When I think of my province – Almería – I don’t bring to mind flamenco dancers eating enormous plates of paella after an enjoyable afternoon at the bullfight explaining the minutiae of the spectacle to aghast tourists.
Hideous plastic farms aside (and I live completely surrounded by them), I’m gonna go along with the cowboys.
I learned my Spanish from going twice-weekly to the old pipa-theatre, the summer cinema open to the stars (late-showings only) and began with ‘hands up’ and rapidly progressed to ‘die, you dirty dog’ – useful on so many occasions, and especially now, with the Russian army due to arrive later this week on the twelve noon from Numa.
The old pipa-theatres were so called, because you ate a twist of sun-flower seeds noisily from your wobbly wooden chair, which could be picked up and turned around to make it easier to chat more comfortably with one’s neighbours during the slow boring bits. In the winter, one went to the enclosed cinema next door. The chairs were fastened to the floor, but you could still smoke.
Or chat with your pals if things got dull.
Of course, with a good cowboy film, shot locally and with an Italian, German or Spanish director, there weren’t many boring bits to be sure.
Barbara my Californian wife would say, oh look, those aren’t American horses, those are PREs (which is horsey-folk slang for Spanish nags) as the rest of us wondered how a German director could get an Italian actor to say ‘Hands Up!’ in Spanish.
The gigantic speakers, plus the simple story line (Die, you dog!) made it easy to both follow the plot and also to pick up some vocab. Even today, I like my movies loud.
The movies were shot in Almería back in the golden years of society’s regular visits to the cinema. Before colour TV and videos came along.
The desert scenes of Tabernas were considered just the job for a good shoot-out and the extras came cheap enough. Sergio Leone and others like him managed to take an American original (we were all brought up on cowboys and indians, stamped with the heavy American morals of the times) and improve upon it. Cut the chat, they figured correctly, and shoot somebody. Leone brought the camera close to the actor’s face and we could see the twitch in the eyes just before the guns blazed. The astonishing Ennio Morricone provided the music.
At 15 pesetas for a cracking good evening, with a beer or a soft drink for another ten, hold the pipas, it was blissful.
Tabernas today, a half century on, has several cowboy towns – or film-sets – open to the public. The largest is the Mini Hollywood now called Oasys with a museum with film posters of Anthony Steffen, Giuliano Gemma, Bud Spencer, Terence Hill (all Italians), Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Dan van Husen (who came to my 21st birthday party in Mojácar), Klaus Kinski and so many more. There’s a collection of old film-projectors, a zoo (for some reason), a bar with lots of character actors wandering around shooting each other as we complacently drink a beer and many other attractions besides.
They even lend you a cowboy hat and a revolver and take a picture of you looking either mean or else bemused (or in my case, mildly sun-stroked and drunk).
By the mid-seventies, the film-makers had moved on, as the local agents got increasingly greedy, and they began to make cowboy flicks in Yugoslavia or Morocco (‘that’s an Arab horse’ says Barbara derisively).
Nowadays, Tabernas gets a few adverts shot there and maybe a Spanish director will make a rare cowboy film (Pedro Almodóvar is filming one at present), and my old mate Eduardo, who has made his career by getting shot and dramatically falling off a galloping horse, will likely make a brief appearance in the second reel.
The history of the Spanish cowboy films at Valencia Plaza here explains how the local industry fell to pieces.
‘The market for prefabricated houses in Spain is on the up, and every day more and more companies are joining in on the sale of this type of housing. Thanks to their numerous advantages, prefab and modular houses are an increasingly popular solution in the real estate market in Spain. Some come fully assembled, others arrive in modules and it is up to the client to finish assembling them in their location of choice…’ Story at Idealista here.
Karethe brings us ‘The arduous and joyful task of restoring a village ruin’ at Eye on Spain here.
From elDiario.es here: ‘The immense return of tourists to Barcelona puts residents on alert: "We have learned nothing from the pandemic". The return of the massive press of visitors reopens once again the debate on the city model after two years in which public spaces were recovered by the people of Barcelona’.
Some good news from The San Diego Union-Tribune here, ‘Spain and Portugal sign off on plans to temper energy prices’. It says that ‘…Spain and Portugal joined forces earlier this year to ask the European Union’s executive arm to allow them to skirt the bloc’s common-market rules. Citing the large amounts of renewable energy used in both countries and their scant connections with the European power grid, the European Commission has now agreed to allow a price cap on gas used for power generation, averaging around 50 euros per megawatt-hour for the next 12 months…’ From El Confidencial here. ‘The regulated electricity bill, to which more than 10 million households are covered, will experience relief thanks to the cap on the price of gas used in generating electricity. But this will not come into force until at least June 2 and it is not known how many euros of savings it will mean for the pockets of consumers. The news agency EFE says: ‘The Government approves the mechanism that will lower the electricity bill by 40% from June’. "Homes and companies will see their electricity bill reduced from the next receipt", promised the President of the Executive Pedro Sánchez in a tweet says the article.
‘The Emir of Qatar announces an investment of 5,000 million dollars in Spain in the coming years’. Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani spoke of his "profound friendship" with Spain at a dinner held in his honour at the Palace of the Zarzuela in Madrid says El Huff Post here.
ECD says that the days of Unidas Podemos are drawing to a close as the IU leader Alberto Garzón is breaking with Podemos (the loss of that party in the far-left coalition in Andalucía, says the news-site, was not a mistake) and instead is moving towards bringing Más País (Iñigo Errejón’s party) into the fold. The thinking behind this is to give Yolanda Díaz a fully-supportive platform for her project (to be revealed later this summer).
Andalucía Elections June 19:
The Andalusian pre-campaign is warming up. Juanma Moreno, the president of the Junta de Andalucía and once again PP candidate is playing down the PP badge in favour of his own product. He’s even using green instead of blue in his party posters. Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla (‘Call me Juanma’) is an able politician and knows to keep the Partido Popular apparatus at a cosmetic distance. While Moreno is a moderate, the elephant in the room and his likely partner, the Vox, most certainly isn’t.
Pedro Sánchez has been campaigning in Andalucía (as time permits) with the message – it’s either us, or it’s the PP/Vox says El Confidencial here.
From El Huff Post here, ‘The former mayor of Seville and now PSOE candidate for president Juan Espadas has an obsession: to mobilize the progressive electorate. This was one of the keys to the election disaster of four years ago, when around 400,000 party supporters stayed home. It was a major defeat for the then candidate Susana Díaz…’
From El Independiente here: ‘The polls foresee the victory of Vox in almost seventy towns, most of them located along the Mediterranean coast. They share three common aspects: they are tourist areas, with high unemployment rates and with frequent flows of irregular immigration’ (that’s to say: lots of foreigners). From EPE here: ‘Vox falsifies official data to stir up fear of immigration in Andalucía. The Vox leader Santiago Abascal backs the 'anti-immigration' groups within the EU to incite in his Andalusian stronghold, Almería, the idea that immigrants increase crime and will bring about the end of the Welfare State’.
The Blint – What’s on in English in Barcelona. Mainly comedy acts by the look of things.
‘Barcelona 2030, Europe’s digital capital. Digital city model must facilitate teleworking, training and e-health, bring new thinking to the mobility of people, the use of buildings and city centres, and have an attractive, digitized commercial offer’. A puff from Politico here.
From Brilliant Maps here: ‘The Percentage of People that think their Country has benefited from being in the EU’. All of them, really, except for the little grey one centre-left on the picture.
Like many other countries, Spain has generously given military equipment to The Ukraine, however some of it is raising eyebrows says The Objective here. Recent supplies sent to the beleaguered country include a generous stock of winter boots (it’s springtime in the East) and six million 7.62mm cartridges.
From Schengen Visa here: ‘The 90/180 days rule – Calculate Your Legal Short-Stay Days in Schengen Area – Visa Calculator’.
From EuroNews here: ‘Spain approves plans to become the first European country to introduce paid menstrual leave'. Indeed, there is still some fuss about this rule and it won’t be signed into law for some months yet.
CadenaSer Radio has some recordings, published this week by El País, of a senior member of Mariano Rajoy’s government – the erstwhile General Secretary of the PP Dolores de Cospedal – talking to the disgraced ex-commissioner José Manuel Villarejo (wiki) about how to smother the Barcenas information (the double accounting system) on corruption and extra-payments to high-ranking members of the party. It’s not that much of this wasn’t already known – as that here are the tapes. The recordings come from January 2013, before the whole Operación Kitchen thing that ended in the fall of the Rajoy government had even begun. There’s more on the story at La República here.
The PP has bought off a few judges along the way, says Público here, as they focus on one particular example.
20Minutos is the news-site with the most single visitors in April, followed by El País then El Mundo, La Vanguardia and so on. Well done, them. It doesn’t have a paywall, mind…
‘Germany supports Spain to achieve a large solar module plant’ says El Economista here, adding ‘It will require an investment of 1,000 million euros if it gets the green-light from the EU’. The plan is for a gigafactory to assemble solar panels (currently, most of them are made outside Europe).
We are apparently in an age of extinction. EFE: Verde brings us twelve Spanish birds which have either totally disappeared or regionally so in the last 500 years.
Barcelona can claim the award for the European port with the most pollution suffered from the visits by cruise ships says La Vanguardia here. Palma de Mallorca is second.
From EcoAndalucía, a short video on YouTube here: ‘Environmentalists publicly denounce that several urban projects, with the support of the Tarifa City Council, once again threaten the virgin coastline of Tarifa (Cádiz), one of the most famous in Europe, located between two seas and two continents. Urban speculation seems to have no limits...’
‘Andalucía prepares for “earliest heat wave” since records began in Spain. Unusually high temperatures are forecast throughout the region in the coming days, with four provinces already on alert for sweltering heat this Thursday’. Sur in English reporting here. From Xataca, we read that ‘May is turning into the first month of summer: this week's heat wave is just a warning of things to come’.
Facua, the consumers’ organisation, claims that anyone using gas at home could be paying a huge mark-up. They say that ‘…the free gas rate is almost three times more expensive than the regulated one. Facua has checked the offers from Endesa, Naturgy, Iberdrola, Repsol, CHC Energía and Total Energies and found them to be anything up to 175% more expensive than the TUR rate’ (here). Iberdrola, says the article at El Independiente here, is the most expensive.
‘Castilla y León is to resurrect the failed City of the Environment of Soria after 130 million euros spent and twenty years passed. The regional government wants to finish the Garray Business Park that was left uncompleted after the crisis and various court rulings with an injection of another 28 million euros’ says elDiario.es here.
The US Department of State has removed ETA from its list of terrorist organisations. The terror group committed its last atrocity in 2010 and is now extinct. We hope. El Mundo reports here.
A little-known fact, says VozPópuli here, is that politicians don’t pay the same rate of tax as the rest of us. National politicians down to mayors and local councillors all get fiscal advantages which rise in the higher echelons of politics to a discount of 40%.
Juan Carlos I, The Emeritus, will return to Spain this weekend says El Confidencial. No word if he is staying any longer… Meanwhile, Doña Sofia finds that she has an engagement at the same time in Miami.
A private – and valueless (?) – survey of 81,600 people who volunteered their opinion on whether they preferred a monarchy or a republic was held this past weekend in various cities by the La Plataforma Consulta Popular Monarquía o República. We imagine a table on the pavement with a couple of pollsters, although there were in fact some 724 points across Spain. The result: the republic pulled 93%. In reality, the chances of such a choice being put to a referendum – a bit like hanging in the UK – is highly improbable.
Apparently, there’s a nefarious plan to turn we white folk into a minority. It’s called the Great Replacement Theory. We saw this in action in Buffalo NY earlier this week. There’s even a Fox News host who promotes this stuff. Anyhoo, here in Spain, we have the Vox party which appears to share the same opinion and, we read, their leader Santiago Abascal came out with this in a recent campaign meeting in Almería: “More and more Spaniards and Europeans are feeling themselves strangers in their traditional neighbourhoods, and a sense of bewilderment and dispossession is spreading, of loss of control of their own lives”. It’s so handy for the Voxxers that the foreigners – whether wealthy European expats or the miserable North African farmworkers – can’t vote. The Vox candidate for the Andalusian elections is Macarena Olona, who has this to say "Never in Spain has a woman or a homosexual walked through our streets with as much risk as today". InfoLibre also follows the story: ‘Vox stands alone in Congress warning of a delirious plan by Brussels to end the white race as we know it’. The article says that conspiracy theories (the more sinister the better) work well for the extreme right.
Vox has an agency called the Fundación Disenso which pumps out their racist line here. Views which are contested by Stop Rumores here.
Well, I made the Big Time in the iNews (only, they spelt my name wrong). An article (paywall removed) about the issue of the Brits driving in Spain and also the exciting new development of ol’ time Brit expats now being able to vote in the UK. Their alarming title: ‘Britons in Spain face life without cars or family care after failure of post-Brexit talks’.
From the AUAN: It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Len Prior on Wednesday 11th May 2022.
Len’s determination, resilience, good humour and sheer bloody mindedness allowed him to rise above the rubble of his demolished home in Vera to take on a faceless administration in the pursuit of justice. He was a source of inspiration and support for this association and its members and a real catalyst for change. The homeowners of Andalucía owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. May he rest in peace.
Sincere condolences to his wife Helen and to his family who request privacy at this time.
The Olive Press remembers Len Prior here.
Pegasus spyware with the irreverent Miguel Charisteas on YouTube here. Heh!
Lole y Manuel introduced a new kind of flamenco fifty years ago. Here they are on YouTube with Todo es de color.