A few months ago I came across a Kickstarter project called Nae Pasaran. I was intrigued to read that a Chilean documentary-maker working in Scotland had completed filming the story of Rolls Royce workers at East Kilbride, near Glasgow, who in the 1970s had blocked the servicing of jet engines from the planes of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Pinochet who, with US connivance, had overthrown the democratically elected socialist régime of Chile in 1973, was cracking down ruthlessly on the population of his country. He interned as many as 80,000 people, torturing thousands more, and executed somewhere between 1200 and 3200. (There is a wonderful Jack Lemon film set during this time, called “Missing”). He also bombed civilians in Santiago.
It was this persecution that prompted the workers at East Kilbride to boycott the servicing of the Chilean jet engines, thereby grounding many airforce planes, and undoubtedly saving civilian lives.
The engines were put under wraps and sat untouched in the works yard for several years until one day they mysteriously disappeared.
The story so intrigued Chilean filmmaker, Felipe Bustos Sierra, that he raised the money to make a documentary about it, which he called “Nae Pasaran” – a kind of Scottish version of the Spanish for “thou shalt not pass”. Unfortunately, he ran out of money to pay for the post-production editing of film and sound, and launched a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to finish it.
Since I was very much around in the seventies when this was all happening, working as a journalist in Glasgow, I felt that it was a project worth a donation. I, along with others, provided the cash that has enabled Felipe to bring the project to a conclusion. And the Glasgow Film Festival has now invited “Nae Pasaran” for a screening at its closing night gala on March 4th, when it will have it’s world première.
Sadly, I wont be able to go, but have been promised a DVD as compensation.
And one of those Rolls Royce workers, Stuart Barrie, renowned over the years for his poetry, has written a poem in my honour, which I found very touching. Here it is:
‘Nae Pasaran’ was in a knot
Needing finance booster shot
When from mists Peter walked out
Planted seeds that soon would sprout
No story of Scot’s engineers !
No story of the Chilean tears !
No story of the engines ‘blacking’ !
Without your coins, without your backing
This poem is part, of the barter
For your generous Kickstarter
donation given with fine heart
Enjoy these verses a la carte
Born Glasgow nineteen fifty-one
Keelys were pale from lack of sun
Lead in water pipes way back then
Made keely’s depressed now and again
But Peter was fine, that was until
He got ground down in the ‘Savings’ mill
Lines of figures, endless numbers
Sinking fast in toxic slumbers
So being pure gallus, being a chancer
(He wisnie dolly, he had an answer)
“If I stay here, I’ll melt down”
So Peter did a runner to London town
Then back to Glasgow, back he came
Trainee Car Salesman, (job without shame)
Left in a year, then did a course
That fed his heart and vital force
To work in Paisley to report
On Buddie’s lives, their days in court
So up the ladder, on his bike
Over to the Scotsman, that was a hike
Worked for Roy then Ken the son
Building his craft for the long end run
Like tousled hair, looking for a comb
Glasgow called its own son home
As Evening Times, ‘Background Writer’
Honed his skills, pulled it tighter
Then off to the ‘telly’, to use his theories
Purvey his art in scripts and series
Words vocation, a spate in flood
Story and synopsis ran in his blood
Standard, Squadron, High Road, Machair
Literary dervish, apprentice Voltaire
At the ripe old age of forty five
From chrysalis came a butterfly
Peter May … word gourmet
Left the telly … flew away
His first love once again embraced
His appetite was most unchaste
His trade now learned, his art refined
Li Yan forensic mastermind
appeared from out of Peter’s head
To solve the riddles of the dead
Now west to France for cold case files
Peter and Enzo, Scottish exiles
Produced Cast Iron, Blowback, Freeze Frame
Half of half dozen that brought French Fame
Next north to Lewis where spells are cast
Dark streams flow from Fin Mac’s past
Ah Pete my man ! Heyoka empaths !
Plumbing the soul in warm bloodbaths
Now in Saint-Céré you domicile
in some style, a Francophile
But nae good curries for some whiles
(The price that’s paid by Scotch eggs isles)
Hope you live long, hope you live well
Crack heart’s code for citadel
Now in autumn of your life
Within the grasp of freedom’s knife
Cooked all your meals, had your fill
Last page, last words, behold, be still.