It was 1am and the meat sweats were just taking hold when they knocked on the door of our hostel. Hell, I thought, delirious with the pangs of overconsumption. They’ve found me again. Those damned yellow-shirts just won’t rest ’til I’m one of their number. They’d sent round one of their heavies, I was sure of it; they wanted to make sure I voted the right way come 9th November.
Not that I could vote for Catalan independence; at least, as far as I’m aware, ex-expatriates who no longer live in the city, whose bank accounts may or may not have lapsed, are surely not allowed on the electoral roll. I pulled on my trousers, trying to ignore the strange grumblings of a stomach bursting to the seams with succulent Ethiopian food, and tried to work out if I’d ever registered. Perhaps they’d accept a postal vote.
You would have been hard-pressed in recent days to miss them: masses of milling yellow-shirted activists, waving pin badges in your face and extolling the virtues of a newly-independent state on the coast of the Mediterranean. As if it’s not been bad enough listening to the Scots whine about freedom for the last year, only for them to get cold feet at the last minute.
But we’re not in Edinburgh any more, Alex. This is the continent, where they like their politics as strong as their coffee. Eighty percent of the buggers voted for Catalan parties last time they held a regional election. While not a guarantee of a result, it’s a hell of a lot larger than the power base the fat fish commanded beyond the wall, and he almost won it, if the polls were to be believed.
Whether or not the N9 vote is legal – or if it will even go ahead – is up for debate. The non-binding ‘consultation’ vote was cancelled by the regional government last week, only for it to be put back on again a day later, despite the whale-like cries of disgust from the right-wing government installed in Madrid, who consider it unconstitutional. Some have estimated that there are up to five ways that the region could choose to legally split from Spain: that’s presumably excluding drastic measures such as refusing to subsidise central government with taxes, declaring war or setting themselves adrift via a system of carefully crafted canals.
There is no peephole in the door, so I have to take a risk and open it. I blink as the light enters; the shadow of a burly security guard towers over me. I start to panic – there is the matter of an unpaid bill that we may or may not be liable for from the last time we tried to book here (passport issues – not entirely my fault). I have visions of being carted off to receive a savage beating at the hands of the police and start to look for escape routes.
“You need to go to reception,” he tells me. “You’ve lost something.”
We head downstairs with trepidation, only to find a purse waiting for us on the desk. Apparently it was dropped on the floor as we drunkenly made our way back earlier in the evening.
By the time I return to my room, the meat sweats have passed. Soon it will be Monday, and the yellow-shirts will have to return to work. Tempus fugit.