Postcard from... Madrid


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Heavy drinking; a bit too much flesh on show; groups of people spilling out on to the streets; litter and cigarette ends all over the road; groups of young men chanting football songs and quenching what must have been a severe thirst.

A typical scene, you might conclude, from somewhere in England. Think again. This was La Latina, a district in central Madrid, on Sunday afternoon. Aside from the language, and the fact that it was 20 degrees in the middle of March, the scene was pretty much indistinguishable from any summer’s afternoon in the UK, where people take it upon themselves to get thoroughly smashed the moment the sun comes out.

A recent book, Hijos e Hijas de la Gran Bretaña – or “the Sons and Daughters of Great Britain” – suggests that in the eyes of the Spanish the typical Brit is a beer-swilling hooligan. The author, Alberto Letona, an Anglophile who lived in Old Albion for decades, has said  he wrote the book to counter some of these perceptions.

But what do we Brits conjure up when we think of Spaniards? Flamenco dancers? Artists? Footballers with inordinate talent? Probably all of those things, but to say that the Brits have a monopoly on falling off the bar stool after eleventeen pints of lager in the afternoon is way off the mark.