Tuesday night proved a night of real nostalgia as the group The Odds reunited after 51 years. The occasion was the launch of a new book on Gibraltar titled ‘A Boy from Red Sands’ written by local musician and singer Henry Valerga.
Grand Battery House was packed with friends and family who enjoyed renditions of fifties and sixties hits, including ‘The Young One’s, ‘Happy Together’ and ‘These Boots Were Made for Walking’, in three part harmony from original members Henry and Dennis Valerga, Douglas McMahon and Arturo Bonich.
This book tells the story of a young boy “Enriquito”, his love and involvement in music, bringing to life the Gibraltar of the 1950s and 60s. The story covering some 21 years is told through prose, poetry and pictures. Henry spoke of how when putting it all together he had been captivated by the experience “of going back in time and reliving events which had taken place so long ago”.
He was proud, he emphasised, to be making his contribution to the real story of Gibraltar and the growing body of Gibraltarian literature “which tells our story through the stories told by our people”.
It was Government Minister Sir Joe Bossano who launched the book and promised all present “when you read the book you will feel at home”.
Sir Joe spoke of how the book reflected something which his generation and Henry’s generation would be familiar with. Something, he stressed, “which is disappearing in Gibraltar”.
The kind of life that is reflected in the book, he commented, had already disappeared in much of Europe a long time before but Gibraltar kept it alive for longer than most other places.
“It is a book which will be completely alien to our children and grandchildren who live in cyberspace and in a different world but it is important that they know about the world that existed before just like it was important for us to remember the stories that our fathers and grandfathers told us about the First and Second World Wars,” he emphasised.
But just as importantly, he added, the book reflected what was happening to Gibraltarians at the time and whose horizons could not be confined to Gibraltar. They left but returned, he continued, adding their own experiences for the betterment of our community.
Sir Joe thanked Henry for what he had done over the years to add to the Gibraltarian identity with his life and his book now making sure it would not be forgotten.
The night was presented by Levi Attias he spoke of Henry or Enriquito as he is referred to in the book as a singer, musician, poet, lyricist, arranger, composer and now author. Mr Attias described him as “a renaissance man” with a thirst for new experiences.
“He is creative, innovative and a risk taker.”
“A Boy from Red Sands, is part of Henry’s story and part of our national story” and brings together the music of the time, the games children played, the way it was.
Mr Attias paid credit to a book “bulging with memories – his and ours”.
Henry Valerga will form part of the Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival. He is one of the featured speakers on Sunday 18 November at 4pm at the Convent.