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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Franco Remains Dead (Despite What We Hear)
Friday, February 24, 2023 @ 8:29 AM

 I was a handsome young fellow in those days, un señorito if I say so myself. I was living in Mojácar in a society of older and generally rather drunken Europeans and a sprinkling of Spaniards who treated us, in those days, with a mixture of gratitude and respect, as we learned a few words of Spanish, built unimaginably large houses and drove astonishing cars (usually with the steering wheel in a novel place on the dashboard) and sometimes bought them a drink in the bar in the village square - the Hotel Indalo run by Antonio. Toma una copa conmigo, my dad would say.

Some of those cars would fall off the cliff as we drove home, sometimes with tragic results, but we were left alone by the police - we were bringing wealth to the village and it was sorely needed. Jacinto, the old mayor, his job awarded to him by the provincial governor, was careful to see that we were happy and that no one watered down the gin.

They were idylic times.

Franco, we said, if the subject came up, he's a good old thing - keeps the place safe. And it was true enough. The Guardia Civil were feared and when it came to it they were, let's say, suitably 'trigger happy'. Things were quiet enough in our small, forgotten, ignored and peaceful corner of a province that, during the Civil War, had been fiercely supportive of the Republicans. Every village had its stories of murder and executions: it had been a terrible time, now carefully put to the side and forgotten.

The Swedes up in Jávea went rather further than we did, organising one day a big (and approved) rally in the bull-ring, with home-made banners reading 'Arriba España' and 'Up Franco' (they meant well). But we were quiet enough - never talk about politics or religion was our motto. Antonio, un brandy por favor.

Then came word that the Old Boy was failing. He was put on life support in the Ruber Clinic in Madrid and lay in and out of a coma for several weeks as the world anxiously sucked its teeth and wondered what would happen next. The once and future king Juan Carlos was waiting with the rest of us.

Saturday Night Live in New York famously began its regular news-segment with the story that 'The Caudillo of Spain, Francisco Franco, is still dead'.

It's said that the crowds oputside the clinic would enthusiasticaly shout 'Adiós, adiós' and that the stricken dictator would ask a fawning courtier, 'what are they saying?' 'Goodbye, goodbye', said the lackey. 'Why, where are they all going?'

And then, finally, he went. On November 20th 1975, the Generalísimo breathed his last and Spain went into heavy mourning. Everything was closed down and quiet.

The small group of emigrés that lived in and around Mojácar naturally felt sorry for their kind hosts and thought that the best thing to do would be to show up at the iglesia for the mass to celebrate the soul of the murderous old sod. We trooped in to the church, dressed in shirts and ties (those of us who owned such things) and were faintly surprised to see that, apart from a couple of old girls dressed in that kind of black you don't normally see these days, and a startled-looking priest, there was nobody at all. The cura gamely got on with his pater nosters and we stood or sat, as required, while trying to look as sorrowful as we could. What will they do without the old swine? we wondered.

At last the service creaked to an end. We passed through the door of the church into the somber evening outside, where a large and evidently indignant group of Mojaquero males were waiting for us. A threanening pause. Then Alcalde Jacinto suddenly broke the hostile silence with exactly the best thing to say:

'Antonio, go and open up the bar, the extranjeros are thirsty'. With a groan of relief, we all scampered off around the corner to the Hotel Indalo for a welcome libation.
I found the newspaper featured at the top of this story while cleaning out a box of junk this morning.

Like 6


Stinkey said:
Saturday, February 25, 2023 @ 8:43 AM

Brilliant story, it's hard to believe this was within living memory, and the way life has changed makes me wonder?

Campesino said:
Saturday, February 25, 2023 @ 10:27 AM

We were living on a boat in Alicante when this happened. Mooring was 200pts a week and 50pts to fill your water tanks. Wine was 7pts a bottle if you took your own bottle to the bodega. You could leave anything on the quayside and it would always be there when you got back. We were friendly with another boat dweller who got into trouble for threatening a one legged car park attendant who had shouted at his little girl which shocked her and she fell over banging her head. He was splicing some rope and had a knife in his hand which really scared the attendant. The port guardia came down and asked our friend to get off his boat. When he did they frog marched him to the lockup. His wife was obviously upset and asked if I could help. I went along and in my very broken Spanish I tried to explain what had happened. The attendant was sitting in the office. The guardia had a word with him and they came back to me and said that if my friend would give the guy 300pts they would let him out. My friend hadn't got the cash on him so he was let out next morning and went to get it from a bank. When he offered it to the attendant he refused to accept it.

Lagalesa said:
Saturday, February 25, 2023 @ 1:35 PM

Great post as usual. but I would dispute that the Civil War is forgotten.....certainly in these here parts! Mind you, our alcalde is a famed left-winger and has been (voted) in position for over 40 years. I imagine anyone expressing an admiration of Franco or showing Nationalist tendencies would be given short shrift!

Dave11 said:
Sunday, February 26, 2023 @ 10:04 AM

A good article- very interesting..

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