Those were the days, my friend!
There is a well-known story in the apocryphal Gospel According to Saint Shaznay, which tell how, one day, when Our Lord Jesus was just 12 years old, Our Lady chance upon him hiding in the reeds along the bank of the small stream that run close by their home. At first, she is surprise to see him there and is not understanding what he is up to, but when he begin fumbling around all red-face in his undergarments, it dawn upon her all of a sudden that he was knocking one out and that this was the only place where he ever get any privacy. Saint Shaznay recounts how Our Lady run off in embarrassment with young Jesus running after her, his Y fronts round his knees, leaving behind the stream, where all the fish had turned to solid gold after coming into contact with his holy sperms. Jesus is soon out of breath, however, and does not catch up with Our Lady, who finally reach home, and in melancholic despair, she burst into big heaving fit of tears, because she is knowing that her little boy is becoming a man and therefore that the day will soon come when he will no longer need his sandals laced or his satchel packed with sandwiches and also that soon he will be crucified and ruin everything. How precious are those childhood days for mothers!
Our Lady continue to cry for two whole days, Saint Shaznay tell us, and eventually the whole village is flooded, with the result that she kill all the second-born children there (King Herod had already killed all the first-born children in his unsuccessful search for Jesus, which meant that the second-borns were now the shortest peoples around, so they were the ones who get drowned.) Also her tears kill all the village’s Protestants.
I mention this story because the memories of my own glorious childhood came flooding back to me this Christmas just like Our Lady’s tears upon seeing Jesus spunk up. This was because I go back to our family home and spend my Christmas time with my wastrel rich good-looking brother Hornolo. We spend several nights reminiscing over bottles of Cardenal Mendoza and re-enacting some of the bullying scenes and the sexual esperimentation from days gone by, escept, of course, without our dear departed sister, Candelería, which would have been sick (also, necrophilia is still illegal in that part of Spain, and while Hornolo can afford to scoff at the law, I cannot). And then, on Christmas Eve when we eschange presents with each other, it transpire that my shallow purchase for him of a season ticket at the Bernabeu could not compare with his gift to me, which, as you can see from the picture above, was my old cadets manual from the Frente de Juventudes, the Falangist youth movement. I had no idea what it was until I unwrap it from the brown paper bag Hornolo give it to me in, and then it was a big wonderful wonderful surprise. I would show you a photograph of the look on my face when I open it escept that it was late in the evening and neither of us was able to hold the camera without shaking nor stand still in front of it without falling over. Hornolo did manage to take a picture of me lying in the fireplace after I fall over, and then he make a video of it also after making me stand up and fall into it again, but eventually he do the brotherly thing and help me up off the logs once he had put his asbestos gloves on and finish his drink.
The Manual del Cadete bring back many beautiful memories of camaraderie, singing the Falangist songs around the campfire, the ritual initiation ceremonies that involve estreme pain and dog poo, the marching through Spain’s glorious countryside, the dreams of dying in battle for the greater glory of the nation, and of course, my favourite bit, Mass (You thought I was going to say shooting our children in the reeds, like Jesus, didn’t you?! Ha ha ha. No. That was only my second-favourite bit.)
I spend the rest of the entire Christmas holiday re-reading my Manual. It is a hefty 240 pages long and with small font and not many pictures, but it is both inspiring and enlightening. It contain a history of Spain, a history of the Falange, information about the geography of Spain, finding your way in the dark, and the Morse code. Here is a not typical page, because it have pictures:
You can see here it is very instructive, esplaining to the young boy all he need to know about the emblems of the party. The party is having emblems so that its members do not have to learn to read. Is a shame they put them in a book, really. Here is another nontypical page:
This one is having all the knots that you might need for tying a recalcitrant sheep to a fence, an uncooperative anarchist to a goalpost, or a smelly gypsy for hanging, and so on, although, you understand, this is entirely theoretical and we never ever encountered any smelly gypsies or anarchists because Franco had already had them all shot.
There is also a very useful chapter on dealing with haemorrhages, broken limbs, knife wounds, and animal bites, which I have already made a photocopy of and now keep in the glove compartment of my car in case of breakdown or boredom at the traffic lights. I will practice sutures on my thighs.
I am wondering now why this book have not been reprinted in recent years. Lord knows that the world is crying out for things for children to do, and organizing them into an unthinking, well-oiled quasi-military force in short trousers would do them no end of good. I personally know several former priests who would be only too happy to give up their free time-who says community spirit is dead?-as part of their rehabilitation, to take young boys camping in the woods. I know myself what a formative esperience those times were for me. They make me the diminutive pious self-respecting upright decent citizen that I am today, and who can argue with that?!