March 22, 2014
DECADES after Spain tore itself apart in a civil war the pain lingers on. The Ley de la Memoria Histórica, a recently enacted law, aims to heal some of the old wounds but has only succeeded in exacerbating the fierce debate.
Passions are still fierce, not just about the war itself but about the repression that followed during the long years of dictatorship. The country has yet to come to terms with events that occurred more than 50 years ago, not least those of a desperate guerrilla conflict which raged in the 1940s.
Thus, Between Two Fires — Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras could not be more timely. This important book throws fresh light on a struggle which — thanks to strict censorship — went largely unreported both in Spain or in the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
February 15, 2014
SILENCE is not just golden. It is a commodity they don’t make any more. Noise has become inescapable.
Climb the highest mountain and you will be buzzed by lowflying aircraft, find the loneliest beach and sound systems or speedboats will shatter the calm, plunge into Alpine wilderness and snowmobile hooligans will assault your solitude.
Spain is the perfect place to study noise because it has so much of it. In fact, the Spanish press frequently reminds readers – with a touch of pride? – that after Japan this is the world’s noisiest country. Read the rest of this entry »
September 8, 2013
“Typhoon season. A crazy time to visit. The air would be as thick as soup, the humidity overpowering. Even as the Cathay Paciﬁc Jumbo banked overthe South China Sea for the approach, Clive wasn’t sure why he was returning.
Perspiration trickled down his neck, as though in anticipation of the heat that would greet him. But this was a cold sweat. So many years. Would he know anybody? Would anybody know him?
His stomach was tying itself into a knot. He tried to kid himself that it was excitement. But he knew it was something else, a sense of unease. Should he really be returning to Hong Kong? Up to now he had tried to push the real reason to the back of his mind. What a charade! Why did he fool himself?” Read the rest of this entry »
August 4, 2013
EVERYBODY remembers the first time they stepped on to Spanish soil. Dazzling light, dramatic landscapes, colourful personalities, pungent smells…they make an impact on the most travel-jaded.
You may be exhilarated or exasperated, enthralled or appalled, but you cannot remain indifferent, for this is a land which invites extreme emotions.
However, my first visit contradicted all the stereotypes for I came away convinced that the rain in Spain fell mostly on green, misty hills inhabited by short, broad people who wore large berets and carried black umbrellas everywhere. This impression arose from a day trip from France to San Sebastian. Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2013
Between Two Fires — Guerrilla war in the Spanish sierras, a poignant account of how a village was trapped in a brutal conflict for years after the Civil War, has been setting sales records in the United States.
Since it became available in the Lightning Source edition, which can be ordered through Amazon online, it has been selling steadily to American readers keen to know more about this forgotten war — a war which went virtually unreported due to strict censorship.
The book has won critical praise from across the world. “As exciting as any thriller yet deeply moving, it deserves to be read by everyone concerned with the history of contemporary Spain,”says historian Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Civil War and Franco – A Biography. Read the rest of this entry »
May 12, 2013
CITY FOLK ARE A FUNNY LOT. When they take a trip to the countryside, they tend to adopt a superior attitude towards the rustic bumpkins while betraying their general ignorance regarding all about them.
They smile with pleasure at the sight of the lambs gambolling about the fields, conveniently forgetting that soon those cute animals will be slaughtered to satisfy their appetites. Their delicate urban nostrils sniff with disgust at such basic farming odours as manure spread over the fields.
That does not fit their idea of the simple life, i.e. a deodorized dream of bucolic paradise. Sadly that paradise never existed. And as for the “simple life”, that can be just a little complicated.
As the “hero” of David Baird’s latest book, Don’t Miss The Fiesta!, a thriller with macabre touches set in a Spanish village, discovers to his cost. Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2013
Sunny Side Up is David Baird’s ironic look at rural life, reflecting the dramatic changes in southern Spain since he went to live there more than 30 years ago. And now it’s part of a school curriculum — making it required reading in Spanish schools.
Sunny Side Up Up — The 21st century hits a Spanish village has for the second year running been selected as a set book for Fifth Grade students at the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas in Motril, Granada province. In addition, high school pupils in Nerja on the Costa del Sol are using the book in their English studies.
“This is a bit daunting,” admits David, a journalist and author long based in the Axarquía (the eastern corner of Málaga province). “I have to give presentations to the students and I’m used to asking questions rather than answering them.
“Fielding questions from a bunch of critical students is a different game — especially for somebody who until recently had never made a public speech in his life!”
Hilarious, nostalgic and moving, his book inspired the Sunday Times to comment: “Recommended reading for anybody who ever wondered what happened to the ‘real Spain’.”
After working around the world as a journalist, David has been based for some years in Spain, reporting for international publications on everything from earthquakes to wine festivals.
Sunny Side Up is published by Maroma Press (www.maromapress.wordpress.com) and is available from English-language bookshops in Spain or from Amazon.