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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

Vivien Leigh in her twilight years
Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Tuberculosis, depression, and excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption aged Vivien Leigh prematurely, but they did not destroy her beauty or diminish her elegance.

[Rafael Narbona, El Español]


Vivien Leigh fotografiada por Roloff Beny en 1958.

Vivien Leigh photographed by Roloff Beny in 1958. © El Español



Vivien Leigh (5 November 1913 – 8 July 1967) was a British actress, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, for her performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), a role she had also played on stage in London's West End in 1949.

After completing her drama school education, Vivien Leigh appeared in small roles in four films in 1935 and progressed to the role of heroine in "Fire Over England" (1937). Lauded for her beauty, Leigh felt that her physical attributes sometimes prevented her from being taken seriously as an actress.

Despite her later fame as a screen actress, Leigh was primarily a stage performer. During her 30-year career, she played roles ranging from the heroines of Noel Coward and George Bernard Shaw comedies to classic Shakespearean characters such as Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet, and Lady Macbeth.                                                     


                                                                                                                   Photo: Wikipedia


Later in her life, she performed as a character actress in a few films.

At the time, the public strongly identified Vivien Leigh with her second husband, Laurence Olivier, who was her spouse from 1940 to 1960. Leigh and Olivier starred together in many stage productions, with Olivier often directing, and in three films.

She earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, and for much of her life she had bipolar disorder, as well as recurrent bouts of chronic tuberculosis, which was first diagnosed in the mid-1940s and ultimately led to her early death at age 53.


The twilight years

Vivien, who had contracted the disease at thirty-five, continued to smoke eighty cigarettes a day, a habit acquired during the filming of Gone with the Wind, when a benzedrine-intoxicated David O. Selznick demanded twelve-hour workdays and Victor Young hurled intolerable profanity at her for daring to make suggestions on how to play the impetuous Scarlett O'Hara.

After separating from Laurence Olivier, Vivien commented that she did not want to live long, because although she was not unhappy with Jack Merivale, her last partner, the passion was only a pale memory and not an everyday experience.


                                                                                                   Leigh with Gable in"Gone with the Wind"


The romance with "Larry", the name friends and family used to refer to Olivier, had included great storms, intense moments of anger, frenzy and madness, but it had also taught him that paradise was not a dream, a mere fantasy, but a sweet torment akin to Scarlett's unrequited love for Ashley Wilkes. "I longed for that sweet torment and couldn't bear to think that it was something irretrievably lost."

Tuberculosis, depression, excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption aged Vivien prematurely, but they did not destroy her beauty or diminish her elegance.

In the main photograph above she only needs to tilt her head slightly to give off sensuality and mystery. Wearing a black suit and arms crossed, the jewels she displays (a ring, a bracelet and earrings) convey not ostentation, but refinement.



                                                                                                                 Leigh with Olivier

Vivien, who had contracted tuberculosis at the age of thirty-five, continued to smoke eighty cigarettes a day at the end of her life



Trapped by a spiral of euphoria and sadness, illusions and disappointments, she barely knew happiness. Unstable, tragic, and intelligent, she externalized her own inner torment in A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951), where she gives life to a kind of Scarlett O'Hara stripped of Tara and with a faded beauty.

This portrayal brought her second Oscar for Best Actress.



                                                                                                Leigh with Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire


Her Blanche Dubois is not far from the Norma Desmond of The Twilight of the Gods (Billy Wilder, 1950). Gloria Swanson plays an old silent film actress who longs to regain the fame destroyed by the success of talkies. That's not the case for Vivien Leigh, who never wanted to be a star.

However, Blanche and Norma share a fear of old age. They know that they are withering away and their imagination does not stop travelling to the past, looking for those moments of happiness and splendour that their beauty gave them. Both abuse alcohol and groom themselves with great care, trying to hide the ravages of age. 

Despite her twilight appearance, Vivien Leigh still exudes strength, ambition, and fervor, but her eyes avoid direct confrontation with the camera.


Vivien Leigh died in 1967 at the age of 53. We would have preferred her to live to be 102, like Olivia de Havilland, her partner and rival in Gone with the Wind.

More than half a century has elapsed since then, but anyone who desires to know passion, courage, romantic despair, obstinacy, nostalgia, the most flowery fantasy, and the most foolish pride, is still compelled to follow in the footsteps of Scarlett O'Hara through the red clay of Tara or under the magnolias of The Twelve Oaks.

It's not true that the wind blows everything away. The beautiful and the good always endure. Vivien Leigh is not a handful of dust, but a rose of imperishable beauty. In 1963, a gardener created a pink with her name on it. Fragrant, crimson red and with black shading on the edge of its petals, it defeats death every time. That rose is really Vivien Leigh, and because of her, the world is a happier and brighter place.


©  The Culture Vulture



Country Living Magazine (photos)

El Español


Paul Whitelock (Translator)

Rafael Narbona (author of article in El Español)




Academy Award for Best Actress, alcohol consumption, Ashley Wilkes, "A Streetcar Named Desire", Blanche DuBois, Brando, character actress, Clark Gable, Cleopatra, Country Living Magazine, Culture Vulture, depression, Facebook, "Fire Over England", Gable, George Bernard Shaw, "Gone with the Wind", Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Larry, Lawrence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Noel Coward, Olivia De Havilland, Olivier, Ophelia, Oscar, Paul Whitelock, Rafael Narbona, Roloff Beny, Scarlett O'Haratobacco consumption, Tuberculosis, Vivien Leigh, West End, Wikipedia 

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

Holy Week (Semana Santa) begins today, Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos), and lasts until next Sunday, Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección).

In Spain Semana Santa is the annual tribute of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods (hermandades) and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during Holy Week – the last week of Lent, immediately before Easter.

These hermandades have their origins in the Middle Ages, but a number of them were created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counterreformation and also during the 20th and 21st centuries. The membership is usually open to any Catholic person and family tradition is an important element to become a member or "brother" (hermano).

Some major differences between Spanish regions are perceivable in these processions: Semana Santa sees its most glamorous celebrations in Andalucía, especially in Jerez de la Frontera, Granada, Málaga and Sevilla, while those of the Castilla y León region see the more sombre and solemn processions in Zamora, León and Valladolid.

A common feature in Spain is the almost general usage of the nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists of a tunic, a hood with conical tip (capirote) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The exact colours and forms of these robes depend on the particular fraternity.

The robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. These nazarenos carry processional candles or rough-hewn wooden crosses, may walk the city streets barefoot, and, in some places may wear shackles and chains on their feet as penance. In some areas, sections of the participants wear dress freely inspired by the uniforms of the Roman Legion.

The other common feature is that every brotherhood carries magnificent floats (pasos or tronos) or with sculptures that depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary.

Brotherhoods have owned and preserved these "tronos" for centuries in some cases. Usually, the " tronos " are accompanied by marching bands performing "marchas procesionales", a specific type of composition, devoted to the images and fraternities.




Note: A version of this article in Spanish is available here:

SEMANA SANTA (Holy Week) (


© The Culture Vulture



Andalucia, brotherhood, Castilla y León, cofradias, Culture Vulture, Domingo de Ramos, Domingo de Resurrección, Easter, Easter Sunday, fraternities, Granada, hermandades, Holy Week, Jerez de la Frontera, León, Málaga, marchas procesionales, Middle Ages, Palm Sunday, paso, Passion of Jesus Christ, Semana Santa, Sevilla, Sorrows of Virgin Mary, trono, Valladolid, Zamora

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“Book Exchange”
Thursday, March 7, 2024

By The Culture Vulture

I first came across the idea of the “book exchange” several years ago.

The idea is you deposit a book and take one away. No money is involved. It’s a great way to recycle books, instead of them ending up in landfill.




The first place I saw this was a good ten years ago in Pforzheim (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany). A disused Telefonzelle (telephone box) had been converted into a book swap site.

Ideal. A prominent location on a pedestrian only shopping street and protected from the weather. It worked on an honesty basis – the Germans are particularly honest (except for the b**tard who nicked my wallet in 2022 and the other a***hole who helped himself to my laptop on a train in 2023).

I’ve since seen such book swaps in other parts of Germany; in Detmold (North Rhine Westfalia), Dresden (Saxony), Heilbronn (B-W), Jülich (NRW), Lübeck (Schleswig-Holstein) and Uetersen (S-H).





Intercambio de libros

Recently I have become aware of a few around the Ronda area and beyond.

In Barrio San Francisco there is one sponsored by the A.VV. (Asociacion de Vecinos) outside Bar Ambigú next door to the CEPSA petrol station.

The books are located in a glass cabinet in the porch, o you can access it when the bar is closed.





Three days ago I discovered another by chance in a bazar in Montejaque (Málaga), Complementos Vero.

This one has only just started up, yet has already received lots of donations of books in Spanish.

I’ve already benefited by acquiring a copy of La Casa de Bernarda Alba by my favourite Spanish playwright, Federico García Lorca, murdered in 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War on General Franco’s orders. I also got a book of poetry by Sevilla-born poet Antonio Machado.





Yesterday I acquired a super book about Málaga City, full of great photos, in exchange for a hardback novel in English by John Grisham. That was inside Super Chisma, a supermarket on the polígono industrial in Ronda.

I believe there are also book exchanges in Cortes de la Frontera (Málaga), Gaucín (Málaga), and Ubrique (Cádiz), three of the bigger towns around here.

There may be more. Please let us know, via the comments section.


© The Culture Vulture



All photos by Paul Whitelock except:

main photo (Facebook) 

telephone box (Wikipedia)



Antonio Machado, A.VV., Asociación de Vecinos), Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bar Ambigú, Barrio San Francisco, Cádiz, CEPSA, Complementos Vero, Cortes de la Frontera, Culture Vulture, Detmold, Dresden, Federico García Lorca, Gaucín, General Franco, Heilbronn, John Grisham, Jülich, La Casa de Bernarda Alba, Lübeck, Málaga, Montejaque, NRW, North Rhine Westfalia, Pablo de Ronda, Paul Whitelock, Pforzheim, Ronda, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Sevilla, Spanish Civil War,  Super Chisma, Ubrique, Uetersen

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Saturday, February 17, 2024

                          Photo courtesy YouTube


Live music in Ronda and the Serranía

By The Culture Vulture

Fans of live music are in for a treat starting tonight and finishing next weekend. There are live gigs in Ronda and in Jimera de Líbar.  


TODAY – Saturday 17 February 2024 at 7.00 pm


Photo courtesy Ronda Today

Heaven Irish Tavern, Ronda. 

Free concert. 

The Howling Ramblers. 

This rockabilly group is well-established on the music scene around these parts. Tonight’s performance in Ronda is part of their current 2024 tour, which will take the band to Seville, Madrid and Algeciras, before they head off to France, Gibraltar and the UK.

Photo courtesy Facebook

This five-piece band’s name is a tribute to American blues legend Howlin’ Wolf and US country icon Hank “The Rambling Man” Williams

I’ve seen and heard this band before and shall be there in Calle Santa Cecilia, Ronda, tonight. They are good! 



Saturday 24 February 2024 

Jimera de Líbar and Ronda

Photo courtesy Facebook

Donovan Keith from Texas is touring Spain. He has already performed concerts in Lugo, A Coruña, Valladolid, Madrid and Zaragoza.

He is about to play four gigs in Malaga province: Estepona, Malaga City and two up here in the Serranía de Ronda.


Saturday 24 February

Donovan Keith is singing at Allioli Bar y Más in Jimera de Líbar, starting at 2.00 pm

Photo courtesy Facebook

In the evening he will be performing at the afore-mentioned Irish Pub in Ronda

I know Donovan Keith. I met him in 2022 and again in 2023 when he performed  at the Pueblos Blancos Music Festival, which takes place every year over four days and nights in Grazalema, Montejaque, Ronda and Villaluenga del Rosario.


Photo courtesy Paul Whitelock

Donovan is talented and knows it, but he’s a super bloke. 

I intend to go to one of his concerts, probably in Jimera. Sitting in the open air and paying normal prices for food and drinks is preferable to the stuffy and cramped indoor space and very pricey drinks at the Irish Pub in Ronda. 

Go on, treat yourselves to some great, free live music. 

For those who can’t make it, I’ll report on both gigs in the REVIEWS section of after next weekend.


© The Culture Vulture 



Allioli Bar Y Más

Clive Muir, Ronda Today 



Paul Darwent

Paul Whitelock

Tony Bryant, SUR in English




A Coruña, Algeciras, Allioli Bar Y Más, Culture Vulture, Donovan Keith, Estepona, France, Gibraltar, Grazalema, Hank  Williams, Howling Ramblers, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimera de Líbar, Lugo, Madrid, Malaga City, Montejaque Music FestivalPaul Darwent, Pueblos Blancos, rockabilly, Ronda,  Serranía de Ronda, Seville, SUR in English, Texas, The Rambling Man, Tony Bryant, UKValladolid, Villaluenga del Rosario, YouTube, Zaragoza

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"Dead Poets' Society"
Saturday, November 4, 2023

Do you remember the 1989 Oscar-winning film of the same name starring Robin Williams as the teacher who was passionate about deceased poets? 

Williams is himself now dead, having committed suicide in 2014 at the age of 63. 

There are several writers, many of them foreign, who live/d in and around Ronda or who wrote about the town from abroad. 

Here, Ronda resident and would-be published writer, The Culture Vulture, casts his eye over some of them, whether dead or alive. 


Ronda Writers and Writers on Ronda 

By The Culture Vulture 

Dead or alive, there are a significant number of writers, mainly foreign, who have published novels, non-fiction works and poetry about the Ciudad Soñada (Ronda) and the surrounding area. Many still reside or did reside here. 

Of those still with us, in alphabetical order, are Ronda poet, David Aguilera; Polish environmentalist Eva Monica Bratek; Ronda businesswoman Charo Carrasco; Irish poet Michael Coy; English actress Emma Cherry; retired Canadian stylist Caroline Emmett; American journalist Edward Lewine; Norwegian journalist Karethe Linaee; Ronda novelist Miguel Ruiz Trigueros; and English newspaper publisher Jon Clarke

‘Late’ writers on Ronda include English historian Tony Bishop; Scottish peer Alastair Boyd; American Nobel-prizewinning author Ernest Hemingway; English walking guru Guy Hunter-Watts; and Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke.



Tony Bishop

Tony Bishop, a good friend, met the lady who was to become his wife, Eva Monica Bratek, here in Andalucía in the early ‘Noughties’. They moved to live in Montejaque where they ‘jumped the broom’ in 2011.

I was thrilled to be invited to the wedding and the subsequent ‘wedding breakfast’. Tony and Eva had been working on a walking guide to the area. Walking in the Ronda Mountains was published by Editorial La Serranía in the same year, 2011. 

Sadly, Tony died following a fall at home in 2013. He was just 74. 


Alastair Boyd

Alastair Boyd (1927 – 2009), who became the 17th Baron Kilmarnock on the death of his father in 1975, first came to Ronda in 1957 and lived in the partly dilapidated Casa de Mondragon, later to be restored and become a Palacio and the home of Ronda’s Municipal Museum

At first, Boyd ran a language school with his wife Diana. They had two horses which they rode around the region, culminating in several acclaimed books in English about Ronda. These include The Road to Ronda (1969) and Sierras of the South (1992). 

Both books were translated into Spanish and were re-published by Editorial La Serrania.  De Ronda a las Alpujarras (2007) is also available in Spanish. All three books are still available in bookshops and online. 

Alastair Boyd lived latterly in La Indiana, Ronda, until his death in 2009 aged 81. His son Jaime still lives here with his Spanish wife and family.  

Although I never met ‘Mister’ Boyd, as the locals called him, I attended his memorial service on behalf of The Olive Press, for which I was working at the time. 


Ernest Hemingway 

Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) never lived in Ronda, but, like his contemporary Orson Welles he was a fanatical aficionado of the bullfight. A regular visitor to Pamplona for the bullfight festival of San Fermin and to Ronda which back then was the hub of los toros, he wrote several important books on the area. 

His novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, also a 1943 film starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, was about the Spanish Civil War and includes scenes set in Ronda

He also wrote two classic non-fiction books about the bulls, The Sun Also Rises (published as Fiesta in the UK) and Death in the Afternoon are must-reads. 

A troubled man, Hemingway shot himself in Ketchum (Idaho, USA) in 1961 aged 61. 

I was recovering in hospital in Germany from an appendix operation, aged 21, when I was introduced to Hemingway. His books about bullfighting kindled an interest in bullfighting which remains with me to this day. 

After Germany I subsequently went to the fiesta of San Fermín in Pamplona two years running in the early 1970s. It was there that I saw the young Paquirri from Ronda for the first time. He went on to become the top torero of his generation, but sadly died in the ring after coming out of retirement for one last corrida. He was 36. 

When I ended up living in Ronda some 35 years later, I got the opportunity to follow in Hemingway's footsteps, so to speak. 


Guy Hunter-Watts

Guy Hunter-Watts (1959 - 2023) was a celebrated author of some 10 walking guides based on southern Spain. A resident of Andalucia for over 30 years, latterly in Montecorto, near Ronda, he sadly died of head injuries in 2023 after a freak cycling accident. He was just 64. 

His books include Walking Coastal Walks in Andalucia, Walking in Andalucia, Walking in the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema, Trekking the Andalucian Coast to Coast Walk, Trekking the GR7 in Andalucia. 

Originally published by Santana Books (now defunct), Cicerone Press has now taken over his portfolio.

I bought several of his books, one containing a personal dedication. I had got to know him quite well before his sudden demise. He was a very likeable and popular man. 

I attended Guy’s funeral service in a private capacity, along with some 200 relatives and friends. 

Obituary here: MEET THE 'LOCALS' - Help me, Ronda ( 


Rainer Maria Rilke 

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926) was born in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. His native language was therefore German. 

Rilke, a troubled man, unsuccessful with women, wandered aimlessly to Paris, Toledo, and Cordoba in search of inspiration to battle his severe case of writer’s block. When, on a whim, he ended up in Ronda, he was suddenly inspired by the town he called Ciudad Soñada (City of Dreams)

He stayed for two years in Room 208 of the Hotel Reina Victoria, and enjoyed the most prolific and productive period of his life. The hotel retains a small display dedicated to Rilke near the hotel bar. His poetry is highly regarded, although written in German

Three works have a Ronda connection: The Spanish Trilogy The Sixth Elegy The Raising of Lazarus.

For a longer article about Rainer Maria Rilke visit: RILKE. Who? ( 



Those writers still with us all live or have lived in the Ronda area. 

David Aguilera, Charo Carrasco, Michael Coy, Karethe Linaee, and Miguel Ruiz Trigueros live in Ronda; Emma Cherry in Benaoján; Carolyn Emmett in Montejaque; and Jon Clarke splits his time between Arriate and San Pedro de Alcántara, where his son attends school. 


David Aguilera

David Aguilera (1977 - ) was born in Ronda, raised in Marbella, and now resides in Ronda once more. He has three collections of poems in Spanish, all published by Platero Coolbooks

They are Club de caballeros, Confidencias a mamá and Ronda, retales del alma (2023)


Charo Carrasco

Charo Carrasco, born and bred in Ronda is the owner of a sports goods shop in the town, Intersport Cary. She is also a wife and mum to one son, Jesus. Her main hobby is acting. 

She is a member of the group Proyecto Platea, based in Ronda and run by professional Ronda-born actor Marcos Marcell. 

I know Charo well, having attended acting classes with her – she is a stunningly good actress. She is also a playwright, together with Emma Cherry, also great on stage, whom I also know. 

Emma is an English-trained professional actress who lives in Benaoján

Together Charo and Emma have recently published a collection of the plays they have written, called Yo soy teatro

The anthology is apparently selling like hot cakes, both in local bookshops and on Amazon, where it is already a bestseller in the genre.  

“Estamos muy contentas y un poco incrédulas porque en apenas unos días nos hemos colocado en el número uno junto a títulos como La Casa de Bernarda AlbaEs impresionante”, says Charo  


Emma Cherry

Emma Cherry is a Londoner, who trained as an actress at The Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Kent. Coincidentally, the same drama school where my professional actor son Tom trained, although Emma was there a few years later. 

After living for a number of years in MallorcaEmma moved to Benaoján, near Ronda, where she joined local drama school Proyecto Platea. That’s where she met Charo Carrasco (see above). And the rest is history. See above.

 Emma Cherry and Charo Carrasco pose with a copy of their book [Photo courtesy of CharryTV]


Jon Clarke

Jon Clarke, a former journalist with The Daily Mail in London, moved to Spain around 20 years ago, where took over the Western Andalucia edition of The Olive Press, then a new and free fortnightly English language newspaper. 

He settled in Arriate with his wife Gabriela and they soon had two children. 

In fact, I got to know Jon back in the early days of the paper when I emigrated to Montejaque and was interviewed for a job with him. I worked at The Olive Press for about a year, cutting my teeth as a writer and selling advertising space, in order to fund the paper. 

As time has gone on, Jon took over the Eastern Andalucia Edition of The Olive Press, combining the two papers. 

Over the years the paper has also expanded to five further editions in English, and one in German which debuted in September 2023. 

As for books, Jon Likes his food, so his first publication, Dining Secrets of Andalucia, takes us on a journey to some of the finest restaurants throughout the region. 

Jon has taken a keen interest in the Madeleine McCann case over many years. Maddy was the three-year-old English girl who disappeared from a holiday resort in Portugal in 2007. Jon’s book about the case is My Search for Madeleine and it’s published by OP Books. 

The book charts Jon’s often-frightening journey from the Ocean Club holiday resort in Praia da Luz through many isolated parts of Portugal and Spain and finally on to Germany. He points his finger firmly at the new prime suspect Christian Brueckner and explains, in detail and with the help of the people who knew Brueckner best, why he thinks he did it. 

He traces the suspect’s grim upbringing, his ease of movement around Europe and also questions the integrity of the Portuguese police. He wonders whether someone, somewhere is covering something up. 

“A page-turner from chapter one… Loved it. The detail will stagger you. This is what proper investigative journalism is about.” - Patrick Hill, SUNDAY MIRROR 

“Jon Clarke’s book exposes the secret dark world behind the biggest mystery of the 21st century.”                       Mike Ridley, THE SUN 


Michael Coy

Michael Coy moved to Ronda over 20 years ago. The former teacher, then barrister, came to Ronda for love.

Irish-born, he worked in London, but shared a home with his brothers in Wrexham, N Wales, before emigrating. 

Fluent in Spanish now, Michael earns his living as a private tutor, and independent gestor, helping other foreigners sort out their affairs. 

He also writes poetry and inspired by a true story in Italy, he wrote and published an epic poem based on the case. It’s called The Luckless Girl and it was published by The Conrad Press in 2022. 

I’ve known Michael for over 20 years. We met in a bar in Ronda, as you do, and he has been a good pal over the years. Michael is the reason I am married to Rita - he introduced us in September 2008 at the Feria de Pedro Romero in Ronda. 

Back to his book, I attended his book launch in 2022 and bought a copy of The Luckless Girl in which Michael wrote a nice dedication. At over 800 pages (thicker than Tolstoy’s War and Peace, I think!). 

I must confess I haven’t got very far into it yet. However, I hear it’s selling steadily in a local bookshop, Librería Dumas, and also online. 


Carolyn Emmett 

Carolyn Emmett (1953 - ) and husband Kevin live in Montejaque in the Serrania de Ronda. They have had an exciting expatriate life, having lived in Canada, Indonesia, Botswana and South Africa before retiring to Montejaque in 2011. 

In 2013, together with local friend VictoriaCarolyn designed and produced The Cookbook and Village Guide (El Libro de Cocina y Guia del Pueblo), a bilingual recipe book that includes recipes from the locals, bars and restaurants and extranjeros

All proceeds from the cookbook were used for a social project in the village.


Edward Lewine

Edward Lewine (1967 - ) an American journalist, fell in love with Spain during a holiday here. He returned to spend time in Ronda where he wrote Death and the Sun (2014) about the bullfighter Francisco Rivera Ordoñez, son of Paquirri and grandson of Antonio Ordóñez Dominguín.


Part sports writing, part travelogue, this is a portrait of Spain, its people, and their passion for a beautiful yet deadly spectacle. A brilliant observer, Lewine reveals a Spain few outsiders have seen. There's nothing more Spanish than bullfighting, and nothing less like its stereotype. For matadores and aficionados, it is not a blood sport but an art, an ancient subculture steeped in ritual, machismo, and the feverish attentions of fans and the press. 

Lewine explains Spain and the art of the bulls by spending a bullfighting season travelling Spanish highways with the celebrated matador Francisco Rivera Ordónez (Fran, as he's known) through every region and social stratum. Fran's great-grandfather, the afore-mentioned Antonio Ordóñez, was a famous bullfighter and the inspiration for Hemingway's matador in The Sun Also Rises

Fran's father was also a star matadorPaquirri, until a bull took his life shortly before Fran's eleventh birthday. Fran is both blessed and haunted by his family history. Formerly a top performer himself, Fran's reputation has slipped, and as the season opens, he feels intense pressure to live up to his legacy amid tabloid scrutiny in the wake of his separation from his wife, a duchess. 

But Fran perseveres through an eventful season of early triumph, serious injury, and an unlikely return to glory. 

The New York Times wrote about Death in the Sun"May be the most in-depth, incisively written guide to bullfighting available in English.” 

"Lewine demonstrates knowledge of and respect for the matador's dangerous profession.” — Boston Globe. 

I was stunned by the book; I couldn’t put it down. Having seen Paquirri perform in Pamplona as a young man, and subsequently his sons Fran and Cayetano in Ronda, I found it easy to identify with the book.


Karethe Linaee

Karethe Linaee is Norwegian but lived and worked in Vancouver, Canada, for many years. There she met Jaime, born in Mexico, but of Basque heritage. 

I met Jaime in 2010 when he rented my apartment in Ronda to do a “recce”. Karethe and Jaime had decided to leave Canada and move to Spain, and Ronda ended up being their choice “for the time being”. 

They stayed in my place another time while they found their feet in their new home town. 

They are still here 12 years later, and curiously bought the house next door to my apartment. 

Karethe is an experienced journalist and is editor of and contributor to several Scandinavian magazines and journals. 

She also wrote a book in English about their adventure in leaving Canada and moving to Ronda. Called Casita 26, it was published in 2020. It has since been translated into Spanish and is available in both languages from Editorial La Serrania. 


Miguel Ruíz Trigueros

Miguel Ruíz Trigueros was born in Málaga in 1961. When he was very young his family moved to Latin America where Miguel studied at universities in San José, Mexico City and the USA.  

At that time he was spending a lot of time crossing the Atlantic from east to west. 

On this side of the Atlantic Ocean he writes regularly for the magazines “Tierra” in Málaga and “El Candil de Diógenes” in Ronda.  

He also travels frequently to South America on behalf of several NGOs (non-governmental organisations).  

Since 1997, he has lived permanently in Ronda. 

Miguel Ruiz Trigueros is the author of the novels Los bailarines de Kronvalda, La Noche de Arcilla, Los Motivos del Sueño and La Sangre de Colón. 

I met Miguel many years ago when a local builder brought him along to interpret when I was renovating a house in the Barrio San Francisco de Ronda. As it happens, I didn’t need Miguel, but the builder didn’t know that. 

I bump into Miguel around Ronda from time to time. In fact, I saw him a couple of weeks ago.



This was my selection of "Dead and Alive Poets" with a connection to Ronda. I am sure to have missed some, for which I apologise.



Editorial La Serrania, Freepik, Karl Smallman, Paul Whitelock, Santana Books, Secret Serrania, Snobb


© The Culture Vulture



Alastair BoydCaroline EmmettCharo Carrasco, Culture Vulture, David Aguilera, Dead Poets' Society, Edward LewineEmma CherryErnest HemingwayEva Monica BratekGuy Hunter-WattsJon ClarkeKarethe LinaeeMichael CoyMiguel Ruiz TriguerosRainer Maria Rilke, Robin Williams, Ronda writers, Tony Bishop

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RondARTE – new art association holds its first ever exhibition in Ronda
Saturday, October 14, 2023

There is currently a fantastic exhibition of work by artists local to Ronda and the Serrania at the Convento de Santo Domingo in the City of the Tajo.

There are more than 150 exhibits by 78 artists.

These works include paintings, lithographs, cartoons, photographs and sculptures, produced by artists living and working in the area.



Amongst the exhibitors are a number of international artists who live in the Ronda area. I spotted works by artists from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as from other Spanish-speaking countries such as Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

I know a few, such as Udo Burkhardt from Germany, a Ronda resident, Sebastian Hedgecoe, from England, who lives in Genalguacil and Elaine Moore also from England, who lives in Ronda.

And, I know local "lad", Emilio Garcia. Emilio made a great video of the exhibition, which you can view by clicking here.




Emilio Garcia











   Udo Burkhardt (L) [Photo: Charry TV]                 Elaine Moore [Photo: Elaine Moore Artist]



RondARTE is a legal entity or association, which was formed and signed into law on 21 March this year, 2023. The aim is to promote and develop ART IN GENERAL in Ronda and the surrounding area.

They have a number of short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives, some of which are quite ambitious. Apart from promoting and sponsoring local exhibitions and providing activities, such as courses, they ultimately plan to create a School of Fine Arts, attached to the University of Malaga.






The Current Exhibition – “Colectiva”

The inaugural exhibition of artworks at the Convento in Ronda is entitled “Colectiva”. It opened on 4 October and runs until 21 October, so there’s still time to catch it.

Admission is just 1 euro or free if you are a Ronda resident or have a tarjeta sesentaycinco.

When I visited this week, I was fortunate to meet three of the artists: Francisco Javier Lopez Rubio (Pacol) from Ronda, Carmen Ruiz Gomez from Sevilla and Ana Maria Slebi from Colombia. They were very engaging and gave me lots of useful background information.

                        "Pacol", Carmen and Ana Maria pose in front of their work [Photos: Paul Whitelock Photography]


You could easily while away an hour at this fascinating exhibition. I urge you to do so, before the 21 October.


©  The Culture Vulture


Articles of interest:

“WHEN I’M 65…”: HOW TO ….. get a tarjetasesentaycinco (

Genial Genalguacil! - Secret Serrania de Ronda

Ronda expands its urban art route with four new murals | Sur in English


Websites and Facebook pages of interest:





Ana Maria Slabi

Carmen Ruiz Gomez

Charry TV

Convento de Santo Domingo, Ronda

Emilio Garcia

Elaine Moore

Francisco Javier Lopez Rubio ("Pacol")


Paul Whitelock



Charry TV, Colectiva, Convento de Santo Domingo, Culture Vulture, Emilio Garcia, Elaine Moore, Genalguacil, Paul Whitelock, Ronda, RondARTE, Sebastien Hedgecoe, Udo Burkhardt



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Música en vivo en Jimera de Líbar
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

By The Culture Vulture

Estación de Jimera de Líbar is a charming settlement that grew up beside the railway line from Algeciras to Ronda.

Down the hill from the mountain village of Jimera de Líbar itself, this arrangement is typical of Mr Henderson’s railway, the line built in the early 1890s by engineer John Morrison, backed by wealthy financier Sir Alexander Henderson, later Lord Faringdon, to transport British tourists arriving by ship in the port of Algeciras up to Ronda.



Mr Henderson’s Railway

This whole stretch of line through the valley of the River Guadiaro has “double villages”, with a newish settlement establishing itself alongside the railway to serve the mountain villages tucked into the slopes higher up.

Working downline from Ronda we have Benaoján/Montejaque, Jimera de Libar, Cortes de la Frontera, Gaucin and beyond into Cádiz province.


Back to the music

Estación de Jimera de Líbar has developed a certain fame amongst live music fans of all nationalities. Bar Allioli, the brainchild for 15 years of Yorkshireman and entrepreneur Paul Darwent and his Danish wife, Synnove, has consistently put on live music at this charming bar in Plaza San
, opposite the station.

Bar Allioli continued to function as a live music venue even during the Covid-19 pandemic, subject to strict rules of segregation, of course.

Since Paul and Synnove retired in 2022, the bar has changed hands, had a makeover and altered its name slightly to Allioli Bar y Más.

The music tradition continues and Paul still helps out with the booking of the artistes.





Saturday 30 September 2023

A group of us were there last Saturday when regular Marcus Myers offered two sets of his brilliant “covers”. A former member of the band Alicia’s Attic, this trained plumber from London, is so busy with his musical gigs, he hasn’t welded a copper pipe in years.

The audience is mostly Spanish, with a healthy contingent of foreigners, residents and tourists.

Our table of “guiris”, two English and one Welshman, residents, were joined by an English lady and an American man, homeowners in Montejaque, but not residents yet, and three regular visitors to the area, a couple from Sheffield and an Ulsterman from Belfast.

I also spotted foreign residents at other tables, two English ladies, two Scots and the former landlords from Denmark and Yorkshire.

We had a great afternoon in the open air, enjoying the early autumn sun, the backdrop of the Libar mountain range and some fine music.

© The Culture Vulture



Diario Ronda

Karl Smallman

Marcus Myers Music

"Hovis" Brown


Other links:

MEET THE 'LOCALS' - Help me, Ronda ( Scroll down till you get to the interview.

What is a guiri? It's what the Spanish call us foreigners - but is it good or bad? (

Our green day out in the Serrania de Ronda's Guadiaro Valley - Secret Serrania de Ronda

BEST BAR NONE? Meet empresario Paul Darwent of Allioli (


Tags: Algeciras, Alicia’s Attic, Allioli Bar y Más, Alexander Henderson, Bar Allioli, Belfast, Benaoján, Cádiz province, Cortes de la Frontera, Danish, Denmark, Estación de Jimera de Líbar, Gaucín, guiri, Jimera de Líbar, John Morrison, Lord Faringdon, Marcus Myers, Montejaque, Paul Darwent, Ronda, Sheffield, Ulsterman, Yorkshire

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"YO SOY TEATRO" - Book review
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Reseña de un nuevo libro concebido y nacido en Ronda: “Yo soy teatro”

Review by The Culture Vulture



Yo conocí a Charo Carrasco y a Emma Cherry cuando empecé a asistir a un curso teatral en Ronda durante la pandemia de Coronavirus. El curso se realizó en la Pequeña Compañía de Proyecto Platea  bajo la dirección de actor profesional rondeño Marcos Marcell

Emma, inglesa y también actor profesional, y su buena amiga Charo, mujer de negocios de Ronda, colaboran durante un par de años en escribir obras de teatro. Una de las primeras, “Novias”, vi yo tres veces en dos años en tres distintos espacios: en el Convento de Ronda, al aire libre en Atajate y en el Pequeño Teatro de Proyecto Platea de Ronda. Es una obra muy entretenida con música y humor. 

Ahora acaban de publicar estas amantes del teatro un libro, “Yo soy teatro”, que es una antología de obras de pequeño, mediano y gran formato que han escrito juntas estas dos mujeres talentadas. Emma y Charo son dos mujeres independientes con el deseo de contar historias en la que sus personajes siempre tienen algo que decir. 

Según Charo Carrasco“Tras más de cinco años de colaboración, mi compañera Emma Cherry y yo presentamos esta recopilación de algunas de las obras de teatro que hemos escrito juntas.   

“Con toda la ilusión del mundo y recién salida del horno, este libro representa la pasión, el esfuerzo, el amor y nuestra pasión infinita por el teatro.”  

“Yo soy Teatro” está disponible ya en AMAZON. 



Otros comentarios: 

Marta Pérez Tirado: 

“Mis queridas Charo Carrasco García y Emma Cherry Rolf acaban de estrenar su primera obra. Si sois amantes del teatro no os la podéis perder y si nunca habéis leído teatro tampoco porque descubriréis un mundo maravilloso. ¡¡Yo ya tengo la mía!! 

“Estoy orgullosa de vosotras, chicas.” 


Jose Antonio Rios: 

“Maravilla teatral. Una visión de futuro a las artes escénicas. 

“Quizás no sea nuevo pensar en una antología de microteatros, pero sí muy novedosa la apuesta de estas dos actrices en la escena literaria. 

“Son obras inclusivas, desde punto de vista humano y personal. A través de sus microteatros y sus personajes, estas actrices, ahora en el papel de dos escritoras independientes, nos muestran una visión de la vida y las relaciones humanas muy especial. Personajes, cada uno con su complejidad e historia y que conviven armónicamente en esta antología preciosa, lista para disfrutar e interpretar. “Ahora, YO también SOY TEATRO, gracias a ellas. Felicidades por esta apuesta y por mostrarnos vuestro arte convertido en un libro. What's next?”


Emma Cherry Rolf:

"¡Número uno en nuestra categoría!

"¡Inesperado y muy agradecido!

"¡Gracias a todos!


Note: This article was first published on the website on 20 September 2023.

Click here

© The Culture Vulture


Tags: Charo Carrasco, Emma Cherry, Marcos Marcell, Novias, Proyecto Platea, Ronda, Yo soy teatro

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Sunday, August 20, 2023

Tiredness, lack of sleep or boredom are ingredients in a melting pot of the tunes that we cannot get out of our heads. We call them “earworms”.


Some years ago the University of St. Andrews in Scotland compiled a list of the most persistent “earworms” in history, based on scientifically measurable factors which potentially make a song addictive. These included surprise, predictability, rhythmic repetition, melodic power and receptivity. 


Here is the St. Andrews’ list: 




XL Semanal 20/08/2023



© Paul Whitelock 



Baha Men, Bohemian Rhapsody, Bon Jovi, earworm, Europe, Gangnam Style, Happy,  I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), James Lord Pierpont, Jingle Bells, Livin’ On A Prayer, Never Gonna Give You Up, Pharrell Williams,  Proclaimers, Psy, Queen, Rick Astley, St Andrews, The Final Countdown, Village People, We Are The Champions, We Will Rock You, Who Let The Dogs Out?, XL Semanal, YMCA

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“ ….. Siete de julio, San Fermin ….”
Sunday, July 9, 2023

By The Culture Vulture

So goes the traditional song about the start of the Sanfermines, the fiesta de los toros that is celebrated every year for seven days in Pamplona (Navarra).

This is, of course, the famous festival of morning bullrunning (el encierro) and afternoon bullfights The event honours San Fermín, the city’s patron saint, who was the first bishop of Pamplona. The festival was made world famous by the North American journalist and author Ernest Hemingway, a massive fan, back in the 1920s.




 Fiesta de San Fermín 

At 8.00 am a rocket is fired at the bull enclosure in this Basque town and the six bulls for the “fight” later that day are released and run through the streets to the plaza de toros, one mile away. Fans, idiots and American drunks run ahead of the bulls and try to avoid being gored/trampled/killed.







Pamplona bull run deaths are rare, but since 1910 when record-keeping began, 16 people have died. Of the 16 runners who have lost their lives, 14 of them hailed from Spain. All but a couple of these men lived in the local Navarra region. Women have participated in the bull runs since 1974 (when new regulations were passed), but all fatalities have been men. The most recent death at the Pamplona bull run was in 2009, but there are between 50 and 100 injuries every year.


I first went to the Fiesta de San Fermín in 1971 aged 21. At the time I was living, studying and working in San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa), next door to Navarra. Needless to say, I wasn’t brave/stupid/drunk enough to run in front of the bulls. I remained safely behind the wooden barrier and took umpteen photos with my brand-new Minolta SLR camera.

But I did find it exhilarating!

And the afternoon corrida de toros was my debut as a spectator. What a spectacle! What an atmosphere! I loved it!



Little did I know at the time, that the young debutant (novillero) that day would go on to become the leading torero of his generation. He was Francisco “Paquirri” Rivera, aged just 23 at the time.

I later learned that this unassuming little man was part of the Ronda dynasty of bullfighters, which includes his two sons.

“Fran” Rivera Ordoñez, the elder son, is now retired and runs the Ronda bullring, La Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda. Paquirri’s younger son Cayetano Rivera Ordoñez is still active as he too approaches retirement.

Sadly Paquirri died in September 1984 following a severe goring in the ring at Pozoblanco (Córdoba) in what was his last scheduled bullfight. He was just 36 years old.

The 2023 Sanfermines in Pamplona are into their third day, as I write. This year’s festival lasts until the end of next week.


© The Culture Vulture




















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