AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Tue, February 12, 2019 19:17:15
2018 the west-bound Moreda line was re-opened, enabling a resumption of the
conventional ‘Talgo’ Granada-Madrid intercity train service after a
three-and-a-half year hiatus. This happened in spite of the fact that six
months earlier, the government had categorically rejected the idea, arguing
that the existing bus replacement service ‘covered the needs’ of travellers
heading for Madrid, Sevilla, or Barcelona. There had been no significant drop
in the number of users since the service was interrupted in 2015 it was argued.
So everything was ok.
this cursory abandonment of the Talgo-Moraleda line is symptomatic of the
relationship between the conventional rail network and the High Speed network,
in which the former has consistently been neglected in favour of the latter.
over 31,000 million euros have been invested in the High Speed network over the
last decade; compared with just over 6000 million in conventional stock and
infrastructure: a relation of 5:1.
Last year, 2018, a little more than
1000 million euros was invested in the AVE, as against some 337 million in the
conventional rail network. So, 3 of every four euros invested in rail
infrastructure went to the much smaller and less used High Speed network. The
conventional rail network has more than 13,000 kilometres of track, compared to
the AVE’s 3000. 2 million use the conventional network every day; whereas a
maximum of 25,000 travel by AVE.
And while Spain has the most extensive High
Speed network per inhabitant in the world, only exceeded in kilometres by
China, at the same time the Spanish network carries the fewest passengers: less
than 15 per kilometre, as against 50 for France, 84 for Germany, 63 for China,
and 166 for Japan.
imbalance has been largely brought about by the prestige the AVE contributes to
the local political elites and business communities. The fear of missing the
technological bus to the future is also a factor: An AVE-less city risks
marginalisation, and being left behind. Every provincial capital strives to be
on the AVE map, as indeed is the case for Granada.
other words, a high-speed high-prestige rail service for the few is draining
funds from an existing rail network used by an overwhelming majority of the
population, with extremely detrimental long-term consequences. The High Speed
network is an ‘inefficient mosaic’ without any realistic long-term planning in
which delays and ‘unforeseen’ additional costs are the norm and have led to
wasteful or inopportune investments to the tune of some 26,000 million euros
over the last two decades. (From: Ramón Muñoz
Madrid 6 Jan 2019) https://elpais.com/economia/2019/01/04/actualidad/1546625202_356246.html
Spanish Rail Network, showing existing operational AVE lines
AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Tue, February 12, 2019 19:02:04
be linked to the High Speed Train (AVE) network from June 2019. [See previous
blogs: Oct 2018 (#91); May 2018 (#85);
Jan & Feb 2017 (#54 & 56); March 2014 (48); and Feb 2013 (#29).]
This is almost certainly probably definite. It’s what Minister of Public Works,
José Luis Ábalos, said last
September. And besides, 18 June 2019 is the date that the bus replacement
service to ferry people between Granada and Antequera expires. Until now, the
bus company contract has been renewed every six months since the railway line
was permanently closed for works to be carried out on the new line in April
Well, we said ‘probably definitely’
because, just in case, the bus replacement contract has been extended for
another three months from 19 June, but not, we note, for the usual six. There
has never previously been a contract of such short duration. So we have good
reason to be optimistic. Something is moving. They’ve started training the High
Speed Train drivers, I hear. So if it isn’t June, it will surely be before
The High Speed Train was once
supposed to start serving Granada in 2007. In 2015 the station was closed ‘for
4 - 6 months’ while essential works were carried out. Then they talked about
late 2017 for the first AVE to Granada, then early 2018, etc., etc
But this summer, 2019, you will
probably definitely be able to whoosh into Granada at 300kph from either
Madrid, or Sevilla. Fingers crossed. Or you could catch a plane from seven
European cities. [//blog.granadalabella.eu/#post94]
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sat, February 02, 2019 17:12:58
is not a name that immediately comes to mind in association with the creative
life of the poet Federico García Lorca, but under his nickname, el Tenazas (Plyers/Pincers), you might
recognise him as the surprising winner of the 1922 Cante Jondo Competition organised primarily under the auspices of musician
Manuel de Falla, supported by a handful of Granada’s cultural elite, Lorca
included, of course.
For Manuel de
Falla, the cante jondo and in
particular the siguiriya was the
outstanding form of contemporary popular musical expression that had kept its
purity over centuries and had its roots in the ancient traditions that the
gypsies had brought with them from their origins on the Asian continent.
Diego Bermúdez, el
Tenazas , el Tenazas de Morón,
had helped keep this tradition alive, largely thanks to his friendship with and
admiration for the cantaor Silverio
Franconetti, recognised as one of the historic greats of flamenco music and who
merits a vignette in Lorca’s poem Poema
del cante jondo, inspired by the Competition. Franconetti is reckoned to
have rescued from oblivion some of the finest primitive forms of gypsy song.
Lorca speculates in his “Portrait of Silverio
Franconetti” on how the “dense honey” of his Italian ancestry might have
blended with the Andalusian lemon in his rendering of the “deep song”. People
who knew him said their hair stood on end and mirrors shattered at the sound of
his heart-rending cry. For Lorca, his music, once so definitive and pure, represented
the last echoes of that fading tradition.
Diego Bermúdez was, then, one of the few performers to
have first-hand experience of this old style of flamenco, to which his own
clear and powerful voice would prove that it could still lend an unexpected intensity.
One might say that these were, indeed, the last echoes of that legendary music
of an almost bygone age.
He was born in
Morón de la Frontera (Sevilla), in 1852(?) and died, in dire circumstances, in
spite of the recognition his prize must have given him, in Puente Genil
(Córdoba) in 1933, where he was already living at the time of the Competition
in 1922. He was born into a rural, practically peasant environment, but at the
age of 25 he gave up working the land to dedicate himself to his singing,
making a name for himself as an entertainer at public and private parties and
gatherings throughout Sevilla y Cádiz.
wrote his poem and his talk about the cante
jondo before the competition itself, we may say that El Tenazas’ voice fulfilled to perfection the essence of the Deep
Song as understood by Falla and his like-minded peers. The gypsy siguiriya, said Lorca in that talk (Arquitectura del cante jondo) starts
with a heart-rending cry: “A cry which splits the landscape into two ideal
hemispheres. Then the voice stops and gives way to an impressive and measured
silence.” This is given poetic expression in Poema de la siguiriya gitana, from which I quote, selectively:
of a cry goes from hilltop to hilltop. From the olive trees, it will be a black
rainbow against the blue night. - Oh! - Like a viola bow, the cry has made the
long strings of the wind vibrate” ...
elipse de un grito,/va de monte/a monte. De los olivos,/será un arco iris
negro/sobre la noche azul.//¡Ay!// Como un arco de viola,/el grito ha hecho
vibrar/largas cuerdas de viento.]
... while the
“ondulating silence” that follows is a silence in which valleys and echoes slip
and slide and by which heads are bowed towards the ground.
resbalan valles y ecos/y que inclinen las frentes/hacia el suelo.]
contextualisation gives us some idea of the wonder and awe El Tenazas’ voice suscitated in the hearts and minds of the
Competition’s organizers, as described by Manuel Orozco Díaz in his Figuras en la Granada de Lorca: What
started in a murmur ended in the tremendous heart-shattering, violent and brutal
cry that made them all shiver with that a rare thrill of authenticity and
succumb to the emotion of the performer’s powerful spell.
training in the school of the honoured and acclaimed Silverio Franconetti, El Tenazas must have fancied his chances
in the Competition, because he set off to walk the 100-odd kilometres between
Puente Genil and Granada to take part. That he needed the money need hardly be
to Falla here was the musical purity of the traditional form that he felt had
been devalued by the degenerate milieu that had enveloped the cante, where the proud tradition of “our
old popular songs” had been reduced to little more than pub sing-songs, easy
listening, and somewhat ridiculous in the minds of the majority of people.
But what the
purist Falla found hard to accept was that this milieu become to a certain
extent part and parcel of the gypsy flamenco performance. Orozco says that
while Falla delighted in El Tenazas
singing, he found the vulgarity and obscenity of much of his conversation hard
to stomach. He also quotes the violoncellist Segismundo Romero as confiding in
him, saying: “You understand now, Manolo, Falla’s regret with Amor Brujo, don’t you? He seems to imply
that Falla re-wrote this work as a more classically orchestral piece, distilling
it of its more low-life Andalusian folk
elements, removing the possibly banal dialogue and reducing the flamenco-like vocals
from the first version, dissatisfied as he was with its gypsy orientation and
storyline, with its more blatantly cantaora
Lorca was more
at home with the expressions of unbridled passions, as likely as not to end in
a knife fight, that was the stuff of flamenco, as can be seen in sections of
the Poema: Puñal and Sorpresa from Poema de la soleá to give two examples. This
was less a part of the tradition that attracted de Falla.
El Tenazas, it seems,
was no stranger to the world of gang fights or family feuds and himself
received a life-threatening knife wound that pierced his lung and affected his
ability to perform. Yet this handicap was also a sort of asset in the context
of “deep song”. For deep song was the expression of the life experience of its
performers and its audiences which the now 70-year-old singer gave free reign
to at the Cante Jondo Competition, casting his spell on his appreciative
audience, reducing them to tears of compassion and emotion. El Tenazas’ performance , we can
imagine, was the net product of a lifetime’s experience of poverty, hardship,
marginalisation and oppression that at last found an outlet.
Falla, the old
ascetic, and Lorca, the young hedonist, had a lot in common as well as a great
deal of respect for each other’s artistic endeavours, but at the same time
their contrasting character and lifestyle were the cause a fair amount of
friction between them. Their differing outlook comes to light here in their
approach to the cante jondo, perhaps
for the first but not for the last time.
Historic GranadaPosted by Simon Fri, January 25, 2019 17:32:15
At the end of calle Elvira
where it joins Plaza Nueva
, on the second floor, the
last four windows in calle Elvira
the first three in Plaza Nueva
the home of Emilia Llanos Medina, a life-long and intimate friend of poet
Federico García Lorca. She was quite a lot older than him, born in 1885, and they
were introduced by the painter Ismael de la Serna at the end of August 1918.
Lorca was very impressed by Emilia Llanos, as de la Serna expected him to be.
He gave her a copy of his first book Impressions
(for which de la Serna had done the cover) and dated it
29th August 1918 with the dedication
"To the marvellous Emilia Llanos, spiritual treasure among the women of
Granada; divine emblem of the 20th Century; with all my fervour and
admiration.” - - The marvellous Emilia Llanos
From then on,
Lorca was a frequent visitor to this flat, Dolores Cebrián, Emilia's maid,
informs us. He came and went with a degree of familiarity; it was a sort
of home from home for him.
Llanos maintained a
life-long friendship with Ismael de la Serna, mostly by correspondence, as the
painter spent most of the 20s and 30s in Paris. She was also a close friend of
Manuel de Falla's, and of his sister Carmen.
On one occasion,
Falla urged Emilia to use her influence to persuade Lorca to break off his
contact with a certain ‘wretched group of young men’ whose company he was known
to enjoy. He was of course referring to a certain section of the city’s
semi-submerged homosexual milieu. It was her duty as a friend, he argued, to
lead the poet onto the path of righteousness. Emilia’s response was indeed
marvellous. “Federico is a wonderful person and we should love him as he is,
with his virtues and with his defects.” It wasn't for them to judge him.
Who did judge him were the gentlemen of the Tribunal
of Political Responsibilites who in July 1941 reached the verdict that Lorca’s public
life had been ‘questionable’ (dudosa) and that he had been ‘free’ in his choice
of friendships (amistades libres). He was assumed to be a homosexual, although
for obvious reasons it was impossible to present concrete evidence for this
17 August 1936, the
day after the poet’s arrest: his mother begged Emilia to go and ask Falla to
intervene on her son's behalf, as his life was clearly in danger. Emilia set
off but in the Cuesta de Gomérez she
met Antonio Gallego Burín, who advised her: "Don't go, don't go. Federico
is already dead. You'll only get Falla into trouble." "I swear,"
relates Emilia, "that if I had suspected there was a chance that Federico was still alive I
would have gone myself, on my own, to the Civil Government." (Evidence
suggests Lorca was held overnight in the Civil Government building in calle Duquesa before being transferred
to Víznar.) When later Emilia told this to Falla, he made an enormous scene.
"He made me cry. Your duty was to have come immediately with the message,
no matter what anyone told you." The day after news of Lorca's death got
out, she went to a friend's house (Cristina Gómez Contreras), terribly upset,
pale, and crying bitterly.
She never got over
the death of the poet, for whom she harboured intense feelings of affection all
her life. She was also convinced that she had not done enough among her
influential social contacts to prevent it. In the last years of her life she
talked to him as if he were present, on one of his once customary visits, and
would insist a place was laid out for ‘the boy’ at mealtimes. She died on 29
August at the age of 82.
en español: Lola Manjón. Emilia
Llanos Medina. Una
mujer en la Granada de Federico García Lorca. Comares 2017.
To my charming Emilia Llanos . With affection and
admiration from your devoted Federico 1931
Contemporary GranadaPosted by Simon Tue, January 22, 2019 22:35:42
A few hours of non-stop rain on the
night of 19-20 January accompanied by some fairly mild winds was enough to
clear the air in Granada, a welcome and long overdue relief for all of us.
17 January, Ecologistas en Acción
had reported the alarming levels of air pollution that were being built up over
Granada due to a noxious mixture of nitrogen dioxide and environmentally pernicious particles. This is
part of a familiar weather pattern that is repeated year after year. Something
to do with the exceedingly high summer temperatures favouring the creation of a
layer of ozone which trap said noxious mixture in the long periods of
anticyclonic and windless weather conditions typical in winter. Collected data
showed that by mid-January air pollution
was posing a threat to all forms of life in the metropolitan area of Granada,
home to half a million people.
Fortunately, this threat came to an
end on Sunday just a couple of days after the Ecologists in Action’s warning.
Nevertheless, the ecologists’ call for a comprehensive plan of action to deal
with the poor quality of Granada’s air needs to be heeded in view of the
predictability of a repetition of the unfavourable climatic conditions in the next period of anticyclonic winter weather.
BEFORE ... the rain ... and AFTER
Contemporary GranadaPosted by Simon Thu, January 03, 2019 16:56:18
In case you didn’t know, Spanish dictator
General Francisco Franco’s mortal remains are buried at the Valley of the
Fallen (Valle de los Caídos), a
hideous fascist monument built by the forced labour of political prisoners on a
mountainside north of Madrid to commemorate all those who died during the
Spanish Civil War, though he himself died peacefully in his bed in 1975 at the
age of 82.
However, he is about to be disturbed 44
years after his death. When social democrat Pedro Sánchez became president of
the Spanish government in June 2018 via a motion of no confidence in his
predecessor, Mariano Rajoy of the right-wing Popular Party, he undertook to
have the nationalist leader exhumed and removed from the memorial site, symbol
of the dictator and his repressive regime and a pilgrimage destination for his
supporters to this day.
At the same time, Sánchez offered to involve the
family of the late dictator in the decision as to where the corpse should be
re-buried. Right then, they said, if we cannot avoid the exhumation, we’ll have
grandfather Francisco moved to the family crypt in the La Almuneda cathedral in
Madrid. It’s where his daughter, Carmen Franco Polo, and her husband Cristóbal
of Villaverde lie buried.
Pedro Sánchez is not very happy about this. If the old
tyrant’s resting place at the Valley of the Fallen demands of his supporters some
effort in travelling around 60 kilometres from the capital to pay their
respects to their hero, La Almuneda is slap bang in the middle of Madrid and along
with the Royal Palace one of the city’s major tourist attractions. Imagine the
tomb of the Generalísimo being part
So the Government has turned down this proposal,
allegedly on account of the threat it poses to public order, with the
possibility of violent confrontations breaking out between supporters and
opponents of the man who ruled over Spain for 36 years (1939-1975), not to mention the
threat of possible terrorist attacks. In other words: technical but no
political arguments against the late dictator capturing this top spot at the very
heart of the capital.
So far, an alternative to La Almuneda has not been
decided on, though there is talk of the cemetery of Mingorrubio, El Pardo
(Madrid), where his wife Carmen Polo lies buried in a grave that belongs to the
country’s National Patrimony, as, incidentally, does the Valle de los Caídos memorial.
This soul-searching quest for an
appropriate place to dispose of the remains of the man who is responsible for close
to half a million deaths among the population may sound perverse, but as we
know: Spain is different.
There’s no hurry, says President Sánchez laconically. Franco’s
mortal remains have been where they are for 40 years, so as far as he is concerned
a few more months are neither here nor there.
other threat of exhumation is of more concern to us. For a while, it looked as
if the mortal remains of Emilia Llanos Medina would have to be removed from
their niche in the Cemetery of San José in Granada owing to non-payment of long
overdue maintenance rates. She died childless on
29 August 1967 and there are no family descendents to take on the
Why is this of such concern to us? The ‘marvellous’
Emilia Llanos was in the words of our poet FGL a ‘spiritual
treasure’ among the women of Granada and ‘divine emblem of the 20th Century’, worthy
of ‘all his admiration and fervour’. Thus, his dedication to her in the copy of
Impressions and Landscapes he gave
her, a few days after them having been introduced, on 29 August 1918. She and
Lorca remained the closest of friends up until his murder eighteen years later.
Emilia was similarly close all her life to the musician Manuel de Falla and especially
his sister María del Carmen.
Fortunately, we know now that Emilia will
not end up in an unmarked grave - ‘a pauper’s grave’ as they used to say - thanks
to the intervention of aware local politicians, who pointed out her key role in
the cultural life of twentieth century Granada, allowing her tomb to be
recognised as worthy of maintenance by the city council. This, even though she
did not figure in the official list of local dignitaries in receipt of formal honours
and distinctions from the city.
Her memory may no have the social impact as
that of the late caudillo, Francisco
Franco Bahamonde, but it does look as if she will be able to continue to rest in peace.
Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Fri, December 28, 2018 20:20:45
The Crime of Níjar and Blood Wedding/Bodas de sangre.
It didn’t take Lorca as long turning
‘real events’ into great drama with this case as it did with The House of Bernarda Alba, completed after
a creative process that lasted a dozen years or more (blog post #93). Lorca got
fascinated by ‘the crime of Níjar’, as did half Spain, when he read about it in
the papers in July 1928. The first performance of Blood Wedding duly followed in March 1933 (starring Josefina Díaz
as the Bride).
The crime the play is based on took
place on the night of 22/23 July 1928. The Wedding celebrations referred to
were to take place in the Cortijo del Fraile, a prominent farmstead in the
heart of what is today the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Park; the marriage in the nearby church of Fernán Pérez.
The bride-to-be’s real name was
Francisca Cañadas Morales. The man she tried to run off with just before the
wedding ceremony was Francisco Montes Cañadas, her cousin. The wedding was
being celebrated in the Cortijo del Fraile because the bride’s father ran the
farm operations there on behalf of its owner.
A few kilometres south of the
Cortijo, on the dirt road that runs east-west between Rodalquilar and Los Albaricoques,
the fleeing couple were overtaken and Francisco Montes was shot dead, with
three bullets in the head. Francisca was later found with serious injuries to
the neck and throat. Someone had tried to strangle her. She claimed not to have
recognised the people who attacked them, which everyone agrees is an unlikely
True-life protagonists: Francisca and Carmen Cañadas Morales; Casimiro and José Pèrez Pino
José Pérez Pino and Carmen Cañadas
Morales were found guilty of the crime. A married couple, José was the brother
of the bridegroom, whose name was Casimiro, while Carmen was the bride’s
sister. These two had probably been prime instigators of the arranged wedding
between Francisca and Casimiro.
Francisca was nicknamed Paquita la coja, Lame Paquita, and had been set
up by her father to inherit the family property in nearby El Hualix with a
respectable dowry. The father was thus trying to atone for the bad conscience
he had about his daughter’s handicap. Carmen Cañada and José Pérez saw the
marriage of Paquita and Casimiro as a way to prevent this inheritance slipping
out of their reach and into the hands of ‘outsiders’. Paquita was known to be
unenthusiastic about the arranged marriage and preferred her cousin Francisco
Montes all along.
The facts were just the seeds of
Lorca’s poetic drama. In Bodas de sangre Lorca has the lovers flee after
the wedding, on horseback, not on a mule. Lorca’s Bride was attractive, and
not lame. Leonardo, the only named character in the play, is already a married
man, with a new-born child, and another on the way; whereas Francisco Montes
was single. In the play, Leonardo and the Groom kill each other in a knife
fight under the auspices of the silvery Moon. Lorca finds no role in the
killing for the in-laws Carmen and José, nor for a firearm. Knives and horses
had a recognised and specific symbolic value in the works of the world-famous
Lorca also exaggerated the
difference between the Bride’s and the Groom’s family background. Lorca has the
Groom’s mother boast about the vineyards and fruit trees that her husband had
planted on their evidently much more fertile property. This is pure invention.
The Bride’s father, by contrast, is proud of his skilful cultivation of esparto
grass, a plant used for basket weaving and similar handicrafts, the
only crop that could thrive in the harsh and arid climate where he lives.
These facts, as far as they go, do correspond to the actual conditions of the
Cortijo del Fraile, although out of this fairly impressive farmstead Lorca
converts the Bride’s home into a relatively modest cave-dwelling, more typical
of Granada than of Almería. Again, the symbol-laden contrast between fertility
and barrenness is a familiar Lorca theme.
Interpreting the real events.
When Bodas de sangre was first
performed in 1933, the local journalist Carmen de Burgos had already two
years previously published Puñal de Claveles, a story inspired by the
same events. Her version adopted a clearly feminist point of view and had a
Hers was the first of many
retellings of the events that became popularly known as the crime of Níjar, the
latest of which is ¡Llévame contigo, ahora o nunca! La historia jamás contada del crimen
de Bodas de sangre (Take me with you, now or never! The previously untold story of the ‘Blood Wedding’
by Antonio Torres Flores and Ángel
Miguel Roldán Molina and presented recently in the Lorca Centre in Granada, as reported by Enrique Abuín and Isabel
Vargas in Granada Hoy, 12.12.2018.
Their ‘previously untold’ story is based on a comprehensive and rigorously
researched review of the documented events, which they take pains to place in
their socio-historical context. The quote in the title of the book are the
words with which Francisca supposedly exhorted her cousin, Francisco, to slip out of the
cortijo together with her, leaving poor Casimiro napping, and which she repeated
to the judge under oath at the murder trial. Torres and Roldán are confident
they have written the definitive book when it comes to revealing the true facts
behind the crime.
There have in fact been a series of
retellings of the events, probably starting with the popular romances that
circulated soon after the story appeared in the papers. The literary journalist
Carlos de Arce Robledo marked the sixtieth anniversary of the crime with
another book, with the straightforward title El Crimen de Níjar, purporting to reveal the ‘previously untold’
truth behind the events. In 2014 Josefina Góngora,
grandniece of Francisca Cañadas, published a version of the story titled Amor
y traición en el Cortijo del Fraile (Love
and Betrayal in the Cortijo del Fraile) told from the bride’s
point-of-view, which she felt had been under- or unfairly represented. While,
last but not least, Paula Ortiz`s 2015 film La novia (The Bride)
was more an artistic reworking of Lorca’s drama than any attempt to portray the
One of the reasons why the crime has never
lost its fascination is at least partly due to the behaviour of the
protagonists after the events. Francisca Cañadas, who must have known more than
she told about her almost-lover’s murder, lived with her niece’s family at El Hualix, the property which she
inherited from her father and from which she rarely emerged until her death in 1987. She refused to see or talk to her sister Carmen
who lived practically next door. Casimiro never crossed
paths with his almost-bride Francisca and never spoke about the event even to
his closest family before his death in 1990, 62 years after the crime.
The bare facts are so extraordinary and still
open to interpretation it is hard to believe that the last word has been said
on the matter, despite Messrs Torres and Roldán’s claim to have exhausted the
With the 100-year anniversary coming up, we
can surely expect another flurry of new versions for 2028 giving their original
angle on the happenings of that now distant summer night and the crime passionnel, or honour killing,
that materialised in its arid heat and throat-clogging dust.