Posted on March 19, 2008 - by MG
Alonso, Mario, Hector and Pablo of the OU Mexican Society
After Mass last week I overheard two people talking in the shop near church. Their accents gave them away as Mexicans, so I introduced myself as a fellow Mexican. Oxford has a few Mexican graduate students nowadays and over the years I’ve got to know a few of them, which has been a wonderful way to meet Mexican people who are a) much younger than me and b) not related to me!
Pablo invited me to listen to him and some friends playing ‘trova’ at a ‘Bohemian Night’ at Exeter College MCR. ‘Trova’ are soft, latin-american modern folk songs, often with political sentiments. So I sneaked out of the house last Saturday and joined the Young People in the MCR.
Listening to them play, I was transported back to my childhood when my uncle Jose Luis (‘Pepe’) and some student mates (my mother called them ‘the boys’) of his came to Europe travelling, back in the 1970s. Like Pablo and his pals, they also brought guitars and songs from old Mexico. I was a very impressionable young girl at that time and decided that an intrinsic part of being attractive as a latino male was undoubtedly the ability to sing and play guitar.
I was glad to see that these guys lived up to that stereotype. Like Pepe and ‘the boys’ back in the day, these guys had an impressive command of old Mexican songs by Agustin Lara and Jose Alfredo Jimenez, rancheras, trova songs, ballads…and that was before they began riffing with the audience in English, covering the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Don Mclean and Radiohead.
(A highlight was when they played “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles and then without changing the guitar riffs at all – because it’s exactly the same tune – went straight into the older Mexican jarocho song ‘La Bamba’.)
Very bohemian! And quite satisfyingly Mexican, too. Viva Mexico!
I might be going to talk to the Oxford University Mexican Society about ‘The Joshua Files’. Yes, I did tell them, many times, that it’s a children’s book…
(NB ‘a huevo’ is Mexican slang for saying ‘too right’. And like most Mexican slang, it is probably rather crude…)