‘It’s time for Madrid to stop treating Catalonia as the naughty kid in the Spanish classroom.’

My article for The New European (19 Nov 2016). The full text can be read here: ‘The New European‘, and is also reproduced below:

Europeanism has always been a key characteristic of the Catalan independence movement. In fact Catalonia, located in Spain’s north-east Mediterranean region, separated by the Pyrenees from southern France where it has solid historical ties, looks towards Europe. It has always looked towards Europe rather than Spain. Its capital, Barcelona, is one of the coolest hubs of European culture. And the region wants to be European – not Spanish.

But that doesn’t mean there are not similarities between Brexit and the Catalan separatist movement.

In a sense, the parallels between Brexit and the Catalan independence movement are many: the sentiments of identity, sovereignty, or that a far-off bureaucratic government is spending your money unwisely.

But whilst the Brexit referendum could be seen coming from a result of a Tory electoral promise to lure votes away from UKIP, initially a political strategy rather than from popular pressure, Catalonia, just like Scotland and Northern Ireland, does not want to give up its EU membership – far from it. Indeed, Catalonia is actively looking to Europe and appealing to European leaders and institutions to help mediate a way out of the current impasse.

I worked in Madrid for nine years and love the city and its people – but its rulers’ unwillingness to budge even an inch toward a Catalan compromise could result in disaster.

Catalan president, pro-European Carles Puigdemont, has vowed to press ahead with a “roadmap” to independence for the region. He has also recently announced that he wants a referendum in September 2017, despite the courts ruling it illegal and him being threatened with prosecution.

The speaker of the region’s parliament, Carme Forcadell, is already being investigated for overseeing the approval of the independence blueprint itself. Puigdemont, meanwhile, has reached out to Madrid, saying it would be best to agree on a “negotiated referendum”, but he has also added that “this proposal does not expire, but it does not paralyse us, either”.

While Puigdemont has admitted that holding a new vote will be difficult, and that the best way to do so would be to strike a deal with the central government, he has also stated that politics should be “carried out in parliament rather than in court.” In Madrid, however, that last remark has fallen on deaf ears.

In Spain right now there exists a kind of a political paralysis – thanks also to the ‘politicisation of justice’. To put it simply politics has all but vanished from Spanish politics. Instead, Madrid and Barcelona are locked in a legal battle – one Big Fat Spanish Court Case.

Regularly the judges and courts, egged on by Madrid, have been busy on the counter-attack against Catalonia and Catalan policies. The court cases are only serving to fuel the problem.

Catalonia is being treated like the disruptive child at the back of the classroom, and it is starting to look like bullying. Around 7.5m Catalans make up a sixth of the Spanish population and are responsible for a fifth of Spain’s economic output, but this “disruptive child” is not getting the attention or respect it deserves.

It is not being heard, and the only parents it can turn to now are the international community and the EU. And if they won’t or can’t help to mediate in this situation, then matters could escalate further.

The painful economic crisis in Spain has only served to magnify calls for Catalan independence, as many Catalans believe their affluent region subsidises the poorer regions, and they also blame much of Spain’s debt crisis on the central government. There is also a great deal of anger and opposition towards Spain’s concentric (to Madrid) rail passenger and cargo networks, which run against any criteria of cost benefit analysis.

In short, Catalans have come to distrust Madrid politicians who they feel want to curtail their linguistic and cultural rights while blatantly milking the richest economy of the peninsula. Meanwhile, the courts have been happily overturning rulings on gender equality in the Catalan workplace, dropping them from Catalonia’s Equality Law because the articles “infringe upon the powers of the State”. The courts have also been enforcing the closure of Catalan facilities during Spain’s National Day, October 12, a holiday when Madrid hosts its traditional military march, presided over by the Spanish King, with soldiers and army vehicles parading through the capital’s streets.

And then there is bullfighting. Putting the animal rights debate to one side, many Catalans perceive bullfighting as an imposed tradition. It is viewed as an image of Spain and Spanish nationalism which was exploited by Franco abroad and within Spain. Catalonia finally banned it in 2010.

But in October the courts in Madrid overturned that ruling as well claiming it was “unconstitutional”. Imagine how Nicola Sturgeon would react if London were to act in a similar manner?

But it’s not about bullfighting, of course. It’s about what Catalonia can and can’t do.

Puigdemont is intent on holding a new referendum vote – but one to which international observers will grant legitimacy. To do that, the Catalan government must make sure that detractors of independence will also go to the polls. This is one of the basic conditions set out by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

With a pro-independence parliamentary majority, Catalonia’s push for independence has become one of the largest civil rights movements in Europe. Surely it will be difficult for a democratic Europe to prevent the Catalans a vote on independence simply in the name of frontiers created by the marriage of Catholic kings or a victory in the war of Spanish succession? Or simply in the name of a constitution that only recognises ‘one Nation’ and proclaims its indivisibility?

With the EU itself so far keen to remain above the fray, Puigdemont has also advised against pre-empting how European countries will react ‘once Catalonia has taken a democratic decision’. He has said that the EU’s differing positions on Brexit and on Catalan independence were ‘paradoxical’. The EU had been ‘tying itself in knots’ to keep Britain in the EU, but on the other hand ‘might’ want to expel a dynamic economy that represents 2% of European GDP, an economically powerful region at the heart of Europe’s culture and traditions, and home to the major business hub of Barcelona. Surely Brussels will be desperate to hold on to all that? I believe he may well be right.

Tim Parfitt/The New European (19/11/16)


(You can click on the image to see the PDF file, or follow this link: The New European)

Standing-Up: The Documentary (1)

They’re coming to my apartment at around 7.30am this Saturday. A cameraman, a sound operator, and some documentary-filmmaker/narrator, apparently from ‘up North’ – although up North of where, I haven’t a clue. I know nothing about them, only that they’re doing a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ doc on ‘wannabe stand-ups’. I’m not even sure I’m a ‘wannabe stand-up’ – I almost gave up a couple of weeks ago. But they’re planning to follow me around ll day, film the SUCK! show in Barcelona on Saturday night, and then follow me to London for The Library event ? and the King Gong open mic at the Comedy Store. As if I wasn’t putting myself under enough pressure as it was, I now have 3 or 4 gnats with cameras on my wall, too.

A friend recently asked how and why this stand-up stuff all started, and suggested that I begin collating my experiences for a possible book. So I’m starting this blog – to be one step ahead of the documentary, too.

I’m new to blogging. I’ve resisted it since … well, ever since blogging started. I’ve always preferred to spiel my thoughts into wads of notebooks, journals and diaries over the years, but at least I could now save a tree or two.

I can’t and won’t be blogging about stand-up only, though – and besides, I don’t know how long it will last before I get booed off a stage for good. So I intend to blog and rant about other issues and experiences, too … politics, England, Spain, London, Barcelona, Madrid, lawyers, trying to write a novel, trying to get a movie produced, magazines, family, kids, love, dogs, Smart car drivers, whistlers and even airports, which is where I seem to spend a lot of time. Last week I wanted to blog about Richard III, horsemeat-lasagnes and Superbowl blackouts – this week it could be resigning Popes, bikini shots of a pregnant Kate Middleton, and now even ‘blade runner’ Oscar Pistorius whose girlfriend has just been shot dead whilst I’ve been scribbling this …

But we’ll start with the stand-up experiences (and which will always appear under this blog thread “Standing-Up – The Documentary”) – and which started last Friday 5th October 2012, with a Logan Murray weekend workshop, on one of his ‘Stand Up & Deliver’ courses … http://www.loganmurray.com/ (to be continued) …

The Barcelona Connection

Here’s a selection of the recent press coverage in English and Spanish regarding ‘The Barcelona Connection’ TV series. Further details to follow soon.


TBI – ‘The Barcelona Connection sets up UK-Spanish copro’

WORLD SCREEN – ‘New UK-Spain co-production in the works’

DEADLINE – ‘Six-part crime-thriller series The Barcelona Connection’


LA VANGUARDIA newspaper – ‘La conexión barcelonesa’

LA VANGUARDIA online – ‘Nevision y Diagonal TV coproducirán la serie The Barcelona Connection’

EL PERIODICO – ‘Nevision y Diagonal TV coproducirán la serie The Barcelona Connection’

AUDIOVISUAL – ‘Diagonal TV se alía con la británica Nevision para la serie ‘The Barcelona Connection’

CINE Y TELE – ‘The Barcelona Connection’, la nueva serie de Diagonal TV y Nevision

VANITATIS – ‘The Barcelona Connection’, nueva miniseries internacional de la productora de ‘Isabel’

TELEPROGRAMA – ‘The Barcelona Connection’: así será el próximo thriller de Diagonal TV

TODO TV NEWS – ‘Nevision y Diagonal TV anuncian coproducción internacional’

PRENSARIO – ‘Nevision y Diagonal TV llevan a The Barcelona Connection a la TV’



Mucho Toro – Las tribulaciones de un inglés en la movida

Mucho_toroMucho Toro –
Las tribulaciones de un inglés en la movida
Haga clic paraLa Tormenta Blogspot
Haga clic para Dossier de Prensa (Editorial Almuzara)

A finales de los años ochenta, Tim Parfitt tiene que trasladarse a Madrid para ayudar a lanzar la versión en español de la revista Vogue en un período de seis semanas. Seis semanas que se terminan convertiendo en nueve años. Sin idea alguna de español, alucina con una floreciente ciudad hedonista en reacción a los años de dictadura, donde dormir es algo que sólo se hace en el trabajo y son normales los almuerzos de cinco horas con la invariable tapa de criadillas de toro. Extrañado, Tim Parfitt ve cómo no tiene que comprarse un olivar o «ponerse colorado y ciego» en la Costa del Sol, en definitiva, no tiene que revisitar el mítico solaz mediterráneo para descubrir la verdadera España real. Su ascenso desde invitado no deseado a objetivo de los paparazzi en la escena social más glamurosa se convierte así en una hilarante e irrepetible comedia de malentendidos.«Parfitt no es un inglés al uso. El tacto sutil y la fina línea de humor negro que usa en su libro se ajustan perfectamente en su entretenido giro urbano del viejo cuento de los Brits divertiéndose bajo el sol de España.» The Sunday Times «Un jugoso itinerario el de Parfitt, siempre gracioso y en muchas ocasiones desternillante.» The Daily Express «No te lo pierdas.» Vogue «Un relato vívido hasta encariñarse …, perfecto material para echar un buen rato.» OK! Magazine «Una carta de amor a Madrid … capta brillantemente un lugar verdaderamente excéntrico y hedonista.» The Daily Mirror «Hará por Madrid lo que Entre limones ha hecho por Andalucía.»Publishers Weekly


Tim Parfitt es un guiri, pero lo lleva con dignidad. Su primer libro, Mucho Toro, es un divertidísimo relato de sus años de vida en Madrid ayudando a lanzar las revistas Vogue y GQ. El libro ha tenido una gran acogida en Reino Unido como la visión menos idealista, pero sí divertida y encantadora, de España. También es autor del guión The Barcelona Connection una historia detectivesca sobre el secuestro de un famoso torero por un grupo de defensores de los derechos de los animales – Tim insiste en que es una comedia romántica –. La película ha estado varios años en desarrollo como coproducción internacional (EE.UU.-Reino Unido-España). A pesar de plantarse en Hollywood para insistir en su desarrollo, ¡todavía nadie ha empezado rodarlo! Mientras tanto él está adaptándolo todo como una novela … 

Mucho Toro –Las tribulaciones de un inglés en la movida(Editorial Almuzara) Traducción de Antonio Rivero Taravillo