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Yellow is the colour of independence. I’m sitting at a small desk in a Hostal in a little town in Catalonia. Painted in yellow on the street below my window are the open knot symbols of Catalan independence. Like the symbol of the Scottish Nationalists and the pink ribbon of the breast cancer campaign, you find them every few yards on every street in every town and village here. Then there are the thousands of yellow plastic ribbons tied to railings, bridges, balconies, where they flap in the breeze. They catch your eye, your ear, and any Catalan heart. The flag...

I’m visiting my sister who lives on a hillside in Catalonia. No. She’s not called Adam. She’s Mary. Adam is the name of the car I hired from the airport in Barcelona. You never know what you’re going to get when you hire a car. My hand hesitated over the ‘economy’ range but, since it’s only me and a small suitcase, I went for ‘small’. Some rental companies would describe this class of car as ‘compact’, suggesting something not really small, just incredibly, desirably neat. The website might show you a flashy Fiat 500 with go-faster stripes, a sunroof and shiny bumpers....

I sat on a bench the other morning on the edge of a common. A typical London common. Stop-start traffic sounds blend with the caws of magpies and crows. Coarse grass vies with shrubs I cannot name apart from the ivy creeping along shady ground.  Blackberry bushes stretch thorny tendrils to catch at my jeans as I walk a well-trodden path. Oaks, sycamores, horse-chestnuts start to spill their seeds. Hopefully. I’m in a small area of a larger common criss-crossed by roads. Alongside this patch of green, large houses hold their ground as if they have a right to be there and...

I’m out. It’s early. The children are only just setting off for school. With their mothers, mostly. A little girl walks with her brother. Independent. They laugh together. He holds her hand so tightly. I had to get out. There are too many men in the house. I should explain.  A maintenance job and a small but messy alteration has rendered most of the house out of bounds for the day. At the planning stage some weeks ago, it seemed wise to fit both jobs in at the same time. Different parts of the house so workmen would not be tripping over...