May your God go with you - by Carmen Gomez

Carmen Gomez

Chapter seven of my book of memoirs starts with the title;

“I remember being in awe of William.” Each year, as December comes upon us, it marks an anniversary for him;

 17 years now which seems like yesterday. This time of year I am reminded of him by many I come across in my walks; in particular friends who remember him fondly; who worked side by side with him either at school or on some production he either acted in, because he loved the theatre too, or in one of the many “Miss Gibraltar Shows” he produced, sixteen in total; and who miss their conversations with him.

I remember William once asking me if I thought he would be remembered; I smiled at him with a broken heart and replied, “of course they will remember you, and they will remember your music, which will live on; after you have gone; that is your legacy.”

Ave Maria

I have lost count of the many times Yvonne and I have been approached by kind people wanting us to know that they had heard his most special arrangement of the “Ave Maria;” the copyright of which he gave to the people of Gibraltar; being sung by school children; something which would have pleased William enormously as he had cherished his time as a teacher. He touched the hearts of so many of our younger generation.

Indeed his most special composition, has been sang and played not only here on a myriad of occasions, but abroad; sung by the famous and not so famous. There are I believe something like 3,000 different arrangements of the “Ave Maria” out there, but his seems to have captured everyone’s hearts; I have read comments like “this particular arrangement will make history as the most beautiful work of religious music; ‘bellisima creacion;’ extraordinary composition; or one of the most haunting.”

The Maestro

Recently I attended a gathering of journalists and among them was this elegant gentleman from Spain, who when asked by someone if he knew or had heard of my brother he replied, “Who has not heard of the “Celebre” William Gomez;” “el maestro que adornaba la guitarra.”

They know of him in Spain because when the Maestro of classical guitar, Segovia, heard him play at the tender age of eleven, he said of him that he would rank amongst the three top virtuosos of our time; himself, Narciso Yepes and William Gomez. At an early age William was pursuing a highly promising journey within the cultural circles he was destined for, in the home of the classical guitar.

But after one of his very successful concerts there, an ill meaning Spanish radio journalist tackled him about his Gibraltarian nationality, something he was as passionate about as his music, with disastrous consequences. He was banned by the Franco regime from playing in Spain. So when Solly Azagury, from Gibraltar, dedicated a most exquisite poem to him titled “Cuando suena esta Guitarra;” and spoke of, “when art crosses frontiers, prejudices are subdued and resentments are annihilated, at the sound of this guitar;” he was talking about sentiments that Spain did not share, nor could ever understand; i.e. that art and politics should never mix.

Going back to said chapter I go on to say, “I don’t think at that age, we were really aware that our brother was a child prodigy; but I do remember being in awe of him and his guitar playing, as I watched his long slender fingers dance up and down the strings, and those manicured nails on his right hand strumming them.

Feeling proud

All I wished to do was merely watch him, and listen to his playing with an insatiable admiration, such as my young heart was able to arouse. He made the guitar sound like the most beautiful and sensual instrument in the world, as if it were an extension of his innermost thoughts; of his soul. If baby Yvonne had made me feel very special when she was born, William made me feel very proud.” The author Carmen Posso once wrote of him “William Gomez was born with a guitar in his arms and the notes of its music in his soul.”

William wrote and co-wrote many beautiful compositions which I hope that one day will see the light of day and be housed somewhere, in some archive, in his beloved Gibraltar, together with that of other celebrated local artists of the day for all to share.

So, coming back to the month of December and Christmas time; it is well known that people have a natural tendency to remember those who have passed away and recall those happy years of our youth, so precious in their day.

Is a time of remembrance

Not that we don’t remember our loved ones during the year, but the month of December, so close to the end of the year, is a time of remembrance; in the same way as some of us celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, when we set up our cribs at home. It’s a time when we tend to think just that bit extra about those less fortunate than ourselves; although having said that, Gibraltar never forgets those in need; whether locally, across the way and or the less fortunate in lands far away. Long may it be so.

Even the bishop this year invites those who may not have a family to be with, to join him and share a Christmas meal with him. In “The magic of Christmas” which made it to my tenth chapter in my memoirs, I recall happy, fun days of being with the family and doing things together as a family; like adorning the tree; putting up “El Nacimiento” or looking forward to our very own open day at home, when the door of our house would be open to one and all, where music would be played and anyone passing by was invited to participate.

A time when we sang carols in Spanish and English to the accompaniment of the “zambomba,” tambourines and the sound of knives being played up and down the ridges of an empty crystal bottle of anis. This going down memory lane, is a penchant of mine; a way of keeping in touch with the world we used to live in; together; accomplices in the moment, you and I.

In the words of the Irish comedian Dave Allen, “ May your God go with you.”