"All good Spaniards should piss always pointing towards England".
The phrase is not mine. It was said by the illustrious sailor Blas the Lezo, a hero of the Spanish Navy who spent his life battling against Britain back in the eighteenth century. His hatred of anything that smelled English is understandable in a guy who was lame, one-armed and one-eyed as a result of his encounters with the Royal Navy, incarnation of the devil for generations of Spanish navigators.
They were old times, but there are still in Spain people who take into account the words of that brave Basque admiral whenever they have to renovate their bathrooms. The shame for Gibraltar has something to do with that. Though, those are anecdotal behaviours that do not cover the reality: in the last century several generations of Brits and Spaniards have met, lived together and developed a mutual fascination for their respective nations.
For that reason, the day the majority of Britons voted in favour of leaving the EU, many of us stayed with restrained breathing and sight pointing to the United Kingdom. Not to do what Blas de Lezo proposed but to show our best face and convince the British to stay with us and help us make real the dream of a united Europe.
Brexit has become a matter of feelings, not politics or selfish economic calculations. And it is about feelings that I want to talk while the UK Government, the British Parliament and the EU are racking their brains to get out of a situation that none really wanted. Not even those who promoted it, who already realised that by leaving the EU they will lose much more than they wanted to protect.
Feelings. Why do we Europeans love the British so much? Perhaps because of their sarcastic sense of humour. They are among the few nations in the world capable of laughing at themselves. They are also specialists in identifying and denouncing their own shortcomings and they have done it for years in all forms. That is the first step to improve as a society.
For instance in Literature, comes to my mind all we have been taught by the humanist Charles Dickens, the prophet of dystopias George Orwell, the tormented Virginia Woolf, the fantastic H.G. Wells or the mysterious Agatha Christie and John Le Carré.
Britain has killed us with laughter with movies like ‘Full Monty’, ‘Life of Brian’, ‘Trainspotting’ or ‘Four weddings and a funeral’. It made us also feel unrest while seeing the social dramas by Ken Loach ‘The Navigators’, ‘Raining Stones’ or ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’, that show the dysfunctional face of the society we have created.
We must reject Brexit, the so-called Fixit, Swexit, Frexit, Nexit and other nationalist absurdities that attempt to divide us again
Nor would the music have been the same without the Beatles revolution, the demonic rock of the Rolling Stones, the spatial dream of David Bowie and the innovations of Elton John and Mike Oldfield. And do not forget the broken voices of Rod Stewart and Bonnie Tyler, the pessimism of The Smiths, the speed metal of Iron Maiden, the punk anarchy championed by The Clash and the self-destructive decadency of the Sex Pistols, always determined to save the Queen.
The United Kingdom is the oldest and strongest democracy. They resisted the Nazis alone thanks to the courage of men like Winston Churchill, who told Hitler "We will never surrender" when the rest of Europe had already done so. And is also the country that invented football. The king of sports would be incomplete without stars like Kane, Rooney or Beckhan, without the quirky Paul Gascoigne, the gentleman Bobby Robson and the unrepeatable Bobby Charlton.
London is the dreamed city for shopping and for thousands of European youngsters who want to learn English or to escape unemployment. In return, millions of Brits are scattered by the coasts of the Southern countries every summer to relax and to teach us how to party loudly till dawn. Spanish democrats also owe eternal gratitude to thousands of British fighters who in 1936 came to help the Spanish Republic, besieged by Franco's fascist coup.
For all that, we Europeans love the British so much and cannot imagine the EU without them. As we love Finns, Germans, French, Poles and anyone who wants to live in peace among us.
Our ancestors suffered the consequences of division and we have lived in peace by breaking down the borders that once separated them. That's why we must reject Brexit, the so-called Fixit, Swexit, Frexit, Nexit and other nationalist absurdities that attempt to divide us again. Specially now when we have just seen Nazi flags waving again in cities like Helsinki, we must be vigilant and not allow those who want to resurrect the ghosts of our past to triumph.
*César Calvar is a Spanish Journalist