Today was the first no sessions day Wednesday in a while and we’d put it aside to go and do something boring and crucial – try and open a bank account. It seems it’s not the easiest thing to do – anywhere in the world. Here in Porto, two foreign musicians who don’t earn any money here at all, trying to convince a bank that we are worthy, haha. Well, it’s been hard, the first bank we tried to work with led us down the garden path and we finally realised that it wasn’t going to happen so today we went to another bank and somehow pulled it off with the documentation that we have. But apart from the young fellow who set it up for us (Gonçalo) being a cool dude I had a breakthrough moment by meeting his grandmother. I guess she was waiting for him to finish work. This was a kind of open-plan bank in a shopping centre, not the old stuffy kind housed in a granite building. I asked grandma if she spoke English and discovered very quickly that she spoke French better than English and better than Portuguese. This was my chance, had I learned anything, could I speak to her, would I understand?
I discovered she was from Macao which was a Portuguese territory until 1999. The Portuguese had been there since the 15th century in the golden days of their exploration and Macao was a trading port. Now, you are wondering where it is? It’s on the southern coast of China on the South China Sea across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong and is known as the Las Vegas of Asia due to the Cotai Strip and its giant casinos. It’s the only place in China where gambling is legal and gambling is the only industry there. Perhaps her French would be hard to understand and I never did find out why she spoke French at all. In Macao, they speak Cantonese, a small amount of Portuguese, English, and Mandarin but French? For some reason, it was her best European language and at one point she told me she had lived in Italy as well, and we exchanged a little Italian of which I know a very small amount. But yes, I was able to hold a conversation with her in French. She told me she liked opera but preferred the German operas to the Italian operas and especially liked Mozart’s operas. Languages are great and worth the effort.
It was a beautiful day today up in the seventies and was the hottest day of the year so far. It was exciting to venture out, get on the metro and go over to Gaia where the bank was, go over the Dom Luís I Bridge and look down over the beautiful city of Porto. It was that hazy heat, a humid heat. The sun wasn’t out, it was just translucent clouds. Everyone wears a mask here, inside and outside. In fact, the other day an old woman admonished me for having my mask down, it was a little unfair as I was drinking a coffee at the time. Covid cases are around 300 here but we’re still locked down with phased opening although it looks like swimming pools will be open from April 5th, which for me is something I’ve been waiting for, that’s my exercise, now I’ve got to fit it in, get the routine back.
And so it’s April, I’m not sure what it is about March but I’m always glad when it’s over. It’s the month of transition, it threatens you with sunshine and light and then takes it away from you just as you get hopeful for a break from a bleak winter. But then April does the same, I remember being in Sweden one April, and around the 10th came a massive snowstorm. I suppose that isn’t going to happen in Portugal. The difference with April is that its attempts at keeping you cold are fruitless, you can feel the icy fingers are losing their grip, soon returning to whence they came, unable to compete with the burgeoning warm winds as the sun disperses the clouds and people begin to sit in the parks with their eyes closed, their faces towards the source of the heat. The cold will be back as it always returns thirsty for revenge at being cast out by the changing season but for now, it knows its days are numbered.
Music today started this morning with more Dylan and Highway 61 Revisited (1965), what a great album and I love this fascinating fact – recorded June-August 1965, released August 1965! I went to the bakery and put on Bee Gee‘s sixties hits for Olivia and when I got back started it again. On return from today’s trip, I listened to Santana’s Abraxas (1970), recorded April 17th-May 2nd, released September 23rd, and then Steve Hillage’s Motivation Radio (1977), recorded July 1977, released September 1977. That was how they did it in the seventies. Next was A.A. Williams‘ album Songs From Isolation (2021). They seem to have got this one out quickly too. It’s a covers album with mainly soft piano and features Creep, Lovesong, Nights In White Satin, If You Could Read My Mind, Into My Arms, and others you may know. She is signed to Bella Union, I bought her first solo album Forever Blue (2020) last year. Last but not least I listened to Joni Mitchell’s Shine (2007). As with Kate Bush, we dream of her releasing albums more regularly, but I suppose it’s not going to happen. We have to be happy with what we’ve got.