18 May 2019

"When I die, don't let anyone touch my things" - R.I.P. Juan Carlos Aragón

Cadiz is mourning the death of one its best-loved Carnival characters, Juan Carlos Arágon Becerro, aged just 51.  Philosopher, writer, poet, singer and musician, Aragón was the brain behind more than forty of the colourful singing groups that participated in this unique festival over the past 25 years, writing lyrics, designing costumes, and performing in many prize-winning chirigotas and comparsas

Aragón was one of the generation that made the Carnaval de Cádiz famous across Spain and beyond. It's up there with Mardi Gras in terms of ingenuity, if not scale, and has now been nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list.

It's impossible to describe the harmony and colour of a comparsa in full flow: the video below, his contribution to this year's Carnival, gives you a hint of the flavour.

A few years ago Aragón wrote a poem, "Testamento", giving instuctions on what to do after his death.  I enjoyed it so much I translated it into English.
When I die, don’t let anyone touch my things.
Let them stay as they are for when I come back,
Just as I left them.

The wine out of the fridge,
The capo on the first fret,
The telephone ringing,
The heating on,
The child at school,
The letters unopened,
The alarm set for seven,
The accounts at zero,
The blinds up.

If they kill me without pain,
I want the number of the killer.
Let someone record the funeral;
Buy me tobacco and the newspaper,
Don’t wait for me to wake up,
Save me some tuna in case I come back in the flesh.
And don’t keep this verse,
In case I want to change the ending.
And take out the rubbish.