Happy Birthday Laurie Lee – 100 today

 

The End of the Road

Today is a landmark day for me, a day towards which I have been working for over two years. My book As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee is officially published today  and available on Amazon.co.uk as a kindle/paperback.9781781322079-PerfectCover.indd

 

Birthday Wishes

Laurie Lee would have been 100 today.

There has seen a plethora of articles and broadcasts in celebration of the writer, including an article by me on one of the Book Industry’s  leading trade websites Book Brunch. I tell the story behind the research and writing of my book and the journey that I made following in Laurie Lee’s footsteps down across Spain in the summer and autumn of 2012.

The Radio 4 “Today ” programme carried a headline piece on Laurie Lee, the podcast is now available, see links to other articles carried today.

Crowd Funding Site Still Live-10 days to go

My crowd-funding appeal at Pubslush.com is standing at 34% with just 10 days to go, if you would like a signed and dedicated copy or a selection of other extras, check out the site and support me in raising money for good causes.

 

 The Wheel Has Come Full Circle

 

In a strange and magical way my journey has now turned full circle. In my book I mention a lost love of mine that still haunted me as I made my journey down through Spain. We shared a life in Spain in the 1980’s. This is us then….

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Just a few weeks ago, through the book, we were re-united and everything just fell back into place as if it was meant to be !

 

It looks like I have my Indian Summer, my little summer of the quince after all.

 

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A  New Dawning

To cap a lovely day I received a small gift from a friend of my mother’s who had just received a signed copy of my book. Pam had heard on the radio that Laurie Lee, who loved plants and nature, always had his favourite rose climbing up and around the front door of his cottage in Slad. It was called “New Dawn” and Pam just happened to have one growing in the garden. She sent my mum back with a cutting for me and here it is…photo (25)

A new dawn for me beckons…

 

 

 

Second Chances in Life

36 Steps to Democracy in Spain

On the 20th of November 2011, a General Election was held in Spain. It was won comfortably by the centre right party “ Partido Popular”.

36 years ago to that day, the Spanish Dictator, Francisco Franco Bahamonde, had relinquished his 36 year hold on Spain by the simple act of dying. He had held the reins of power since the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, when a military coup overthrew the democratically elected Republican Government. The violent three year war fundamentally divided Spain and Spanish families and was seen by the wider world as a seminal struggle between the forces of good and evil, left and right, fascism and democracy.    Franco was not going to be divested of his power by any other means than death following a protacted period of illness.  

  I was there in Spain that day, in Seville, on the 20/11/1975, allegedly studying for my BA in Spanish Studies. My tutors, back in England, were  ready to summon me and my fellow students home. I remember thinking, in a romantic moment, that my favourite writer, Laurie Lee, had also found himself trapped in Spain in 1936; caught in the crossfire of early fighting in the Spanish Civil War. He had been rescued in a rather melodramatic fashion by a British naval boat destroyer, patrolling off the coast of the Costa del Sol.

My tutors had no need to worry; they had feared a blood letting; a rising up of an oppressed people seeking justice. It didn’t happen and it has not happened since.  Spain had chosen to take the easy way out and entered into a collective pact of national amnesia, the so-called “Pacto de Olvido”

They have sleepwalked through the last 36 years.

However, significant undercurrents of concern and tension have been stirring lately. Not enough to emerge as a significant election issue, given the depths of unpopularity to which the incumbent socialist party had plummeted-a result of harsh counter austerity measures.

The concerns have been sparked by a recent controversial decision by ex Prime Minister, Zapatero, which may  prove to be his lasting legacy to the nation. This was the introduction of legislation to allow the exhumation of old civil war mass graves that had lain undisturbed for 72 years. The older generation have always been well aware of their precise locations but have not had the will to start digging into the past.  Their grandchildren do have the will and a period of national reflection is guaranteed.  Jason Webster, a new writer on Spain, has captured the new zeitgeist perfectly in his recently published book “Guerra”.

Interestingly, a final act of the outgoing Government has been to publish a report that it had commissioned which recommends the exhumation and removal of Franco’s body from the controversial ” Valle de los Caidos” memorial which literally claims to be a monument to the ” fallen” of the Civil War.  In reality it remembers only the dead of the victorious fascist dead. It is a recognition that a period of reflection and reconciliation cannot be entered into whilst a Monument to the dead of one side in a civil war remains as a National Museum.        

I have a passion for Spain and a desire to see social justice done there.

I am enjoying a second chance in life.  I am studying to be a writer after a torrid few years of redundancy and divorce. I am having an Indian Summer in my life, or as the Spanish would say, “Una Veranilla del membrillo”, which literally and deliciously translates as “the little summer of the quince”

Spain, with its new generation, has a similar window of opportunity to reflect, look deep into their souls and start afresh. Will they take it? The election result was not a good start but there are 36 good reasons why I think that this will not be the end of the story.