A trip out into a damp Porto today had me re-engage my big coat and jeans but after I’d got down the street I stopped and said to Olivia, “Hold my bag, I’m taking my coat back”. It was too warm for me even if it was supposed to only be 52/11. I could see myself carrying my coat around all day and although I’d got a reasonable distance from home I just thought it would be less hassle, in the end, to take it back. We were on our way to a meeting with a notary who we needed to legitimize some of our documents as we plough through the paperwork for residency – health numbers, getting a bank account and a resident’s card and becoming a legal functioning resident of Portugal. Me going back with my coat meant we couldn’t have any photo stops and moving at pace through the streets we arrived at the office with five minutes to spare, an austere building with fifties decor and a concierge. We got in the lift and came to the fourth floor where a group of people who looked like they had been there since the fifties had gathered and were waiting (one presumes) for their meetings in other offices on this floor, or were they just stuck in time? They had an old original Wurlitzer for entertainment except this wasn’t a jukebox, it was a cigarette machine, deadly entertainment for some and fascinating to see these nasty machines in such ordinary circumstances, still, it was 1958 up there, they hadn’t figured out the truth yet.
The notary was a hip girl on the cusp of thirty in black studded boots with thick, long, light brown hair, getting naturally lighter at the end near her elbows. She wore a light grey polo neck and a long green pleated skirt. She was right-handed and on the same wrist, she wore a chunky gold-coloured watch with a large face – no jewellery, rings or bracelets. She looked through all the documents, confirmed I was who I said I was with my passport as proof and at various times got up from her chair behind the desk and the plexiglass barrier and made copies of important-looking papers. She signed forms, stamped the documents and stapled them together and efficiently drawing diagonal lines on the back of the papers, broken up by some written words before the line continued to the opposite corner. She seemed to know exactly what she was doing and she was nice, friendly, you could see her smile behind her mask, her eyes were warm and helpful. We had to pay 33 euros for her work but she didn’t have change for the 50 euro bill so we went out to break the note and found a bakery nearby with a homemade pastel de nata and a croissant, a small bottle of water and pão de queijo. We went back with the right change and to the amusement of the people from the fifties in the foyer I photographed the cigarette machine and contemplated it like an egyptologist might a rare mummy just discovered in a 3,000-year-old tomb.
We were heading back home across town so there were lots of buildings and doorways, signs, animals, and scenes to take pictures of. Today was the day to go back to the house where we talked to the man in the street and his wife on the phone. I had her number but when I called, a really creepy voice answered and it completely freaked me out. When I tried to speak all I could hear were some voices in the background and the voice that answered wouldn’t say anything but they didn’t hang up, you got the feeling they were still there listening, breathing, it was like a character out of yesterday’s story. So we didn’t go back. Later the phone rang, it was the same number and the same disconnected presence, chilling. My lower back was killing me from walking across town so I was glad to stay in and not be faced with some macabre scene from Tales Of The Unexpected.
I had a sesh with Brian in New Jersey and a song to listen to as well as a song to listen to from Chris who is also in New Jersey. I decided that was enough for today.
Music today came by recommendation from Boydy in England who also confirmed today that any plans we had to tour in the UK in May were now ‘proper scuppered’. At least we have records coming out and we found out today that the autographed vinyl sleeves have found their way through the system and back to Schoolkids Records, so they are on the way to you from tomorrow and into next week. The CDs for autographing are still stuck in customs and Olivia is doing everything she can to sort it out. But back to the music that Boydy recommended – obscure doesn’t really cover it. They seem to be French, the album seems to be from 1969 and the band is called Baba Scholae. It’s a crossover late sixties into Prog record with vocals and instrumental passages. It has been reissued on vinyl and CD and you can find it on Discogs (CD on eBay, download only on Amazon). It is also on Spotify. It’s great, if you like this kind of thing.
Last word from Amazon:
In 1969, legendary psychedelic/early progressive rock band Baba Scholae recorded an album at IBC Sound Recording Studios in London – however, it was never officially released. The band’s leader was Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi, better known as M Frog, the synth and keyboard maestro on Todd Rungren’s early Utopia albums and coincidentally, the founder of the Ad Vitam label. Only three copies (acetates) of 69 where made, but the album’s cult following lasts to this day. Often compared to the work of King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and Gong, Baba Scholae’s 69 is truly a ”lost and found again” masterpiece with music that was years ahead of its time. For a gem like this to have been buried for 43 years is nothing short of extraordinary.