surinenglish

Colours

The last week of August is always an odd one - there's never a great deal going on as the newsmakers squeeze the last drop out of their summer holidays before they go back to the office.

This week, however, has been a colourful if not eventful one. The Vuelta a España, often compared to a multi-coloured snake, wound its way through the province of Malaga, before shooting off to brighten up the rest of the country.

Towards the end of their three-week ordeal the cyclists will hit Catalonia, where the colour yellow has become predominant. Pro-separatists have been placing their yellow ribbons in all sorts of public places in recent weeks and months, from beaches to roundabouts, to draw attention to the plight of the former leaders they refer to as political prisoners and to their cause for independence.

If they had been put there for any other reason than a political one - a charitable cause, perhaps - those yellow ribbons could be considered a bright and cheerful addition to the urban landscape. But no, they are just a reminder of the tension of a divided community. One side puts a ribbon on the fence; the other takes it away. At least it provides a visual image for a political squabble when normally all we have are words to digest.

One place the Vuelta's snake won't be winding through, however, is the town of Buñol near Valencia. They've had plenty of colour there this week though with the annual Tomatina tomato fight. Perhaps the politicians in Catalonia should drop their yellow ribbons now and throw red tomatoes at each other instead. Both colours form part of the Spanish and the Catalan flags so everyone can reach their own conclusions while watching the entertainment.

Meanwhile to find blue this week we can go back to the 14th century to when Sir James Douglas was fighting on the battlefield near Teba, presumably showing his blue and white three-starred coat of arms. Last weekend the blue and white Saltire decorated the town, which was at the centre of one of many bloody battles in medieval Spain.

At least we can be thankful that in the 21st century politicians fight over territory by waving yellow ribbons in each other's faces rather than drawing swords - for the time being.