We ascended the damp hallway and went out into the narrow, cobbled, sloping, ancient Porto street. Instead of heading right up the hill towards the shops, we went down to the River Douro, half a minute away. We went straight to the water’s edge where holiday restaurant boats were silently moored, although from the opposite bank we could hear music, loud as if a Christmas party was in full swing – it seemed doubtful in the present circumstances. I imagined an empty square with the Christmas tree lights glaring down onto the empty flagstones, a feast prepared with no-one to indulge, music without dancing, cold decorations swinging between lamp posts, a party with no guests, a deserted empty celebration. The lights for the famous signs reflected onto the river – Sandeman with its famous cloaked figure in that hat, reminded me of an Orson Welles advert from the seventies that I can’t find on the net. Cockburn’s another famous name, it all happens here in Porto. I found two adverts for different brands that look like they were filmed in the same warehouse but what happened to Orson?
Today was Olivia’s dad’s birthday and we spoke to him on the phone but celebrations of any kind are difficult at this time, there’s no going out to dinner, meeting friends, cakes, blowing out candles, silly hats. I read today that Portugal has had its worse day since the pandemic started and masks are mandatory here but restaurants are open (for now) but they are also mostly empty and the government will assess the situation about Christmas protocols in the wake of the latest information. It seems we might have arrived here at one of the few available windows as things get worse before the vaccine arrives.
Last night at 5.30 AM, I finally crowned the original mosquito that has sucked my blood, haunted me in the night, disturbed my sleep and had me lying under a quilt, half-blinded by bright light in fear as I scanned the room for the minute monster. And there it was on the ceiling, still, but too high for me to reach. I moved to survey the situation, how could I hunt it down, send it to meet its evil maker? As I looked up it moved, still too high and flitting about, I ran into the front room and found my Algarve tourist guide that I’d picked up in a Penzance charity store for 50p. Back in the bedroom, I climbed on the bed and whack!!! I think I got it, no corpse, no blood, but I couldn’t see it either. It was cold comfort because when you miss them they disappear only returning when you settle down dropping off to sleep and you either hear them and wake up or you were already asleep and they have you for lunch.
Ronnie O’Sullivan won his quarter-final today against Ding, but only just at 5-4 and I was thinking about perfection because Ronnie who might be the best of all time was all over the place tonight. It’s human imperfection that makes them perfect. If you never missed, there would be no point competing, if a song was perfect you wouldn’t need any more songs. Perfection isn’t the point, it’s nuance, personality, different ideas, flaws might be more emotional than great skills, everyone is relevant, you just have to be relevant enough for people to want to hear you.
Appointment meetings are coming thick and fast, the bank – Monday, fiscal number – Friday, moving into our flat – December 20th or 21st, 3rd wedding anniversary – December 22nd, Portuguese Christmas – midnight December 24th, registration – December 30th, Brexit – December 31st, and we will be here, starting a new year in a new country. I’m still studying French every day on Duolingo and I’m trying to figure out how to study Portuguese BUT Duolingo only does Brazilian Portuguese, so I’m trying to figure out how to use an app that is as good as Duolingo that teaches the right version of the language. How can Duolingo teach Klingon but not Portuguese from Portugal when there are significant differences in grammar, vocabulary, and accent? O mundo é louco.
Music today is staying with The Beatles, I’m still remembering John Lennon’s murder and loving Revolver for his and everyone’s songs and their playing on this album. Masterpiece.