As one last memory of Christmas and New Year, we were on our way past the Capela das Almas / de Santa Catarina – Church of Souls on Christmas Day and decided to take a look inside. We had passed by many times as it’s in the same street as where we live. It is decorated with beautiful blue and white Azulejo tiles painted with the lives of the saints. The 16,000 tiles were added in 1929 although the church was built in the 18th century. We ventured inside, there were pews of scattered followers listening to the words of the preacher at the back of the church in a pulpit surrounded by plexiglass, like the Popemobile. After a short period, they began to sing Silent Night in Portuguese (Noite Feliz) so I recorded a bit of it on my phone. We were there till the end of the service, it was an austere event, but the lack of people made me think of how all things change. The religion biz, the music biz, the taxi biz, the hotel biz, the fax biz, the telegram biz, welcome to the future.
Today we had a strange task, finding the house of a Chinese lady in the East so we could pick up the Hulusi and the toolbox she was selling. What is a Hulusi and how is it connected to a toolbox? Simply the lady was selling both and Olivia bought both items because the toolbox was so cheap (5 euros), as was the Hulusi (only 10 Euros). The word comes from ‘Hulu’ meaning gourd and ‘Si’ meaning silk and has a warm tone similar to a clarinet. Any excuse to have another weird instrument in the house.
I had a sesh with Noel in England at 7 PM but I decided to go with Olivia on this little jaunt to the East to get out of the house, breathe in some fresh air and see a part of town I hadn’t seen before. She had to be there at 5 PM. We took the subway there, we’re getting quite used to it now, how the tickets work, which train to take, where to change. It was quiet out there today, there were people around but a slightly chilly, rainy, New Year’s Day during a pandemic wasn’t exactly bringing joy to the streets. I took some more pics of old buildings, I think there will be old building pics in every blog because there are so many and they have such an atmosphere about them. Olivia was supposed to meet the lady at the main station for the exchange but she asked her to go to her house instead (it was near the station). I watched her walk up the street whilst I stayed and took photos of one particular disused building that must have been something important once. How did such grand buildings fall into such disrepair? There must have been a time here of great wealth and then a terrible downturn, I’m going to have to read up on my Portuguese history. On the way home, we got off at Bolhão, a station in town, and decided to walk instead of changing at Trindade and waiting for a sporadic New Year’s Day train. A bit more fresh air and an opportunity to take in more of this strange empty atmosphere that is the world right now. It started to rain but we never go out without an umbrella at this time of year – sporadic showers (like Penzance), except here I suppose it rains less in the summer, whereas in Penzance you never know.
Another mix from Ahad’s album came down the wires today, that’s six so far with seven to go. It being January 2021 I was reminded that the new MOAT record will be out this year (instead of next year) and that was a nice feeling. Although we have these records coming out, we can only see darkness at the moment when it comes to gigs. We’ve been trying to plan for them, booking way in advance but as any possible dates get closer, the situation in the world seems to be getting worse, not better. We have to rebook our US plane tickets before the end of January but who knows when the best time to go to the US will be? Perhaps Lufthansa will delay the bookings again till we get a better sense of the situation. The tragedy of all this seems to be, the more people travel to see their loved ones, the worse it gets.
Music today has been a trip through some late sixties and early to mid-seventies Folk groups. First the not so often mentioned Sandy Denny And The Strawbs recorded in Denmark in 1967 before they were noticed, then Tudor Lodge (1971), a real rarity which seems to be a mixture of Folk and Sixties harmony Sunshine Pop, quite a clash of life and death but lovely anyway. Then Spriguns with the magical title Revel, Weird and Wild (1976), their fourth album, starring Mandy Morton and produced by Steeleye Span’s Tim Hart. If you like Trees and Mellow Candle with a slightly more traditional folky sound then you might like this.