Well, seeing my young self sporting a Rickenbacker, a svelte body, a very cool haircut and black suede boots on a column at an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia’s capital city, cannot be anything else but humbling. I presume the picture is from Australia’s Top Of The Pops, Countdown, in the early eighties. I’m not sure which song I am miming to because that’s what it is, it’s a TV studio mime. I wonder if there are any labels at the exhibition saying where it is and if they mention my name did they spell it correctly? Whenever I go into an exhibition in a foreign country and there’s an English translation, it’s always full of mistakes and I always wondered how they could be so together, so erudite, so passionate about the art and not think it was important enough to have a native speaker proofread the text. Anyway, this exhibition looks at the pub scene in Australia that was a fantastic creative wave that swooped across Australia in the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Although they talk about it in terms of pubs, it was more like proper venues with a bar or three, some of the venues were huge, The Manly Vale, Selina’s, The Family Inn in Sydney. The Mansfield Tavern in Brisbane, The Venue, The Frankston Pier in Melbourne, Le Rox, and The Gov in Adelaide, and every time we went to Perth we played at The Red Parrot for the cool dudes and lots of suburban pub venues over a week that were always sold out. There were so many cool bands, big and small, and all playing original material and releasing singles and albums of which I have quite a collection. This exhibition is still on in Canberra till mid-March, it’s pretty cool.
Everywhere was open today in Porto so we ventured out. 12/53 degrees, not so bad. It started with a quick trip around the corner to a smaller supermarket where the bottles of sparkling water were way cheaper and we thought we’d go buy them and bring them straight back to the flat instead of carting the expensive ones from the other side of town. Olivia took them upstairs and I waited in the narrow street. An old lady (can you say that anymore when you’re 62?) was hanging out washing over her balcony and she dropped a clothes peg. I went to pick it up and in rapid-fire Portuguese, she instructed me to put the peg inside the doorway of her building as she thanked me profusely – engaging with the locals, that’s the stuff.
We went up a different street into the city today, winding and narrow, cobbled, amazing buildings, some in disrepair, some in total ruin but this was certainly a place where people lived – more clotheslines and people hanging around outside small tavernas and odd little buildings which might have been welfare centres or help centres for some of the disenfranchised, it was hard to tell. I took some pictures as we moved through the streets and eventually we found ourselves back in the city heading to the resident registration building to get an interview to apply to stay here. We found ourselves in a wide boulevard in a part of the city we hadn’t been to before and found the building where the reception area gave us a number to ring to make an appointment. On into the main street, Santa Catarina, where I noticed there was a CEX, I wanted to buy some temporary second-hand speakers for my computer till Olivia’s dad drives our vehicle down and brings mine which are at Olivia’s parents’ in Germany. We got there, it was closed but two Portuguese outside seemed to be wanting to go there too, I asked them about it and they said they thought the shop had moved, so we hung with them and they led us to the new location.
We said thanks and set about finding something at a reasonable price but the selection was poor and the one speaker I looked at had something broken so they directed us to another place (Cash Converters), there I found some LG mini speakers for 49€ which are fine and way better than just listening through the computer speaker. We stopped in the mall for some tasty wok veggie food before venturing outside again to find the big supermarket. It was 5.30 PM, it was already dark and people had their umbrellas up in the soft rain that floated down like confetti past the orange street lights. Earlier we’d been asked again if we wanted hashish, a man from Kenya wanted us to buy his bracelets and we have started to realise that we stand out as tourists. I mentioned it to the couple that led us to CEX. He said ‘well yeah, you’re obviously not Portuguese, she is tall, green eyes, light brown hair, you too are taller and have long hair, you may live here now but you certainly don’t look like you come from Porto’.
Music today continued with The Beatles, it’s hard to stop. I played that collection called 1 which seems to be all their number ones. Obvious, but classic.