Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Playing God. And Why It's A Bad Idea.

Playing God. And Why It's A Bad Idea.

Seriously ... I think that it's best left to Scientists and Supreme Beings. Otherwise the world'll go to pot.
Not to mention down the pan ...

Frogdropping. An exclusive. At least that's what I was told...

Frogdropping. An exclusive. At least that's what I was told...

Well … I was interviewed. And found wanting. Great! I tried to warn my interviewer … Jadwiga was her name. Or was it Juanita? Whatever. I know it began with J and ended with A. That’s close enough.

Anyway I think she spat her dummy out towards the end. Perhaps she didn’t enjoy herself quite so much as I did …

Janetta Jacintha. Janetta?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Aristides de Sousa Mendes

I was sat talking with Simões and he offered up a name of a genuine unsung hero. I have to say - after he outline the story ... I was mightily curios.

I am now bitten by the bug to try and concisely write this mans' story. I was so very humbled by what Simões said and so I will endeavour to do this mans' life some justice.

Maybe it will get read. Maybe it won't. But I shall give it the best of my attention ...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Hubpages

Well it's almost the end of April - jolly good.

I've just found an interesting website ... Hubpages. Apparently it's a place where you can voice your opinions, ideas and showcase your writing abilities. If you have them ...

I have joined the site and intend to explore it etc etc. I'm unsure as to how it works - it looks a bit complicated - but I'm sure I'll work it out. So far I've just followed all the little 'pop-up' instructions. It's really kinda cool. Do this do that ... and the cool part is whilst I'm doing this and that - I have no idea what I'm creating ...

I'm not entirely sure as to what I will end up doing with it ... I never considered myself a writer, though I'm known for talking to much and writing incredibly long letters - when a paragraph will do just as nicely.

Watch this space.

Or rather - watch my
Hubspace ...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Wanderer Returns

And finally the sun over Portugal remembers what it's supposed to do - shine. One of the coolest things about living here, from a Brits point of view, is that it's a lot warmer and a lot less wet than the UK. Or was. What happened? I was in the UK recently and it was the usual pre-spring weather - overcast, cold, grey. I swear on the flight back I left it behind.

Unfortunately, I've spent the last few days puddle-jumping. Fine if you really are a frog. Which I'm not.
One thing I did bring back with me though, is a child. My eldest one to be precise. He's now living and working in Lisbon. And can speak better portuguese than me, damn it!

I did make a discovery over there though. Food. As in, the food I used to eat compared to the food I eat here. Big difference. Huge. After 24 hours, I was in trouble. Toilet trouble. On returning here, I'm all good to go again. Or rather, not to 'go' quite as often. I've decided that it's all the additives we use - we all know they're there - but we're so used to them we don't even consider what filth we may be putting in our mouths ... Here, I eat only fresh food, cooked from scratch. I don't use sauces, packet mixes, granules and such. The bread here is better too. Not milled using the UK Chorley Mill process - which means portugeues bread is also free of additive filth ...

What we eat really is a cultural difference though. I have yet to see anyone buying what I'd mentally lable as junkfood in a supermarket. In fact, junkfood is rarely available here. Personally I was never a lover but hey! - it's part of your diet whether you intend it to be or not. Here I don't cook the same food as I'm used to eating. Somehow, my palate sneakily adapted, without my knowledge or consent. And I'm the better for it too.
The Youth (son) was only saying the other day that he (accidently) eats far more healthily than he did in the UK. That's not to say I was a Pot Noodle mum. I cooked dinners, pasta and what have you. But it's the stuff that's included that I believe is the problem.

Anyway. I feel better now I'm back. And the sun doing what it's paid for is a big help.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Flying Without Wings

Living in Portugal and not being a native means my family and friends remain in the UK. Which is a shame. That because:

  • I miss them
  • I love to spend time with them
  • That means flying
  • Which I hate ...

I was thinking about this (today) because I live underneath a flight path in Lisbon (who doesn't) and a plane just flew over, inbound. And in my opinion, it was too low. Way too low. Air traffic control would probably disagree with me because it was coming in to land and yes yes, the only way to land is to descend. But I'm sticking with me on this one. It was low flying.

I've devoted a great deal of time to try and deal with this little 'kink' in my character. I've read up on it, tried hynotherapy, homeopathy, availed myself of anything remotely relating to safety statistics yet inflight...I still shake so bad the damn Richter Scale registers me.

Everytime I fly, it's the same. I have lots of harsh words with myself - though I know I'm not really listening ... Then, once at the airport, I start paddling. Like a duck. Calm on the surface. Underneath ... jet propelled chaos (no pun intended). Usually by this time I wave the white flag, admit I'm terrified and head to the bar.
I won't get into what goes on when I'm actually airborne. Other than to say I'm the one that stalks monitors what air stewards are doing. Because everything's a sign...


Anyway, there ya go, I'm
Aviophobic. At least I'm not alone, I'm in the 40% bracket. Which gives me some comfort. After all, I could be Lachanophobic (huh?), Alliumphobic (I kinda get this one...) or even Chionophobic(this one's gotta suck). The upshot is, whether or not I want to...the fact is I'm gonna have to fly again sometime soon. Watch that Richter Scale...


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Seriously - Is It Really That Difficult?

The Portuguese swallow letters. Constantly. I know this because of my pathetic productive portuguese language development. Said swallowing is not helpful. Not even slightly. An example 'desculpe' - sorry. It's pronounced....shculp. Letters d and e rapidly ingested. Another one. 'mais ou menos' -ish/more or less, pronounced...mys o mensh. A, u and o scarfed. I could go on. I won't but I could.

So, you see the problems this incessant letter troffing can cause? It retards my progress. Just when ya think you've nailed a word or phrase...some dumb lost in translation moment occurs. Like the day I was out drinking with friends. I stuck with 1coke... the rest were quaffing silly amounts of vino and, it turned out, at my expense. Because when I went in to pay for a 2coffee, the bill was well in excess of €25. And why so? Simply due to the damn letter noshing. I thought the waiter'd asked me if that was it, I thought he'd said 'zero'...he hadn't. He'd said 'all'. As in 'are you paying for all the drinks?'. Of course I said yes, not realising he'd bloody well eaten a vowel and then verbally rearranged the damn words.

And
being British, with a poor command of the language, I did some swallowing of my own. My pride and my tongue. I just paid the bill and slinkied off with my coffee. Then, remaining true to my Britishness, I silently foamed outside, all the while watching my friends drinking my wine.

Anyway...I've discovered a cool way to upgrade my
Portuguese: taxi drivers. Why so? Simply because they jabber away, regardless of the fact that you can't speak the language. And it's always conversational chit-chat. Useful stuff indeed. I've lost count of the times I've climbed into a taxi, stated my destination, apologised for my crappy Portuguese ('sou inglêsa' does the trick...), and...despite stating the obvious, the taxi drivers still make conversation. In Portuguese. And, because I'm nothing if not polite, I feel obliged to talk. In short, for around €5, I regulary get direct transportation and a free language lesson. If you're trying to learn Portuguese, and you're in Portugal, my advice is: take taxis everywhere. Providing you've got a few quid, I reckon you'd be talking like a native in less time than it takes to house-train a man. At best, you may learn something. At worst...you'll crawl from the taxi feeling deeply embarrassed and incredibly silly...

...in conclusion, my opinion of the Portuguese language is this: It's a hard language to get your tongue/ears/head round. It's derived from Latin, has an Arabic influence and is widely spoken. It's also sneaky. Veryyyyy sneaky.

Disclaimer: I will not be held accountable for any ensuing outcomes should anyone choose to follow my DIY language advice. On your own head be it.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Roll On Spring!

Here comes February. Woohooo - one more wintery blah blah month behind me - roll on spring!
Actually it's quite warm ... weird. I'm de-layering - though with suspicion. I don't trust the weather simply because I'm from England. We don't have weather there. We just have lots of rain. The word 'weather' implies change. Raining every day simply isn't 'change'. It's just wet.

Simões tells me that it can be rather hot in February so I'm anticipatory as well as de-layering. I'll let you know if I get down to T-shirts and shorts ...

I stuck my head in the café downstairs this morning. Had a nice espresso and exchanged pleasantries with the owners. Who are ... somehow ... also my neighbours. Anyway the conversation is often fun in as much as I'm not sure each knows what the other is saying.

I'm British ... and they're not. I speak english. Their default language is portuguese. I think we're discussing things such as the weather, how we are and what we may or may not be doing later in the day. I've decided that comprehension is not quite so important as good manners and interaction. Not speaking a common language shouldn't deny us the ability to interact now should it? ...

Interestingly - they are picking up english. I'm not sure if they want to - but they are starting to say one and two words together. I find it curious. It's like we're toddlers ... learning to speak. We've gone from 'morning - bom dia' to 'how are you? - estou bem?'

Now we're getting complicated. We say things like 'I'm fine thankyou and you?' - 'esta bem obrigada e vocé?

Maybe in another month or so I'll be able to ask what their names are - or for something other than a coffee and a pack of cigarettes ...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Military Man

Simões is unwell. And I don´t know what to do. He's seriously cheesed off and in persistant pain. I want to help him - but find myself reduced to nervous onlooking and ineffectual nursing.

Who is Simões? He's my partner. Other half. Man. And he's broken ...

Apparently the problem is related to some old military injury (Simões is military to the chromosones) and it's coming back to haunt him. It's related to the pattella and ball and socket joint in his right knee. He's now at the stage where he can barely walk.

We've been to the hospital. He's had x-rays etc etc. Unfortunately - the military here is a slow turning machine. And ... I suspect ... not overly concerned with the knee of one staff sargent. However - I disagree. Simões has given years of his life to the military - not to mention literally hundreds of top quality men during the time he marched them up hill and down dale ... whilst turning them into soldiers.

And so today we are sat ... him in pain. Me in worry. I'm hoping that either something can be done about it or at the least ... it starts to heal itself.

Other than that ... it remains bloody freezing. I continue to wrap myself up like an egyptian mummy. Oh and some news ... one of my sons is coming to live in Lisbon. Sometime in or around April. I can't wait! Some part of my family ... here with me.

How absolutely fabulous!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Being Female.

Yesterday, as the day was on the wane, I decided to remain in bed and continue to rest. I like to rest. So I did.
Consequently, as I wasn't rushing round trying to put fires out*, I watched some TV. A rare luxury. Resting and watching the box. Woohoo. Something I or my female counterparts won't have done since ohhhh…childhood *snorts* Anyway, it was interesting. Having never had the luxury to do it, I decided to treat myself by watching a soap opera. I expected to feel 'involved' with the characters because that's...well...what soap operas do for ya right?

It didn't actually work but that was possibly due to the fact that it was a Portuguese soap.

However, that said, I concur that the ‘standard’ is the same as say, Corrie or Eastenders. Lots of infighting, emotion, long stares and drama. Oh, and the sex of course. Not that you actually see any, its indirect sex. Must happen off camera then? Nevertheless, it did turn my mind back to the good old days, back in the UK. Hardly a day went by when a friend or acquaintance didn’t start trilling on about Kevin or Nick, Peggy or I don’t know, some other stock in trade character and oh my God…can you believe what he/she/they/the dog got up to? *yawns*

Ahhhh…now that’s when I started to realise that maybe…just maybe…my brain doesn’t fire quite the same as in other women. Because the answer is no, I don’t believe that so and so’s long-lost daughter finally turned up after 20 years with five kids to different men and oh my gosh she’s thinking of gender re-alignment and she’s already slept with half the square. And that is because I know something.

It’s not real. Honest. Its not. It’s make-believe. Like, ‘let’s pretend’ for grown-ups. Think Mickey Mouse, the Tooth Fairy. Santa Claus. IT'S. NOT. REAL.

And, while I'm on the soap agenda, why the hell are they called soap operas anyway? No-one ever washes their hands or uses the bathroom. And there's certainly no mezzo sopranos that order a G & T down the pub then suddenly burst into a rendition of 'L’amour est un oiseau rebelle'. I wish there was...
Call me a cynic but it's my belief that if S.O.s really did mirror reality, then half the population would be hedonistic, a quarter, crazy and the rest alcoholics, shopaholics and/or drug dependant.

Soap Opera conclusion: read a book. At least you'll know for sure that it's fiction and you won't start boring telling your friends/colleagues/me all about it.


*I’m not a firewoman, that was just an idiom. A practical way of saying “FFS, I haven’t got ten pairs of hands and eyes in the back of my bloody head. Oh, sorry…I have. I’m a WOMAN”


Monday, 12 January 2009

IBS, pineapple and cigarettes



I'm at home, lying in bed after a really shitty week that's been completely controlled by a nasty IBS attack. Desperation drove me off the chemical cures -didn't work - and headlong into an experimental few days with honey, ginger, pineapple, various vegetable organisms and a good dose of hope. All I can say is: all power to broccoli et al!

I have no idea what kicked it off - other than a trip to the UK. Maybe the fact that I eat differently when over there ... I don't know. All I know is I've had nothing but aggro since getting back.

Anyway. I'm learning Portuguese. Slowly. and thought I'd give my newly acquired crappy language skills a shot. Picture this: 40 something woman in a chemist, murdering Portuguese, trying to indicate to said pharmacist that she's under attack from IBS and all she can manage is to verb hop, point and gesticulate whilst providing a free show for other customers who all leave convinced that she's got something seriously wrong with her arse...

So - in case you're about to 'expatriate' yourself, seriously consider the pros and cons of what language the country you're considering can speak ... otherwise you'll fast ascend to the lofty heights of being the local village english idiot.

For those that do suffer IBS, a few links. Useful ones too.

http://www.theguttrust.org/

http://www.ibstales.com/

http://www.ibstales.com/

Disclaimer: I don't endorse (or whatever) any of the sites. I just read through them. Then employed common sense. So should you.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Winter Whinging


Well January is kinda sneakin' on. Not to mention bloody cold. I'm sat here in wearing enough layers to call myself puff pastry. We have no indoor heating - a really bad idea in my opinion. I would rather have less money to spend in return for one of anyones basic human needs being covered - heat.
I intensely dislike being cold - and it's constant. Unless I remain in bed all day/all night - I'm cold to the marrow. The winters here are actually very mild, to what I'm used to. But - all the marble and tiling you find inside the average Lisbon apartment keeps them cool in summer ... and as the inside of a fridge in winter.

It's actually warmer outdoors ...


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year. Etc.

Ha - tis here again. The dawn of a bright New Year. Or maybe it's a dull one? It's definitely a cold one ...

I spent mine down the Praça do Comércio, along with ohhhhh ... a whole bunch of other people. There was a free concert plus mobile bars. Cool. Mobile toilets too. Not cool.

It would seem that the portuguese celebrate with family - if they have one. As in ... their little people, younglings - their children. I was almost lost in a sea of small folk - some hanging on tight to mummys hand, some a little older and the really young. The kind that laze around in chairs with wheels and expect the parents to do all the hard work ...

Are you amazed? I was. New Years Eve gets kinda rowdy in my neck of the woods. I never even considered taken my children with me on previous NYE's. Last night - I wished I was portuguese. Despite the alcohol, despite the merrymaking - I had a fabulous evening. And it was all the better for the fact that I was in great company ... and surrounded by little folk.

Portugal? Somethings you got absolutely spot on!