1973. A vintage year with big clothes and bigger hair. Platform boots and glam rock exploded on our TV music shows. We recorded it all onto C-30 cassettes, using a handheld microphone with its awkward little switch.
On 27 January 1973, the day Chechu Rubiera was born, Sweet sirened to #1 in the UK with Blockbuster, Roberta Flack topped the US charts with Killing Me Softly with his Song. In the year when Slade had three UK #1s, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon. TV was mostly light entertainment and comedy, re-runs now available on satellite every day ... all day!
We dodged Mk 1 Ford Cortinas on our Chopper bikes, or better still, a Space Hopper. To be cool, you had to have the orange one with its smiley face painted on the front. Mine was pink. And, in a moment of sheer madness, somebody invented clackers, a toy that only bruised your knuckles. It had no other purpose. Mine were pink (clackers that is, my knuckles were purple).
Political interest was focussed on the US. 1973 embedded Watergate in our vocabulary as the hearings began and revelations continued. President Richard Nixon signed a peace accord to end the war in Vietnam, US troops were withdrawn within weeks. Henry Kissinger became US Secretary of State and the World Trade Centre was officially opened.
In Britain, there are continuing attacks from IRA terrorists in London. Along with Eire and Denmark, the UK joined the EEC. Red Rum won the Grand National.
The Tour de France was won by a Spaniard, Luis Ocana. France’s two time winner, Bernard Thevenet was second, Manuel Fuente from Spain was third. It was the era of Eddy Merckx. He didn’t race the Tour in 1973 because of health problems.
Chechu was born into Europe’s last dictatorship. Spain was ruled by General Franco, democracy was restored after his death in 1975. The country was already transforming into a modern economy with a thriving tourism sector. The enthusiastic British returned from Spain lobster-skinned, clutching their sombreros, donkeys and sangria.
Just a year later, we all sang Y Viva España, a summertime classic by Sylvia, still much loved by wedding parties and hen night howlers. You'll be singing it for days ... now that I've reminded you!
By coincidence, BBC Four are celebrating 1973 with a week of programmes, 1 to 7 April 2006. If you missed it, you can find out more at BBC Four Online.
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The Discovery Channel Pro Cycle team is the most international of all Pro Tour teams, with 15 nationalities, including four Spaniards. So if you get the chance to ride with team (it occasionally happens!), a few key Spanish phrases would be useful.
We’ve taken our inspiration (and fantastic lines) from Action Wheels Bike Shop.
Ride extremely fast
¡Pedalea a toda marche!
Out of my way!
¡Fuera de mi camino!
Are you sure we are on the right road?
¿Estes seguro deque estamos en el camino correcto?
I think my brakes are dragging
¡Creo que mis frenos están atascados!
Haven't we been through this town before?
¿Hemos atravesado esta ciudad antes?
Can you lead me out in the sprint?
¿Puedes guiarme hasta el sprint?
Have you ridden at all this year?
¿Ha montado algo durante este año?
Am I riding too fast for you?
¿Monto demasiado rápido para ti?
I'll wait for you at the parking lot
¡Te esperaré en el aparcemiento!
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Our friend and contributor Christine Kahane studies Spanish literature in Paris. I asked her to give me some recommendations for good fiction by contemporary Spanish authors. She reads them in Spanish, of course. I've looked for English translations in the UK, some are readily available in English, some not. Here's Christine's top recommendations.
1. Carmen Laforet, who died not long ago, author of "Nada" and "La isla y otros demonios". She is a very good writer.
2. Pio Baroja is an author of beginning of the 20th century. His masterpieces are "La Busca" and "El arbol de la sciencia".
3. Javier Marias is a very interesting author. His most famous novels are "El hombre sentimental", "Corazon tan blanco", "Manana en la batalla piense en mi" and "Todas las almas".
4. Antonio Muñoz Molina is my favorite. He is the youngest member of the Real Academia of Literature and received many prizes. The books by him which I recommend are "Plenilunio", "El Jinete Polaco", "El invierno en Lisboa" and "Carlota Fainberg".
Amazon UK was able to supply Javier Marias and Pio Boraja. Antonio Muñoz Molina was supposed to be in English but was, in fact, in Spanish. My dictionary is hot!
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