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Once upon a time I'd have been there. Slightly bemused no doubt but I'd have been there. Today, the day of the eighth General Strike in Spain's history since the return to democracy, I went to work much as usual.

There was a lot of police activity; there were patrol cars parked up the side-streets in the town centre whilst groups of bored police officers lounged around taking the sun. There were big Guardia Civil  4x4s parked on several of the strategic roundabouts in and out of the industrial estate with most of the Guardia sporting a smart new uniform that looked just a little more menacing than the old one.

Outside one of the union offices a few workers lounged around taking the sun. They looked like extras from a Mike Leigh film. Car coats a plenty.

On the way home from my early morning shift I came across the main march in Cartagena. Lots of nice red banners and crowds of photographers.

The town centre seemed generally open for business as usual.

At the offices where I teach English in the afternoon a lot of people had chosen to take a days holiday. People worry about violence on the picket lines here and having a day off neatly sidesteps that problem. When I asked the other blacklegs in the office they told me there had been no problem on the picket lines - just the traditional question and answer session before the non strikers drove on.

Noticeable then but not obvious.


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