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Of Granada

There's much more graffiti than there used to be in Granada. Words and slogans are everywhere: the one I kept seeing was TU SILENCIO ES COMPLICIDAD. The mayor gave the centre of town a paintjob, and it does look dazzling. But around the plazas are walls and doors all scrabbled with tags and warnings. There's a beautiful red house close to Santa Ana, covered in graffiti. I find it irritating and stupid. For money you need to offer something, and Granada offers history and beauty. Destroy the beauty and you starve the goose that lays the golden eggs. That's no way to get a fair share of the omelette.

My mother appears to be a beggar magnet. The moment one appears, she fishes around in her purse to give them something. Every drug addict in Granada could probably score a hit off my mother's well meaning generosity. But despite being a bleeding heart, she shakes her head at Podemos' promises of independence for the likes of Catalonia et al if they vote for the far left party. The Constitution of Spain requires that its armed forces defend the unity of the nation. Like many, she believes that a far left win will find itself on the wrong end of a coup d'etat...and like many Spanish war babies, she is philosophical about the Austerity measures.

'Traditionally, Spanish children did not leave home until they were married,' she reminds me. Her generation was the first to flout that tradition, going abroad to find new lives, jobs, money. She shakes her head when people talk about aspirations. 'I know they want to have their own flats and jobs,' she says, 'But if they are living with their families, at least they are living... at least there is food.'

Her early memories included being packed off to live on a genteel aunt's farm; she spoke to me of the farmhands shaking their heads at the poppies among the wheat. As a very little girl, Mum couldn't understand it. She would break the stems open and suck the milky sap, finding it delicious. She didn't know that more poppies meant less ears of wheat, boding very ill in a post war land sanctioned by the rest of Europe. In the end, independent money changed everything. People wanted cheap happy sunny holidays, Q the boom. But between the war's end and prosperity were decades of hardship and hunger. Against this, today's problems seem a little less dramatic to those who remember, even the sympathetic ones.

And yet, she still digs euros out of her purse when they ask.



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