Day tripping to The Valley of the Fallen. Am I morbid?

My good friend the Director of Barcelona came to visit last weekend, so for something different to do – as opposed to drinking till silly o’clock and being hungover the next day – we took him to see el Valle de los Caidos (the Valley of the Fallen) – i.e. General Franco’s tomb.

It’s the first time in four years of living in Madrid I’ve been, (poor I know) and I have to say it completely blew me away. The whole thing had an otherworldly atmosphere and it was just a bit weird.

A church carved into the side of the mountain, the world’s largest cross, statues of huge hooded men with no faces carrying swords and hugely detailed tapestries depicting the apocalypse. Wow.

Thinking of all the people who suffered and even died to make it really got to me.

But what got to just as much was the fact that in the guide book there was absolutely NOTHING mentioned about the forced labour of the some 20,000 Republican prisoners that made it. Nothing at all in fact.

And another thing, if it’s supposed to be a memorial to all the people who died in the civil war, why does it only have two names on it – those of Francisco Franco and Fascist leader Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera? Highly suspicious.

Anyway, the Director told his workmates about his trip and they were scandalised. “best not upload those smiling pictures in front of the cross to Facebook,” he said. OK, good point.

Their reaction got me thinking though – is that a morbid thing to do for a nice day out? Is it strange to want to go see a Fascist dictator’s tomb? Even if it is very majestic and impressive?

And the worst thing is, I started wondering about my morbid tendencies again when we sat down to watch a movie. Me and the bloke tried to make the Director and PB and Jess - two of the girls who had joined us for dinner - watch our zombie favourite ‘Colin’.

First they cackled at the reviews on the cover “The most touching film about a decomposing corpse you’ll see all year” – FHM, “Original, compelling and as thought provoking as Romero’s Night of the Living Dead” Zombiefriends.com. Zombiefriends.com? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, etc.

Then they tittered all the way through the first 20 minutes.

Bloke: "I think it’s really good considering they made it for 45 quid."
The Director: "Yes, but you can still tell they made it for 45 quid"
PB:“I don’t feel sorry for Colin. Am I supposed to feel sorry for him?”

In the end we had to switch it off and watch something more mainstream. But Jess consoled with: “I think it’s really nice that you both like it so much. It’s something you both have in common, and it’s something so specific as well. It’s kind of sweet.”

The Director added: “Yes, I like good zombie movies. But you two like any zombie movies. Including shit ones."

Oh dear. So we both have a shared love of low budget Zombie movies. (Not shit ones. ‘Colin’ is not shit!) It’s not exactly bonding over fine wines or a shared love of Opera is it?

I blame my brother for letting me watch ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘House’ when I was ten. Ah well.


  1. Genius. They prob did better than when we came over and watched Frontiers through our fingers, under a duvet with our fingers in our ears. Is Colin as shit, sorry as brilliant as Idle Hands? I wasted a hangover Saturday watching it in bed.

  2. Hey Jimbo, I haven't seen Idle Hands. And probably won't bother by the sounds of things. Don't believe anything you hear about Colin. He's just misunderstood!

  3. Did your brother make you watch that tosh with Hugh Laurie in? He should be shot.

  4. Nice one Michael, but when I was ten Hugh Laurie was busy playing Blackadder's idiot friend. It was the horror film about a guy whose house is out to get him. All I can remember is that he kills his girlfriend and chops her up and buries her in the garden. Good stuff.