A History of the Chipulina Family
Karina  Chipulina -  Getares

1958 On the 26th of March Sheila gave birth to her second daughter, Karina Chipulina. She was born with a condition known as Down's syndrome but as she grew older it became quite apparent that her various physical and mental handicaps would never be able to detract from her warm and lovable personality.

On the 19th of June the family's last piece of foreign property, Diego Gomez's house in La Linea, was sold off. By now it had been inherited by numerous people on all sides of the family. As time went by more and more people had ended up with small parts of quarter shares and even tinier bits of eighth shares. It had become more trouble than it was worth. My mother’s share was Pts 22 500 which in those days came to £114.11s.6d.

Now that I had completed my National Service, underwater fishing continued to alternate with rowing as my two main activities. Late one afternoon that summer, as we rested between regattas so to speak, Lewis Hathaway and I found ourselves swimming slowly back to Getares beach after a more or less fruitless expedition to an old wreck lying nearly half a kilometre from the beach. Because of Gibraltar's peculiar geology, most of its beaches became deep very quickly indeed. The main charm of Getares for most visitors from the Rock was that it was extremely shallow. You could literally walk for hundred of yards out to sea and the water would still only reach your ankles. It was great fun for young children but very tedious for underwater fishermen.

We were still struggling on about thirty yards from the shore trying to avoid cutting ourselves against some nasty in-shore reefs when in only a few feet of water Lewis suddenly found himself face to face with an enormous red sea bream. Showing great control he slowly and deliberately reloaded his rubber powered gun and shot the fish cleanly through the gills. It took him just a few minutes to get the beast ashore. It weighed over 20 pounds and proved to be by far the biggest fish ever to be caught by any of us.

Getares beach. The reefs on this part of the beach were horrendously difficult to negotiate during low tide. It was more or less in the middle of this lot that Lewis Hathaway caught his record breaking red sea bream.

Bar Delicias - The place we always ended up in after a days fishing

Although I cannot claim to have caught the fish myself, I can still remember the glow of satisfaction I felt that day as we sat down at some café or other in Algeciras waiting for the ferry to take us back home. The fish, of course, lay prominently on the table in front of us making a wonderful display among the small plates of gambas and boquerones that had been given to us astapas with our drinks.

The coaling gantries and grabs of the North Mole were demolished to make way for a new transit shed and six European nations, including France and Germany formed the European Economic Community.

1959 Spain now turned its attentions to sea-borne smuggling. As a result of a special effort, 11 million pounds of contraband ex-Gibraltar were captured in Spanish territorial waters. Several Gibraltarians appealed to Britain. They could count on some 60 Members of Parliament, some of whom were themselves owners of property in the Campo area. Overland smuggling continued as usual, via the Spanish workforce. One local merchant boasted that he sold annually one sixtieth of the world production of Parker 51's. Another made a fortune by selling saccharin to the exclusion of everything else.

That year I decided that my Barclay’s Bank salary of £13 a month was simply not enough. I left and joined the City Council as a clerk in the telephone exchange department. My new monthly wage was exactly £15.

The staff of Barclay’s Bank (Dominion Colonial and Overseas). This photo was taken just before I left. It’s from a newspaper clipping. I am on the back row second from left. Missing from the photograph is Mr. Edwards, head teller and father to one of my friends. Not long after this photo was taken he eloped with the girl standing on the extreme left much to his wife’s dismay and everybody else’s astonishment. Her name was Maria Isabel Peralta and everybody called her Mip. I don’t know what happened next but they went to Spain and must have resigned from the bank.

The work was extremely repetitive and involved calculating the value of overseas calls and billing the appropriate amounts to customers. It was mostly through my efforts while working there that the Chipulina family got their first telephone. The number was 2913.

That year, perhaps celebrating the fact that I was now earning serious money I went with some friends on a holiday to Madrid. It was my first real holiday since my trip to Lourdes.

Holiday to Madrid. The fellow with the glasses is Charles Dellipiani. The fellow in the centre of both the bottom pictures is Henry Latin of underwater Fishing fame. The other fellow is his cousin. I am not sure where the photos were taken but the bottom left is in El Retiro gardens in Madrid. I suspect the top two are from Aranjuez

The Telephone Department shared an office with another which dealt with electrical installations. It was open to the public and received a steady stream of irate customers with complaints about everything and anything remotely concerned with the Council. The most memorable occasion concerned an electrical pressure cooker. These were relatively new household gadgets at the time and had become very popular in Gibraltar.

Apparently this particular customer had purchased one recently with disastrous results. Her first attempts at Pollo al Chilindron had blown the safety valve and the chicken had ended up in the ceiling of her kitchen. She laid the blame for this tragedy squarely on the council as she was convinced that the fault lay with the unevenness of the electrical supply. The staff stifled their giggles and tried to calm the customer down. But there was no stopping her.
'Porque mi madre tiene una 'cuca'. '

As the word 'cuca' was local slang for penis it was now impossible to deal with the problem seriously. To make matters even worse she continued:
'Y mi abuela tambien tiene dos 'cuca'. '
One can only hope that the poor woman got the compensation she deserved.


The City Council building now the House of Assembly, John Macintosh Square, Gibraltar This is a modern photograph. I worked in an office on the bottom floor. The window is the one on the far left. The place didn’t look quite as nice in those days.

The problems caused by using English words in a Spanish sentence, or indeed a Spanish word in an English sentence, continued to be as endemic in Gibraltar as it had been in the past. The following nonsense rhyme, which belongs to an earlier era, is a deliberate joke on the way in which many locals would use the two languages both simultaneously and indiscriminately.

'My mother, my father, my sister and yo,
Comimos un huevo y la mitad sobró.
My father la yema my mother la clara
My sister and yo no comimos nada.'

Luis Diaz and I at a City Council gathering

Luis and I worked together in the Telephone department. He was a good friend and a great musician and guitar player. In fact he was the leading light of the local guitar trio, Los Trovadores. Despite our musical rivalry he was always willing to pass on playing tips.