Tuesday, 16 April 2013

How my Basque friends marked Franco's death

From my Daily Record column:

I have a friend from the Basque country whose stories about growing up in Franco’s Spain the Sixties are similar to those my father told about Scotland in the Hungry Thirties - no shoes going to school, no cars on the road, no meat in the pot.

When the dictator died in his bed in 1975 my friend Alberto and his brother, then young men, ran out and bought a bottle of champagne, which would have been the equivalent of buying a crate of the stuff last Monday.

The nationalist Basques lived under Franco’s heel for nearly 40 years, they had reason to celebrate.

It was an ETA bomb that killed Carrero Blanco, Franco’s heir apparent, in 1973 which they argued paved the road to democratic transition.

My jubilant pal and his brother were ready to pop the champagne cork at home when they were pulled up short by their mother.

She was an anti-Francoist who had witnessed the bombing of Guernica by the Germans and had a deep sense of ethics.

Alberto recalls she said: "We fought tooth and nail against him, but there is no honour in dancing over his dead body now."

It was a convincing argument. The brothers compromised, and drank the champagne to toast their dignified mother.

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