Dear Sir/ Madam
We would like to explain Emma’s protracted absence this month, and hope for your understanding on this matter.
To start with, Emma had a cold. We cannot provide a doctor’s certificate but as we are recovering from the worst winter on record I’m sure you appreciate that a few sick days are to be expected.
We believe the cold was brought on by stress, first initiated when Emma’s old but faithful ibook refused to start up. Thus began a search for the nearest apple repairer which led to the fateful trip to Coimbra.
On the way home was when the accident occurred. In a setting of rain, congested traffic and roadworks, the driver in front braked suddenly and in reacting, Emma’s vehicle slid into oncoming traffic and collided with the another vehicle. Yes, yes, all her fault, technically. Fortunately, no excess of speed was involved, and Wookie simply slipped from the passenger’s seat onto the floor.
In service of expediency, Emma admitted fault and she and the other driver got all amicable together. It was then that Emma had the dumb idea of calling the cops. In the meantime, Emma was experiencing shock and some confusion regarding the circumstances of the accident. She stood staring at the large amount of debris on the road, particularly at a broken number plate that did not belong either to her vehicle nor to the other driver. The quantity of broken plastic and glass was most bewildering, especially the Fiat badge on a busted front grill and a discarded bumper bar. A road worker approached Emma and taking her by the shoulders, guided her back off the road. “This is the seventh accident here today. They only just finished sweeping the road after the last one,” he said.
Then Emma realized how the accident had happened. The road was as slippery as an ex-prime minister at a tribunal hearing, covered in a fine and compromising layer of dirt and oiliness. She had unwittingly ventured into an accident black spot. Bummer.
The coppers arrived. They didn´t help. They were mean, in a bad mood, and I´ve met some surly pigs in my life. Egyptian police for example; you have to carry cigarettes for them to calm them down. I encountered Turkish police after being sprung kissing in a public place, and even though I had apparently broken the law and they took us down to the station, there were quite ok, possibly a bit embarrassed as I kept asking them what they were doing at a remote lookout at midnight… was there a murderer?
But here goes the porty policia; after I so rudely interrupted their card game or something… They asked me to explain the circumstances, then banana 1 walked away, just as I started to speak. Banana 2 was not interested in looking at the scale of the debris left by other vehicles or speaking to the roadworkers on the scene. They wouldn’t even look me in the eye. B2 shouted. I replied, I´m foreign, not deaf. They made derisive remarks like “we. don’t. speak. engrish”. They accused me of excessive speed (based on what?). If they were so keen to do their job, the opportunity was there eating a doggie chew on my front seat – Wookie should have been in a box. But I surmise that these gents were as adequate at policing as they were at being decent.
But it´s just bad police PR: this behaviour I think is so very unportuguese. The other driver was embarrassed for them and within a few minutes of the police’s arrival apologised to me on their behalf. After several attempts, and despite me not holding the right bit of insurance paper, the other driver convinced me not to involve them.
Driving past the location a week later, the traffic was diverted and the same stretch of road is closed, like it was all some b-grade conspiracy movie about an hysterical blonde journalist.
Now car-less and computer-less I decide the time is right to chop off the dog’s nuts. Wookie becomes tomato-less. On a previous visit home (during houseminding) I met another 6 or 7 little wookie-poodles who may, any day, be abruptly given a new home in the wild. There are other male dogs in the village to father future furry tragedies, but at least I and mine will not be a part of it. So then, a couple of days leave-of-absence were spent passing the bag of frozen peas to the dog. I am secretly hoping that the desire to chase sheep and chickens was sexual, and has also therefore been neutered.
Speaking of home, houseminding bliss in the Ribatejo came to an end and I had to move back to the village. Nastiness awaited; my entire house went mouldy while I was away. The walls had mould, the toaster had mould, the picture frames had mould. Not just a few days were spent cleaning, scrubbing, washing, drying, painting and moving stuff in and out.
And just when I almost had the house habitable again, a film crew wanted to move me out again! They came to shoot an episode of House Hunters International, a cable show about foreigners and real estate. Naturally, with drama/disaster in my aura I took the whole filming thing like a visit from demons-past. Not only that they wanted me to re-live the whole house buying catastrophe but the ghost takes the form of the film industry and this time I am to be the instrument and not the musician, or even the composer. Warm props. Actors. Talent. Yuck.
Of course it wasn’t so bad. In fact, the crew were so adorable (hi to chris, davide & jeff, we are still missing you) that it made me want to be back in the business. They reminded me of some of the great people I worked with, and particularly of the world-wise, liberal, sharp and simpatico men the film industry has in its employ. As for the action, Mao stole the show by hiding in the stone oven just as I was trying to act out ´getting a feel for living here´ and poked him with a bread paddle. He flew out, towards camera, quite literally like a bat out of hell. Soory for the heart attack davide, but god I hope you got the shot.
Meanwhile the car is fixed and my 4 week shitfight to get a new mac is finally over (just cut to the chase and buy it from fnac, portuguese mac-people, and don’t be seduced by the price of the mac mini, as it’s a hassle and a half. The piece work then becomes cable wrangling and more whatnot. And how much is this non-mac keyboard shitting me? Just buy the macbook next time. Just buy the macbook. Just… Grr) Another few days spent unpacking boxes and searching for items lost (if filming is tolerable then try moving house and filming on the same day). But now there’s the internet connection problem. Apparently the phone line also went mouldy and PT hasn’t fixed it yet and nor do they seem interested in doing so. Usual game. It’s been said before, but when it comes to modern life, Portugal is a pain in the arse. They have the technology, they just don’t know how to work it.
Now if all that isn’t enough of an excuse, I also slipped off to Stockholm for the easter weekend to do another day’s shoot (again, super nice crew, Izzy Paul and Ray), and to hang out with some sorely missed Swedish friends. If I really could relive the house purchase, I would take a tin shed there rather than a stone chateau here anyday. Sorry tugas, but Sweden is truly utopian.
The only bad thing about going away is what I come back to. Not only did Mao abscond for 4 days of the 5, he also to broke a toe. But Wookie and I are back on track after a few months where there was no love left to lose. There’s a whole lotta brown furry love going on at my place.
So while I am not exactly online, I am at least trying to be. Standby for more, if you please.