Today was wires day! I had to go into the city to the electronics shops, the specialist electronics shop, the guitar shop, the studio shop, the record shop and FNAC because I needed all kinds of different wires and hubs and devices and power packs and cables for pedals and cameras and computers and guitars plus I needed two albums, haha. I also tried to get guitar stands but the first shop I went to has sadly closed down and I heard that Fernando who ran the shop with his wife has had a heart attack. So sad he was so nice to me when I first came here. The second shop didn’t have the stands in stock and the third shop had stands that I didn’t like. So, some successes with the wires and the devices and the power packs and the records. I bought a Record Store Day release of Jeff Buckley called In Transition (2019) with some early versions from the Columbia sessions and I bought the new album by Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There (2022) who seems to have lost their lead singer as their new album is released whilst on the verge of a US tour, now cancelled but apparently, the band has not broken up. But back to the point, practical shopping is so satisfying.
I walked with Olivia to her violin lesson and then carried on into the city, past yesterday’s blooming tree, past the tiled beautiful Hotel Castelo where Olivia’s dad is going to stay when he comes to visit us in March. The ladies of the day weren’t around, busy perhaps. There was a giant orange cement truck, one of those that has to keep on turning so the cement doesn’t set. I always thought it was fascinating that keeping the mixture moving kept it fluid. I presume there’s some scientific reason for it if someone would like to explain for everyone else to read. It was parked on the pavement and there was a policeman standing by the side of it but just as I got close to it the policeman stopped the traffic and directed the truck out onto the road, in turn, clearing the pavement for the pedestrians. Who invented the cement truck anyway?
As I entered the centre of the city, Rua de Santa Catarina got busier. I noticed a tourist couple walking towards me, I could tell by the way they were dressed. That’s what this city needs, the tourists to come back. A place like this suffers a lot when the tourists don’t come. So hopefully as the pandemic wanes, the sun beckons and Portugal’s reputation for being a sunny, friendly and beautiful place that won’t break the bank entices those in search of respite and helps to repair the damage done by two years of soul-crushing difficulties. I was thinking as talk of war pervades the airwaves about all those people suffering this pandemic whilst in poverty, and in conflict, and thinking that wearing a mask might be the least of their problems.
Famous folkie Norma Waterson died this week aged 82. In the sixties she and her siblings Mike and Lal and cousin John Harrison along with Shirley and Dolly Collins and others reinvigorated traditional folk music with their singing and their delivery, they were famous for their a cappellas. Later Norma married folk singer Martin Carthy and had a daughter, Eliza Carthy, who became part of the new wave of folk music in Britain with Kate Rusby, Kathryn Roberts and now The Unthanks and other wonderful British folk musicians. The inspiration from the sixties and seventies that have established this wonderful music, via The Watersons and the Collins sisters, has continued on through Sandy Denny, Fotheringay, Fairport Convention, Judy Dyble, Steeleye Span, Spriguns, The Incredible String Band, June Tabor, Shelagh McDonald, The Strawbs, Richard Thompson, Pentangle, Vashti Bunyan, the list is longer than this and we are grateful.
Music today has been The Waterson’s Frost and Fire (1965) recorded by Bill Leader in the back room of his Camden flat in 1965.