Richard Cartwright

Richard Cartwright has 16 articles published.

Changes in eating trends

in Features

The Dockyard hooter blows – it’s exactly 12 noon which means it’s lunchtime so a cheese and ham roll, a piece of fruit or a Kit Kat and a mug of hot tea or soft drink would suffice to see you through your working day till you get home for your ‘main’ meal of the day. Not so! Off you go on your metaphorical bike and make a quick exit!

That was the routine for most workers on the Rock a few decades ago, whether white, blue or no collar workers. Going home for lunch was the norm for shop assistants also, during the days when shops closed from one to three pm. Yes, it was lunchtime for all so we nipped home for a proper cooked lunch. Then there was also teatime when you got home after work – if you finished at five. You’d be called for supper at nine thirty or ten. Oh, and at the start of the day you would partake of a bowl of cornflakes or a bread roll accompanied by a mug of lovely fresh, ground coffee brewed in the ‘cafetera’ before you left for work!

At lunchtime, I would rush off with another Dockyard worker friend – Spanish workers would stay put arriving in the morning with ‘El Costo’ (lunch pack) in their little bags: ‘proper’ meals which would be re-heated on the workshop cookers. We’d get home in twenty minutes, have lunch in another twenty minutes and get back to work on time well past the North Gate into the Dockyard and clock in just before the dreaded hooter went off again at 1pm. At home, the food waiting on the table would be three course in the main; comprising homemade vegetable or other soup, followed by a stew, shepherd’s pie, rosto, or minestra, potaje, fish, pasta or some other local dish and a piece of fruit. There could also be panisa, a type of calentita of a much heavier consistency – all homemade and laboured. Soon after getting back home, teatime arrived at five or five thirty. That meant a sandwich and sometimes a cake from the cake man who called at your door with his glass topped baskets enticing you to drool over the contents within, containing japonesas, mil ojas, bread puddings and other goodies: perfect to accompany your tea and sandwich. Then, much later on in the evening, ham, egg and chips or similar for supper. That was a lot of cooking and preparation for our hardworking mums who, in those days were housebound for much of the time, only venturing to town mainly to shop around for food and not much else. I often wonder how much of that still goes on these days. For a start, vegetarian and vegan instantly springs to mind these days and young families are also in a different mindset today; mum and dad work and there’s a mortgage to pay. Holding down a day job, looking after the home and the kids is more than enough and modern day dad needs to take on a more hands-on role to help run the family too. Children these days get involved in more extra-curricular activities than was the case in the past when we played outside in the street. There’s so much going on to choose from and many of the kids need to be driven to those activities and later picked up and so on and so forth and in some cases two, three and even four times a week! Life these days runs at a much faster pace than in the past and so eating habits change. Also, we’re much more affluent today and restaurants are in their dozen on the Rock and even in their hundreds across the border. In the 50s and 60s I don’t recall there being any eateries on the Rock apart from ‘Smokey Joe’ in Lynch’s Lane and hotel restaurants and you really couldn’t really afford to in. Takeaway outlets abound now and at any lunchtime many have queues spilling out onto the street. Friday and weekend evenings are invariably curry, fish & chips or pizza nights. These days for most households, I think it true to say cooking twice a day is a thing of the past so we’ve been ringing or, cooking the changes. Weekdays many of us tend to have a snack of some sort at lunchtime and that full meal comes in the evening. For some the reverse may be the case. From what I learn some traditional practices of more food on the table prevail, but that would mainly apply to the more senior members of our community. It won’t have gone unnoticed how our community is growing and becoming much more cosmopolitan. Our neighbours in the hinterland I’m told however still have more than the one main meal a day which would include a breakfast also. Hindus eat a-plenty, cooking lots of vegan and vegetable dishes eating two full meals daily, but again the younger Hindu element I’m told, will snack at lunchtime. Eastern European guest workers on the Rock tell me most are of the one-proper-main meal-a-day-kind and the Jewish community continue to cook every evening and lunches are varied but many of them also don’t follow the strict, family members sitting all together at meal times as in the past.

Modern day practices (or antics) dictate we should eat more healthily: vegan is the way to go: more salads, nourishing snack bars and juices are to be consumed to substitute the bacon, sausage, egg – or all three – baguettes or sandwiches some may indulge in during the day. Having said that it all goes out the window when we go on holiday, especially at sea on a cruise. On those occasions, we gorge on the abundance of food on offer: full breakfasts accompanied by fresh fruit and juices, big lunches, tea and cakes in the afternoon later culminating in a full meal for dinner…not forgetting the bottle – or two – of wine. Overeating is an understatement when on a cruise. But that’s OK, especially so because you haven’t had to lift a finger!

Back home however, you’re back to the often arduous routine of modern day living, working and looking after home and family. A reminder those mortgages need to be serviced so there’s no question of mum or dad staying at home to get stuck in doing all that, ‘days-of-old’ cooking. There are some households though, that keep up the trend of yesteryear meal times but I assume not that many and one aspect of mealtime that’s kept by some is having the whole family – or as many members as possible – to get around the table to dine together at least once a week. Others are really into cooking these days which is also a popular activity, but not for many. But times have moved on and other necessary commitments are calling which are much higher on the agenda which means, it’s a cheese and ham sandwich, a healthy juice and a delicious banana for lunch…or a Kit Kat! 

The military on display

in Armed Forces

Could be anywhere, but the former Casemates military barracks was the perfect venue for the Gibraltar Model Soldier Society to exhibit their hard work… and once again, what a show and demonstration of talent it was!

About ten exhibitions have been set up so far, going back to the first ones at the John Mackintosh Hall, but the first floor vaults at Casemates – now named the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery – suited the theme perfectly. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny, hand painted models placed on tables complemented the `rooms,’ as these were the quarters of regiments and battalions that had been stationed on the Rock over many decades up to more or less the mid 20th century. Last year I wrote about the exhibition highlighting the Royal Navy, which must’ve brought back many recollections of the large, Home and Mediterranean fleets assembling in Gibraltar in the 50s and 60s in a replica of the Gibraltar harbour, as demonstrated by Manuel Infante’s diorama taking up much of one of the vaults at Casemates. This year the army took pride of place and regiments set out on parade and on the battlefield were perfectly re-enacted. Apart from the British regiments on show there were others: American and German armies at war in the snow; there were also military bands from places you may not have even heard of, and so much more. There were also scenes of World Wars, African fighters, the Wild West, the Roman Empire, Napoleon was present too and there was one scene of North American bison and other cattle also on show and on a much calmer scene, there was even a setting inviting `Tea for two!’ 

This year other model enthusiasts were allowed to exhibit their wares. The Warhammer players were in evidence this year with their futuristic, powerful warriors and war machines and the destruction they cause very much in evidence. Stephen Vinales is a Corgi cars collector and is very proud of his James Bond and Queen’s carriages collection… they were there as well. Also on show, Henry Pinna’s handmade, and painstakingly painted figures made out of some sort of Plasticine and paint. How does he find the time outside his Action for Housing commitments, I wonder? The whole display was wonderful to experience. It’s simply amazing how much time must be required to collect, paint, then clean, polish up for an exhibition and then set the whole thing up for display. One collector explained how he measured the parade ground (Horse Guards Parade Ground on this occasion) and the lining up in perfect order with pieces of string strictly spacing out all the figures exactly apart from each other displaying a smart parade just like the real thing… or even better! One collector I’ve interviewed in the past set out some of his regiments perfectly also – a fraction of what he has at home for sure. There, corridor display cabinets and elsewhere all beautifully set out and his vast collection just keeps on growing. Appropriately this year – as he was leaving us – there was a model of Governor Lt Gen Ed Davis in his Royal Marine uniform on parade, outside one the Rock’s ceremonial saluting landmarks. It’s perfectly clear to me that the collectors who take on the hobby quite seriously, undertake a lot of research to gather all the details in terms of colours of uniforms and all the tiny details involved, whilst on the way, learning so much about the history of the regiments and their battles, countries, cultures, so on and so forth, there being no point if, for example, all of those colours on uniforms, head gear, badges and medals including very minor details, did not appear in the correct colours and shades for each item, large or small. If they were not to be exact and true to the real thing it would take away from the fun to be had because these collectors are serious hobbyists and I’m certain would not have it any other way!

During my travels around the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery I was escorted by Sergio Sacramento, another keen admirer of this fabulously interesting `need-for-serious-research’ hobby which, we mustn’t forget, can get expensive. Apart from purchasing the models or figures – you don’t just buy half a dozen, you go for a full company or even the whole regiment – you then have to buy paints, brushes, information booklets and probably lots of other bits and pieces and costs go higher and higher. Then, the time spent researching, painting and getting the whole thing together must have an inestimable figure put to it… but it’s all worth it, judging by the passion with which these works are assembled and put on show for the public to enjoy.

The bottom line has to be that there’s a myriad of hobbies and pastimes for everyone to enjoy: you just take your pick. On the Rock, as small as we are, I can’t think of anything there isn’t a following for – from crochet to Petanque onto stamp and coin collecting, the visual arts, chess, most sports and of course, if you’re a serious, patient, hard working enthusiast and have a real passion, there’s The Gibraltar Model Soldier Society who keep on exhibiting. Well done, that was a very good show!

Gib Talks

in Features


It was another successful Gib Talks at John Mackintosh Hall, the sixth edition of an idea born out of the TED Talks in the United States and Canada. Here, we have our own brand: namely Gib Talks with, as to be expected, the `Llanito’ element thrown in for good measure.

Since the 80s the idea has spread to much of North America, Europe, Asia and Africa: TED – TECHNOLOGY ENTERTAINMENT AND DESIGN is how it started and has now been expanded to almost any subject under the sun and in Gib the topics are as varied as the speakers themselves: from politics, business, culture, education, personal experiences of whatever genre and much more. In a small community such as Gib we pretty much tend to know everyone and what they do… or do we? Gib Talks in many cases reveals what’s underneath, or the other side of the persona we have come to know, or simply learn more about their job, family life, or their pastimes, hobbies or other leisure pursuits – in some cases quite revealing. The bottom line is, it’s enlightening to learn more about the person you brush shoulders with on Main Street day-to-day who you think you knew everything about, or the individual you know from being in the spotlight as a politician, television, radio, media or sports personality, musician or head of a top charity or other local business organisation. 15 minutes is the maximum time each speaker has to say as much as they want to say about the topic chosen and, more often than not, provide an interesting insight about themselves whilst you sit comfortably on a Saturday afternoon listening to speaker after speaker on any number of topics. A great way to spend part of your weekend – so far on six occasions enjoying our version of TED Talks namely –  the very successful, February Gib Talks! 

Stephen Hermida

We’ve listened to about 100 speakers so far and this sixth edition was as eclectic as all the others. At the helm is playwright-lover-of-the-break-a-leg-genre, Julian Felice, who brought the idea home to the Rock and who this time came on stage to a musical intro in the rock vein to which he jokingly quipped, “That was a bit unnecessary no?” As always he gets the ball rolling from the start with a ten minute chat informing us what to expect for the rest of the day and that, `we need to talk,’ and talk we did… or they did! 

El Hana

Kicking off the session were Gib Talk veterans Mark Randall and Stephen Hermida recounting their travels `From the Rock to a High Place.’ Maite Facio-Beanland followed with her experiences as a deaf person assisted by sign language interpreter Richard Weaver sitting in the audience narrating Maite’s words for all of us to appreciate (later he went on stage to sign language for those deaf or hard of hearing members in the audience). Maite told us there was one good thing about being deaf… “My children tell me my husband is a loud snorer so I don’t hear him!” Politician Damon Bossino related to his autistic son’s difficulties and became a little emotional reciting a poem describing his dad who’s suffering from dementia. Young Francesca Makey recounted her experience of womb cancer at the very young age of 17 – very unusual at that age… and so the speakers kept on coming – seventeen of them: most chatting for 15 minutes and a few for 10 as VPs – vox pop invitees – individuals not necessarily in the public domain who express an interest in wanting to say a few words. We learnt about the tough negotiating goings on in the `Beautiful Game’ from Kenneth Asquez – a football agent. Government Minister, Steven Linares got the laughs as he told us about all the jobs he had before arriving at Parliament House. Eloquent, Moroccan Gibraltarian Youssef El-Hana spoke about the hard times had by the Moroccan diaspora arriving on the Rock during the blockade when they were really needed, and then there were more speakers and more interesting chats and anecdotes. We also learnt about aviation on the Rock going back a good many years as told by Bland’s veteran Luis Pereira. Transgender Zyle Peralta revealed his experiences from female to male and how he became happy with himself, not least pursuing his love of body building becoming a qualified personal trainer. “Feel free and become what you want to become” he declared. Luke Stagnetto stood for the European Elections as a UK Liberal Democrat and lamented the ugly texts he received during the campaign. He says, “Yes, speak freely but speak fairly!” Well into the early afternoon we proceeded and more interesting speakers appeared; Jackie Anderson on the Pleasures and Perils of Poetry, motivator Anita Chaperon on `the Business of You’ and Eddie Wood who was funny, telling us about living with his nonagenarian mum who still holds the throne! Young journalist, Adriana Lopez about her time in Barcelona – lessons learned and the importance of dialogue and of course whilst up there… Gibraltar came up! Linda Alvarez, hard working sports enthusiast but not very good at badminton told us all – or nearly all – about the highs and lows of organising the Island Games and not forgetting my colleague at GBC, Kelly-Anne Borge who charted her course to the present, becoming the popular radio and television presenter/journalist she’s deservedly become.

Julian Felice

Gib Talks 2020 was another great success, but the sad news is there won’t be another Gib Talks for the next two years due to refurbishment works at the John Mackintosh Hall. Therefore, we look very forward to Gib Talks 2023.  Well worth the wait and the visit and it’ll only cost you £5!

Pick a Cruise

in Features

I’m probably preaching to more than the converted about holidaying on the ocean waves as so many of us have been on at least one cruise. But for those few who have yet to indulge, go on – `Pick a Cruise,’ it’s a worthwhile experience!

In the same way that Christmas is now well behind us, yet soon we’ll be booking our favourite restaurants or venues to celebrate the next yuletide outing, now – or even earlier – is the time to start flicking through the cruise company catalogues to choose a trip that takes your fancy out at sea during the warmer months shortly to be with us during 2020.

Well, it is value for money: one payment and you’re fed, thirst-quenched, entertained and delivered to a number of destinations without having to lift a finger or spending an extra penny – and there are now drinks packages included in the price! I’ve been on a number of them, including river cruises which are more intimate and becoming very popular also. You may have heard about the abundance of food on offer on cruise ships throughout most of the day… well it’s true. You have the self-service restaurants for breakfast and lunch, the main dining restaurant in the evening as well as the cafe for tea, sandwiches and cakes in the afternoons – food is everywhere. For a more intimate venue and perhaps a touch of romance there are chic eateries which you can visit for an extra charge. The issue is if you’re into food, on a cruise you can stuff your face to your heart’s content, however, ladies need to watch out and concentrate on a `morsel-picking-discipline’ and ignore the delicious dishes you’ll be tempted to gorge on if you’re concerned about putting on weight. But on board there are plenty of ways to exercise in a fully equipped gym, deck games and the ever popular power walks around the ship on a clearly, marked-out deck… and don’t forget the must-take-with-you bottle of water and iPod! Your comfy stateroom (as they’re called these days), awaits you for an afternoon rest before it all kicks off again with more food, drink and entertainment. As you relax, those with a balcony can sunbathe with very little on with only the odd seagull or flying fish to take a peep. 

The entertainment offered is normally first class with singers, dancers, comedians and others in a fully functional theatre just like the West End. There are ice shows and any number of bars and lounges with more entertainment to keep you well oiled through the night sipping cocktails, a good selection of beers and best wines. Drinks generally have to be paid for unless you have a drinks’ package. Shops, a sauna, spa, massage parlour and beauty salon are where you can spend a little more cash if you want to and you’ll find an art gallery, library and cinema, board games room and even a bingo session or two, all for free, or perhaps spend a little more in the casino or the handful of shops selling top branded goods… plenty to keep you busy throughout your cruise. The ship is run just like a four or five star hotel. All of your spending is done with your Sea Pass credit card which also serves as your stateroom key and ID for getting on and off the ship. Whatever you spend on board is deducted from your card or cards at the end of the cruise, so you can freely have fun and spend – prudently of course! It’s also good to learn about the layout of the ship to get from A to B. Today’s cruise ships are very big, built on 12 or 13 decks so it’s easy to lose your sense of direction. Meeting the Captain happens once when you queue up to shake hands and exchange a quick hello. He’s a busy man and hasn’t a lot of free time for much else. There is one other expense which you need to be aware of and that’s tipping: you’re expected to tip your stateroom attendant and waiters. The service provided is second to none and all the individuals are very pleasant and helpful. Whether extra niceness is put on is difficult to suss out but most seem pretty genuine. Through training and having dealt with so many cruise enthusiasts over time, it probably comes as second nature to them. These days you’re expected to pay specific amounts for stateroom attendants and restaurant staff.

Destinations are usually looked forward to and great to visit. It’s certainly a handy way to get to know places without having to spend all that time in departure lounges, hopping on and off planes, and probably much cheaper considering all that’s included in your one-off-payment-cruise. Tours are offered on board at a price… and what a price! My experience has taught me to get off the ship and make your own way to whichever tourist attraction you fancy. I know some local travellers tend to book all or most of what’s offered on board at a hefty price – this applies also to photographs taken on your cruise from as soon as you come on board to everywhere else – restaurants, gala and fun nights and almost every other activity. My view is to choose carefully what you’re really interested to see and which photographs you’d like to have and not book and buy everything. Some so-called tourist attractions are often not all they’re cracked up to be, in my experience. Clearly it’s the aim of the cruise lines to make as much as they can on each cruise by inviting you to spend and spend at will – as long as you’re in agreement of course – you’re not forced. Spend wisely. Once you’ve done a couple of cruises you begin to sort out what your preferences are and choose accordingly. Looking after your cruise budget is all important. Places of Worship, castles, citadels, fortresses, art galleries and so much more to see if you really want to. For me… well, how many cathedrals, art galleries and old ruins do I want to visit? Call me a philistine if you will but there is a limit. My interest is directed more to the folklore of a place, concerts – classical or otherwise – and how countries have developed but hey, horses for courses and the choice is yours.

All of the above can be experienced on a cruise, sea-going or on a famous river. These days cruising enthusiasts are sailing on ships operating across the world from Alaska to Vietnam, they’re all available for you to choose and think carefully about your preference. They’re certainly value for money whichever you choose and it’s up to you how to spend your time onboard or whilst ashore. Save and count and then count again and when you’re ready, grab those socks full of cash and visit your favourite Travel Agent or dabble on the internet thing and find the best deal on offer… Happy 2020 cruising! 

A glimmer of Hope anywhere?

in History Insight

We’ve recently witnessed the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz extermination of over six million Jews and others. Any human being from whichever country, ethnic group or religious belief, you would have thought wouldn’t have allowed such a tragedy to be repeated, whatever it took… Have we succeeded?

Commemorations were a-plenty in many countries and all over our TV screens with thousands of solemn faces which read, `How, could this have happened?’ and `Never Again!’ Well, nearly eight decades later you’d be forgiven for thinking the world is not on a trajectory to become a better place, considering what has happened since. The lessons that horrifying and shocking episode in the world’s history should have taught us have gone unheeded… or so it seems.

Over a cup of coffee and a glass of wine I chatted to friend and fellow broadcaster – amongst other `occupations’ – Levi Attias, a Jew, who like me, was just as apprehensive or anxious as I, as to `which way we are going Billy…’ or so the song goes! Given the goings on since those atrocities all those years ago there seems to be no positives in our behaviour to speak of. “During our Chanukah feast,” Levi tells me, “we place a candle on our window sill outwards facing the world, declaring peace to all and sundry, but it seems much of what needs to be addressed is swept under the carpet. As a Jew I am hopeful and my faith helps me be positive.” The record does indeed show lessons not learned: Cambodia in the 70s genocide to the tune of almost 14,000 who entered an execution centre, only seven survived… Rwanda in the mid 90s, mass murder of over half a million Tutsis and others whilst thousands Hutus killed in Burundi in the early 70s… again during the mid-90s genocide in Bosnia. Almost 9,000 were killed with the mass expulsion of thousands and many more thousands dying during the fighting in those war torn countries.

Levi and I continued our chat highlighting the hotspots around the world and ongoing military conflicts in the Middle East: Syria, the Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the never ending skirmishes between Israel and the Palestinians, unrest in South America and lest we forget the occupation of Tibet and the Rohingya’s struggle in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Trouble everywhere and no lessons learnt… at least looking that way, we contended. Does the West only intervene where it suits? “Yes, there are so many more important issues we could be attending to that affect us all and yet not enough is being done as we see now with the climate issue, global warming and the  plastic in our oceans etc.,” Levi reminded me. It seems we’re more intent in creating conflict and killing, being corrupt and ruling over others. “Remember the story of Noah’s Ark, how all the animals of every kind went in two by two with no trouble between them? Maybe therein is the message of how we humans are meant to behave. I always accept individuals for who they are, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or a nonbeliever and regardless of their nationality.” And I fully agree; you deal with individuals on a one-to-one not what you assume they represent because of where they’re from, their social status, beliefs or colour of their skin. It has to be said though, there are those who are like-minded and try their hardest to get us on the right track. For all the negativity places of worship and those that frequent them receive and are criticised for, there are many believers who are genuine in their task of putting the right message across and maintain a culture of doing the right thing by producing good deeds. Thank heavens for that! I’m sure to the more enlightened and discerning, all of that sounds a little simplistic but it could be argued that’s where it starts: be happy with yourself first, and then apply some of that feel good factor towards others. As for those nations, ethnic groups and countries and peoples of differing beliefs that hold those populations, more `jaw jaw’ and less `war war’ – as said by Winston Churchill – would not go amiss.

I specifically asked Levi to meet me and talk about these issues mainly because I know his reasonableness would augur well for a good `jaw jaw’ between us, spurred on also because I enjoy his short contributions on Radio Gibraltar’s Monday to Friday segment of `Pause for Reflection’ where he picks on subjects which are pertinent to today’s, yesterday’s and tomorrow’s world, and relevant and useful for everyone of us to take on board. “Well in total it can take me four or five hours to put those two minute talks together, mulling ideas around in my mind as I go. They come from observations from bits and pieces I may have read or heard about anywhere. Also, for example, taken from when I travel on the bus to town by simply listening to what fellow passengers are saying.” Levi’s been delivering those interesting thoughts for the day for many years now – about 30, I think – and he never pushes the religious theme, instead he aims to give them a universal angle which anyone can understand and take on board. His topics are very relatable, to the point, and more importantly… they’re appropriate and relevant at the start of the day!

I sometimes think the problem with conflicts of any type whether domestic, in the street, amongst communities or culminating in serious confrontation, point to you and me – us humans! Jealousy, hate, greed, vanity, never accepting one may be wrong, plus all the other negatives which dwell within, winding all the way up – for some – to the insatiable thirst for power, ending in WAR and the killing of each other which make you question if we are born good or evil?  

Going back to the 60s whilst in the UK, I remember watching those promotions on TV which went something like this: `just £2 a month, will help feed this child for a month…’. Those promotional appeals, as are world conflicts… are still ongoing! Yes, the elusive `glimmer of hope’ comes to mind.

Rosanna Concorde Flight Attendant

in Features

Actually it was a Tristar when she saw to Margaret Thatcher’s needs on a Tel Aviv to London flight! On Concorde, Senator – not actor by then – Bob Hope was served on a trip to New York from London. But coming from a family of performers, music was also in her veins!

`Air Stewardess’ was the term used in those more `politically incorrect’ days and Gibraltarian Rosanna was one for 15 years! Before British Airways became so, BEA and BOAC were the two British National carriers which later amalgamated to then become BA. Rosanna began her flying career with BEA on Tridents and TriStars, and after more training the last five were spent on BA’s Concorde. “Concorde was incredible. We flew at 67,000 feet and on a clear day you could make out the `curve’ of the world, we’d make it to New York in about two and a half hours which was amazing, and so was the ticket price, £2,600 one way!” Rosanna recalls.

Music didn’t get her very far on the Rock despite coming from a very talented musical and performing family. The `Valverdes’ were headed by dad Frank, who was a comedy writer and actor, wife Anita sang, sons Frank, Hubert, Philip sang too and played guitar, Joseph must’ve done his bit also, Grace was a Miss Gibraltar and so was her daughter Michelle… by way of contrast, Elizabeth had her sights set on becoming a nun but in the end didn’t, and Rosanna –  `air stewardess extraordinaire’ – whilst in her teens dabbled in guitar and piano playing and joined a popular group on the Rock in the 60s called The Odds. The habitual day job however was inevitably more than a habit to earn your keep, and The Odds keyboardist was employed as an accounts clerk in the NAAFI, looking after the affairs of the military and their families stationed here which by all accounts wasn’t so thrilling. One of those moments arrived when you ask yourself `what next?’. London tended to be the obvious choice in the 60s and 70s for us in Gib when you wanted to get out. By then she was in her early 20s, so off she went to seek fame and fortune.  “I remember being impressed when approaching London and seeing so many lights from high up.” Little did she know she was really going to get her fill of that view sooner than she thought! She found a job in one of London’s top stores in Kensington – Barkers – and quickly made contact with a close Gibraltarian school friend who was already a `stewardess.’ Isabella Edge or `Ita’ (who managed to clock up no less than 32 years with BA), encouraged her to join… and she did. “I was surprised when I was told I’d done very well in all three interviews I had to sit through, and after my training I began to fly on most occasions with Isabella which was great. When you start working you’re asked what destination you’d like to go to on your first flight and I said Gib, which was good also to see my family and show them what I’d been up to.”

Rosanna has lots of stories to tell of her experiences in the sky travelling to most European capitals (in Western Europe only in those days), with British European Airways (BEA). Tridents carried just about a hundred passengers and TriStar 350. “We’d also fly to Cairo and Istanbul and sometimes you’d have to stay over for three or four days before flying back. It was some sort of regulation or other and at times some of the girls would throw a `sickie’ before leaving London when scheduled to fly to those countries because if you were working on a flight to Stockholm or other Northern European capital you’d get an allowance of £120 for each day there, but for Istanbul say, it was only £20 so you tried to get off that shift. Isabella and I attempted to pull a fast one by arriving just short of leaving time for one of those flights with dirty hands and dishevelled uniform, saying we’d had a problem with our car in the hope that other staff available would step in, but the flight was delayed and we were told we had plenty of time to clean and smarten ourselves up, so that plan failed miserably! On another occasion trying to be clever backfired again, when staying at The Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. They had these lovely bath robes which, it later transpired, guests tended to make off with. We tried to take one each before checking out of the hotel but our cases were searched and we were embarrassed to be found out… we pleaded ignorance claiming we thought we could keep them and you know what? The captain had one in his suitcase too!” And so the stories and anecdotes just kept on coming: “Joan Collins throwing a tantrum because she arrived late and her seat had been given to the next person on the waiting list, introducing astronaut Neil Armstrong to the Captain on the flight deck, Margaret Thatcher being very nice on a flight back from Tel Aviv, Isabella and I, on my guitar, singing carols and songs with the passengers on a Christmas flight to Athens and collecting money for charity in our caps, and a Concorde Captain serving Rosanna tea on an empty (`US’) unserviceable Concorde flight back to London from New York.” On a less `fun’ occasion, she told me about one of the aircraft’s engines heating up and having to jettison fuel over the sea in order to make an emergency landing. “Yes, and after the repairs were done the faulty engine heated up again as we revved up on the runway to take off and when those brakes are applied full on, it’s a good thing you’re strapped in! Another time some prankster claimed there was a bomb on board and the Captain gave the order to evacuate the plane quickly. Experiences like those, you never forget. When you come to a standstill with all the emergency services all around and you deploy the slides, you never know what the outcome might be. Some passengers get in a panic and are reluctant to go down them and one time we had to gently push them down for their own safety. Because of our training and the adrenalin flow, during those minutes and moments you just get on with it and don’t think about how serious a situation you’re in,” Rosanna assures me. But in general a flight attendant’s working life, especially on Concorde, is a relatively glamorous one: always looking great in uniform, flying to New York, Miami, Washington, Bahrain, Singapore and back to London and meeting the rich and famous on the way… Barbra Streisand and Stephen Spielberg, Paul and Linda McCartney, Ringo and his `Barbarella’ actress wife, Grace Jones, Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Presidents Nixon and Carter and of course Bob Hope, who was by that time a senator of the US administration, and there were many more celebrities she met. But also there were other individuals she had to `see to’ during flights, including disgruntled and sometimes argumentative passengers bringing about situations which through training, Rosanna and her colleagues have learned to quickly diffuse by keeping a cool head.  

Well, she left her job in the skies and all her flying experiences are now confined to the history books. Soon after, Rosanna met her partner and went to live in Columbia for ten years working in PR in a top hotel there, later travelling up and down the South American continent training others to sell cosmetics for a very well known firm in that part of the world, and then heading back to the British capital decorating homes and working for top London store, Peter Jones in Sloane Square.

And so, all of it leading to what inevitably one day arrives at the door: retirement was clearly on the horizon on Terra Firma, this time from where – not serving drinks at 67,000 feet above the world’s surface, amazed at the view of the earth’s curve – Rosanna and her partner happily split their time between their two `homes,’ Columbia and Gibraltar travelling to and fro… hopefully, as simple, undemanding airline passengers! 

Running a Business: Keep going or close it down?

in Features

I don’t know: is its belief in one’s ability, giving it a try and being brave? And do the big boys do their homework? Perhaps it’s at this time of the year – as 2020 unfolds and the prospect of another twelve months are beginning to take hold – that those spirited individuals weigh up the odds and decide to call it a day… or soldier on! 

“Rents in Main Street are absolutely ridiculous and highly exorbitant,” you will hear shop, bar and cafe owners and managers – as well as those in the know – proclaim. I try and put two and two together in my very limited business mind and can’t work out how they manage year in year out. Yes, we’ve just come out of what could be described as the most money-spinning and perhaps very profitable period of the year: that’s four or maybe six weeks of really good business for many – and although some businesses weren’t too happy as Christmas came closer, things improved in the last few days (as usual leaving it all till the last minute) and sales improved for many. But the year has many more weeks and our establishments need to get through 12 months to stay in the black and not slip into the red! There are those wonderful rents to meet, rates, taxes, wages, social insurance and other insurances, maintenance bills, health and safety requirements to sign up to and stick to, suppliers’ bills coming through the post whilst some items of stock are not moving and the slightly more abstract, but equally important issue, of keeping your business relevant and `of the day’ in order to attract the discerning, potential customer… a heavy task! Shall we also include the `Brexit saga’ and the uncertainty that brings? The exchange rate is not beneficial for Euro holders from abroad and to boot, one of your female staff members is on maternity leave and you have to employ another person to cover, at extra cost! Do you sleep at night?

I parade up and down our Main Street quite a lot in my retirement, on message duty, on my way to meet an `interview victim’ for one of the three magazines I write for, or observing the world go by and noticing how busy (or otherwise) shops and cafeterias are, as I sit sipping another coffee or a glass of wine… quite interesting! Some shop owners will tell you, “Yes, you may see the street quite busy with many would-be customers in some shops but how many are walking out with a purchase?” Most are `just looking’ – which is the common reply. I also notice new businesses springing up quite often, considering those exorbitant rents they’re expected to pay, some seem to be going nowhere, and that’s when I really feel for them and think have they done their homework with proper research? Is that going to sell here? Have they been told Gibraltar’s on its way to becoming the next Monte Carlo or Puerto Banus? Do we have enough individuals amongst our population of that standing who can afford those items you hope to sell, or are cruise liner passengers and cross frontier guests from across the way and further afield, in that `money bracket’ also? So days and weeks and months pass and not a soul venturing to make a purchase in those stores with the exception of one or two. Again, not being a business person myself I understand you have to be financially prepared to prop up the investment during the lean times and give a business, even up to a couple of years, before it gets off the ground commercially up and running, hoping lights begin to flicker at the end of the tunnel… a glimmer of hope, maybe! Notwithstanding, I genuinely don’t see some of those enterprises making ends meet even over time, and coming out the other side successfully solvent. I am also told some businesses have other interests running simultaneously in the export market or have other business interests, that, would at least make some sense but you still wouldn’t want to keep a business going for long, if it’s not making some sort of profit. Consequently, I’ve noticed the odd one or two cutting their losses and closing down – makes sense! Restaurants and cafes seem to do quite well but again they tell me, `all that glitters isn’t gold’ and they too, have a lot of expenses to get through and I would imagine quite a bit of wastage also, if you don’t keep on top of things as regards what sells and doesn’t sell in food and drink. As far as eateries and bars are concerned, some have frequent `staff turnover’ issues, as individuals move on and newcomers need time to be brought up to speed, which doesn’t help the smooth running of what may well be a normally well run restaurant. And if you have a customer complaining of a `bad food experience’ and word gets around in a congested place like Gibraltar, you could be in for bad times and more headaches to contend with, proving it’s not all smooth running with bells and whistles at the end of the month making lots of money… a common misconception!

I raise my glass to the `little businesses’ also, like individuals who start up in a little shop somewhere selling confectionery or other items and try very hard to keep it going. It must be hard with not much in the way of back-up finances and having to spend long hours at their `place of work’ in order to keep the place running and solvent in order to obtain a small income. Those that set up at Sunday markets too, deserve a pat on the back. You don’t see too many punters actually buying much off them but they’re there, every week, come rain or shine so it must be worth their while and highly commendable regardless.

Street markets have been given a try from time to time, but somehow don’t seem to get off the ground. It would be nice to see a well run market weekly or once or twice a month, well organised with standardised set-ups as in huts, sheds, cabins or canopies not unlike the Christmas one on-site at the Boulevard during Christmas which looked great. Although, as great as it looked amongst the Christmas lights and trees, was it well attended? Were residents and visitors reminded it was there? Not everyone reads the local newspapers, watches GBC television or listens to Radio Gibraltar and I think a simple sign, set up on the pavement sign-post by Mothercare in Main Street pointing that-a-way saying CHRISTMAS MARKET OPEN with an arrow pointing down towards Gibtelecom and Line Wall Road, would have been a great boost with tourists and locals heading towards it in larger numbers I’m sure. Perhaps next year! So, to all businesses large or small you are to be commended for, in many cases, venturing into the unknown, putting in a lot of hard work – not to mention the financial investment – and soldiering on through the hard times and all seasons with, hopefully, true dedication. Good luck to you in 2020. Trying your best, you deserve much praise!

A Monaco Quest

in Features

Thousands of yachts come our way entering and exiting the Mediterranean just like the larger vessels. The Rock’s two marinas are generally full to capacity 24/7, so it must follow there’s a need for more berthing slots to accommodate this busy trade…

You may hear it said sometimes, Gibraltar could become another Monaco at this end of the Med. To my mind a somewhat grandiose idea considering that although our Main Street has much improved in what it has to offer over the years, the absence of top brand names in haute couture fashion, jewellery and other items in our shops and stores – bar one or two – as well as Michelin star eateries evidently found in top Mediterranean ports, indicates we’re still quite a few years behind. Not least, the lack of attraction for high end passengers on those glistening, luxurious, floating-palace-type, super yachts we see berthed at our marinas.  They therefore come with no passengers and use Gibraltar as a service stop, unless the `parking lot’ is full! 

In the case of normal sized yachts, the lack of marina berths at peak times is an even greater problem “and then they head off to the Alcaidesa Marina around the corner which has plenty of berths,” Managing Director at Sheppard’s, Micko Capurro tells me. “Luckily we can supply those yachts a lot of what they want and don’t completely lose out as they can walk in to buy equipment and spare parts and many other items which we have in our well stocked store here in Marina Court by Ocean Village.” So maybe, the `Monaco dream’ should perhaps be put on the back burner for now and time be spent concentrating on improving the product first.

It was 1960 when, on a muddy piece of land which led out into the watery harbour where fish and other sea life lived, the idea of a marina came about. To the south of the mud was a stone quay (Water Gardens now), where commercial barges were berthed three deep ready to be tugged out to cargo ships bringing in goods for the local populace. Land was reclaimed and Micko’s dad Hector, whose idea it was – already a businessman in the motor trade, a director of AM Capurro on Line Wall Road – set up Gibraltar’s first Marina which was the only one in the Mediterranean at the time. 

Sheppard’s Marina had berths in waters now occupied by Ocean Village but it also had a chandlery shop and workshops on the current site of Royal Ocean Plaza.  The whole thing was modelled on marinas set up in the 1950’s in the USA. 

In the 1980s, a boat yard was opened and the place became what is known as a full service marina. 

There was an increase in yachts coming into the port of Gibraltar in the late 60s so the mid 70s saw Marina Bay open up and larger yachts were arriving.  

Many will recall the slip way and crane that hauled out the small and larger boats to be cleaned and the pontoons which were part of Sheppard’s Marina also. “We had around 150 berths, about 50% of which were taken up by locals with a few boats used as living accommodation. We also had a pontoon which was exclusively for visiting yachts: those which are in for a week or so calling for supplies and spare parts and out again thus allowing for more business that also benefited local stores, bars and restaurants. That’s an idea that needs to be exploited in all marinas because most of the yachts currently in our marinas are berthed for long stays and contribute only minimally to the nautical economy, whilst visiting yachts coming in and out of the Med will stop here, spend, do their business – some on their way across the Atlantic – and off they go again hence freeing up berths for more visitors.

In the late 90s it became apparent that some re-investment was needed at Sheppard’s but Hector decided against it and surrendered the majority of the premises in favour of Ocean Village at the end of 2004.

Michael took over the chandlery business, now in the ground floor of Marina Court, and retained the boatyard equipment and cranes with a view to setting up an operation on a planned land reclamation to the north of the runway.  “Pending that development, we moved our workshop and hauling out operations to Coaling Island with our store remaining in Marina Court. We were meant to remain at Coaling Island for a temporary stay of about two years. We’ve now been there for 15.” Well, there are plans for a Victoria Keys development on Coaling Island Micko, so sit tight!  

Michael, or better known to everyone as Micko, always had an interest in the sea. Boats were his hobby since he was a child, and not surprisingly he raced his Victory class boat (with some success) at the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club for 50 years, eventually becoming Commodore (President) of the Club during the 1990s.  Micko ran the old Sheppard’s – his dad’s business – from 1979.  “I have to say we had some very good years in the boatyard business especially from the mid 80s to the mid 90s but the whole thing is now much reduced, with no marina and a boatyard too small for yachts”.  Micko says they’re quite busy with the yearly servicing and bottom painting of some of the small boats owned by locals “Yes, all become encrusted below the waterline so they need to be hauled on land, properly cleaned and anti fouling paint applied. Also, outboard engines need to be serviced out of the water.” Yachts at the two marinas also need some service and repair work, which gets done subject to berth availability. 

So where does that leave our desire to enjoy a bigger bite of the visiting Mega, Super and smaller yacht cake? Yachts large and small which enter the Med in their hundreds come May and exit round about October, need to be attracted to berth for short stays at our marinas. Situated as we are at the mouth of this Mediterranean Sea, it’s clearly an area which needs to be exploited further.  The Blue Water project on the eastside of the Rock has not yet materialised and in Micko’s view, due to the strong easterly winds and swell on heavy levanter days, the breakwater necessary to protect a marina would not be cost effective to any developer, not to mention the possible need to reclaim waters encroaching the controversial isthmus evidently contested by some! Of late it’s been mooted there’s a possibility of the ship repair operation in the dockyard closing down, freeing off `water space’ that could provide more berthing opportunities for visiting yachts and even liners. But that for the moment is only a plan. Consequently if we’re serious about making the most of the lucrative yacht support business and offering some competition to the likes of St Tropez, Palma de Mallorca and of course Monaco as well as many other marinas further into the Med in Italy and Greece – whilst not forgetting Alcaidesa just around the corner – perhaps more effort is called for if not already there. We need to build more marinas and despite our limited sea-space we have to create them somewhere. 

There is a clear requirement… so let’s keep on looking!

Anthony Pitaluga – Gibraltar Government Archivist

in Features
  • 0.65.jpg
  • 0.64.jpg
  • 0.63.jpg
  • 0.62.jpg

The need for a new home!

He’s experienced the workings of many – if not all – government departments, ending up in Culture and Heritage which may have been a sign of what was to come next…`Can you look after Gibraltar’s archives?’ some senior body must’ve asked. Daunting as the prospect was, he took it on with unstoppable zeal… and the passion has grown within him to the present!

Perhaps it’s not surprising, considering since childhood he’s always been interested in history, Gibraltar’s in particular. He’s been in the job now for the best part of five years constantly on the go. “If we just mention the work involved in digitising all our archives which includes newspapers, government papers, documents, press releases, parliament Hansard records etc., personal accounts and reports going back to the 1800s and beyond including UK dispatches, we’ve so far digitised just about half of one per cent of our records and we’ve been at it for a number of years now taking over from my predecessor Dennis Beiso, who got it started before I took over.” All happening in the archives offices which are becoming extremely cramped… and more documents and papers continue to arrive at the archivist’s door!

But history buff Anthony doesn’t sit on his hands watching paint dry. Recently an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Gibraltar’s records has been on display at the Fine Arts Gallery in Casemates and the work continues. To date we’ve seen a number of exhibitions since Anthony took over: `Mapping our Past’ in 2016, `Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum’ in 2017 and `Archives at Night’ – a scary event – later in 2017, `Centenary of the end of the First World War’ in 2018, `Frontier Closure’ anniversary at the beginning of 2019 and the latest one in November 2019 highlighting the archives’ 50 years. “A lot of work goes into setting up these exhibitions and with the help of my staff, Gerard Wood and Owen Adamberry we get stuck in sorting out and choosing what to exhibit at each event.” Anthony tells me he never ceases to be amazed at the amount of interesting stuff they come across. “For example, the Dutch forces which assisted the British in taking Gibraltar in 1704 had already been this way sinking Spanish galleons in the Bay 100 years earlier. These were the days of the 80 year war when everyone was at war with each other.” I can imagine interesting gems popping up in archive rooms 1 and 2 when least expecting it. The first record of Gibraltar’s inhabitants goes back to 1777. That very old book set out in beautiful hand writing, was on show at the last exhibition in November. It’s a constant learning curve I’m informed. Work at the archives however consuming, is made a little easier thanks to the Parasol Foundation and the Friends of Gibraltar who have provided the department with two scanners which provide a great input to the work undertaken.

2018 was an important year for Gibraltar’s Archive Department as it became part of the Heritage and Antiquities Act, recognising the archives as part of Gibraltar’s public record whilst also recognising the office of the archivist as the custodian of the Gibraltar archives. The Act instructs the Gibraltar Government’s archive office to keep between 7 and 10% of anything emanating from the government that’s 20 years or older. On the lighter side, the archives department is also interested in personal accounts which may be of historical interest and Anthony welcomes individuals who may hold stories or documents of events – personal or otherwise – which may be of wider interest relating to Gibraltar’s past. “They may be emotional for the individual but historical for us!” As historian and Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Garcia – whose idea it was to get the digitisation started – stated at the 50th anniversary exhibition: “Our history cannot be lost” he said, “misinformation is important to put right and must be recorded.” Too true, and archivist Anthony also spends time visiting schools to `tell the Gibraltar story.’ Also, as the digitising continues lots can be derived from visiting the website from the comfort of your home wherever you may be in any part of the world without having to visit the office, although many students from here and abroad and visitors to the Rock do, and they are very welcome. Anthony is a talker and is very happy to meet them and inform them of anything they may need to know and more, and as an example on the website, evacuation of Gibraltarian women and children to the UK and elsewhere during WW2 can be found online where you can search for what ship any family member may have travelled on to Casablanca, the UK, Madeira or Jamaica. Check the website at,

Meanwhile our busy archivist keeps in touch with archives in the UK and elsewhere which he finds very useful to ensure he’s kept well informed of the latest developments in the world of archiving and especially when it comes to storage, the need for which is forever growing. Clearly the Gibraltar archives can’t continue to live in their present premises at the back of the Governor’s residence in Governor’s Lane. “It’s fast becoming too small and cramped. Also, during winter water seepage is not uncommon when it rains heavily. I’ve had to come down at night on one or two occasions when it pours down and the last thing we want is for our records to suffer water damage, we’ve even spent hours drying out page after page of some documents to minimise the harm done!”

So yes, very interesting stuff can be found in our, bursting at the seams, archives. They are crying out, no, yelling out for a new home! Duke of Kent House in Cathedral Square has been earmarked as a possible location but we’ll have to wait and see where else might be suitable. Keeping them in the town centre or nearby would be ideal and perhaps in the next 12 months of 2020 we’ll see our historical documents move to a better home. In the meantime there’s no rest for the wicked and the ongoing recording or digitising `lifetime of lifetimes’ programme continues. Anthony’s degree in Information Technology and Computing with Natural Science is certainly being put to good use at our Gibraltar National Archives. There certainly is a lot of laptop, key tapping to keep Anthony and his staff busy at their bulging offices for some time to come… very, very busy!

Mirrors of Sanctity by Manolo Galliano

in Culture Insight

Galliano’s last book – `Of Monks and Nuns’ – delved into four of Gibraltar’s `Lost Churches’…  and you’d be forgiven for thinking that was it, topic completely covered. However, being a stalwart and stickler for detail with an incessant thirst for more, he dug up a couple of dozen more places of worship situated on the Rock!

So `Mirrors of Sanctity’ is about all of those places of worship and more, of not just Gibraltar’s lost churches but some of those in the hinterland also, which came under Gibraltar’s jurisdiction during the pre British period of Spanish occupation between 1462 and 1704. The population of the Rock during that time numbered no more about 5,000 inhabitants and we sometimes hear from those visiting places like Malta telling us the island’s full of churches and chapels. Well, during those early years Gibraltar – like the Mediterranean island and more importantly other places in Spain – boasted of no less than four churches, three monasteries, a convent, eight hermitages, seven chapels and two oratories dotted all over the Rock… no excuse not to pop in to a house of prayer somewhere near you!

Clearly the Catholic Church was very much in charge or at least had a great influence in Spain during that period. All and sundry within the church were closely watched over and kept under tight control. Despite that, human nature and temptation being what it is played a part which included confrontations, co-habiting and even a murder within the religious institutions.

There is also much to read in `Mirrors of Sanctity’ relating to the Moorish occupation researched by the author relating to the Tower of Homage and elsewhere. The Moors too built their places of worship and within the Tower the mosque there became a chapel when the Spanish took over Gibraltar once again. In the town centre there were a few `homes of prayer’ dotted around the area. What used to be the Cafe Universal – now Centre Plaza, the building housing Benamor on Main Street by Horse Barrack Lane – was one. Another was where Mothercare is situated today and yet another place of worship was located in Casemates Square, or La Barcina, as it was named then. Evidently, none of them any longer there! However, at the very end of Main Street in front of St Jago’s stone block now housing the Tax Office, the frontage of the Nuestra Senora Del Rosario Hermitage remains. Many of these churches and chapels – including some of those in the hinterland close by – were either destroyed, left in a dilapidated state, left to crumble or converted into barracks, hospitals, official residences, offices or store rooms when the British took the Rock in 1704 and during the following years. Many of the church items like statues, crosses, candles, vestments and other bits and pieces were removed and taken to towns and villages in Spain by the inhabitants who fled the Rock when the British took over, presumably thinking they would be mistreated or worse by the military: some of the inhabitants remained. But not all was lost or taken. One of the statues that resided in the hermitage of St John the Baptist in the Rosia area remained on the Rock and now holds pride of place in the church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Catalan Bay!

`Mirrors of Sanctity’ treasures many gems and anecdotes of those years of religious or historical value. The work gone into this fourth and final volume of this series of books can’t go unmentioned. Research undertaken by the author has taken him, no doubt, from the Garrison Library to the Gibraltar Museum and the Gibraltar National Archives and back, probably visiting other sources and contacting informed individuals also. Much work has gone into this publication just like the other three and Manolo has no hesitation in heaping much praise on Victor Hermida for his illustrations, sketches and other drawings as well as contributing worthy ideas and suggestions. The author claims he’s not a historian per se, but someone who likes history and enjoys researching… Gibraltar’s, in particular. The editing of the book was undertaken by Joe Cortes. Thanks also go to the Minister for Education and Culture, the Heritage Trust and a great, big thank you for the assistance by way of the much needed sponsorship. Always more than handy to get projects like these off the ground. 

The bottom line is the importance of posterity for future generations for heritage and cultural reasons. It all helps to be better informed and aware, not just of Gibraltar’s military history and post British rule, but also what could be described as a forgotten period of the Rock’s very tumultuous past.

Mirrors of Sanctity can be purchased from the Heritage Trust office in John Mackintosh Square priced at £15  and all four volumes of the series including, `Under the Shadows of the Crescent and the Cross,’ `The Franciscan Monastery of Gibraltar – From House of Prayer to Seat of Power’ and `Of Monks and Nuns,’ sells at £50. 

0 £0.00
Go to Top