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Factor Nagasaki: Hot As Hell

Factor Nagasaki: Seven Days

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The following are, in no particular order of importance, some of the things I have seen over the last seven days or so in Spain:

Tuesday: Whilst coming out the front door of my apartment I was greeted with the site of a large lump of shit on the ground, with a very large firework sitting in it, the fuse hissing towards the explosives. I ran. The shit, quite literally, was flying.

Friday: An estimated 1.2 million people cram the city centre, silently moving in droves upon droves. Hands painted white. Black ribbons on shirts. Banners calling Aznar, Bush and Blair, liars, murderers and war criminals. When you consider that the city has a population of less than 1 million people...

Saturday: A crowd of 8000 angry Spaniards stand outside the PP office (the office of the Popular Party) screaming at the top of their voices, demanding that Aznar stop playing games and give the people the information they want concerning the atrocity in Madrid. Previously that day, it had emerged that Aznar had telephoned the editors of the four largest newspapers in Spain assuring them that the bombing was the work of ETA and not Al Qaeda. In addition, the state run television channel had changed their mid week movie to a film concerning ETA.

Sunday night: Whilst having dinner with friends a phone call arrives telling us that the unimaginable has happened. The PSOE socialist party have won a spectacular victory, ousting the Aznar government. The following morning I meet a Spanish friend of mine in the street who hugs me and begins chanting "Ista! Ista! Ista! Espana Socialista!"

Monday night: 40,000 or more Spaniards standing beside the riverbed, dancing to the sound of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus". On the dot of ten, every street light goes out and for the next twenty minutes, I witness what looks like a small nuclear war in the sky above me as Valencia begins Fallas, the fire festival.

Tuesday morning: After having been celebrating a local Falla (community centre) and witnessing first hand the building of a Falla (a huge, incredibly detailed scultpture which has taken six months to design and build and which will be burnt in three days) I awake to what sounds like Armageddon outside my window: a huge cacophanous fireworks display. It is 8 a.m.

Tueday afternoon: Spanish women stand in the street, singing, laughing, drinking red wine and cooking Paella. Around them stand children, men, policemen, beggars, bums, hippies looking for a free feed. Everyone is welcomed.

There's another five days of this lunacy to go...

Factor Nagasaki: 15M


Black Ribbon for Madrid I have been out all last night. I'm dying. I've been drinking, laughing, listening to music, cheering in streets. What was most remarkable about all of this is that only three days after the worst European terrorist atrocity in almost twenty years, the streets were full with people celebrating too. I was with Spanish, Irish, Scottish, American and French people. Car horns were blaring. People sang out of windows.


Well, a large part of why a quiet Sunday night drink became something else is because the PSOE, the left wing socialist party, have stunned everyone and won the Spanish General election, ending eight years of conservative domination.

A country which was openly weeping two days ago, tonight looked like a country standing, stunned with a drink its hand, having been told that the previously unimaginable has transpired. The unthinkable has become thinkable. If Spain can get rid of the President that commited the country to a war which the vast majority did not want, then so can any other country.

It frightens me that it took an atrocity of the scale of 11M to prompt a higher voter turnout; but it has done. In a sick twist, the darkest act of terrorism has brought a Pro-war, Pro-Bush government to its knees and expelled them for four years. Ironic? Yes. Something to smile about? Maybe...

But I think Spain deserves a smile.

Rather than turning on itself, the population of Spain was allowed a unique opportunity to pass a rapid judgement on its politicians. Kneejerk? Most definitely, but bear in mind that this was the country which was 95% anti-war, to the point where women sat in the streets banging dustbinlids in protest, months after the war had started. But tonight, according to the words of a Spanish friend, they have taken Spain back.

Tonight has been a great night. I feel better tonight than at any time for the last few days. Viva Espana.

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