Spain (With Apologies to Auden)

New poetry by Fiona Pitt-Kethley

Yesterday the drunken British tourists Buying golf villas as investments,Starting Irish bars on a wing and prayer. Yesterday the line dancing and the karaoke. Yesterday the high-priced British supermarkets Full of brown sauce, Marmite and Tetley’s teabags, Nescafe, Mr Kipling’s cakes, Ribena.Yesterday the rat’s piss coffee in the English caffs Yesterday the Brits who won’t learn SpanishAnd think every Spaniard is an orange-pickerWho has been done a favour by their presence here. Yesterday those who could sell have already gone. Yesterday the UK’s papers tell the usual lies Exaggerate to bring the euro further down.No one is in need of a Dunkirk-style bail-out. And most other countries have similar problems. Today police violence, but only in some spots.Rather less rioting than the UK has seen.Unusual for Spain where the right to demonstrate is enshrined in law.Today a hope that this right survives. Today the New York Times photographing dumpster divers . . .Are there none of those in their own city?Much of it is healthy, letting nothing go to waste.Today the countryside is clearer thanks to scrap-metal recycling. Today volunteers, including myself, planting cypresses where fires raged. In the past the council paid contractorsAnd many plants died off through being put out in summer months. Today our trees will have a better chance. Today fewer wonderful free concerts,All the early music ones have gone from my city,Fewer fiestas, fewer free paellas and sardinadas.Today the banks who paid for this have less money to burn.  Today the empty estates where feral children played.A seaside destroyed by concrete.Wild wetlands tamed with townhouses.Today one suicide too many has stopped the repossessions. Today the South Americans are going back.More chance of buying their own home in Ecuador.Today the banks will not give mortgagesTo those with jobs unless they’re politicians. Today the strikes for those who still have jobsAnd can afford a day’s less pay.The indignados have fizzled outToday cynicism is taking their place. Today Catalonia striving for independence,A complication, viewed by some as treachery.If they get it will the Basques follow suit?Today every region, different problems. Today the north more profitable than the south.Andalusia’s problems skew the nation’s statistics.And unemployment is not always what it seems. Today the black economy rules. Today an infrastructure much better than many countries,Roads, health service, free education . . .Yet, Spain has a failure to believe in itself.Today the press of the world unites to beat it down.  Today exports rise and this of course is not reported.Spain is not just sun, oranges, tomatoes and bulls.It also has a wealth of mineral resourcesAnd today, industrial and technical abilities. Cartagena, the city I live in,Capital of Spain under the Romans, Carthaginians,Visigoth and Byzantine regimes, a separate canton in 1873,Today builds submarines and refines oil. Tomorrow those who went abroad for work come back with new languages.The worst of the expats left and only return for boozy holidays.Tomorrow the politicians’ wings are clipped.No more taking-the-piss style expenses thanks to “transparency”. Tomorrow the land they could not spoil,No longer profitable to bung a million to the mayor,Untouched cliffs and seascapes populated by gulls.Tomorrow Nature reclaiming its own. Tomorrow builders learning new skillsRestoring decayed palaces instead of desecrating the land.Spain believing in its greatness once againAmongst vistas that are not destroyed by greed. 

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens
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