Sunday, 14 September 2003

- "What are you doing over here?"

This is the question I've asked a trillion times since living in Scotland. I am originally from St Boi de Llobregat, a town in the outskirts of Barcelona. The natives of this part of the world (Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Europe?) are shocked when I explain that I live here by choice and that, oh Dear!, I am also enjoying it. Oh Almighty God! Is there anything wrong with me?

I hope not. If anything is wrong, is the lack of self-belief Scots have in themselves. Not only do they put themselves down at every opportunity but will treat you with suspicion if you even suggest that, actually, this is not a bad place to live.

- "Are you a student?"

No, and yes. I am not a student in the sense of a full-time student living in a crowded flat in the West End, going to The Garage every week, and drinking myself to death. Besides, "natural highlights" is fast becoming a feature of my hair style. I am a mature student at the Open University if that means being a student. Distance learning they call it. It means, hardly any social life, bad temper, sudden changes of humour, computer rage, etc.

- "Don't you miss the weather?"

This is the scripted, unavoidable, next question. The weather. Why should I miss the tropical heat that sets fire to vast amounts of forest land in Catalonia and all the south of Europe every summer is unclear to me. No, I don't miss the weather -actually, I couldn't care less.

However, I miss the food. In Scotland, there are no tapas. There are overpriced fake tapas bars sprouting out everywhere now, including the infamous La Tasca. But there are also good ones, like Tapas Bar in Glasgow's West End, near the University swimming pool. An exception rather than the rule in culinary terms. A tapa in Scotland often means a take-away pizza, kebab, fish&chips or the dreadful chips&cheese. Awful and disgusting. The unhealthy diet is behind the appalling records of heart, liver disease and obesity in Scotland.

More to come soon.

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