Student life (13)

When I came back from Paris I spent a couple of weeks in Osuna and then I moved to Seville to attend classes in a new center. He had had his first contact with the Society of Jesus when he was studying at Safa but without being aware of it, thinking that the school was Don Ernesto’s property where we played ball without tomorrow and Don José Jiménez discovered poetry with us. that his precise voice. La Safa will always be my true and main school, a teaching center where teachers treated all children the same, regardless of class, whether for rewards or punishments, the best school to awaken social sensitivity. The second contact I had had with Father Collado when he received me in Paris and took me to the residence for young workers in Boulogne. There he left me with absolute freedom, so much so that I barely remember seeing him for the rest of the two months; he surely supervised what he did but without me knowing. The third contact with the Jesuits I had then, when I arrived in Seville, in Portaceli. In 1977 I was already experiencing the crisis of faith that would lead to my current disbelief. However, although my position regarding religion is one of complete independence, culturally I am a Christian, my childhood was intensely so, and I recognize the cultural work that the Church exercises and has always exercised. The Jesuits, in particular, have been fundamental in the intellectual world for long periods of history, so much so that they ended up being persecuted and expelled from Spain on several occasions, as the reader knows very well. From Osuna, without going any further, the fifteen clerics who occupied the convent on Compañía Street left for Italy in 1767. The Jesuits from Baetica who survived the sea voyage settled in the Rimini area, a little north of Florence and on the shores of the Adriatic, where some, such as Juan de Osuna (1745-1818), stood out for their literary activity. A difficult number of expelled Spanish Jesuits returned in 1798 thanks to Carlos IV. Throughout the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th, the members of the order were again expelled and readmitted from Spain several times. They have always been controversial, criticized, but no one can doubt the brilliance and intellectual independence of many of their members, such as Father Llanos (1906-1992), that good, generous man who was never well considered, or the dedicated followers of the Liberation Theology, defenders of a church truly close to the humanitarian roots of the Christian message. I have very good memories of his teachings and his open-mindedness.

The official name of Portaceli, the one that can be read on the seals of my School Grade Bookit was College of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I spent two courses there. Today its appearance has changed, but then the main buildings and the church already existed, with a contemporary design, very bright. I remember that temple with appreciation because I became part of the choir. He had modern instruments at his disposal, even drums, and in my time an excellent voice, José Manuel Soto Alarcón, a boy who played soccer very well and went to school by bicycle, setting an example of sustainable mobility at a time when Few still thought of the future. His voice and his songs are part of our generational memory today.

After the experience of Paris, where I had tasted the taste of freedom and the pleasure of the vagabond, my interest in academic life dropped considerably, so much so that it has not yet recovered: I will always prefer a Julio Cortázar, with his air of a lost scholar and his old trench coat, to any academic, with his gown, his cap and his fists. I was so clueless about everything, including about myself—to live is to know oneself—that I enrolled in science. In Physics and Chemistry I had Father Antonio Alcalá, an institution at school. He wasn’t tall, but he was strong, with graying hair slicked back. He had a goatee at the time and a noticeable limp, perhaps due to having had polio when the vaccine did not yet exist. This gentleman, a consummate cinephile, had a lot of influence in the Cine Club Vida, directed by his brother Manuel, a cultural institution based at the time in the neo-Gothic building on Calle Trajano number 35, right where the foundation «Escuelas Profesionales de la Sagrada Family”. In his classes, between pendulums, velocities, masses and coefficients, this endearing professor encouraged us to learn about the films that were projected there, all far removed from commercial tastes and conceptions (films by Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Jean Luc Godard , Andrzej Wajda and similar creators). His classroom was a hemicycle-shaped laboratory with a large table on the dais filled with supplies for conducting experiments; I didn’t feel good there, I was absent, surrounded by boys attentive to explanations while my head escaped to very different places, forests, roads, seas and cities where legendary heroes cheered. Mathematics was in charge of Mr. Antonio Hernández Lanau, a man who treated us very kindly but inflexible with grades. In Natural Sciences I don’t remember who I had, to be honest, but the three of them suspended me in June and September. In June, the failures in the subjects of the specialty were joined by those of Geography and History, Philosophy and Design; I only passed Religion, French and Physical Education, the subject that I was always the best at. In religion, by the way, we had a priest who taught us to practice yoga as a complement to our spirituality, thus connecting Western and Eastern religions with the greatest simplicity and demonstrating a commendable open-mindedness. In September, with a lot of sweat and borrowed sheets, I passed Philosophy and Design. This last subject was a matter of Don José Vecino. He was a gentleman, Don José, very peculiar. Among his customs, he had to force the student to place the sheet on the day of the delivery oriented in a specific way, towards an area of ​​the planet Earth that was constantly changing. And that when he was in the mood. At the moment of handing it to him, with his grave and cavernous voice and his fixed gaze, he told you, for example: “Put the picture facing Africa.” And there you were, locked in a classroom, without seeing the sun, trying to remember which way it rose every morning to orient yourself correctly and find the south. Once you remembered there was no problem, but no one could take the bad time away from you.

In summary: the academic year 77/78, of 3rd year of BUP, ended with four failures, a novelty in my record. You had to repeat the course.

(To be continue).

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Current view of the façade of the Portaceli school facing Eduardo Dato (

Victor Espuney.

Student life (13) – The Stitching