The Invention of Spain, Radio 4, Sundays
Fathers' Daughters, Radio 4, Friday
The reign in Spain falls mainly on the plain
Sunday 04 November 2012
The Spanish national anthem has no words, the country being so divided it would not be able to agree on them. This emerged in the first of a three-parter, The Invention of Spain, presented by Misha Glenny, which dates the country's birth from 1492. In that annus mirabilis, the Moors' final stronghold in Granada was taken, bringing to an end seven centuries of occupation, Christopher Columbus found America, and the Jews were expelled, by an edict that stood until the 1960s.
Thus expunged of interesting influences, the country of Ferdinand and Isabella, married to unite Castile and Aragon, bounced on the switchback of dynastic succession to Charles V, in Ghent. He had the malformed Habsburg jaw that prevented him from eating in public, and spoke no Spanish. The wordless national anthem would have suited him, but it is Radio 4 law that coronations must be accompanied by Zadok the Priest, even though Handel wrote this for George II in 1727.
With Seville's monopoly on trade with the New World in 1503, what can possibly go wrong? I'm on the edge of my seat for Part 2, today.
Asian Network's Nihal Arthanayake was moved by the birth of his little girl to look at the complex relationships between South Asian fathers and daughters in Britain, his phone-in programme having uncovered many unhappy stories. While careful about generalising, Fathers' Daughters uncovered some uncomfortable truths: older relatives will commiserate upon the birth of a daughter; reputation can mean more than paternal pride; the suicide rate of young South Asian women is three to four times higher than that of their Caucasian peers.
One daughter planned her escape carefully, stockpiling clothes and documents at college before leaving an oppressive father. Another wished she had been born a boy, so that she could have taken away and supported her abused mother. There is a shift: the modern father may want his daughter educated for her own sake, and not because it makes her more marriageable. But it is an odd kind of progress when, if the marriage he arranged is failing, the father may be as keen on the divorce. Baby steps.
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