Sunday, November 11, 2012

To St Julian's school here in Carcavelos last night, to attend the (belated) Guy Fawkes-cum-Halloween celebrations in the grounds. These centred on the sort of stalls – a tombola, for example – that I hadn't seen for decades. The bonfire and fireworks, though, were rather more familiar, given that we enjoy at least three pyrotechnic displays during Pontevedra's summer.

Then up early today, to attend a memorial service for the fallen at St George's church in Lisbon. Followed by the significantly less solemn cocktail party in the handsome gardens of the British Ambassador. Where I felt conscious of not wearing a splendid uniform. And not being 3-6 inches taller. But at least I managed a tie. The one worn at my last wedding, fourteen years ago.

A few facts I've (re)learned today about Portugal:
  • Portuguese is the hardest of the Romance languages to master.
  • The Portuguese took tempura to Japan.
  • The Japanese Orrigato is a corruption of the Portuguese Obligado, or 'Thank-you'.
  • Portuguese were advisers to the rulers of China long before Marco Polo claimed to have arrived there.
  • The Portuguese took the chilli plant to India; the rest is culinary history. Or curry-nary history, perhaps.
  • Portuguese is the second language of Johannesburg, Newark, New Jersey, Luxembourg and of Caracas.

Finally . . The graveyard in the sylvan grounds of St George's church was the most densely be-tombed I've ever seen. Somewhere among all the gravestones was one dedicated to the author Henry Fielding but I never went in search of it. Instead I contented myself with the legend on one tombstone near the path: He Was Loved. Nothing more, nothing less. Which struck me as odd. As if what was missing was a second line: But Not By Us, His Relatives. But maybe I've completely mis-read it.

Back to Galicia tomorrow. And a jazz concert in La Coruña. 

It's all go.


Anonymous said...


"Portuguese were advisers to the rulers of China long before Marco Polo claimed to have arrived there."

Check it again Colin. Wikipedia?


Perry said...


Have you been reading The First Global Village: How Portugal changed the World? Page 19,

All the best,



I was also surprised by that claim, so I did a little research.


Colin said...

Yes, Perry, that's my source. And the page!

Azra said...

It's true, we have a very large Portuguese community here in SA (Greeks and Indians tie for second place). Most of their (Portuguese) ancestors hail from Madeira though and happen to know someone in Cristiano Ronaldo's family.

Looking mighty dashing there Colin :)

Colin said...

Why, thankee, Miss Azra. You are too kind.

I guess you must be able to get some great Goan curries in Joburg.

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