• Morgan Fagg

Here’s looking at you Madrid

Of all the gin joints in all the world, I take a look at one and the state of the world being played AGAIN to the tune of Casa Blanca.

"Of all the Gin joints in all the towns, in all the world,” we walked into this popular place in Madrid and sat down at the bar and looked around at the gin-swigging crowd.

Two American friends had invited me for a drink and they met me at our usual bar and we walked to a new spot that they wanted to show me, called Oficina42.

“I’d bet they’re asleep in New York. I’d bet they’re asleep all over America”

but these two Americans weren’t planning on sleeping anytime soon and we stayed in this gin joint, till 3 am, soaking up the atmosphere and commenting on the clientele.

“Here’s looking at you, kid" to quote Humphrey Bogard's character, Rick Blaine.

and here’s looking at Madrid and those around the island-shaped bar.

We weren’t long in the bar when my friend turned to me and his husband and said, “That girl propositioned me.” We looked at him in disbelief and then he said, look at her and her friends flirting with much older men who were buying them rounds of cocktails.

I’m sure they had some tales to tell over cocktails and at one stage my friends said they saw a gentleman in the corner closest to us, pimping away and taking money from the older men.

We laughed when we saw four bottles of Tóser wine in the corner of the bar and then commented on why four well-dressed men would enter a bar and struggle to finish a gin and tonic, without removing their ties or eyeing-up the cocktail girls. They were either employed as drivers or the were enjoying the worst James Bond themed Christmas party imaginable.

My friends and I talked as always about the troubles in America and the state of politics in the world.

I have just recently seen Casa Blanca for the first time and was surprised how many times the 1942 film referenced Concentration Camps. I always thought we were ignorant of the camps until after World War II which is probably very ignorant of me since America had Japanese internment camps and my own grandfather was held in an internment camp during the war.

The film focuses on fighting Nazis and starts out by saying that many people fled France and went to Africa and tried to get to French-controlled Casa Blanca and then fly to Lisbon to flee to Allied controlled territory.

My girlfriend questioned why the film completely ignored Spain and thinking about the question for a second, I told her that, they probably had to play down the holocaust exile that was organised in Spain, at that time, which you can read a little about in this blog about a WWII spy:


I was amazed at the quality and timelessness of the film and surprised that Hollywood was brave enough to make the film in 1942, as the war raged on.

From Rick's bar in 1942, back to Oficina42, my friends and I continued our conversation about American politics, fascism and things like Climate Change and Concentration Camps.

"If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die”

but almost 80 years after that iconic film was made we are still discussing fascism, Concentration Camps and Casa Blanca.

Casa Blanca, of course, translates as “house white” in Spanish and we continue to discuss those currently occupying the White House and those fighting for it.

“It’s still the same old story/ A fight for love and glory.”

"Play it again," as time goes by, we'll always have Madrid.

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