Giles Tremlett is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He
is the Madrid
correspondent for the Guardian newspaper and a regular contributor to The
Economist.He moved around the world from an early age and had his
first taste of Spanish life when he lived in Barcelona for two years in the mid eighties.
After a period in other countries, he returned to live in Spain at the
beginning of the 1992 Olympics. He currently lives in Madrid with his wife.
His book “Ghosts of Spain: Travels through a country’s
hidden past” (2007), was translated into five languages and sold over 100,000
In the words of William Grimes, of the New York Times, “Today, a little more than 30 years after
Franco’s death, Spain might well be the happiest country in Europe, with a
robust democracy, a booming economy, dazzling new architectural trophies and a
health-care system that can take credit for Europe’s longest-lived citizens.
The uneasy secret behind the miraculous shifting of gears known as la
Transición (“the Transition”) is an unspoken pact to let the past alone, what
one member of Parliament has called “forgetting by everyone for everyone.””
Of course, these words, written five years ago, are not a
reflection of the current political situation of the country. But what I liked
more of the book is how a foreigner can grasp the spirit of a country and how
we can appreciate better our culture from another different point of view. For
example, the author says “This country is famous for noise”. That sentence is something
I always remember when I have travelled with students to a foreign country. Ten
Spanish students in a wagon can be heard some miles away while a couple of very
little French kids, for example, make almost any noise at all.
“Televisions can stay on in people´s homes all day long”,
says Giles. It’s a real fact. “Spanish love of doing things en masse”,
“gossiping is a national pastime” or explaining what does “enchufe” means (the
art of being `plugged in”) are other sentences that deserve to be taken in
account from this book. And he moves throughout the whole book offering a
guided tour to modern Spain.