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"When I bought an apartment in Ronda in 2001 and a house in 2003, Paul was an invaluable help in my dealings with estate agents, lawyers, at the bank and at the notary. It’s too risky to do it all without a competent interpreter. Many do, but I would strongly advise against it."
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The Day I Met Diana PDF
Friday, 09 January 2009 00:00
 

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I’d first heard this remarkable singing voice, as I sat early in January 2008 by an open window in my apartment in Ronda, Andalucía. The song was playing on the radio. I heard it several more times over the following days and discovered that it was a young lady from Málaga called Diana Navarro.

I checked for the record in the shops locally, but there was nothing doing. I finally found it a week or so later at Málaga airport as I caught a flight back to the UK, and bought it there and then. What a buy!

The album, 24 Rosas, was a pure delight. Her singing is in a modern flamenco style, but with orchestrated backing music. I loved it!
 
Fast forward several months to September 2008 and another visit to Ronda for the Feria de Pedro Romero. As I always do when I first arrive I check the local paper to see what’s on. Diana Navarro was scheduled to perform in the bullring at Carratraca, an hour from Ronda, on the Saturday night, three nights hence. I must definitely go, I thought. Being single at that time, I tried to find a female companion to accompany me, but failed. Never mind, I went anyway.
 
Well, the concert was absolutely fantastic.  It was in the village bullring, which is an old stone affair built into the mountainside outside the village of Carratraca itself.  They'd spelt out the name of the village in candles on the sand of the arena in front of the temporary stage erected for the concert.  It looked beautiful.  As for the concert, it was unbelievably good.  If you think Diana's voice is good on CD, wait till you hear and see her live!  Apart from being incredibly beautiful, she is quite statuesque and has an amazing presence on stage. And that voice... well!
 
Towards the end of the concert I decided I would try and get backstage to speak to her!  Why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!  I went round the back where a small crowd had gathered in the hope of seeing her depart.  I approached a large stocky guy dressed in black with long hair, tattoos and a range of facial ironmongery and asked if he was a roadie. Silly question – of course he was!  I said I'd come all the way from England especially for the concert (almost true) and might it be possible to have a brief word with Diana. He said “leave it to me” and sure enough, a bit later he came out and gestured for me to come backstage.  In the meantime I'd asked a young Spanish couple who were also hanging around if they would take a photo of me with Diana - I didn’t have a camera with me - and email it to me if I gave them my email address. They agreed, of course, so Alicia came in with me - they would only allow two of us, for some reason. 
 
After a bit of a wait we were ushered in to meet Diana.  What a lovely lady - she was really humble and so chuffed that I'd ”come all the way from England” to come to the concert and was intrigued by my tale of how I’d discovered her music. 
 
So we chatted and kissed on the cheek (several times), she signed a dedication on a publicity photo for each of us and the roadie took some photos.  Alicia was so thrilled and - talk about nervous - she was shaking both before and after our 'audience'.  We also chatted to a couple of the band members, the guitarist and the drummer, who were just as chuffed that we bothered to congratulate them. 
 
Alicia's husband, Rafael, who'd been waiting outside all this time, was understandably very envious, as was the huge crowd that had gathered outside in the meantime.
 
Then it was time to drive back to Ronda, listening to Diana on CD all the way. Not the same as live, but pretty good all the same...
 
Now, as I write this several months later, I still think fondly of the day I met Diana...

© Paul Whitelock
 

Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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