Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cementerio de la Almudena

This morning I went for the first time to the Cementerio de la Almudena. I wanted to see the grave of Fernando Casado Arambillet (although maybe you know him better as Fernando Rey). It's about an hour and a half walk across town, up the Calle Alcalá and past the bullring.

Two problems. More people are buried there than currently live in Madrid itself, and there is no directory or map to the graves. I suppose this is good, on the one hand, as it refuses to turn the cemetery into a tourist attraction, but, on the other hand, after walking halfway across the city on a touristy pilgrimage myself, it left me a little nonplussed. Anyway, having set myself a task only slightly easier than finding a specific living human individual in Madrid with no knowledge of where he lives (slightly easier, because, with rare exceptions, the dead stay put), it's no wonder that I drew a blank. You have to know how the system works even after you're dead. I didn't see the grave of Fernando Rey; I didn't even get to see the grave of Benito Pérez Galdos, Pío Baroja or Vicente Aleixandre. But...

There were emptied-out ossuaries, set into the side of a hill that looked suspiciously as if it were crumbling from the weight of bones.

There were spare ossuaries, which are marked as 'restos', a word which I only know as meaning 'leftovers' in a culinary sense.

There were the four towers of the Cuatro Torres Business Area standing happily above the early-ish morning cloud.

There was the tomb of the Flores family, an affront to good monumental taste even in a largely Catholic country. The statues here are of, I think, the actress Lola Flores (1923-1995) (r.), and her son Antonio (1961-1995), who died shortly after his mother's death [the original version of this post claimed that he committed suicide as a result of Lola's death, but - see the comments- that's not certain. He died of an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol a fortnight after his mother's death, but there is no clear indication of whether this was deliberate or not in any of the online sources I can see.]

Here's Antonio singing 'No dudaría':

And here is Lola singing 'Ay pena, penita, pena'

There was also the grave of José Cubero Sánchez, a bullfighter better known as 'El Yiyo'.

More worryingly, there were large and unpleasantly well-kept monuments to La División Azul;

the Condor Legion,

and the Falangists who died at the Cuartel de la Montaña.

I said last week that I guessed the left wing were throwing as much paint at the right-wing memorials as the right wing were throwing at the left-wing ones. But maybe I was wrong. Still, I suppose somebody's keeping score.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Joanna Newsom (1982- )

More information here. What the Wikipedia page doesn't tell you about is the intimacy, the stage presence, the breaking down of 'Good Intentions Paving Co.' with a five minute trombone solo, the technique, the amusement, the faces she makes when she sings, the fact that this hardened cynic was crying like a baby (well, a hardened cynical baby, but on the road to purity and innocence), the sheer glamour of the thing. It was a great concert, better than the previous one of hers we went to in the Courtauld Institute in London, which was romantic in its way (moths, moonlight), but not so perfect as this.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

UCM Botanic Gardens

Tio Pepe

Nature morte


Days of Mist

Sometimes I almost like having to leave the house at twenty past eight to walk to work. Here are, sfumatoed by fog:

the view from the corner of Calle del Acuerdo, looking onto the Plaza de las Comendadoras;

the view from the corner of Calle Amaniel, looking up the Calle de San Hermenegildo;

the view along Calle Alberto Aguilera;

two views of the trees in the little park that fills in the gaps between the Fundación Jiménez Díaz and the Complutense campus,

and the proto-Fascist, wildly homoerotic statue of two naked men, one on horseback, exchanging the flame of knowledge, that stands in the centre of the main square of the university.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Diskoteka Avariya

A party from April 2010. The title of this post comes from here, which is superfluous information I wouldn't mind not having in my head.

What went wrong here?

I think the film must have been much too slow (the only available speeds in my local camera shop are 125, 400 and 3200), and the day was too bright (these are photos from May 2010 that I've only just got onto the computer). But the effect is cute-ish, to the extent that I would claim them as deliberately gritty were it not that the other thirty-three exposures on the film were almost entirely black, with the occasional gurning picture of Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven peering out of the darkness like a moray eel from a cave in a rockpool.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Resistance is fertile

We went to Chinchón with Alex and Hazel and Laurie today, which was enjoyable and chilly. On the way (photos of Chinchón on the analogue camera, so will be posted a little later), we stopped at the monument to the International Brigades and the defense of Madrid, which stands on top of a hill covered in trenches and tunnels (which we would have explored but for the fact of their being dug into a rabbit-ridden hill and our having no torch). The monument itself is two vast interlinked red hands, and has clearly had paint thrown at it by non-Republicans at some point in the past. I assume the same thing happens from the a different point on the political spectrum at the Valle de los Caidos, but it's not big or clever from either side.





Thursday, January 20, 2011


This is the first time we've done one of these for a book we've published. We're very pleased with how it turned out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

You say líchen, I say līchen, let's call the whole thing moss...

We went on our first walk today as members of the Complutense Waling Club today: about seventeen kilometers round and about the Chorrera de San Mamés, a waterfall up in the Sierra de Madrid. nice people, good views, and a whole lot of lichen. Here is a whole lot of lichen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957)

More information here.

José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi (1776-1827)

Author of El Periquillo Sarniento (The Scabby Parrot, 1816), generally regarded as the first novel to be written and published in Latin America. More information here.

Current Favourite Sentence

It would be useless to deny that a man throws dice with death when he becomes president of Mexico.

Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840)

Portrait of Redouté (c.1795) by Louis Léopold Boilly.

Canterbury Bells (1797). More information here.

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)

Marie Antoinette Led to Her Execution (1793). More information about David here.

Luis Marco Pérez (1896-1983)

More information (in Spanish) here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas in Cambridge

We were there when it was icy and snowy, and the ground was freezing hard. Lots of photos of Midsummer Common and Jesus Green in the dark: I think the slightly flared edge on the fourth photo down feels appropriate. No good photos of my parents, sadly, and the one photo I took of Tom and Ben and Marian together does not do them justice. It was a lovely few days, though.

Fox at Night

We were going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (well, obviously, it ran on into Christmas Day), and a fox, in a very Ted Hughesy way walked across in front of us and sauntered over the frozen cut into Jesus. The photos are evocative, but suggest I should perhaps get a better camera. Any excuse.