Page 1




The BritishSpanish Society magazine

Tamara Rojo – Xabi Alonso – The Islands of Spain – Basque Politics – Jorge Semprún


TOM BURNS MARAÑÓN Madrid-based author and journalist, and Managing Partner of eurocofin.

NICK FRIEND A fourth year Modern Languages and Cultures student at Durham University.

JULES STEWART Journalist and author. He specialises in military history and lived in Madrid for 20 years.

JIMMY BURNS MARAÑÓN Author, journalist and Chairman of the BritishSpanish Society.

SIMON COURTAULD Author and journalist. He lives in Wiltshire and has spent many years in Spain.

DOMINIC BEGG Former President of TESOLSpain and teacher at ESADE business school. Former Spanish rugby champion.

AMY BELL EDITOR Welcome back! You might notice that these pages look a little different. Barcelona resident and Dutch graphic designer Deborah van Mourik has refreshed the layout – I hope you like it.   In this issue we speak to Tamara Rojo CBE, veteran ballet dancer, artistic director of the English National Ballet, and champion of the arts, about her inspiring career and plans for the future – she won the BritishSpanish Society’s Culture Award as part of the centenary celebrations in 2016.   We reflect on the spectacular meeting of two tennis greats earlier this year: Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, who proved that they are both still at the top of their game. We wouldn’t want to neglect Spain’s favourite sport

LORRAINE URE A Volunteer Guide at the Royal Naval Hospital in Menorca where she lives. A passionate promotor of Spanish food and wine, especially sherry.

DEBORAH VAN MOURIK Dutch graphic designer based in Barcelona. Plays the drums, and wants to learn about every aspect of graphic design.

CAROLINE GRAY Completed a PhD at the University of Liverpool, for which she won the 2015 BBVA/ BritishSpanish Society scholarship award. Lives in Barcelona.

though; turn to page 15 for our interview with footballer Xabi Alonso, his brother Mikel and their father Periko – clearly football runs in the family.   As a registered charity, the BritishSpanish Society is proud to support the studies of post-graduate students with scholarships and bursaries every year. Caroline Gray, 2015 winner of a Society/BBVA scholarship, tells us about her research into the regional financing systems of Spain and their impact on Basque and Catalan nationalist party strategies.

VENETIA WELBY Writer and tutor. Studied at Oxford University and now lives in Bow, east London, with her husband, son and Bengal cat.

ÓSCAR PEREA-RODRÍGUEZ Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Hispanic Studies at Lancaster University.

LAURA OBIOLS Choreographer, dancer, film and theatre director. Arts Editor of La Revista.

LAURA GRAN Journalist specialised in PR and Communications. Deputy Editor of La Revista.

ESMERALDA PARRA PERALBO Research fellow at the Medical Research Council

Read more on page 20.   Many of us are familiar with Spain’s islands, but consider visiting in the winter months if you haven’t already. See Dominic Begg’s overview on page 34, and if you visit Menorca be sure to pay a visit to Isla del Rey, home to one of the oldest Royal Navy hospitals in the world,

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which played a crucial role in British military history and has recently been restored by a dedicated team of volunteers (page 29).   Enjoy the issue.


MILES JOHNSON Global Investment Editor at the Financial Times and former Madrid Correspondent


José Ivars (Trustee), Patricia María Paya Cuenca Development Secretary María Soriano Casado Events Carmen Young (Trustee), David Hurst, Jordi Mateu Membership, Finance, and Website Secretary Virginia Cosano, Events and Grants Alvaro Cepero







Published by the


BritishSpanish Society Honorary President H.E. Carlos Bastarreche, Spanish Ambassador Honorary Vice-President Simon Manley,



British Ambassador to Spain Chairman


Jimmy Burns Marañón Patrons Sir Stephen Wright, Lady Brennan, Duke of Wellington, Dame Denise Holt, Lady Parker, Lady Lindsay, Baroness Hooper, John Scanlan,



Randolph Churchill, Carmen Araoz de Urquijo


Trustees Jimmy Burns Marañón (Chairman), Carmen Young, Hugh Elliott, Christopher Nason, José Ivars (Corporates), Juan Reig Mascarell (Treasurer), Scott Young, Marian Riesco



Other members of the Executive Council Paul Pickering, Javier Fernández Hidalgo, Miguel Fernández-Longoria (Scholarships), Miles Johnson, Roberto Weeden-Sanz, Cristina Alvarez, Eva Sierra, Silvia Montes, Julio Crespo MacLennan (ex officio), Eduardo Oliver (ex officio),




Fernando Villalonga (ex officio) WWW.BRITISHSPANISHSOCIETY.ORG

The opinions expressed throughout this issue represent those of the authors and contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the BritishSpanish Society or those of their supporters. The BritishSpanish Society is a registered charity: 1080250 CONTACT US For all editorial contributions or to comment on an article you have read in La Revista, please write to us at:

To enquire about advertising opportunities (including classified adverts) please contact:






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LA REVISTA Executive Editor Jimmy Burns Marañón Editor Amy Bell Deputy Editor Laura Gran Arts Editor Laura Obiols Sports Tomas Hill Lopez Menchero History Ernesto Oyarbide Design Deborah van Mourik Scholarships Marian Jiménez-Riesco (Trustee) Corporate Supporters/ Advertising




Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment as all events have limited capacity


Spring awakening & feria de abril party With BBQ & live music At Bar&co, victoria embankment

27 April, 7.00 pm Bar&co, Victoria Embankment £25 members / £35 non members Including BBQ and a drink

Exclusive and wonderful ballet night At the English National Ballet

18 May, 7.00 pm English National Ballet £25 members / £35 non members

Spanish movie night tie me up! tie me down! AT sanctum soho hotel, variety Screen

23 May, 7.30 pm Sanctum Soho Cinema £20 members / £27 non members with burger (or veggie) + drink + pop corn

BsS Annual Summer reception At the Spanish embassy in London




29 June, 6.30 pm Spanish Embassy £45 members / £60 non members




The starting pistol for Brexit has now been officially fired after the

right fights to ensure that important areas of law and policy will emerge

British government formally requested to leave the European Union.

in the best possible shape over the next two years.

Several weeks before Prime Minister May sent her fateful letter to Europe members of the BritishSpanish Society met in London’s Garrick Club for

It was also acknowledged that economic growth in the UK was likely to

a black tie dinner to discuss what the UK’s departure from the EU will

suffer in the years following Brexit, and that the way the UK trades with

mean for Great Britain, its relationship with Spain and the future of the

the rest of the world faced considerable short-term uncertainty. That said,


the speaker believed that any outcome would not be catastrophic and that the British economy would still be able to compete internationally.

a speaker with significant amounts of government experience on

The assembled guests also heard accounts of how business leaders from

what likely path Brexit will take and how the negotiations will play

different emerging markets saw the situation. Anecdotally it appeared

out over the next two years. The event was held under Chatham House

that emerging market businesses were by no means writing off the UK as


a destination for investment but that many were understandably waiting to see how events developed before deciding on their long-term strategy.

A recurring theme was the need to accept that a full Brexit was now a certainty and that the only things that may change during the talks

The dinner, which brought together British and Spanish figures from

would be how “hard” or “soft” the terms of will be. The audience was told

business, politics and other fields, served as a reminder of the important

that, while the result of the vote was far from ideal, that there was now

role the Society can play in maintaining and growing these ties between

a need for British legislators in both houses of Parliament to pick the the

the two countries during a difficult time for Europe.

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The assembled guests were lucky enough to hear the thoughts of


BRITISHSPANISH SOCIETY CHRISTMAS PARTY The traditional Christmas party organised by the BritishSpanish Society was celebrated last year at St James Church. Familiar faces and new members attended the event, in which they also celebrated the centenary of the foundation. Guests sang Christmas carols in both English and Spanish, enjoyed Spanish tapas and participated in a raffle. During the event a special collection of art by Magels Landet was on display (see more on pg. 39). The University of Navarra awarded prizes to the three best articles of La Revista in 2016, to Charles Powell, Laura Gran and Brean Hammond. Thanks to our sponsors of the party: Mahou San Miguel beers, Codorníu Raventós Cava and Spanish delicatessen.

MAYORAL GALLERY: PRIVATE VIEWING The Spanish gallery Mayoral, on London’s Duke Street, hosted a private viewing of paintings and sculptures by Picasso, Miro and Calder in February. The 40 attendees enjoyed Codorniu cava as they saw Art Revolutionaries: Homage to the Pavillion of the Spanish Republic, 1937. Following this there was a small talk by the Director of Mayoral,

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Jordi Mayoral, about the artists.





David Ferrando Giraut:

Ham and Passion by DeNada Dance

Spanish Guitar Making

The Accursed Stare 29 MAR - 27 APR


22 MAR - 22 APR

Various Cities | Various cities

Home House | London

Tenderpixel | London

DeNada returns to stages across the UK

Spanish guitar maker Felipe Conde

For his first solo exhibition at Tenderpixel

with its gender-bending evening of

demonstrates musical instrument making

David Ferrando Giraut presents two inter-

provocative, vigorously physical and

followed by a recital by flamenco guitarist

connected projects which spring from his

highly entertaining brand of dance theatre.

Juan Martin in the evening of the 3rd of May as part of London Craft Week.

ongoing research on humans’ relation with images throughout history.



Silk Road, Agudo Dance Company

European Literature Night 2017

4 MAY - 5 MAY

10 MAY

Sadler’s Wells | London

British Library | London

Silk Road is a celebration of diverse

In response to the changes faced by

cultures and dances, a fascinating and

Europe, literature can offer new views

vibrant exploration through dance of

on our identity, history and diversity.

rituals that took place along this ancient

European Writers’ Tour invites you to

trade route across Asia, revealing the less-

meet some of the most exciting writers

er-known connection between classical

from across the channel and to share their

Indian dance and Flamenco.

stories and experiences. Join us for the

launch of the Tour at the British Library with a special evening with Scottish Author A. L. Kennedy and guests. She will give a keynote address reflecting on the future of European authorship in a post-Brexit context and will be joined on stage by Clemens Meyer from Germany and Francesca Melandri from Italy for a conversation chaired by Arifa Akbar. This event will be followed by a reception.

VISUAL ARTS Viva! 2017 – Visual Art La Movida 14 APR - 17 JUL The brand dedicated to Visual arts is focused on the artistic and socio-cultural movement La Movida of post-Franco Spain. The exhibition, curated by Sarah Perks, is going to show some of the representative aspects that characterised this period. Excess, clubbing, drugs, artistic freedom, gay rights, pornography, will be at the core of an exhibition that represents the early 80s in Madrid.

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HOME Theatre | Manchester



Revista, bastante tiempo antes del referéndum del Brexit.

Goodbye, Federico. Some of us will miss you. Few of us will find it

definió como “el amor de los británicos a la tradición propia, a su

easy to forget you. I owe you a thank you. BY JIMMY BURNS MARAÑÓN

historia, su orgullo por la identidad común”. Y dijo a continuación: “En

A pesar del resultado Trillo no perdió su aprecio por la cultura británica. Su debilidad por Shakespeare siguió y, aunque como a muchos le costó comprender el porqué del voto, ya en esa entrevista reconoció lo que

eso se diferencia mucho de España. Nos falta amor a la identidad común y confianza en nosotros mismos... Creo que tenemos que recuperar la confianza en nosotros mismos como pueblo, como nación y mirar hacia horizontes comunes más amplios”. “A petición propia” y “agradeciéndole los servicios prestados” fueron algunas de las palabras que aparecieron en el mes de enero pasado en el Boletín Oficial del Estado en el decreto de cese de Federico Trillo como embajador en Londres. Al final fue el propio Trillo el que decidió el momento de su relevo, adelantándose a los planes de Exteriores. Fue un embajador que dejó su marca.


The new Spanish ambassador to the Court of St. James, Carlos

Días después de su llegada a Londres como el nuevo embajador de España para Reino Unido en la primavera de 2012 -el año después de la explosión de los indignados- el ex Ministro de Defensa y figura destacada del Partido Popular, Federico Trillo, no dudó en asegurarle al nuevo chairman de la British Spanish Society, Jimmy Burns Marañón, que podía contar con el mismo apoyo protocolar y moral que siempre había sido ofrecido a esta charity británica por parte de anteriores embajadores, no importase si fuesen diplomáticos o políticos. Así fue, y ese mismo verano se celebró en Belgrave Square la popular summer party de la Society en un ambiente relajado con música latina, vino y tapas a pesar de un grupo reducido de indignados. El evento dio a Trillo una oportunidad de conocer mejor los proyectos culturales y educativos de la Society, la dedicación de su voluntarios y el gran puente de amistad que une a sus miembros británicos e hispanos de todas las edades y de muchos y variados sectores del mundo empresarial, académico y cultural. Este reconocimiento impulsó una colaboración entre la embajada y la British Spanish Society que sirvió para contribuir al desarrollo de su programa de becas y el gran éxito de la celebración del Centenario de la British Spanish Society en 2016, con el patrocinio de la Reina Sofía y el Duque de York en representación de su madre, la reina Isabel (Queen Elizabeth). Sus cinco años como embajador en Londres fueron para Trillo un periodo de vida diplomática y política muy intensa durante los que 8 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

llegó a conocer mejor el país y el pueblo de su gran héroe literario William Shakespeare. “Personalmente creo que los británicos son más pragmáticos en el planteamiento y resolución de problemas; (y) los españoles más idealistas, o más dogmáticos, si lo prefiere. Ellos están más apegados a la tradición. Nosotros somos más innovadores, más imaginativos. Los británicos son más escépticos, los españoles más radicales. En fin… ellos tienen mejores músicos, nosotros mejores pintores. Pero todo esto es muy relativo y, además, la globalización está homogeneizando mucho, tal vez demasiado…” declaró en una entrevista concedida a La

Bastarreche, illustrates the degree to which the Madrid government takes Brexit very seriously indeed. In this Spain is, obviously, not alone. All the British government’s erstwhile partners share a growing concern over the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. Spain’s anxiety over what lies ahead is as acute as that of every other partner in the Union. Arguably it is more so.   Since the turn of the century the UK has been the most favoured investment target of major Spanish companies in the banking, energy, services and telecommunications sectors and tens of thousands of young Spaniards work in the UK holding down jobs that are prestigious and highly remunerative in the City and also those elsewhere that are precarious and low paid. Others, as nurses and doctors, help maintain the excellence of the National Health Service and many more study, research and teach at Britain’s universities. The Spanish presence in the UK is not unlike that of other European Union nationals.   What sets Spain apart from other EU partners in the Brexit quagmire is the reverse traffic. Spain’s Costas along the Mediterranean, together with the Balearic and Canary Islands are the favoured destination of British tourists who comfortably outnumber those of every other

SOCIETY NEWS nationality. The hundreds of thousands, probably more than a million, of UK citizens who spend most or all of their time in Spain as retired citizens and therefore entitled to Spain’s no less excellent social security services, are, likewise, a key component of the Spanish economy. Regardless of what Brexit and the sterling exchange rate will mean for Britons, the UK’s adios to Europe is as disastrous to Spain as it is to every other European nation


and possibly more so.   In these dire circumstances the Madrid government has appointed Bastarreche, a career diplomat, as ambassador to London and this is


the case of the right person for the right job in the right circumstances. Bastarreche ought to know every trick in the Brussels book and be on good terms with all the Commission’s players because he was Spain’s Permanent Representative to the European Union between 2002 and 2010. Over that period he reported both to the centre-right Popular Party government of José Maria Aznar and to the Socialist party administration of the José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero government.   Bastarreche, born in Madrid in 1950, moved from Brussels to Paris where he was ambassador until 2014 when, on his retirement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he switched to the private sector and took a senior post at the European Airbus consortium. He has now been coaxed back into government service by Alfonso Dastis, a fellow diplomat who became Spain’s Foreign Minister at the end of last year and who succeeded him as Madrid’s senior envoy to the European Commission.   24 Belgrave Square in London, the longstanding home of the Spanish Embassy to the Court of St James has, on occasions, been run by able politicians who were owed favours by a given government. The departing ambassador, Federico Trillo, was a case in point. Bastarreche is a diplomat’s A full house was registered at the distinguished publishers’ venue the Bloomsbury Institute on March 23 for the London presentation of Giles Tremlett’s new biography of Isabella of Castile. The convivial occasion began with a reception at which was served wine and excellent Spanish ham expertly carved by master craftsman Jose Sol of SpanishHamMaster. This was followed by a lively conversation between Tremlett and fellow author Jimmy Burns, the chairman of the BritishSpanish Society, covering the life and times of an extraordinary woman, the first Great Queen of Europe. In 1474 Isabella claimed the throne of Castilla in a country divided by political factionalism, riddled with corruption, and facing the challenge of Muslim occupation and the threat of invasion by foreign powers. By the time of her death Isabella had laid the foundations not just of modern Spain, but of one of the world’s great empires Burns described the biography as “a fascinating, colourful, original, and controversial account of a reign that not only transformed Spain but also influenced the course of Christianity. “It reads like a novel but balanced by evident scholarship impressive bibliography. It is also sympathetic not sentimental. Objective, not hagiographic,” he concluded. Tremlett, for his part, has no doubt that Isabella was, in terms of global impact, the first of Europe’s great queens regnant: “In my view she was almost certainly the greatest, with Russia’s Catherine the Great as the only worthy rival. Victoria, Elizabeth I and Maria Theresa of Austria are, I’m afraid, mere runners up (and I’m quite happy to have that argument with anyone who wants it). Apologies, my Swedish friends, Queen Christina is fascinating, but not that way.” Isabella was also, via Henry VIII’s wife Catherine of Aragon, grandmother to England’s first proper queen regnant, “Bloody” Mary I, whose

9 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

diplomat at a time when diplomacy is all-important.

religious outlook owed much to her grandmother, Tremlett told us.

God, but she felt little empathy for others. She wanted her subjects to love her, but found fear a more useful tool. She did nothing to change the status

Here is a short list of events directly attributable to Isabella. Some are

of women.

fabulous, others are horrific, but all are momentous. “She was bold, clever, determined, single-minded, ruthless and immensely ›  Usurps the crown of Castile aged 23, defeats her enemies in battle and

powerful. And she was a woman. That made her even more exceptional. It

tames the Grandees to install a strong monarch for the first time in a

is impossible to understand contemporary Spain without her,” concluded



›  “Unites” Spain (or, rather, starts the process), by rebelliously choosing Ferdinand of Aragon for her husband. ›  Creates the current boundaries of Spain (minus Navarre and tiny bits of North Africa) by conquering the Moslem kingdom of Granada and the Canary Islands. ›  Reverses net Moslem territorial gains in Europe for the first time in decades, with the traumatic loss of Constantinople, Greece and the Balkans still fresh in anxious, fearful Christian minds. ›  Founds the infamous “Spanish Inquisition”, with waterboarding and burning at the stake, as a royal-led project. ›  Sends Columbus off, allowing embattled Christendom to straddle the ocean and ensuring the future dominance of the Atlantic seaboard nations and western “civilization” (RIP 2016). Also begins the extraordinary “Columbine exchange” of plants, animals and diseases between continents while also starting the eradication, by disease and hunger, of most of the Caribbean islands’ population. Permits African slaves to replace them, starting centuries of trans-Atlantic slave trading. ›  Begins the creation of the first global empire on which the sun never sets, which will soon make Spain Europe’s dominant power.  ›  Expels the world’s largest community of Jews. Forcibly converts Spain’s Moslems, ending centuries of religious coexistence. ›  Makes Spain and its empire a bulwark against the future protestant reformation. ›  Answers to no man, except Ferdinand (in a genuine, remarkable partnership of equals) and the Pope (but not always, especially when he is a Borgia). None of these things is minor. Nothing similar can be attributed to a European queen regnant before that, and probably not afterwards either.  Was Isabella “nice”? Not by our standards. Yet nor were Henry VIII, Napoleon or Attila the Hun, all of whom we somehow admire — so there is no reason to expect or demand that strong women in history be kind, meek or full of tender, loving joy. Isabella loved her children, was passionately jealous

10 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

about her husband (whose sex life was beyond her control) and fearful of





BY LAURA OBIOLS It is 5pm on a Monday. Tamara Rojo CBE, Lead

structure both financial and artistically and I

rig,” says Rojo. This will allow the company to

Principal dancer and Artistic Director of the

saw the potential,” she adds. Where others saw

develop their new productions to the highest

English National Ballet (ENB) is sitting at her

problems – the ENB is a touring ensemble with

level and to meet audience expectations. “In

desk at the ENB in South Kensington after a

no home theatre – Rojo saw an opportunity. “A

the ballet world, companies often spend almost

long day of rehearsals in the studio. When we

touring company gives you flexibility, it allows

£2m on a production and then give themselves

meet there is a pile of pointe shoes in the corner

you to target different audiences and it helps

three days on stage because it is too expensive,”

of her office; she explains that the company is

develop artists within the organisation. When

she says. “In Manchester when we did Giselle we

about to go on tour again the following week.

you have a venue, you often have to rotate

had two weeks of previews. This is how it should

the repertoire so fast that you can only use

be done”.

Despite being one of the most recognised

dancers that are really ready; there is not time

faces in the dance world, Rojo has a laidback

to develop talent,” she says.




Rojo discovered dance when she was fiveyears-old, during after-school activities which


phenomenally clever and quick to laugh – with

In these four and a half years as Artistic

she took part in while her mother was working.

a great contagious giggle – her words are as well

Director, Rojo has managed to give the ENB a

“One day, it was raining and my mum was late.

articulated as her movements on stage.

clear identity. “Bigger companies such as the

The ballet teacher saw me and told me to come

American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Ballet,

into the school gym. They were doing ballet and

The Spanish dancer took over at the ENB in

even Bolshoi, share the same choreographers;

I fell in love with it. I did not know what being

2012, at a time of savage cuts to arts council

you hear certain names being consistently

a ballet dancer was; I thought it was just doing

funding, when the company was in dire straits.

repeated. There was an opportunity here

ballet class and that is all I wanted to do,” she

She shook the company up and gave it new

to make a dynamic company that could be

says. “If I was not a dancer, I would love to write

life, bringing a new international classical

very different from others,” she says. The

– that would be amazing. I would love to be able

repertoire to the UK, supporting the work of

ENB Autumn season will include La Sylphide,

to create stories but I am not sure I have the

established and emerging artists, collaborating

Kennet MacMillan’s Song of the Earth, Romeo &


with contemporary choreographers – most

Juliet and Akram Khan’s Giselle, which starts in

notably Akram Khan – and even taking the

September and is already sold out in London.

When she is not with the ENB Rojo enjoys going to the theatre, cinema and exhibitions, but

company to Glastonbury. The company moves offices in Autumn 2018.

struggles to see everything she wants to see.

“It has been a lot of work, many long days

London City Island will house both the ENB and

“I always feel that I am missing out,” she says.

and sleepless nights,” she explains. “I had

the ENB School. “We will have a dance lab, not

“You constantly hear ‘You have to see this’ and

a clear vision. I knew the organisation well,

a proper theatre but a full stage with 170 seats,

you think ‘when?!’. What a struggle to have, uh?”

I had been a dancer here, I understood the

with lighting capabilities, a full tower and a

she smiles.

11 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017



ENB won an Olivier Award in April this year

the repertoire of Kenneth MacMillan. Galina

for outstanding achievement in dance and for

Samsova, director of the Scottish Ballet, gave

expanding the variety of its repertoire with

She urges Spain’s politicians to think about

the dancer her first international opportunity,

Giselle and She Said.

the benefits of art and culture to the country’s economy, its international reputation and soft

opening many doors. She remembers advice

12 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

publishing and textiles”.

Rojo decided to move to the UK after seeing

given to her by Michael Kaiser, Executive Director

A prominent public voice in the arts, Rojo

diplomacy. “Even the coalition government

of the Royal Opera House at the time she joined.

sits on many boards, such as the Arts Council

in the UK, that had to face the biggest cuts,

They worked together for only six months but

England and One Dance UK, but is frustrated

recognises that the arts will not be cut as it

connected straightaway. “He said to me when I

by the Spanish arts world. “I hope that at some

drives the economy,” she says. “I just wish our

started, ‘be ambitious, go for the wildest dream’

point I read in a political manifesto something

Spanish government, whatever ideology they

and I thought to myself, ‘this is insane; you have

about culture that gives me hope,” she says.

defend, could come to an agreement on this for

to have a hint of realism’, but you don’t! So far I

She believes that the Spanish political class,

the benefit of Spanish society. “I can only keep

have managed to go for the wildest dream,” she

regardless of ideology, should promote arts

saying it… again”.

says. “If you are driving an artistic organisation,

and culture in a transparent way with an “arm’s

be brave. Do not compromise on the ideas and

length” consistency – culture serving society

Rojo mentions the lack of collaboration among

do not have a hint of realism; you might have to

beyond a specific political agenda”. Rojo

Spain’s Autonomous Communities that could

compromise on the way of delivering them but

explains how revolutionary the creation of the

do better at sharing expenses when there is a

do not compromise on the vision”.

Arts Council was in the UK after the second

company on tour, and feels there is a lack of

world war, and how policies of philanthropy

infrastructure and vision in Spain. “We are such

Rojo has made a conscious effort to support the

and tax deductions helped balance the cuts on

a musical society, we dance all the time – just

work of female choreographers – with She Said,

public funding.

think about all the festivities in the villages. People embrace art but successful art projects

a triple bill at Sadler’s Wells. “By the time I came to ENB, I realised I had never performed in a

“I just wish that culture in Spain had the

only happen because there is a bunch of

ballet created by a women. I thought that could

commitment of the political class,” she says.

devoted individuals that really fight for it, to the

not be right,” she says. “Now more and more

“In the UK, and also in other countries with

bones. When individuals disappear, the whole

people are looking for female choreographers.

good models i.e. Canada, the creative industry

project disappears with them because there is

I hope no one can finish an international

is not only thriving but one of the motors of

no support or direction, there is no plan,” she

artistic career of 20 years of professional dance

the country; it creates jobs and continues


without having performed in a ballet created

to grow even in crisis. It attracts tourism, it

by a woman. I hope that never happens again”.

connects industries, hotels and restaurants,



She says Brexit was a sad moment for many.

At 42, Rojo is quietly winding down despite

“We don’t really know what Brexit is and that is

being in perfect physical condition. “There are

worrying,” says Rojo, referring to a whitepaper

some roles that I do not do anymore and I am

published by the Creative Industries Federation

happy with that. Not everyone has the luck to

on the possible consequences 1. “Brexit will

have this transition at the speed they choose in

affect not only the ability to bring in talent but

the manner they choose. I am very lucky,” she

also in the free movement of talent that has

says. When asked about the possibility of her

made London the cultural capital in the world,”

returning to Spain, she says she would only go

she says. “If I was in Spain I would take the

back to create a National Arts Board (Consejo de

opportunity to become the cultural capital of

las Artes) but does not envisage that happening

the world”.

in the short term. However, it is not her style to

1 The impact of leaving the EU on the UK’s arts, creative industries and

give up.

cultural education – and what should be done: Brexit report. Middlesbrough, L. (2016) Creative Industries Federation

13 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017




15 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017




BY LAURA OBIOLS En el pasillo de una casa de San Sebastián, dos niños juegan a darse pases

Cuenta Mikel que nació la misma semana en que a la Real se le escapó la

con su padre. Son los años 90. “Pasa Mikel!, ondo (bien) Xabi!”. Pegados

Liga en Sevilla, después de un año imbatidos. “Tuvo que ser duro para

como siempre al balón, soñando con ser Satústregui, López Ufarte o

mi padre, pero esa semana metió el primer gran gol de su vida con su

Arconada pero esta tarde con los nervios a flor de piel. Mañana juegan

nueva paternidad y el batacazo por el título perdido quedó en un segundo

el primer partido 11 con 11 en el campo de Cementos Rezola, en Añorga,

plano. Al año siguiente cantaron el alirón,” señala Mikel.

con botas de tacos, como en el fútbol de verdad. “Era de hierba, llovía, la sensación era increíble, éramos muy niños, el campo era infinito, a lo

Xabi recuerda con ilusión su debut con la Real: “De pequeños nunca

Oliver y Benji, no se veía la otra portería,” rememora Mikel.

jugábamos al fútbol para ser profesionales, sino porque nos gustaba

16 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

mucho”. Se acuerda como si fuera hoy de la Champions con el Liverpool. Los tres hijos de Miguel Ángel ‘Periko’ Alonso (Mikel, Xabi y Jon) recuerdan

“Fue mi primer año fuera de casa, en una ciudad nueva. Ganar la

sus primeros pasos en el campo. “Mi padre quería que aprendiésemos a

Champions ese año, de la manera que fue, hizo que mi sentimiento

darle de interior, lo consideraba importante, y a nosotros nos motivaba

y compromiso hacia el Liverpool fuera muy fuerte,” dice Xabi. Habla

jugar contra él porque entraba muy fuerte,” dice Mikel. “Siempre iba

también con ilusión del Mundial: “No hay nada más grande en el fútbol

a ver nuestros partidos. A veces emitía un sutil silbido. Xabi y yo lo

que esa copa dorada. Me siento un elegido al haber podido tenerla en

reconocíamos al instante. Había que apretar”.

mis manos”.

Crecieron viendo a su aita (padre) ser el pulmón de la selección española

El jugador del Bayern se retira a finales del 2017 con 14 copas y tras 18

en la época de Maradona, viendo las cintas VHS de sus goles, marcados

temporadas siendo uno de los futbolistas con mas trayectoria de la

en los setenta y ochenta en la Real Sociedad, el Barça y el Sabadell. “En

historia para dedicarse por completo a sus proyectos y a su familia. “Ahora

casa siempre se ha respirado fútbol, vivíamos con el balón, jugábamos a

mismo mi sensación es que necesito distanciarme un poco de la vida del

hacernos entrevistas con la grabadora que mi padre utilizó para sacarse

fútbol, que me ha absorto durante muchos años, disfrutar del tiempo y

el título de entrenador, imitábamos a los jugadores de la televisión,” dice

la libertad, de cosas que no he podido hacer durante estos años,” dice.

Xabi. “Veíamos sus cintas de vídeo; a veces mi padre aparecía y nos decía:

Cuando no entrena, Xabi pasa tiempo con sus amigos, su mujer, Nagore,

‘Mira que golazo metí’, y nos reíamos, pero la verdad es que metía unos

y sus tres hijos. “A Jon, mi hijo de 9 años, le gusta mucho jugar, creo que

goles muy buenos”.

el fútbol refuerza muchos valores colectivos muy importantes en estas edades. ¿Llegar a profesional? Ni le animo ni le freno, todo llega”.

Con los pies en la tierra a pesar de la fama, los Alonso transmiten serenidad. Jon, el hermano menor, fue árbitro. Xabi, el mediano de

De sangre y corazón donostiarras, los Alonso tienen grandes aficiones

los hermanos, ha hecho historia en el fútbol español, la liga inglesa y

dentro y fuera del ámbito de su profesión. Una conversación con Mikel,

la alemana, mientras que Mikel ha jugado al máximo nivel en primera

licenciado en Económicas por la Universidad de Deusto y reciente

división durante varias temporadas. Periko explica con satisfacción que

colaborador de la revista cultural Jotdown, puede empezar por México,

“la familia, las abuelas y sobretodo la amatxo (madre) han ayudado a dar

Londres o Nueva York – ciudades donde ha residido – dando un repaso

poso e inculcar valores, especialmente el de la normalidad”.

a Spinoza (el futbolista tiene también un máster en Filosofía, con su


correspondiente tesina, en la Universidad de Tenerife) y acabando por el

torcaz, sobretodo si es con cimbel y en compañía de mis amigos. Aunque

último concierto de jazz al que ha asistido con su novia Inma en Donostia,

la caza de paloma ande algo más floja últimamente disfruto de montar un

su ciudad natal. “Mi vida es sencilla: entreno por las mañanas y por las

cimbelero y de despertarme al alba en plena naturaleza,” dice. Trabaja

tardes me dedico a mis aficiones, leer y el cine, y a hacer planes con mi

en la empresa familiar, en el sector de la chatarra, y comenta con ilusión

cuadrilla. Acabamos de montar un pequeño grupo de música y eso me

su experiencia de ser abuelo: “Es una sensación preciosa, los nietos te

tiene ilusionado,” dice. “Llevo lesionado un par de meses y eso me ha

inyectan un soplo especial que te empuja en esta fase de la vida”.

frenado un poco, pero aún disfruto mucho del juego y quizá querría


Hablando de cómo ha cambiado el fútbol en los últimos años Periko explica que hoy en día los jugadores son más tácticos, los espacios más reducidos y el juego tiene mayor velocidad. Mikel resalta el cambio que ha dado la preparación física de los jugadores que son, en la actualidad, auténticos atletas. Sin embargo, reconoce que en muchas aspectos el fútbol no ha cambiado tanto, las cosas importantes están ya inventadas y siguen funcionando. “Es un juego sencillo, y en esa sencillez radica el genio,” concluye.

BIOGRAFÍA Miguel Ángel ‘Periko’ Alonso (Tolosa, 1953) fue parte del equipo campeón del título de Liga con la Real Sociedad a comienzos de los años 80 y jugó con la

Con Xabi se habla de fútbol, de cine, en particular de documentales y de

Selección Española en el Mundial de España 82. De ahí firmó con el Barce-

música. “De pequeño tenía la discografía entera de Nirvana en cintas,”

lonadonde jugó 3 temporadas y acabó su carrera en el Sabadell. Xabi Alonso

dice Xabi. Amigo de sus amigos, amante de los thrillers, de la política y

(Tolosa, 1981) lo ha ganado todo: subcampeón de Liga con la Real Sociedad,

devoto lector de periódico, habla perfectamente varios idiomas y es una

campeón de la Copa de Europa con el Liverpool y con el Real Madrid, campeón

esponja que absorbe mucho en las conversaciones con las personas que

de Liga con Real Madrid y Bayern de Múnich, aparte de otras copas nacionales,

se cruza en la vida.

fue parte vital de la selección Campeona del Mundo y de las dos Eurocopas. Mikel Alonso (Tolosa, 1980), formó parte de la Real Sociedad subcampeona,

Periko es también licenciado en Económicas. Una charla con él gira en torno

donde jugó varias temporadas; ha vivido ascensos a Primera División con el Nu-

a debates de actualidad sobre cuestiones sociales y sobre los entresijos

mancia y con el Tenerife y también ha jugado en Inglaterra con el Bolton y con el

de la caza, su gran pasión. “Me gusta la pesca y la caza. Me apasiona la

Charlton. Actualmente juega en el Real Unión de Irún.

17 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

seguir un poco más aunque mi edad ya sea la de un veterano redomado”



BY NICK FRIEND The 2017 Australian Open will live long in the memory. If you had left

At the end of it all, Federer was victorious. Though it went the distance, it

planet earth for a decade and only returned on the tournament’s second

still felt like it was over before it had begun. Indeed, their marathon 2008

Saturday, you could have been forgiven for thinking that time had stood

Wimbledon final, to which all epics are incomparable, lasted 70 minutes

still. The locker rooms were virtually empty, only four warriors remained

longer than this reunion.

– the same four that monopolised men’s and women’s tennis through the noughties, four names synonymous with greatness: Serena, Venus, Roger

And that, really, is what it was. Federer, the seventeenth seed, described

and Rafa.

himself as “Nadal’s biggest fan” in the build-up. Nadal, now the ninth seed, had scraped past Grigor Dimitrov in another Herculean battle in his

Ultimately, Serena would see off Venus in a somewhat predictable final,


though merely the sight of the two remarkable sisters brushing off a draw full of young pretenders was a beautiful throwback to times gone by.

Federer’s victory was made all the more incredible by his six-month

Yet, for all of the nostalgia brought about by the Williams final, what

absence, aged 35, through the latter half of 2016 to correct a number of

followed on Sunday seemed to mean more. Plans were changed, Nike

injury troubles.

replica headbands dusted off by fans worldwide, the world stopped – all to watch two titanic gladiators return to battle.

Yet, more astonishing was Rafa’s run. Hardly mooted as a potential

18 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

champion anywhere other than Roland Garros these days, Nadal was 31 Grand Slam titles would soon become 32 as Nadal and Federer strode

astounding. His backhand looked as powerful as it has ever been. His

onto the Rod Laver Arena. Sir Andy Murray’s rivalry with Novak Djokovic

forehand – one of the great shots in the history of all sport – up there

has been – and will continue to be mesmerising, the manner in which they

alongside Ali’s right hook and Messi’s left foot, looked as commanding

treat both their sport and each other a lesson for all. The fact is, this was a

and fierce as ever before, finding the white lines with unnerving ease.

final borne out of two shock defeats; Djokovic continuing his recent slump

More than his groundstrokes, what shone through was his fitness. Since

in form, losing to the bespectacled Denis Istomin; and Murray suffering a

his last appearance in a Grand Slam final in 2014, the Balearic has suffered

rare defeat in an unusually erratic display against Mischa Zverev.

chronic knee trouble – the result of a lifetime of pounding relentlessly around his baseline, as well as persistent wrist injuries – once again, the

However, in this puzzling time for humanity, where talk of walls, travel

result of a life devoted to tennis’s most destructive forehand. Perhaps

bans, Brexit and conflict have cast a grey cloud over society, this was the

more than any other top player in the open era, Nadal’s reliance on his

final the people deserved – an opportunity to turn back time, to watch

forehand stands out. Constantly running around the ball to bring the

the most graceful of champions, Federer’s liquid gold backhand; Nadal’s

stroke into play, it is little wonder that his wrist has suffered over the

brutal forehand.



Last year’s Australian Open had brought a first round defeat to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, before a third round withdrawal from the French Open and a fourth round US Open defeat to Lucas Pouille. Nadal’s last appearance at Wimbledon saw him defeated by German qualifier, Dustin Brown, in the second round. The turnaround has been spectacular. Though Federer came through in Melbourne, Nadal’s run, including victories over Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Dimitrov, will bring solace and encouragement to the 30-year-old as time creeps towards his stage at Roland Garros. As Federer explained after dust had settled on his eighteenth Grand Slam triumph: “I don’t think either of us believed we’d be in the finals. I would have been happy to lose, to be honest. The comeback was as perfect as it was.” Nadal was equally magnanimous in defeat, admitting: “Today was a great match. Roger deserved it a bit more than me. I’m just going to keep trying. I feel I am back at a very high level, so I’m going to carry on fighting the whole season.” Those words are fantastic for the sport. If Rafa is right about his fitness levels, the greatest warrior of them all might not be finished just yet.



Financing systems in and of themselves may

region. It is this topic that I wish to address

the middle ages onwards, and subsequently the

sound a rather dull and technical business, but

here, for the complex nature of Basque politics

first Basque economic agreements (conciertos

how they affect politics is anything but. Where

is a fascinating issue and one which, in turn,

económicos) that reinstated Basque tax-raising

the taxes we all pay end up is inevitably always

ends up influencing political relations between

powers shortly after the fueros had been

a politically fraught issue, and the fact that the

the region and the Spanish government too.


greater fiscal autonomy and pay less into the

The Basque provinces of Álava, Vizcaya and

The idea of mutual respect embodied in the

Spanish kitty than other comparably wealthy

Guipúzcoa, which together make up the Basque

fueros, which was subsequently preserved



region, each have provincial governments

in relation to fiscal matters in the conciertos

Beyond this, however, what is particularly

that have far more significant powers than

económicos, has a special place in Basque




the provincial authorities or Diputaciones

historical memory and is ever present in Basque




elsewhere in Spain, on account of the fact that

nationalist political discourse. Long before

económico – is how the tax-raising powers it

in the Basque region they are responsible for

Picasso’s iconic painting, Guernica was already

affords the Basque provinces have contributed

raising taxes. Moreover, the Basque Country

the symbolic heartland of the Basque Country.

to shaping the complexity of internal political

is the only region of Spain to have separate

This is the site of the Vizcayan provincial

dynamics within the Basque region itself. The

elected parliaments at provincial level, the

government and where the Castilian monarchs

importance afforded to the Basque provincial

Juntas Generales, in addition to a regional

used to go and swear allegiance to the fueros of

governments and the debates over taxation

parliament (in theory Navarre should have both

Vizcaya centuries ago by a famous oak tree. The

that the Basque financing model has provoked

too, but since the Navarran region and province

remains one of the old trees have been carefully

between different political forces and at

are one and the same, the regional parliament

preserved, and a replacement tree stands

different levels of government (both provincial

suffices for both). This distinctive feature of the

close by to symbolise Basque freedoms, as I

and regional) have had significant implications

Basque political setup has its origins long ago

discovered on my first trip around the Basque

for pacts and alliances between parties in the

in the Basque provincial charters (fueros) from

Country back in 2013 towards the start of my

Basque and Navarran regions of Spain have






Basque –


PhD studies. It is this idea of mutual reciprocity that Basque nationalists repeatedly recall to this day in their quest for a new relationship based on ‘co-sovereignty’ with Spain, rather than the current situation whereby Spain itself is the only sovereign nation. Senior representatives of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) argue that they wish to extend the equal negotiating rights and veto power enshrined in the concierto económico to wider BasqueSpanish political relations, echoing the spirit of the original fueros governing both political and fiscal relations between the provinces and Castile.

20 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

Within the Basque region itself, the importance afforded to the provincial Diputaciones and the complexity of political relations between these and the regional government shapes Basque politics in myriad ways. The Basque region, for all that it is a relatively small territory of less than 2.2 million inhabitants (4.7% of Spain’s total population) and 7234 km squared, encompasses vastly different geographies and political sensibilities. Visitors


OT OF CS to the region taking a quick weekend break

leads to the discovery of very different realities,

the recurring mention of the fact that what it

in its economic capital Bilbao risk getting a

which in turn shape politics in the region.

means to be a ‘Basque nationalist’ depends very much on which part of the Basque Country

for the Guggenheim and do not venture much

In interviews I conducted in 2014 with senior

you come from. PNV members from the

beyond that. Some of the region’s diversity is

members of the Basque Nationalist Party

traditional heartlands of the Basque Socialist

accessible on foot or by metro in Bilbao and

(PNV), the centre-right mainstream nationalist

Party (the PSE, i.e. the Basque branch of the

its environs, but heading further afield into

party which has dominated in the region since

Spanish PSOE) cannot imagine a Basque future

the rural interior of the Basque Country also

the transition to democracy, I was struck by




21 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

distorted impression if they make a beeline

It was while I was living in the Basque Country for

  Despite the return to more traditional PNV-

several months in 2014 doing my PhD fieldwork

PSE relations, which was then cemented after

that the izquierda abertzale was in power for the

the 2015 provincial elections saw the PNV win in

first (and so far only) time in Guipúzcoa, after the

all three provinces, Bildu’s time in government in

newly formed coalition Bildu (later renamed EH

Guipúzcoa remains of relevance. Notably, it set

Bildu) had won the provincial elections there in

a precedent of Bildu-PSE collaboration, however

2011. ETA’s permanent ceasefire starting earlier

brief. Experts in Basque politics and sociology

that year had finally enabled the izquierda

have been suggesting for a while that the Basque

abertzale to genuinely enter the political fray

Country might eventually shift more towards

from then onwards, after previous political

party alliances based on a clearer left-right

formations had been outlawed for links to the

divide, in which the PNV could end up rather

Basque terrorist group. One of the many questions

in isolation if left-wing forces end up allying

that emerged when Bildu entered politics was

together again. This nevertheless currently still

whether or not it would end up working with the

looks a distant possibility, given the extreme

PNV to advance a territorial agenda concerning

unlikelihood that the PSE overall would choose

the relationship of the Basque Country to Spain.

to undertake a broad alliance with EH Bildu,

There was (and still is) a long list of obstacles

especially not when it would be the minority

to collaboration between the two political


forces, including most notably the still recent And yet in other areas, PNV politicians are more inclined to seek to prioritise alliances with the izquierda abertzale (literally, the ‘patriotic left’) – the name given to radical left-wing Basque secessionists under an array of historically changing political parties, now grouped together under the coalition EH Bildu, led by main party Sortu. In the Basque region, where absolute majorities are essentially unheard of and both regional and provincial elections always give rise to fragmented parliaments where the winning party has a minority of seats and has to form coalition or alliance arrangements to be able to govern, the need to work with your political competitors is constant. While contrasting geographies and political sensibilities are of course to be found within each of the three provinces that make up the Basque region, each has its overriding characteristics. Vizcaya, by far the largest province in terms of population and the economic powerhouse of the region, has consistently been the PNV’s stronghold and it has won every provincial election there. In Álava, a historical stronghold of the Spanish right, the dominant political forces have tended to be the conservative PP as well as the PNV. Meanwhile, in Guipúzcoa, the PNV has faced greater competition (relative to in Vizcaya and Álava) from left-wing forces including the Basque Socialists (PSE) and, notably, the more radical left-wing secessionist parties of the izquierda abertzale. Jesús Eguiguren, a socialist from Guipúzcoa who was president of the Basque Socialist Party for over a decade until 2014, even envisioned a new left-wing form of nationalist alliance which would see the PSE working together with the izquierda abertzale and other left-wing forces in both the Basque and Navarran regions as the way forward—a strikingly unusual vision for a member of a federation of a Spanish statewide party (the PSOE) and one not generally shared by Socialists elsewhere in the Basque region, which is illustrative of the rather unique dynamics at work in Guipúzcoa.

history of terrorist violence in the region, the

For now, the alliance between the PNV and

lack of experience of the izquierda abertzale in

the Basque Socialists in the Basque region

government, and competition between both

looks fairly solid. Spain is however living in

the PNV and the izquierda abertzale to lead a

times of fundamental political transformation

pro-sovereignty process, as well as differences

characterised by widespread disillusionment

between them in the degree of sovereignty

with existing political institutions and actors

sought and which parts of the Basque homeland

and the emergence of new parties and players,

this would embrace. In addition, the experience

including left-wing Podemos. The Basque region,

of the izquierda abertzale entering seriously into

despite the apparent invincibility of the PNV,

formal politics also ended up drawing attention

is not immune to these changes. At the latest

to the gulf between it and the PNV on how to

Basque regional elections in September 2016, for

use the fiscal powers afforded to the provinces

example, the PNV won with a minority of seats

by the concierto económico, which therefore

in the parliament as usual, but the shift in the

reduced the potential for nationalist alignment

political landscape meant that parliamentary

too. Aside from their vision of an independent

support from its traditional partner, the Basque

Euskal Herria, most of the parties of the

Socialist Party, was not quite enough to give it

izquierda abertzale are also known for their anti-

an absolute majority (together they fall one seat

capitalist ideology, in stark contrast to the PNV’s

short). This was because the Socialists declined

traditionally centre-right ethos.

at the hands of Podemos – the rise of which since 2014, incidentally, provides another potential

In late 2011 Bildu did successfully secure an

left-wing ally for EH Bildu going forward, though

ally in the PSE to push through its fiscal reform

also a competitor to it, since Podemos is not an

in Guipúzcoa, which involved setting some

advocate of Basque independence. The PNV and

higher taxes in Guipúzcoa than in neighbouring

the Basque Socialists thus do now need to seek

Vizcaya and Álava and was mostly opposed by

occasional collaboration from EH Bildu as well

the PP and PNV. A left-wing alliance between

to ensure a working majority. While competing

both secessionist (izquierda abertzale) and anti-

agendas between the PNV and EH Bildu have

secessionist (PSE) forces thus seemed underway

to date reduced the possibilities for more

in Guipúzcoa, until the 2012 Basque regional

extensive collaboration between them, it will be

elections returned the PNV to office at regional

interesting to see whether this continues to be

government level. To give it a working majority

the case going forward in a constantly evolving

of seats in the Basque parliament, the PNV

political landscape.

eventually ended up striking a deal in 2013 with the PSE, agreeing a full fiscal reform package with it (which would also ultimately receive the support of the PP too), in return for which the two parties formed alliances in both the regional parliament and three provincial governments thereafter. At both regional and provincial levels throughout the Basque Country, the PSE was thereafter bound by the fiscal pact agreed with the PNV for the following three years. In other words, the PSE in Guipúzcoa, now had to change

Interested in reading more? Nationalist Politics and Regional Financing Systems in the Basque Country and Catalonia, by Caroline Gray, was published in 2016 and made freely available by Bilbao-based Ad Concordiam, a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the study and understanding of the Basque economic agreement. It can be downloaded at the following link: phocadownload/TESIS-Gray-Nationalists-politics.pdf

tack and ally with the PNV (and also the PP) against the minority Bildu government.

To request a free printed copy of the book (subject to availability), please contact:


23 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017


BUSINESS PROFILE Javier Sánchez Lamelas, the Founder and CEO of Top Line Marketing Consulting, is also the former European Marketing Chief for Coca Cola, where he worked for 20 years. He talked to Laura Gran about what he has learnt in his career to date and what he likes about living in London.


has changed everything… but that’s not the

Is it possible to have a global marketing

comes from the quality of the product and

case. At the core we still need to make people


what percentage is down to marketing?

fall in love with brands. This has not changed


It is very hard to say. The product is really good

and won’t change. Second: Today big media

campaign in which people´s names were put

and the marketing has been a fundamental

companies do not have the control; consumers

on cans is everywhere and it works. Usually

component. Universal availability also plays a

and audience have it. They choose what to see,

when campaigns cannot do it is due to specific

huge role. If you removed any of those things

where to see and how to see it. And that leads

issues, such as humour or stereotypes. A good

Coca Cola would not even be 10 per cent of what

to changes in the way we do marketing. Third

campaign usually works everywhere. It is like a

it is today.

– and perhaps the great message of this book

Disney film, it is universal.






– there are ways to make companies generate How important is psychology to a good

higher returns on their marketing investments

In retrospect, how have you contributed to

marketing campaign?

for the products they sell.

the world of marketing? I do not know – that is a question for when I am

In this profession the more you know about psychology and anthropology, the better. It

What have you learnt from consumers?

80-years-old. I do not want to think about that,

helps to take more informed decisions; but

Perhaps the most important lesson is that

I refuse. Next question (laughs).

these are not the only components.

things are not obvious. If you want to make good marketing you need to get under people’s

You are from Santander, but have lived in

What else is needed to ensure the success of

skin and understand what they think and why.

different countries for a very long time. How

a campaign?

You also need to understand that sometimes

often do you go to Spain? Do you feel at home

Generally it is a rational creation. There is

what people say is not necessarily linked to

there or do you consider yourself a world

an important mathematical element: pricing

what they think or do. Often focus groups are


policies, distribution, packaging, media and

not useful or they are even misleading

I have always been to Spain for Christmas and summer time. I never missed a single season,

competition. Regarding qualitative aspects, such as design and creativity, it is not easy

What questions should you ask in a focus

no matter where I lived. It is important for my

to explain how it works in a few words. It is


family and me to have roots. I guess it has to

similar to music. A group of people creates

You have to ask as little as possible and

do with a sense of belonging. But on the other

the music and another group of people within

watch what they do. You need to simulate an

hand, we do consider ourselves as citizens of

the company have to judge it and know if it is

environment and watch what they do without

every place in which we have lived. When we

going to work. They have to make adjustments

asking. People do not want to lie, but they tend

visit Atlanta and we are with our American

and make an educated guess if it is going to be

to justify themselves. It is complicated because

friends, we instantly become a bit American…

profitable. Your question is: how do you know

it has nothing to do with why they really do what

and the same goes for Mexico, Copenhagen,

if the song is good? It is hard to know; it is a

they do.

Vienna, Athens, Brussels.

24 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

mixture of intuition, experience and knowledge. Who was your best boss along these years

What do you like about working in London?

What marketing campaign are you most

and what you learnt from him/her?

It is pretty much like working (and living) in the

proud of?

I cannot give you a name. Each of them was good


Possibly my work on Open Happiness and

at what they did. But one of the learnings I had

Choose Happiness (Coca Cola rolled out these

was very simple: The boss is there for several

What are your thoughts on business changing

campaigns in 2009 and 2015, respectively).

things. First of all, he or she has to hire people

in post-Brexit Europe?

that are better than him or her, [then] he has to

Things happen for a reason. I just hope

Your book Marketing: the heart and brain of

give direction and let them work. Some people

our political leaders are smart enough to

branding was published in 2016 but at first it

do the contrary: they hire bad professionals,

understand the deep reasons why people chose

was thought of as an employee´s guide. What

do not give them direction and do not let them

separation instead of reunion.

three main ideas do you cover in the book?

work. That is a disaster and a “calvary” for

Good question and difficult to answer. Three

everyone else. A boss has to let them go wrong

ideas. First: The basics of marketing have not

and help them before there is a catastrophe.

changed. People might think that technology




THE LIFE OF JORGE SEMPRÚN BY JULES STEWART Jorge Semprún was a swashbuckling, Bogart-like character, cigarette clenched in fist, upturned trench coat collar and all. Spanish exile, French Resistance fighter, prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp, Spanish Communist Party militant, organiser of clandestine operations against the Franco regime, Oscar-winning screenwriter and Minister of Culture – Semprún’s adventures could have leapt from the pages of a James Bond novel. At last we have the long-overdue story of his life for the Englishlanguage reader, in Soledad Fox Maura’s authoritative biography, Jorge Semprún: The Spaniard Who Survived the Nazis and Conquered Paris. As fellow anti-Franco activist and journalist Javier Pradera pointed out, “Semprún never achieved the kind of recognition he deserved in Spain, not from the political world, nor from the literary establishment. His painful origins, his transformative goals and his political passion… made him a stranger on a planet filled with secularised technocrats”. And what a life. In April 1945, Semprún was liberated by the US Army from Buchenwald. As an elite member of the death camp’s resistance organisation, he was waiting when the Allied troops arrived, dressed in rags and armed with a German machine gun. His first book on his camp experience, Le Grand Voyage, was a fictionalised account of his deportation and imprisonment, It was published in 1963 and won two literary prizes. Semprún continued to write about his experience of the Holocaust, culminating in L’Ecriture ou La Vie (Literature or Life) published in 1994, in which he explored the challenges of keeping and writing about such horrifying memories.

26 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

In April 2010, Semprún visited Buchenwald for the last time, for the 65th anniversary of its liberation, delivering a speech in which he recalled

Following Spain’s return to democracy after Franco’s death in 1975,

the arrival of the first two US soldiers and the “the wonderful irony of

Semprún joined mainstream politics as Culture Minister for three years,

history,” since they were both Jews of German descent.

in the Socialist government of Felipe González.

Semprún was born into a leading Spanish political family, the son of a

As a talented scriptwriter, Semprún also became a prominent figure in

politician and grandson of a former prime minister. After his liberation

the world of cinema, notably winning an Oscar for the screenplay of Z, a

from Buchenwald, he returned to France to reunite with other exiled

1969 political thriller directed by Costa Gavras.

Spaniards and spearhead the clandestine Communist Party that tried to undermine the regime of Francisco Franco. However, he fell out with

One of the most moving testimonials came from Prime Minister Felipe

other Communist leaders and was expelled from the party in 1964. That

González, when Semprún was appointed to the Cabinet. “You will have

period of his life became the subject of a 1977 book, Autobiografía de

friends, some of them real, and others false. You will have all kinds of

Federico Sánchez, whose title refers to the pseudonym he used during

enemies – that’s inevitable…But the day will come, on your first official

his clandestine Communist militancy.

trip, when one of the heads of the Guardia Civil will stand at attention in front of ‘Federico Sánchez’”.


ISLA DEL REY BY LORRAINE URE While not as well known as its ¨bigger sister¨ Mallorca, most people

Alfonso III of Aragon landed there on his mission to drive out the Moors.

would consider Menorca to be a holiday island, with its wonderful

It was the perfect site for a hospital with its healthy fresh breezes and

climate and famed beaches. However, it was once an intrinsic part of

isolated location.

British history and had huge strategic importance for the Royal Navy´s success in maintaining peace in the Mediterranean in the 18th century,

The Admiralty was at first reluctant to agree to such an undertaking,

particularly in keeping Napoleon at bay.

so Admiral Sir John Jennings put up his own money to get the hospital construction under way, and the foundation stone was laid in 1711.

The secret to this success is the wonderful natural harbour of Mahon.

The hospital is credited with being the first purpose built Royal Naval

At about 6km in length, and very deep, it is one of the largest natural

hospital in the world, and was for a period the largest hospital in Europe.

harbours in the world. The entrance is on the eastern part of Menorca,

At its zenith it boasted 1200 beds, having been substantially rebuilt and

sheltered from the strong northerly wind, the Tramontana, which strikes

enlarged between 1771 and 1776.

the island from time to time and can be hazardous for shipping. The British realised the strategic potential of Port Mahon towards the end of

The 19th century saw the hospital still in great demand, now being

the 17th century and set up facilities to maintain their fleet. By the early

under the auspices of the Spanish military. Over 3,000 French received

18th century they were well established on the island, and Menorca came

treatment here, during their conquest of Algeria, as Menorca is located

under official British control in 1713 (Treaty of Utrecht). The British ruled

almost exactly halfway between France and North Africa. They also used

the island for much of the 18th century but it was officially ceded back to

it as a coaling depot to refuel their newly motorised fleet.

to this day.

Menorca was a cradle to the American Navy. Their merchant vessels were being attacked by Barbary pirates, so a fleet of warships was sent and

With a large fleet of British ships based in Port Mahon came all types of

based in Mahon Harbour for about 25 years. This was the beginning of the

illness, including scurvy, typhoid, dysentery, yellow fever and smallpox

famous 6th Fleet. They also set up their first ever cadet training school

to name a few. Ships provided perfect incubation opportunities for

in the harbour. The first American Admiral, Farragut, had a Menorcan

these to spread to all the crewmembers. Admiral of the Fleet Sir John

father, and he is honoured every year by a visit from the US Navy League,

Jennings therefore decided that a properly equipped hospital should be

last year accompanied by the US Ambassador to Spain and the current

built in Port Mahon, and he chose a small island right in the middle of the

Admiral of the 6th Fleet.

harbour. This island had been called Isla del Rey since 1287, after King

27 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

Spain in perpetuity at the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, and there it remains


The hospital remained as a working and healing establishment right

The hospital has now regained its former dignity, and is set out as a living

through until 1964, latterly serving the Spanish Army based here and their

museum, with the largest collection of redundant medical equipment in

families. That year it was replaced by another building on the outskirts

Spain, and a huge number of articles, furniture, pictures, light fittings,

of Mahon, stripped of equipment, water and electricity. It then lay

pharmaceutical equipment etc donated from far and wide.

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abandoned for the next 40 years, massively deteriorating in all respects, while the authorities dithered about its future, finally not making a

It is open to visitors, with guided tours in English and Spanish, every

decision at all. In the year 2004 a group of volunteers was formed under

Sunday morning throughout the year, and with more opportunities

the leadership of General Luis Alejandre OBE, former Chief of Staff of the

between April and October. We still rely very much on voluntary

Spanish Army, who had just retired. They started visiting on a Sunday

donations, but are now receiving support from further afield, with plans

morning in small boats, cleaning it all up, cutting down the surrounding

afoot to enlarge the visitor potential, to reflect and interpret the many

jungle and examining the remains. Architects were employed, permissions

structures of historic interest, particularly in and around the Port of

granted, a Foundation formed and a lot of publicity launched to create

Mahon and to reach a wider audience, both local and international.

awareness, especially throughout Spain, of the desire to save this historic and architectural gem. Shortly thereafter, visitors were welcomed, and

Please come and visit us! For more information contact Lorraine Ure at

many more volunteers came forward, Spanish, British, Italian and others.




Spaniards often feel surprised when they see the drawing reproduced

The Crown of Castile and León was turned into a battlefield in 1365.

above, ascribed (erroneously as it seems, but that is another story) to

King Pedro I, son and legitimate heir of Alfonso XI (who died in 1350),

Lucas Cornelisz van Kunst, the successful Dutch painter of the Tudor era.

was betrayed by most of the nobility. They preferred to side with the

A brief glance to John of Gaunt’s portrait suffices to notice the distinctive

king’s illegitimate brother, Count Henry of Trastámara, offspring of

coat of arms of the English members of the Plantagenet dynasty: three

Alfonso XI and his mistress, Leonor de Guzmán. These two siblings did

golden passant lions on gules and a few fleur-de-lys. However, there is a

not hesitate in asking other European monarchs for help in the fratricidal

small shield right in the middle with the double quartered of castles and

war. Whilst Henry signed a military pact with France, Pedro I achieved a

lions, a heraldry figure that even today is associated with the official coat

commitment with Edward III to add English troops to his cause. Through

of arms of Spain.

these alliances, the Castilian civil conflict was also an episode integrated within the Hundred Years War that devastated Europe for more than a

The inscription in Latin at the right upper corner completes the Spaniards’


wonderment: the nobleman is indeed Johannes filius quartus Edvardi tertii Rex Castella et Legione Dux Lancastriae (John, fourth son of Edward

In 1369, the Count of Trastámara defeated the Anglo-Castilian army in the

the Third, King of Castile and León, Duke of Lancaster). How did the son of

battle of Montiel and killed his brother shortly afterwards. Despite having

an English monarch become the ruler of a Spanish kingdom?

power de facto, the new king, crowned as Enrique II, lacked legitimacy.

29 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017




Edward III took advantage of this and moved rapidly with his diplomacy

taking the road to Santiago de Compostela disguised as a pilgrim visiting

skills, arranging the marriage of his son, John of Gaunt, and Princess

the saint’s tomb during the saint’s feast day, July 25. Due to this devious

Constance of Castile, elder daughter and inheritor of Pedro I. Thus, the

act, some historians used to refer to the Duke as “the least penitential

Duke of Lancaster began to call himself King of Castile and León, for he

pilgrim ever”.

was king de iure due to the rights transmitted by his wife.

30 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

After the Compostellan masquerade, John of Gaunt and his military John of Gaunt patiently waited 15 years before pushing to achieve

retinue spent the summer in Ourense, where they occupied some houses

his Castilian dream. The opportunity came in 1385, when Juan I (son

by force, quite an ineffective move considering how much he needed the

and heir of Enrique II, died in 1379) was defeated at Aljubarrota by the

love of his subjects. When the promised Portuguese military aid arrived

Grandmaster of the Order of Aviz, who proclaimed himself King João I of

there, the two armies marched south together, but they were defeated

Portugal. Following an identical pattern to his father, the Duke ensured

by Castilian troops in 1387, at the small town of Valderas, León. The Duke

the alliance with the new Portuguese monarch by offering his daughter,

of Lancaster realised then his total failure: a foreigner supported by

Philippa of Lancaster, as a bride. John of Gaunt asked for one thing only

foreign soldiers alone cannot seize the throne of a kingdom in which he

in return: military help in order to invade Spain and claim the Castilian

has zero sympathisers. The two monarchs, de iure and de facto, began to

throne in his favor.

negotiate peace. By the Treaty of Bayona (1388), Prince Henry of Castile, son and heir of Juan I who would be crowned as Enrique III, married

In July 1386, Galician residents should have felt the astonishment of

Catherine of Lancaster, John of Gaunt’s daughter. It would be Catherine

those Spaniards watching the Duke’s portrait. The scene occurred in A

(Catalina de Lancaster in Spanish), who eventually fulfilled her father’s

Coruña, a destination of pilgrims who came to Spain through the English

aspirations because she did become Queen of Castile, being the maternal

itinerary of the Way of St James. In those days, A Coruña received a

grandmother of Isabella, the Catholic Queen.

number of extraneous vessels, whose leader declared to be himself the rightful king of Castile and León. Although his men were carrying banners

The Bayona Treaty put an end to the Duke of Lancaster’s Spanish

with a radiant Anglo-Castilian coat of arms, he did not get much popular

adventure, yet we still have his coat of arms as a vivid memory of his royal

support. Thus he schemed a clever but deplorable alternative plan:

but ephemeral dream, a wonderful one while it lasted.



BY SIMON COURTAULD There was not much to like about Ferdinand VII, who was king of Spain

battle on the banks of the River Ter in Catalonia. His military career was at

twice and married four times. He was, by most accounts, selfish and

an end: he laid down his arms, came to England in 1849 and surrendered

vengeful and, having no sons, he was determined that his brother Carlos

to the charms of a young Protestant woman called Marianne Richards,

should not succeed him. It was understandable that he should want his

whose father had been a wealthy landowner and left his fortune to his

elder daughter Isabella to inherit the throne after him. But by abolishing

only child.

the Salic Law which restricted the succession to the male line, he was responsible for the outbreak of civil war in Spain which would continue,

No longer a murderous Spanish warlord, Cabrera (now known as the

with a few relatively peaceful intervals, for much of the 19 th century.

Count of Morella) spent the rest of his life with his English wife, living in Virginia Water, Surrey, where he was recognised as a benevolent

On Ferdinand’s death in 1833 his widow Maria Cristina became regent

patriarchal figure. They lived in a large castellated house which would

(Isabella was barely three-years-old), Carlos insisted the throne was

later become the clubhouse for the Wentworth golf course.

rightfully his and the country divided. For the next seven years, during the First Carlist War, the revolt was concentrated in the Basque provinces,

With his Countess’s money, Cabrera built houses and contributed to the

Aragon and Catalonia. One of the most committed Carlists was Ramon

founding of the Catholic church of St Edward the Confessor in Windsor,

Cabrera, born in Tortosa and initially trained for the priesthood, whose

where a Mass is still celebrated for him every year on the anniversary of

extraordinary life was divided into two distinct parts: the first as ruthless

his death. There is a Morella Close and a Cabrera Avenue in Virginia Water,

military commander, the second as English country squire.

and a Cabrera Trust which maintains woods and paths along the River Bourne.

Cabrera rose quickly to the rank of comandante general of Carlist forces in lower Aragon, in the desolate and mountainous hinterland known as

When El Tigre died in 1877, two British generals attended his funeral at

the Maestrazgo. Here he established a reputation for brutality extreme

Christ Church, Virginia Water. (In retirement he had been made a field-

even by the standards of those times, when prisoners on both sides were

marshal when he agreed to recognise Alfonso XII as king, much to the fury

usually shot. When Cabrera’s mother was taken hostage by government

of the Carlists.) A railed corner of the churchyard was set aside for his

soldiers (known as Cristinos, fighting for the Queen Regent), he wreaked

grave, surmounted by a cross and beneath it a carving of the classical

terrible revenge. He began by shooting two local mayors and, when his

tools of war – helmet, sword, spear, shield, together with a laurel wreath.

mother was executed by firing squad, his merciless reprisals included

A plaque to his memory, set in a wall behind the cross, is inscribed with

the murder of civilians, also the wives and daughters of Cristino officers

the not inappropriate words from the Book of Job: ‘There the wicked

whom he was holding hostage.

cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest.’ The tomb was listed Grade II in 1988.

his headquarters first in the small town of Cantavieja, 4,000 feet up in

At the end of the 19 th century Cabrera’s widow provided the funds for

mountainous country, and then at Morella, another remote fastness

two cottages to be built near the churchyard. Stone plaques on the

with walls built into the cliff face. Today, below the castle, there stands

brick facades give their names as Cantavieja Cottage and El Ter Cottage,

a statue of El Tigre on his horse; above him black vultures are often to be

with the chiselled crown of Morella above. Today’s owners of Cantavieja

seen circling over the fortress.

Cottage, no doubt finding that a bit of a mouthful, have renamed it Victoria House.

When he was expelled from Morella in 1840 by General Espartero, commanding the government forces, Cabrera retreated to France with

Simon Courtauld’s latest book on Spain, Footprints in Spain, was

his army, then returned briefly to Spain a few years later to fight a losing

published in October 2016 by Quartet Books (£20)

31 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

Cabrera acquired the nickname of El Tigre del Maestrazgo and established




It is early morning in early Spring in Catalonia and I am walking on clouds, or

sense of well-being so intense at times as to move one to tears of sheer

so it seems. Heavy mist has gathered overnight down in the valley, and is now

wonder and joy.

rising, turning the high ground into islands. The one I am on is the L’Avenc de Tavernet cliff which looks out of one of the most magnificent natural scener-

The sunsets are as special as its sunrises: Egyptian vultures and hawks gliding

ies in southern Europe, southward across the Ter valley, the ridges and peaks

and buckling in the wind, the scenery above and below turned into a painter’s

of the Montseny mountains; to the east, where the river flows on its way,

palette — crimson and yellow, reds and purple — the valley once again a si-

beyond Gerona, to the Mediterranean; to the west, past the small city of Vic,

lent pink ocean, dark islands rising from it, as the sun gives way to the moon.

the very distant horizon, the jagged rocks of Montserrat, a place of Christian worship.

This area is not just one of nature’s most beautiful reserves, it is also full of history. Two quiet medieval villages, Tavernet and Rupit, stand at the foot of

L’Avenc is part of the Collsacabra ridge, part of a natural landscape of fields

this immense cliff system on either side, offering delicious country food and

and meadows interspersed with forest of beech and oak from where, looking

local wine. The valleys and mountain tracks all the way to France were used

northwards, you can see the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees.

as hideaways and escape routes during the Spanish Civil War.

Our rented self-catering stone and oak beamed cottage is part of a once

In his marvellous book which I never tire of rereading as a reference,

abandoned medieval settlement lovingly restored in recent years by the

Matthew writes movingly of how Catalan identity is rooted in the beauty of

journalist and author Matthew Parris, together with his sister Belinda, and

this landscape, its woods and mountains —and, I would add, the light of its

her Catalan husband Quim. The couple, together with their children, now run

Mediterranean coastline. The issue of nationalism has sadly been allowed all

the cottages and a tastefully designed adjacent building with bedrooms and

too often to be conflictive and divisive. But here in L’Avenc there is a sense of

heated indoor swimming pool.

timelessness and one is beyond politics to the extent that this nature does not exclude, but embraces.

At the heart of this rural retreat is a converted bishop’s country house or Masia dating back to the thirteenth century. Matthew, the son of English

As Matthew puts it: “Catalans share with the English not just St George (Sant

expatriates who settled in this area of north east Catalonia in the 1970s,

Jordi is their patron too) and football but the paradox of being a predomi-

discovered the ruined site while mountain walking one Spring morning before

nately urban people who, asked to paint a picture of their nationhood, would

buying the land and restoring the settlement.

fill it with symbols of rural life: simple, bucolic and pastoral, and strikingly small-scale.”

32 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

His story and that of his family is beautifully told in his book A Castle in Spain, an absolute must-read for hispanist adventurers as well as Catalan cultural

If my wife and I return there as often as we can when staying in our house

buffs. The project of restoration proved a huge challenge, with major bureau-

near Barcelona, it is in part because of our enduring friendship with Belinda

cratic obstacles and a legal battle with a local farmer having to be overcome

and Quim and their hugely welcoming dogs, but also because it is a necessary

before the Parris’s could realise their dream of restoring L’Avenc’s buildings

escape and deliverance from the noise, pollution, and stress of a busy urban

and giving the area new life based on ecologically friendly cultural tourism

life straddling the UK and Spain.

and farming methods. The cottages and rooms are reasonably priced. But this kind of alternative The atmosphere of L’Avenc is accurately described in its promotional litera-

lifestyle among good and genuine people is priceless and recharges the spirit.

ture as “Contemplating Silence”, for a stay here is characterised by a mystical

33 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017



In the four years since retiring, I have spent a winter week (maximum ten

Mount Teide isn’t mentioned, all it means is that we’re hoping to get up

days) in seven Spanish islands: all four of the main Balearics and three of

there another time, when there is less cloud around…

the Canaries. Apart from Mallorca, which I’d visited briefly in the 70s, 80s and 90s, all the other islands were new to me.

MALLORCA The dramatic Sierra de Tramontana on the west coast, with morning

My wife and I live near Barcelona, with a flight from El Prat to the Balearics

mist clinging to the upper crags above the Miramar chapel. Likewise, the

taking around half an hour, while flying time to the Canaries is just over

views from the terrifying cliffs in the far north near Cape Formentor, with

three hours. These little winter holidays have all taken place between

seagulls circling way below.

mid-December and mid-February. For example, in 2017 we were in Fuerteventura in early January and in Mallorca in mid-February. We may

In Palma cathedral, immense towering pillars seemingly beginning

have been lucky, but in neither of those islands did it seem like winter:

to bend backwards, supported from outside by ranks of buttresses. In

bikinis by the pool in the former; warm sun on almond blossom in the

contrast, the nearby Llotja has slim, spiralling columns that create an


exhilarating sense of space.

Meanwhile, apart from a benign climate, what do Spain’s islands have

Upstairs at Palma’s Museum of Mallorca, a complete art nouveau

in common? For a start, islanders clearly appreciate winter visitors.

shop front, perfectly preserved. Also gorgeous decorative tiles from

In the high season locals may feel overwhelmed, but they like to see

the Roquetas factory. Among the paintings, a smiling 17th century St

tourism ticking over in the quiet months, so they often thank you for

Catherine, unaware of a wooden wheel in a corner of the picture, studded

coming. Secondly, they share concerns about water shortages. Islanders

with sharks’ teeth.

34 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

welcome rainfall, preferably at night! And then there’s the universal use of the word península when referring to mainland Spain. For example:

Away from the coast, lambs graze peacefully under flowering almond

“Es difícil promocionar nuestros vinos en la Península”. The nearest

trees, as if in a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

English equivalent that comes to mind is Dover, where local people refer to France as “the other side”. Finally, consider churches and cheeses.


Even the smallest islands have remarkable churches, while it would be

The town of Orotava, high up above Puerto de la Cruz, with its lush

interesting to test the different goats’ cheeses produced in the Balearics

vegetation and Edwardian bandstand. Beautiful carved balconies,

and the Canaries, the latter perhaps coming out on top. As for wines, the

the wood now faded to grey, in the patio of La Casa de los Balcones.

Balearics would probably win out.

One could be in Cuba or India. Opposite the Ayuntamiento, a modest 18th century house with patio, now a homely ferretería.

Below, a list of some of our island highlights. Remember, although we’ve lived in the “Península” for over 40 years, we’re island novices, so if, say,

Tour of a Buena Vista banana plantation. Fascinating to see how much

manual work and human inventiveness go into the process of growing and ripening Canary plátanos. Late at night, sitting under the stars beside an ancient tree, drinking Arehucas rum on the terrace of a café in the middle of Charco Square (Puerto) a few days before Christmas. Everyone in shorts and polo shirts. No cars. No complaints! MENORCA Discovering splendid 17 th century palaces during a tranquil morning walk in Ciutadella. Boat trip around Mahón’s historic harbour. Echoes of the Nelson era as the crew serve us grog, in the shape of pomadas, made with Menorcan gin and local lemons. Lunch at a quality restaurant, the Café Balear, down in the port of Ciutadella, with its own fishing boat moored a couple of metres beyond the door. A reassuring sign (and good marketing). LANZAROTE The satanic, volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park takes you out of Europe and almost onto another planet. Impressive and oppressive. The local people, known as conejeros, use differently coloured mojo sauces on a variety of dishes, including small wrinkled potatoes, or papas arrugadas. Meanwhile, cultivating vines in shallow volcanic declivities, which serve as windbreaks, shows the islanders’ resourcefulness. Result: some good white wines. IBIZA The use of small caves just above sea level as precarious boat sheds. These days more popular with photographers and social historians than with fishermen. The historic Citadel atop Ibiza town, with its spectacular views. When the Parador finally opens, new vitality should pervade the steep streets. The posidonia seaweed that filters and cleans the sea around the island, maintaining its turquoise transparency. Crucial that it is protected. FUERTEVENTURA The village of Pájara lies in a rare green valley. The extraordinary façade of its small church features the sculpted heads of Aztec chieftains, complete with feathered headdresses, alongside Christian symbols like doves, snakes and virgins. All covered in faded powder-blue paint. Clearly the work of returning conquistadors. Just south of the excesses of mass tourism in Jandía, it’s a relief to spend a morning in Morro Jable, a pleasant small town where there’s a school (always a good sign) and one actually hears Spanish, rather than German, being spoken in the streets and cafés. The Padilla supermarket stocks genuine local Majorero cheese. FORMENTERA The pristine beaches and dunes of Ses Salines. February sees this nature reserve at its quietest, with only a few cats for company. Heading towards the eastern end of Formentera, you reach the narrowest part of the island, with a view of the Mediterranean at its purest to left and right. A reminder that small is beautiful.


CADIZ WANDERING Venetia Welby is following the Iberian trail of two intrepid female ancestors in 1851-2, using their Victorian diaries to explore modern Spain. Here is an extract from a chapter on Cadiz BY VENETIA WELBY LEFT: Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley, poet and playwright (1806-1855) RIGHT: Her daughter, Lady Victoria Welby, Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria and philosopher of language (1837-1912)

A new day sees me storming through the cobbled streets and squares

nor in that square though, but in Plaza de la Libertad, next to Plaza de las

with my suitcase, small yet noisy with a broken wheel, ruining everyone’s

Flores, replete with flower sellers, freidurias offering cones of deep-fried

breakfast. It is Friday, May 1, a bank holiday banned by Franco and

seafood, cafés displaying windowfuls of cakes, “Vapio” selling nicotine

reintroduced in 1977, and the place is as sleepy as it was noisy upon my

inhalers, and a health supplement shop. There is nobody in the latter.

arrival. In the UK, this holiday will take place on Monday and for the first

The accents around me are many, though the grasshoppers are few. The

time ever, the banks will open. Again, I wonder how the beloved siesta

market itself is a grand and colonnaded building taking up most of the

can survive in this global climate.

neighbouring square. Here is the “great variety of the finny tribe” that my

  Cadiz is beautiful, dazzlingly so in the midday sun, and against the

ancestors saw, and here is “El Dorado, the lunated gilt-head, thus named

translucent, bright blue sea on all sides and at the end of every street.

from its golden-glancing eyes and colouring”. The wanderers had read

Known as Little Havana, the city that was the template for Spanish

the accounts of Richard Ford, and were on the look-out for this fish which

architectural ventures across the Atlantic now has a similar tone of faded

“washed down with equally golden sherry, and softly bedewed by a little

grandeur as its buildings are gradually worn by the sea air, full of the salt

tomato sauce” they gathered would be “some pumpkins”, a bizarre term

that lends sherry its saline tang and the Gaditanos their irreverent zest.

of approval I plan to bring back into circulation. I’m fascinated, too, by

  I walk through Plaza de la Mina, still much as in Emmeline’s day “a

the boxes of clams, their tentacled heads slithering out of their shells and

bowery, flowery, green, umbrageous locality,” though more rigorously

sending high arcing jets of water at each other. As I peer closer with my

staffed with tapas bars and cafés, to the Alameda, the seafront

camera, one shoots me squarely on the lens.

promenade where my travellers admired “the lovely faces and forms of the Gaditanas, as they walk so airily there”. They were much taken with

  Later, I reach Plaza de San Juan de Dios, “among the most crowded and

the women of Cadiz: “Very beautiful are their glancing, dark-blazing eyes,

busy places in this town” in 1852. Not so today, perhaps because it is a

and their smoothly-festooned locks, that shine in the sun like waves of

bank holiday. A sign sheds some light on the grasshopper-flogging Plaza

molten jet”. But it is the ubiquitous fan that most animates them: “It

del Mar’s whereabouts. It was just here, behind a stretch of wall closing

seems doubtful if a Spanish woman could walk, talk, breathe, see, hear,

off the seafront, that traders gathered to sell exotic produce from South

think, feel, love, or live without her fan”.

America. But by the end of the twentieth century, many Spanish colonies

  Trying to eye up the modern, fanless Gaditana women for comparison,

had gained their independence and fewer goodies made the crossing. The

I can’t help but be distracted by some gigantic trees. They have the girth

Mercado Central, largely ignored until that point, was revamped in 1926

of twenty women. These, it transpires, are giant ficus trees and their

and took over as the main market. I squint at the all but deserted square

boisterously entwined roots seem to be elbowing their way beneath the

and imagine my grandmothers whispering rude jokes about their fellow,

neighbouring sea wall, only restored in 1928.

fatter, tourists guzzling the bounty of the Spanish empire.

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  Later still, in a café in a street lined with cafés in La Viña, the old   And what of the “famous” Plaza del Mar, “the great sea-market – and

fishermen’s district, I meet with “El Dorado”, gilthead bream advertised

the very soul – of Cadiz”? This place no longer appears on the map.

on a blackboard with traditional tomato accompaniment, piriñaca. I eat

Here, Emmeline discovered, “you may chance to see a gathering of many

it “lubricated with golden sherry”, as advised by Ford, though it is unclear

nations, and hear a gabbling of many tongues. Here, if you have luck,

whether he means me or the fish. I am transported by its deliciousness

you will behold muleteers, fortune-tellers, water-sellers, gipsies,” not to

and by a Gaditana who walks through the street singing at the top of her

mention smugglers, charcoal burners, donkey-drivers, sailors, soldiers,

voice. Rather than studiously ignoring the loony, eyes fixedly down, as

grasshoppers and birds for sale, “bright-coloured, plumy strangers”,

would happen in London, the “good cits” of Cadiz open their windows to

Spanish, French, Germans, Portugese, Dutch, “Moors” – and lots of fat

join in with her, and several people leave their houses and tables to sway

Brits: “That fat lady hard by makes the very air look adipose around

in the street and sing together.

her. She is English to her back-bone”. Even the poor woman’s laugh is described as “obese”.   Though the Plaza del Mar seems to have vanished, there is a market in Cadiz, the Mercado Central de Abastos, built in 1838. It is not by the sea,

Venetia Welby’s debut novel, Mother of Darkness, was published by Quartet Books in February 2017. Twitter: @venwelby


MAGELS LANDET The artist Magels Landet was kind enough to put on an exhibition at the BritishSpanish Society Christmas party in December 2016. Here are some further examples of her work, and you can see more at

38 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017


Magels Landet’s work includes sculpture, installations, collage, photography and video, and has been exhibited in eight countries. She lives between Barcelona and Oakland, San Francisco. Landet graduated from the Llotja School of Art in Barcelona in 1988, having studied Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. She collaborated with the Creative Schule of Thallichtenberg in Germany. Since 1992, her work has been dedicated to interdisciplinary projects. She researched her first art and robotics project at the Institut Für Machinenwesen im Baubetrieb. Karlsruhe University. Germany. Landet describes herself as a sculptress who conceives with eyes that look within and which are the expression of matter conveyed into thought. Thus, some of these eyes open along the line of reasoning that follows on from the first sensation and that keeps her at the cutting edge. This does not merely involve seeing it as a simple, though most necessary, optical viewpoint, but rather to participate in the mystery of existence.



BY ESMERALDA PARRA-PERALBO The environment is everything around us, including the people with whom we interact: family, neighbours, friends, teachers, countrymen. Our immediate environment is the home, followed by our street and finally our village, town or city. Every interaction we have with the environment shapes our character. I would argue that this has much to do with Epigenetics. First, we turn to biological terms. Put yourself in the following situation: when we say that a child has blue eyes like his mother, or a nose like his father, in fact, we are saying that the child inherited those traits from their parents, thanks to information coded in DNA or the human genome. The genome is the set of genes that we all possess, half inherited from the father, half from the mother. A gene is the unit of information for the inheritance of a trait such as eye colour. In other cases, such as height, several genes determine a trait. Let us say a gene is a book, or a manual, containing information for our development and growth, a sequence of letters in an established order. The genome is a library containing thousands of manuals for ensuring correct development through the life cycle. Information contained in one or more of the genes responsible for inheritance of a trait can be modified when its sequence is modified. This is known as a mutation. inherited trait; but they can be negative, affecting traits harmfully. That is the case in many diseases such as some types of cancer, diabetes, mental diseases such as schizophrenia and depression. However, not everything is written in the genome we have inherited. During the last decade, it has been discovered that the environment also determines many of the heritable traits contributing to character and mode of being, fitness and life perception, or diseases, and many other features which make up what we are.


39 – La Revista – Spring/Summer 2017

These mutations may be innocuous, even giving an advantage to the


Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.   The term refers to the additional information layered on top of the sequence of letters that makes up DNA (the Greek prefix ‘epi’ - over, outside of, above - implies features that are in addition to the traditional genetic basis for inheritance).   It describes a change in phenotype without a change in genotype, which can affect how cells read the genes. Epigenetic change is a regular and natural occurrence but can also be influenced by several factors including age, the environment, lifestyle, and disease state.

If genes were solely responsible for all traits that constitute us as previously

them, the offspring showed calm behaviour during adulthood; however,

thought, then of twins with the same genome, if one develops cancer the

those offspring that did not receive this attention from their mothers were

other one should too, but it is not always the case. This fact caught the

stressed and nervous.

attention of the scientific community who were trying to understand what was underpinning this fact.

They also discovered that those which had not received attention and care

They found that in addition to all the information contained in a gene

during their adult life. In addition, they had high levels of stress hormones

that decides when, where and how it should work, there is an additional

and at the same time they had low levels of a protein, a glucocorticoid

level of control that is not contained within the gene and which depends

receptor, necessary for the proper development of the area the brain that

on chemical changes, specifically methylations, acting on genes and

responds to fear and stress in general and also responsible for maintaining

inhibiting their expression and therefore disrupting their functions. There

low levels of stress hormones.

are also modifications acting on the proteins packing DNA, called Histone proteins. These modifications on Histone proteins could lead to inhibition

from their mothers during their childhood showed stressed behaviour

Consequently, the adult brain of those rats was more sensitive to stress.

or activation of the gene expression.

This study discovered how maternal care of their offspring during

All these modifications are called epigenetic modifications (epi, from

works or not. In other words it was a proof that the environment affects

Greek meaning “above”). The whole set of these modifications acting

gene regulation. These Scientists went even further and wanted to know

on the genome is called epigenome. Epigenetics is the discipline which

the molecular basis of that fact.

studies this phenomenon.

childhood determines whether the gene coding for glucocorticoid receptor

At this time, Meaney’s team together with Moshe Szyf, an expert in

In 2005, Manel Esteller, a Spanish scientist, along with other colleagues,

DNA functioning, found epigenetic changes in the gene coding for the

published work showing that twins had almost the same epigenetic marks

Glucocorticoid receptor responsible for the development of the area of the

at the time of birth, but that these epigenetic modifications were changing

brain that controls fear and stress. As a consequence of these epigenetic

as they grew.

changes this gene was silenced, a scenario due to lack of maternal care.

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It determined that the brain area responding to stress was not properly Esteller’s team has also shown that genes responsible for preventing

developed and was the reason why this brain area was more sensitive to

tumour development (known as tumour suppressor genes) are methylated

situations of stress. Such a scenario could make a person more prone to

in patients who have developed tumours, i.e. epigenetically modified and

depression, for example.

therefore silenced, allowing tumour development. All this evidence taken together highlights the importance that the The first evidence to show that the environment, as well as interaction

atmosphere and the environment around us play on the regulation of

between individuals, could affect a person's character appeared in 1997.

our genome, through Epigenetics. In other words, how our environment

Michael Meaney, a professor of Neurobiology at McGill University of

shapes our character.

Canada, along with a group of colleagues, published an outstanding work about how maternal care worked on the adult character of the offspring. They found that if rats tended their offspring properly, licking and cleaning

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La Revista Issue 244  

The official magazine of the BritishSpanish Society

La Revista Issue 244  

The official magazine of the BritishSpanish Society