Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Last month, I posted that Kezia had joined the Taleban ... she has since, I am told, switched allegiances - I do like to think there is some fighting blood in her (oh excuse the puns) ...

The origin of our family name (that is mine and Kezia's by blood and Nanda by marriage) derives from the southwest French region of Gascony or rather, in French, Gascogne. Twist around some consonants a Vascon becomes a Bascon (and hence a Basque) becomes a Gascon - but in the unique Basque language none of these terms resemble how they refer to their own language, Euskera.

Back in the 11th century the north-west of Spain formed the kingdom of Navarre whch was closely allied with the neighbouring, in French, Gascogne, the land of the Basques. The Duke of Gascogne had inherited the throne of the much larger Kingdom of Aquitaine in 1064 (check). And the Kingdom of Navarre was subsumed, through marriage into the Spanish kingdom of Castille.

The Duke of Normandy, William, decided to invade England in 1066 and needing some human resources and, knowing the Basque reputation as both sailors and mercenaries, struck up with the Duke of Gascogne/King of Aquitaine who provided a bunch of Basque mercenaries who in turn reaped the rewards and benefits of victory.

And hence our family was born ... whether as vassals of Basque overlords, whether as their bastard children or their direct heirs or a mixture of all ...

Today the Basques are still fierce and fiercely independent. They continue through both peaceful and violent means to struggle for their own independent country and have suffered much in the last 100 years, especially through the years of the Spanish fascist dictatorship of Franco. But democracy, after the fall of Franco, has not resulted in the fulfillment of Basque aspirations, in that Spain still won't let them go - to form their own independent nation, Euskadi.

For centuries this has involved armed struggle but only in the last century was this formalised into the organisation known as Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) – meaning Euskadi and Independence. ETA has been compared with the IRA in northern Ireland – there may be similarities in modus operandi but there are certainly not similarities in cause.

On Sunday I had lunch with two Basque friends, A. & M. A. is from the Spanish side of the border and M. from the French side.

When A. was a teenager working as a security guard at a nuclear power-plant in construction, widely opposed by the local population, he was persuaded to and opened the gate to a unit of the ETA who blew up a few bits and killed a policeman.

A. had to go on the run. First in Spain, then in France and finally in Ecuador – where, with the help of local security services, he was kidnapped by the Spanish secret services. Rather than a life sentence in a Spanish prison, he was sentenced to permanent exile, ripped of nationality and a passport.

Others “members” of ETA received similar treatment and were exiled to various countries around the world but have since been granted passports of those countries. However, Spanish aid to our country is conditional on not giving him a passport.

So Kezia ... I will retract my statement of October when you stood proudly with your Chinese Mk5 Water Cannon in the aid of the Taleban. They are a real bunch of reactionary anti-female farts, I agree – they wanted you to cover your hair which is only just growing back and of which you are inordinately proud and want to show off as a sign of your fighting blood. And, anyway, you didn't like the uniform.

So Kezia has changed her mind. She has taken that Chinese Mk5 Water Cannon over to ETA ...

... and none of us could ever find where to put the ammunition!

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