Blizzards in New York, out of control fires in Perth, and here in Portugal wind and rain that tells you that southern Europe isn’t all about sunshine and oranges. It’s now rained for weeks and my LFC umbrella was seriously struggling, but I guess that’s what it does here at this time of year – even Portugal has a winter. It’s going to be an amazing place to live when the weather changes, the virus dies and life gets back to normal, it’s already special but living here under different circumstances to these will be welcome. My plan was to go out to the supermarket today, get drenched, and then on arriving back with heavy bags, soaking coat and jeans and soggy shoes, jump straight into the shower, which I did to great success, straight out to a sandwich and then a sesh with Chris in New Jersey who spent two hours this morning clearing his driveway of snow, so he had more to deal with than me. When we arrived back the hookers were standing under umbrellas by our door, I looked up at the clouds and said “Que pasa?” in Spanish, I think she said “Está chovendo!” which is Brazilian Portuguese for ‘it’s raining’. In the flat the windows were rattling, the clouds seemed lower than the buildings, and sheets of rain washed across the buildings until darkness came and it all just became invisible noise.
We’re in the process of trying to figure out health care here. The officialdom surrounding our residency is slow and at this point, we are not covered. We can get private health care for me for £68 a month which although pretty reasonable is still an alien concept to me coming from England. The other issue is that they want you to sign up for a year and pay the year’s fee all at once. Olivia being younger and less risk is cheaper but together it adds up to a chunk. Do we wait for our official paperwork or do we go for a more efficient private health care plan anyway? Should we sell the silver to pay for it? It’s not like there’s a pandemic or anything and if that dizzy spell I had yesterday is anything to go by perhaps it would be prudent to bite the bullet and do it.
Enough of all this health stuff, age, sickness, wills, viruses, risk factor, what happened to joie de vivre? Music, reading, writing, indoor games! Mental stimulation should always be high on the list of necessary actions after frolicking, hedonism, social interaction, outdoor adventures. So it’s a perfect time to catch up on the Ian McEwan books you haven’t read or the Truffaut movies you haven’t seen or risk listening to Steven Wilson’s new album.
Life really is too short. It’s even worse than it used to be because you have too many choices. What those choices should give to the world is the opportunity for different people to follow different interests, but that’s not really how it works – for me anyway. I just become more interested in more things and more aware of what’s happening at the latest dig in Egypt and the political situation in Russia and the dilemma for the bees and the reissue of Yma Sumac’s records, the latest Zappa doc, the Billie Holiday doc, or the Swedish film sessioneer Matt has told us about, Aniara – and Olivia still wants to see Help! and A Hard Day’s Night.
Somewhere in there, we have languages to learn. I just reached the third gatepost in the Duolingo French course as I hit day 243 and wonder if I could even hold a conversation of any depth with an actual French person? My theory is, that progress is slow but it’s still progress, and if I can find an hour a day to do it, even if it takes years it will still be worth it. But then we live in Portugal, have Swedish family and are an hour from Spain. Then there’s exercise, yoga, swimming, and all those courses and swimming pools we have yet to find here in Porto when they do eventually open again. I’m not really an aspiring artist but I did draw those images on the Nightjar album so in a perfect world I’d like to try to do more of that. I’d like to do a proper photography course as I’m always taking pictures but have no technical knowledge beyond point and shoot. A book of short stories, a travelogue, The Virus Diaries in book form, the sleeve notes I wrote in book form, and let’s not forget the big dream of turning the In Deep Music Archive into a wonderful culture centre with all the albums, all the guitars, all the books, all the photos and so on, immortality is the only answer.
Music today was one of my favourite Porcupine Tree albums, Lightbulb Sun (2000), which I listened to today because Steven Wilson’s new album, The Future Bites, has just been released and I’m worried. I love the songs on Lightbulb Sun, the tunes, the words, the instrumentation, the singing, a great album that falls somewhere between Prog, Rock, catchy Pop, and moody epics – great, you need it.
On a roll, I followed it with Metanoia which is ostensibly a jam compilation from the Signify sessions released in 1998. Signify was released in 1996.