Spain - A Soft Touch, by Ralph Glazer (1971)

Image: ralph glazer meeting franco better on a camel website

Iberia’s Commercial Director informed the monthly meeting of ALA, the Airlines’ Association, that Franco wished to receive a delegation of Representatives of the airlines serving Spain, and in due course we met in the car park of the Rancho Tranquilino, an Argentinian restaurant on the Western outskirts of Madrid, and looking like a gathering of head waiters in our hired tail coats and striped trousers, we headed in convoy for the Pardo Palace, Franco’s residence.

At the Palace we were directed to an antechamber to await our turn. Then the doors opened, and there he was, much shorter than expected, his face on the coins in our pockets and on the postage stamps in our mail, Francisco Franco, El Caudillo himself, in his General’s uniform, ready to receive us.

As we stood facing him,Franco addressed us, in a thin, reedy voice. (He was in his eighties, and said to be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.) The airlines, he said, were making an invaluable contribution to the Spanish economy by promoting tourism into Spain, and by facilitating trade between our nations. He was therefore especially glad to have this opportunity to meet us, and to thank us.

Replying, our President, Norbert Schady of Lufthansa, thanked Franco for finding the time to receive us, and one by one, we then walked up to Franco to be presented. Soon it was my turn. Iberia’s Commercial Director announced my name and my company, (BOAC) and as briefed, I bowed, said ‘Excelencia’ (‘Your Excellency’) and shook, or rather touched, Franco's outstretched right hand, the Iron Fist which had ruled Spain for more than thirty years. His hand was soft and warm, like the hand of a child.

As we touched hands, Franco narrowed his eyes and moved his lips as if to say something, but he changed his mind and said nothing, and I was on my way.

The presentations over, we returned to our cars and to the Rancho Tranquilino, where ties off and our tail coats draped over the backs of our chairs, we lunched in the open air on churrasco steaks, strawberries and vino manchego, while behind us, the meadows of the Casa de Campo, the site of some of the bloodiest battles of Franco’s War, were carpeted with poppies, bright red in the May sunshine.

Other pages:

This is the text-only version of this page. Click here to see this page with graphics.
Edit this page | Manage website
Make Your Own Website: 2-Minute-Website.com