I was interested to read some of the 500 anecdotes in the book of historian José Miguel Carillo de Albornoz entitled: “Las hemorroides de Napoleón.”
He stated that history is often made up of mundane facts and attributes Napoleon’s decisive defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, not to the skill of the Duke of Wellington and his allies – but to haemorrhoids.
“Napoleón habría perdido la gran y definitiva batalla de Waterloo precisamente porque necesitaba refrescar su imperial trasero y de no haber tenido que estar sentado en una bañera para calmar los terrible dolores que le impedían subirse a su caballo, tal vez su estrategia militar hubiese sido otra.”
No so much – my kingdom for a horse – as – oh, my ass!
However what caught my eye most was the fact that La Pasionaría was not the author of the phrase “No pasarán”. It pre-dates the Spanish Civil War by some 20 years. It was used by troops at Verdun in the First World War who used the battle cry – “Il ne passeron pas” or “No pasarán” in Spanish – they shall not pass! I was intrigued because some 13 years ago I wrote a play about La Pasionaría - Dolores Ibarruri Gómez – in which I made her deliver her famous “No pasarán” speech.
Curiously it is also a theme taken up by my doctor. He assures me that red wine is good for me but cries whenever I leave him – “No pacharán”
(Pacharán is a wonderful strong Spanish spirit – around 25 to 30 per cent proof – made from sloes, with the best varieties coming from Navarra).