Misty Porter-Coloured Memories
A few weeks ago my sage old barber made a comment which rang so true that it almost brought a tear to my eye. He said that the problem with the old historic quarter of Barcelona is that it’s no longer a genuine neighbourhood but instead has become a theme park.
True indeed. The world discovered Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics and has since been sending its tired, rich and huddled tourists yearning to breathe in the storied pomp of the Catalan capital. Which is all well and good, the benefits to the economic well-being of the city are obvious. It’s backstreets are cleaner, safer and don’t smell (quite) as bad as before.
The problem is that any environment will inevitably adapt to its market and the centre of Barcelona seems to have lost too much of its character to the travellers’-cheque brigade. Where once there hailed dingy smoke-filled cafés full of ugly griping locals, you’ll now find a spanking new Irish pub or fusion-food restaurant. And what really chafes is that most of these johnny-come-lately establishments are done up in a pseudo-authentic way to give the impression that they’ve always been there.
A huge proportion of the wonderfully grimy hangouts that we used to frequent when we first arrived in the city many moons ago, no longer exist and that really cuts me up. OK fair enough, one of the reasons is because it makes me feel old but there is more to my chagrin than the vanity of a grumpy middle-aged fogy. These places were truly unique and you always knew that anything could happen from the moment you crossed their thresholds.
So as a homage to these delightful, defunct dives, I’ve decided to do a series called ‘Obits and Pieces’ where they will be deservingly honoured. Of course some of the old haunts still exist but it wouldn’t really be fitting to include them in the series. Partly because they don’t qualify but mainly because as a cynical old fart, I truly believe in the wise adage that one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead nor well of the living.
So if you're reading this, go to Hell.