The other day, on this walk, an elderly Englishman from G. Speaking with an Andalusian accent, he claimed to be one of a group of Brits who, following the abortive Algiers putsch (aka putsch des généraux) against De Gaulle in 1961, fled the Marseilles barracks of the French Légion étrangère and crossed the Pyrenees to join mad Millán Astray’s La legión in Barcelona. He served in jeeps in the Sahara in the mid-60s, following instructions from reconnaissance planes to intercept caravans coming from as far away as Saudi Arabia with supplies for opponents of Spanish rule. The Legion was better-paid and more accessible than normal service. I don’t know whether any Spanish regiments became as notoriously British as the French 2ème Para following Thatcher’s military budget cuts in the 1980s.
On the bar terrace outside the first chapel on this walk, in the company of Frank’s Magic Gravel, Inc, a plump young gent with long black hair who revealed that he had taken the day off from the local mill to think about life, the view, and, more specifically, about his great affinity with Native Americans (not the ones who run the casinos and the salmon rackets). He showed us some impressive tattoos, elaborated on various historical and ethnological details, and then wandered off to get paid for the week. Frank thought it might have been a set-up: not so, unlike our final item today.
Attempts were made persuade various resting actors to put on a tarantula costume, travel out by moped, and surprise us on this walk, but unemployment benefits are clearly too high.
- People we meet: the ornithophile matricide
The long, narrow bar connects the folksy-chaotic gypsy street on one side of the block with the folksy-chaotic payo shopping street on the other. People walk through it from one side to the other without greeting the hick Pakistani tenant or any of his clients. Not that he cares in the least: he is off to …
- Peasants who don’t know how to cross themselves
Apparently we anglocabrones used to think that crossing oneself was prerequisite to being Spanish. Here’s Juan Goytisolo in La Guardia, a short story written in the early 1950s, partly available in GBS:
From the window I saw a group of conscripts in parade dress. It was Sunday and the officers’ room was deserted. Its furniture consisted
- A revolutionary Balkan gypsy begging flyer
The gypsy beggars and backing-track musos who work the Barcelona local train service systematically and efficiently are an example to Spanish local authorities looking to improve their act: no grasping, arrogant, incompetent, Weberian civil service; a fine tradition of no-budget graphic design; and simple, effective copywriting in the language most likely to mean something, not
- Queers and gypsies
April 1939, and the Valencian communist and later Mexican entrepreneur Arturo García Igual (Entre aquella España nuestra … y la peregrina, available in part on GBS) has, as a Stalinist commissar, been sent to the elite camp at Agde, France, where
night after night unsuspected talents [took to] an improvised stage: actors, comics, illusionists and