The Chair And The Angry Portuguese Lady
So it all started the other day, in fact, let’s go back further to the day we moved into our flat in December 2020. Our flat is furnished, short rental contract, a year at a time, recently re-signed for another year as we establish ourselves in Portugal and try to untangle moving the rest of everything from England, archive, guitars, amps, books, the sofa, you get the picture. When we moved in we noted that the kitchen was quite large and sparsely furnished, a kitchen table and a couple of chairs, and so there was a big space there for something appropriate. So, back to the present, the other day and after a year, we decided we should have a comfy armchair there. Wednesday we were at IKEA for candles but we looked at the armchairs with this in mind – ugly, 200€, wrong colour, drab grey, yuck. So, I mentioned to Olivia that there’s a small second-hand furniture shop on the way to the pool and today I nipped in there and guess what?
A small doorway and one of those shops that are long rather than wide. I strolled in, a lady at a desk on one side, a couple of customers browsing or measuring in their minds. I walked the length of the shop looking on both sides at sofas and cupboards, tables and bookshelves until I arrived at the very back of the shop. There at the end waving at me desperately trying to attract my attention was an old red chair. A flowery pattern, classic arms, worn and fading, perfect. It asked me to sit down so I did. It was comfy, it wasn’t too big and I thanked the chair and walked back towards the lady at the desk. I told her I didn’t speak Portuguese and asked her if she preferred English or Spanish? She said Spanish although she kept on throwing the occasional English word in there. I asked her how much the chair was and she said: “It’s an antique, 30€”. To some, buying an old worn-out chair for 30€ might seem foolish, for me it was perfect. I took a picture of it, went back home via a couple of other shops and showed it to Olivia and yes…she liked it.
I wasn’t sure how heavy it was. I thought we might need Ariel to get it back home but I also thought I’ll just go back and buy it and decide what to do once I’ve bought it. I also thought, buy it now or somebody else will. Back at the shop I gave the lady 30€ and went to the back of the shop to see how heavy it was. It was lighter than I thought and I carried it to the front of the shop and told the lady that I would try and carry it home. When I was outside on the pavement I sent Olivia a message telling her what I was doing and proceeded to haul the chair down the street in my arms.
The chair got heavy after a short distance, so I just put it down regularly (about 4 times). When I got to the Marquês square, I sat it down on a bench, had a chat with a family in the park, picked up the chair and continued on my way. I looked ahead of me to see if anyone was coming and it looked clear although, I had to negotiate my way past the Covid testing centre. About ten steps on, bang, I collided with a woman, nearly knocking her over. She wasn’t really hurt although she was checking that her glasses weren’t broken and feeling her nose. I apologised I think twenty times, still holding the chair in my arms but she was angry and told me I should have carried it on my head. It was awkward to carry and at this particular moment, I had been adjusting my grip. I stayed with her apologising for quite a while, I asked her did she need help, I apologised and apologised (in Spanish) but she just kept on calling me out for not being more careful, fair enough, but there was no appeasing her, eventually, we went our separate ways with her still angry that I was carrying a chair through the park and me wondering how she didn’t see me coming and also wondering where she came from because I didn’t see her when I started walking, although I do accept responsibility. It was just an unfortunate accident with thankfully little damage done. Olivia met me at the fountain and we carried it the rest of the way together. It fitted in the lift, it fitted through the front door and now that space in the kitchen has a nice old chair, a perfect reading place or just another place to sit in the apartment to read your emails. The End.
Music today was Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter because Olivia told me she wasn’t familiar with all three of his studio albums. She knew Five Leaves Left (1969) but not Bryter Layter (1971) or Pink Moon (1972) so, chronological order seemed to make sense. Nick Drake died on 25th November 1974 leaving behind a memorable legacy of beautiful songs.