Tonight I can really identify with two places that over the years have meant so much to me.
The first is Barcelona and the wider Catalunya region where I spent so much of my working life, first for Pfizer where I worked with my good friend Joan Baiget in Tarragona who introduced me to the Catalan “C” which I proudly displayed on the rear of my old Ford Sierra.
Joan not only welcomed me to the factory where I was visiting to help install local area networks and email, but embraced me into his family and vice versa in the late 1980’s. I remember seeing human castles being built, a huge Roman amphitheatre and a richness of life and a proud heritage of the people that I’ve always felt a strong connection to.
In more recent times I have spent many days in Barcelona acting as host to many CIOs attending the Gartner Symposium and although the days were long and tiring the attraction of the city and its people has never faded.
Unfortunately the scenes being played out on TV today where the Catalan independence vote has been brutally repressed by the Spanish government makes me realise how lucky I am to be a British citizen & live in Wales. For example I hoped Scotland would remain part of the UK in the recent referendum and so was pleased with the result. I truly believe that democracy is all about permitting a vote and then respecting the outcome. Something to ponder I think for the wider Europe.
Then just a few minutes ago after watching the climax to an uplifting BBC TV series on “Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?” (to which the answer for me is patently no) I saw on the news that two young women were murdered in a knife attack by a terrorist on the steps outside Marseille railway station leading down to the old town. The same location where I aged 20/21 as a InterRail student twice sat in the early 1980’s pondering my next steps.
It was there where I met my future travelling companion one Manfred Kratzner from Munich, a fellow student who I remember was covered from head to foot in dust after a traumatic visit to Spain beforehand. We became good friends and I often wonder what became of that tall, ever so lacking German.
Memories of so long ago and such happy times, so my heart reaches out to all those innocents caught up with the evils of the consequences of politics and religion seen today. It only makes me more certain of the need for all of us to enjoy life and concentrate on what matters, namely family and friends, while we can. Too much ambition and certainty that you’re right has always been a dangerous cocktail and I want no part in it.