A Coordinated & Totalitarian Agression

Avid readers of our site will know that I am occasionally indulgent of my taste in music. The Villagers, Alexa Melo, Porno For Pyros, Jane’s Addiction, Lianne La Havas and yesterday Paddy McAloon who penned, to my mind, one of the greatest albums of the twentieth century, Steve McQueen. If one looks at some of the most seminal albums such as Miles Davis’ masterpiece Kind of Blue at the end of the 50s; Pet Sounds & Sgt Pepper’s in the 60s; What’s Going On, The Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin’s fourth album in the 70s; one might argue that the 80s does not present a high bar. If I had to choose only one from this list for my wind up gramophone on a desert island I would choose Kind of Blue as it is not only of its time, it is for all time.

Kind of Blue brought together seven now-legendary musicians in the prime of their careers: tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Jimmy Cobb and of course, trumpeter Miles Davis.”

However I would be kicking myself that I gave up on Steve McQueen. The sublime lyrics of Mr. McAloon provide an introduction to this piece. “I have six things on my mind.” Guernica, Catalonia, Hurricanes, The Mexican Earthquake, Dave King & KPMG,  and Celtic.

I am going to tackle three of these, leaving King on the back burner for an article of its own. As this is first and foremost a football blog, one is drawn to Celtic from my list. McCann’s Dundee kept their shape well in the first half last night, but in the second half Celtic’s quality threatened to overwhelm them. Four goals without reply in a team with six changes was no mean feat. Rodgers has by a country mile the best squad in Scottish football. His next two games, even at this early stage, will define his season. Primark Pedro, like McCann, will not set up his team to go toe-toe with Celtic. If Lite play expansive football, Celtic will decimate them.

To paraphrase Paul Brennan at his excellent blog Ceitic Quick News, “The Cry is No Defenders” at Auchenhowie. Lee Wallace is out with a groin injury until October. John and Alves were both taken off injured in the bruising two hour encounter with Partick on Tuesday. They will struggle to be fit for Saturday’s lunch-time derby. Primark is quick to opine that he has the best squad until the SMSM are blue in the face, and let’s face it they usually are, but even he cannot hide the glaring gaps in his defence. Rather than accept the obvious, in a leaf out of Slim Shady Traynor’s scrap book, he almost ‘fell wanking to the floor‘ when waxing lyrical about Ross McRorie. Pedro asserted that McRorie will be a future Scotland Centre Half. Quite a leap for someone who has a threadbare team with no representation in Strachan’s most recent squad. Should one file that in the “Mark Warburton as future England Manager” folder that is curated by cub reporter Chris Jack? If one were to believe Kenny Miller, Cackhanded Caixinha might select the wrong twin and play goalkeeper Robby at centre half.

Even if Rangers managed to smuggle twelve ‘imperfect but eligible’ men on the park, and their squad players removed their bibs and joined in, I cannot see Celtic’s unbeaten run, of 56 and counting, coming to an end. Sinclair, Forrest, Dembele and McGregor will have a field day. McRorie’s blood will be so twisted that he might give up on playing outfield to pick up gloves to emulate his twin brother. Lions and Christians comes to mind when pitting McRorie against the best forward line in Scotland. Those tipping Lite, step forward BFDJ and Jack, will be succulent lambs to the slaughter.

For generations those of a Celtic disposition were made to feel like second class citizens by the revolving door plenipotentiaries of The Blue Room and Park Gardens. As recently as 2011 they were denied their rightful place in The Champion’s League by a licensing committee chaired by Rod Petrie and heavily influenced by the odious Andrew Dickson. Will the latter be thrown under a Clapham Omnibus in a last throw of the dice by Regan? One can but hope so. I hazard that asking him to be hand-cuffed to Regan at the time is to enter a new paradigm of wishful thinking.

Which leads one to the Catalans and the desire  of a 41% minority to throw off the shackles, imposed by Franco since 1939, of Madrid. After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)  the Francoist dictatorship enacted repressive measures, abolishing Catalan institutions and banning the official use of the Catalan language. From the late 1950s through to the early 1970s, Catalonia saw rapid economic growth drawing many workers from across Spain, making Barcelona one of Europe’s largest industrial metropolitan areas and turning Catalonia into a major tourist destination. Catalonia is now one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. Catalonia gives much more in tax to Madrid than it receives in State grants. The latter’s disbursement is heavily skewed towards Madrid.

Catalonia’s  elected leaders have organised a referendum for October 1 despite a Madrid ban and a politically-influenced justiciary deeming it unconstitional. However the apples in Madrid don’t fall far from the Franco tree. Madrid sent in their boot boys to seize documents and arrest ERC Member of Parliament Joan Tarda and twelve other officials.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont denounced what he said was a “coordinated aggression” and “totalitarian attitude” on the part of the Spanish state.

“We will not accept a return to times past”, Mr Puigdemont added, in a direct reference to the repression seen in Catalonia under the Franco dictatorship.

The Madrid boot boys stated that they had confiscated over 45,000 notifications which were about to be sent to Catalans selected to staff polling stations for the vote, representing 80 percent of the numbers necessary to ensure the stations were adequately staffed.

Seventy per cent of Catalonia’s electorate, from its 7.5m citizens, favour a referendum. One can but assume that the SNP are monitoring developments very closely.

When Lionel Messi expressed his empathy for Celtic he was speaking as an adopted son of Catalonia.

The aerial bombing of the Basque town of Guernica ( 26 April 1937) occurred during the Spanish Civil War. It was carried out at the behest of Francisco Franco’s nationalist government by its allies, the Nazi German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion and the Fascist Italian Aviazione Legionaria, under the code name Operation Rügen. The attack gained controversy because it involved the bombing of civilians by a military air force.

The people of Guernica did not see it coming as it was the first of its kind. The sky rained fire, death and destruction. Franco’s bloodlust for the Basques was unquenchable. They were one of two upstart regions that he set out to crush.

Another adopted son of Catalonia, Pablo Picasso, who moved there with his parents  when he was 14, captured the horror in his eponymous cubist masterpiece later that year.The horror of Guernica will never be forgotten.

Franco’s fascism is alive and kicking in Spain as I write.








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19 thoughts on “A Coordinated & Totalitarian Agression”

  1. Yet another compelling piece.

    The Franco fascism has indeed been alive and thriving for decades with a huge impact on every sector of Spain. And that includes football.

    One of THE greatest players of my father’s generation was Alfredo Stefano Di Stefano. A combination of Messi and Ronaldo. He could play anywhere on the park and was a prolific goal scorer. At international level, he played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain. He also was key to the early success of Real Madrid between 1953 and 1964. He played in five European Cup finals, winning five and scoring in every final.

    Some achievement eh? But here’s the rub, Barcelona got to him first. Terms were agreed with the player and the registration forms lodged with the Spanish FA in Madrid. This didn’t go down well with Real Madrid and, conveniently, the paperwork was found to have ‘irregularities’. He didn’t sign for Barcelona as a consequence of this and signed for Real Madrid instead.

    It was a shocking and blatant act of corruption which transformed the fortunes of the Madrid club.

    With regard to your musical references, I just love Miles Davis, A Kind of Blue, and Bill Evans on the piano.

    Bill Evans is my piano hero (check out his ballad albums on YouTube). Unfortunately Miles introduced him to the world of heroin which eventually killed him at a relatively early age. Yours truly here can pick up almost any musical score sheet and serenade you. But Bill Evans? Chords from heaven and impossible to play. Unless it is played by the great man himself.

  2. Can I suggest as an excellent piece of entertainment the movie Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Torro. It is set at a time during the Spanish Civil War and although ultimately a fantasy film it intertwines both real world and fantasy…with a spectacular and thought provoking end.

    1. For Whom the Bell Tolls- Ernest Hemingway (1940).

      Movie 1943 starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman.

      There was a beautiful talented woman. No breast implants nor lip injections.

  3. JJ
    Excellent article as usual.. Donation made xxxxxx70422J
    This blog just keeps on delving into different areas/subjects which I find refreshing and totally absorbing. Keep up the great work, happy 2nd anniversary and good luck in the upcoming Blog ‘awards’, you deserve it, Stay safe…

  4. Love Miles Davis on this track which for me was another guilty pleasure. By coincidence I believe Green Gartside and Paddy McAloon were good friends for a while.

  5. My Goodness! Paddy McAloon appearing on these pages AND in an article referencing Guernica.
    Saw him perform live a few years ago . What a songwriter and that voice is just unforgettable and irreplaceable . Hugely understated set of works and talent .
    Thanks for the memory..Chapeau!

  6. I’ve no wish to kick off another independence stramash on here but I think it definitely will be an interesting time for anyone that has an interest in the rights of self-determination in a democracy within Europe. That’d include Scottish nationalists, both sides of the Norn Iron divide, the Basques (French and Spanish), the Russians and various parts of it and around it (Chechnya, Crimea, etc). Also with knock on effects for neighboring interests – the Kurds, Palestinians, ethnic Albanians (as opposed to by nationality), etc.

    Its an emotive subject – as seen by the Spanish desire to stick an oar in during the Scottish independence referendum. I would like to think that a properly functioning EU would take powerful steps to reduce the power of nationalism over time and turn the EEA into administrative states of a wider more united power, but I think I’m likely to die of old age before nationalism decreases to that degree or the EU gets its act together enough to be viable. I know for Scotland I’d rather that sort of union than one with a smaller partner such as the UK, but its not the thrust of my point.

    The world is getting smaller and trade pacts and standardisation ever increasing. Smaller unions are being swallowed up by bigger ones in a game that will inevitably end up with just a few players as the world consolidates. The friction along the seams is palpable. South East Asia against China. Russia against the edges of Europe and Middle East. USA against just about everyone given the sheer number of fingers and pies. Muslim world against Christian world. Peoples are more joined up than ever but the differences more magnified. I’d like for Europe to be able to lead the way in a new era of border disputes and self-determination. Its hard to take the moral high ground on other areas otherwise.

    Against a backdrop of sectarianism in Scotland it really does make you despair of why we in particular can’t seem to see beyond such petty differences when globalisation will soon make it all an irrelevance to everyone but us.

  7. There are no winners in the Catalan farce. The independence parties in Catalonia have been winding things up for quite some time, rational debate is hard to come by and many Catalans and Spaniards are fed up of the whole thing. The useless PP government does have it’s roots in Franco’s Spain but Spain is a democracy, albeit not a perfect one but where can you find perfect democracy? There are abuses of power, both political and through the law courts but the Catalan independence parties are not victims of some huge anti Catalan conspiracy initiated in Madrid. Spain does have a constitution and the rule of law, and while not all the laws are perfect there are the means to change them though dialogue and debate in Congress and the other political bodies. The thing is, Spain has been in a kind of political deadlock in the 15 years I have lived here, even though it has managed to break the traditional 2 party state. The problem is no party really makes any effort to work with the others so the country and it’s regions are always playing off each other for political gain. Whilst some of the Catalan independence parties are “true” believers, others are just chancers looking for more power. Lets not forget that it was the main Catalan party which was ripping off the Catalans which the famous 3% cut of government contracts. It’s true that the PP party is riddled with corruption and live in the past with some members having some very backward ideas but they are only governing because no one else can agree how to work together (although to be fair cities and their councils have shown the way, take Madrid for example). I’d say unilaterally deciding that you are not going to respect a democratic constitution is also acting like Franco, Erdrogan, Duerte etc.
    So both sides need to calm down, sit down and talk and the Catalans really need to stop playing the victim card because it’s nonsense. If anything all normal Spaniards need to come together to kick out the political and corporate leeches who couldn’t give a f**k about anything other than ripping everyone off and playing them off each other. IMHO

    1. Just like northern Ireland, and the UK divide and conquer educated people now will not tip their hats, to the master any more. Laws have caught up with oppression

  8. A well written piece.
    All Nation States are an imposition of geographical borders cutting swathes through cultural identity. The present large forms will either consolidate and repress according to the designs of global capitalism or disintegrate into smaller states increasingly independent of external oversight. There was a time before there was any given Country.

    1. I think if you look at the efforts of the OECD (the Common Reporting Standard), increased administrative burden for financial institutions dealing with ‘high risk’ jurisdictions and various blacklists and sanctions against ‘rogue’ states etc its pretty clear that there’s a set of international rules being forged. Any country not playing by them rules will find themselves on the sidelines. Many where corruption is rife live with it as their rulers are more concerned with self interest but you’ve got to hope they’ll catch up with the rest of the world when the populace can be properly represented. It’s getting harder and harder to keep dirty money hidden and people are more aware of what’s really going on through independent news and socially concious leaks.

  9. In a world that comprises larger government forms (EU for one and in another way the UN) its not historically amazing that countermovements occur.
    In spain the basques and Catalans want out. In Scotland some want independence, England has left the Eu and like as not others in other lands not currently reported on do as well
    Seems to to be natural.
    Question as always will be will the new situation (independence) be better for the populace than what went before.
    Franco for me was as repellent as it gets so for the Catalans etc I guess it wd be but of course no one knows.

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