Fantastic night at King’s Arms in Salford helping launch ‘Brigadista’, a commemorative ale by Blackhill Brewery in association with the International Brigades Memorial Trust and Hope Not Hate to mark the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.
It was a night of passion and paella as speeches were made, songs were sung, and the Brigaders remembered as the selfless heroes and heroines they were. In total around 35,000 men and women from 53 countries travelled to Spain to fight Franco’s fascists, of which 2300 were from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth….500 of whom were buried in the Spanish dust. Their cause was not that of Capitalism, the call of King and Country to maintain their status quo, but the cause of internationalism, socialism, freedom and equality. As the poet C. Day Lewis put it in his 1938 poem ‘The Volunteer’:
“It was not fraud or foolishness,
Glory, revenge, or pay:
We came because our open eyes
Could see no other way.”
I went on stage after Dolores Long, daughter of Sam Wild commander of the British Battalion from early 1938 who was wounded five times in Spain and fought on. Dolores was inspiration itself and I was struck by how her presence gave the songs I sang from ‘No Pasaran!’ a human presence which connected them to their source. It was an emotional experience singing them right there, right then. Unforgettable.
I will be singing those songs several times this year at various commemoration events, and I will be proud to add my voice to the choir demanding these incredible men and women be given their rightful place in the annals of history, where they can inspire whole new generations to call out as one:
“NO PASARAN! NOT EVER.”
I’m told the beer ain’t bad neither…..