39 years ago today I was in Madrid and it seemed like just another day. I had returned from school as usual and things seemed just fine. As the evening drew in, we started to hear news of Spain being taken over by the military, again. Remember that Franco had died just over five years earlier and this was a very young democracy. There was a lot of confusion and tension and tanks were immediately deployed on the streets of the centre of Madrid. Anyway, the atmosphere in Madrid was tense, there was a lot of confusion and within the first few hours a curfew was set of 9 pm and everyone had to be at home or else risk who knows what. Spain was still quite hardline and any excuse for the authorities to arrest you and undergo some beating was ok by them. In fact, an older boy than me from my school was mistaken for a young activist in those days and suffered quite a bad beating, awful.
Images of the attempted coup d'état on 23F 1981
Being half British, half Spanish but having grown up most of my life in Spain until then, my parents were advised to be on alert and to start packing our bags to leave Spain in the coming days if things got worse. By the next day thankfully we discovered that the coup was mainly a small amount of military personnel in Madrid and Valencia and that they didn't have the support of the majority of the generals or the army. Teniente Coronel Tejero was at the helm of the most famous scenes in the Spanish congress where machine gun shots were fired. His now famous words of 'que se sienten, coño' were shouted at the members of parliament and everyone crouched down except notably the defiant Gutiérrez Mellado and Presidente Aldolfo Suarez. The elderly Mellado refused and was then manhandled by the military and and his actions were praised by the Spanish public in standing up to the incursion https://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/30-aniversario-23-f/gutierrez-mellado-comenta-su-actitud-23/1018336/
For the recently reinstated monarchy led by King Juan Carlos this was a chance to make or break. A time to stamp his authority on the military and come out and 'save' Spain. I remember the television speech vividly in which he stated the insurgents did not have his support and that he would fight for his country. That was pretty much the end of that. I think once the military realised that the king was not going to allow this and that they did not have the support they needed, within hours the whole ordeal was over. Scary and exciting times to be growing up in Madrid. The 70s and 80s were an amazing time to be in Madrid and anyone who lived there at that time growing up knows exactly what I mean.
At the time, I was going through a phase of playing a bit of electric guitar and was having lessons with 'Carlos' my jazz guitar teacher. He seemed like a 'progre' or lefty jazz musician and going to his house was like going underground. I loved our sessions and it was another world to the flamenco scene. In fact, the feeling was the same but it was nice to get involved in an unknown world to me, it was cool. So, I studied my scales, played my chord progressions but eventually flamenco took me back and that was the end of that!