If Franco Were Alive Today, He'd Be Turning in His Grave - But Which One?
Paco. You're confused. You've brought a wooden stake instead of a chisel.'
'I know. Shut up and get digging'
Here we are again in Álora.
Just over a week ago we took our place among the Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Ferraris in the queue to board the Good Ship Pont Aven in Plymouth and headed off into the unknown. It appears that a good few of the richest people in the UK had the same idea. There must have been billions of pounds worth of cars crammed on those car decks. It doesn't look good for the British economy when all the toffs are scuttling away to the Continent - like rats leaving a sinking ship, some may say.
Here's a toff showing off his new Rolls Royce Phantom. I bet not many people north of Crouch End have never even seen one of these £400,000 monsters. Ten a penny on the Pont Aven.
We've booked a passage to come back to Blighty in December but God Only Knows (by the Beach Boys) what the future holds for Fair Albion (with all the toffs gone).
However, some of them have been forced to stay behind for a week because of an ancient British tradition called 'Droit de Seigneur. At this very moment 11 elaborately berobed Law Lords with names like Lord Pannick, Lord Keen and Lady Bracknell, (A handbag?!!) are trying to find a way to break the news to the entire population of The British Isles that for the last 300 years (at least) they have had no democratic control over their government. Our parliament ,The House of Commons, has been given two fingers and the bums rush by a fat ex-Eton schoolboy, without so much as a by your leave, and nobody can do a thing about it!
What was all that Women's Suffragette Movement about then?
'Take your grubby mitts off me you plebby plod. I'm Lady Bracknell, don't you know.'
Apparently it's all been done by a nod and a wink and the odd handshake in the past and NOBODY HAS NOTICED that we don't have a constitution.
The Supreme Court Judges (top toffs)
I just hope they can sort it all out before we get back.
Speaking of 'judges', Mrs. Sánchez and I are very proud to announce that our little dog Monty was judged 'Dog With Best Trick' at the prestigious Brittany Ferries International Dog Show.
I hope it hasn't gone to his head.
The voyage south across the Bay of Biscay was without incident and, as usual, mostly took place during the night while Mrs. Sánchez and I were were asleep in our 'inside' (no view) cabin, Monty was giving his contralto contribution to the canine chorus from his prison cell on deck 10, and members of the 'Luxury Tours' £8,000-a-head posh car rally were sleeping off their champagne cocktails in 'Commodore Class'. (Try saying that without taking a breath).
Choppy seas in the Bay of Biscay
I must say it felt like an escape from chaos as we closed in on the port of Santander. At last, a country at peace with itself after 40 years living under a fascist dictatorship and 40 more with a CONSTITUTION, a king, and a bright future.
BUT no government either, apparently. At least Spain has a parliament, Las Cortes, but they can't agree about who shall be the Prime Minister.
The PSOE party won the most seats in the latest election, so its leader, Pedro Sánchez (no relation) thinks he should have the top job. The other party leaders won't go for it, so he's well miffed and says they'll have to have another election - the fourth in four years.
Pedro Sánchez (bless 'im.)
Personally, I like elections and can't get enough of them, and one a year is not frequent enough in my opinion, but all this messing about has held up the exhumation of Franco's body again.
Generalisimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde. 'El Caudillo'
They were supposed to dig him up in June from El Valle de los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen) - the modest monument to Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War that dominates the skyline a few miles north of Madrid, where he's no right to be anyway because he neither fell nor was he pushed. In effect he gate-crashed the graveyard, but his family and fan club ,The Francisco Franco Foundation can't agree where to put his mummified body when they they've dug him up,
El Valle de Los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen)
So, he can stay where he is for the time being.
It's all because of The Law of Historical Memory which was put into force by the socialist and anti- fascist PSOE Party in 2007.
The law was intended to end El Pacto del Olvido ( the unwritten agreement to forget all about what had happened during and after the Spanish Civil War).
The new law recognises that El Franquismo' (The Franco era 1939-75) was a fascist dictatorship (a bad thing), that Franco committed crimes against humanity and that the families of people who were killed or persecuted for opposing Franco have the right to justice and to give a decent burial to their relatives who, in many thousands of cases, lie as yet unidentified, in mass graves all over Spain.
Members of the Franco Fan Club at The Valle de los Caidos
This also means that the Valle de Los Caidos can not be used as a 'shrine' to Francoism any more - so El Caudillo got his marching orders.
I noticed in 'El Pais in English' that a little village up near Salamanca called Agueda (60 inhabitants) has offered to have Franco's body buried there, so that the villagers can pay their respects and earn a few euros by selling Franco memorabilia, plaster virgins, beer and ice cream.
The village used to be called 'Agueda del Caudillo' and is one of 300 'Franco towns' that were built between 1939 and 1970'.
Brasilas del Caudillo, Rioja.
101 of these 'colonisations' were built in Andalucía. Franco had them built in order to repopulate rural areas where, presumably, everyone had either been shot dead, locked up in prison or put in one of his concentration camps.
They were nearly all built from scratch in drought areas or swamps and people were shipped in to grow fruit and vegetables. The pueblos were usually named after the modest 'Caudillo' himself.
Agueda del Caudillo has had to change its name to just 'Agueda'. This will help people to forget about Franco.
El Ultimo Pueblo del Caudillo. The Last Pueblo of the Caudillo
All but 7 of the 300 Franco towns have changed their names to ones having no reference to Franco.
The last one not to comply in Andalucía is Villafranco del Guadalhorce which is 22 km (12 miles) from Álora . We used to pass through it every time we went to the coast or the Sunday Market in Coin.
The people in Villafranco don't seem to care one way or the other about the name of their town but with new elections on the way, who knows? We had a visit from Vox, the 'far right' Francoist Party yesterday. It will be right up their street to stir up trouble amongst the peace-loving Villafranceños over a name.
'What are you going to do about the lack of pies in Spain, mate?'
They'd better not start any trouble round here. Las Personas Mayores (the elderly) round here are signing up for this course in 'self defence´. It's being run by Manuel Conejo (Manuel Rabbit) so it should be good. No special equipment will be necessary, but participants are advised to 'wear loose clothing and carry a 'baston' (stick.)'
'Speak softly and carry a big stick.'
Sad to report that 'Padre y Hijo'. on Calle Santa Ana has closed its doors again . Since it stopped being the town's Post Office it has re-opened at least 8 times as a bar. The only successful owner was the first, Lars, a tall, serious Swede.
'Bar El Tapeo' on Calle Vera Cruz has had a few incarnations too. It was a bar with that name in 1999, then it was Obi's Bar, then Bar Gallego. Recently it has been selling women's underwear and was the HQ of the Partido Popular.
Now it's El Sede and is doing very well at the moment.
I've been waiting for those nice people at 'A Place in the Sun' to contact me. So far I have not received the large cheque I was expecting following their visit to Casa Sanchez. I rang their production office a couple of weeks ago but the nice lady seemed to think I was asking about a programme on global warming.
She just kept saying something about 'hell freezing over'.
Juanito Sánchez 22nd. September 2019.