National Party.

I once had a khaki shirt with German flags on the sleeves. Some students asked me why. I didn’t really know. They were just there, fashionable at one time too, I suppose. I was shocked when they asked if I was a Nazi.

Just north of here the French are electing a new president. The choice has been narrowed down to Jacques Chirac and Jean Marie Le Pen. ‘Choice’ seems a funny word to use. It infers that there is something attractive about the options. Western politicians and marketing people are always telling us about our ‘freedom to choose’. It seems to me, in this instance, that the French have to make ‘a decision’ on whether to vote for Chirac, whose personality and policies they may dislike, or run the risk of allowing the extremist Le Pen to gain power. Where is the attraction?

Meanwhile, a young girl is sitting opposite the young trendy with the Union Jack bag. She is telling her father a riddle.

“Es blanco, no tiene piel ni boca...”

It’s white and has neither skin nor mouth. It could be snow I suppose. Then she starts to sing in English. “Hello. Hello. What’s your name? What’s your name?”

The train zips on through Vic, Centelles, Figaró, La Garriga, Granollers-Canovelles, Mollet, Parets del Vallès... the harsh sounds of Catalan are poetic to me now. Yet, when I first heard the language it was like listening to the chatter of hens.

The young girl puts her jacket on and gets ready to disembark at L’Arc de Trionf. She tells her father that the answer to the riddle is a letter.

I’ll get off at Sants-Estació and spend the afternoon in Barcelona trying to make decisions. On a very positive day I might call these choices.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationSeptember 2007
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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