April fools

The weather apart, you know that winter hibernation has just received a rude wake-up call when Alvor’s leading poor man’s crumpet – the ‘Dog House’, held dear by many, and anything but expensive – the often demonically and deliciously depraved Debbie, aka “Juicy Jacobs”, arrives for her nightly grind behind the ‘amber nectar’ dispensers in a state of post-alcoholic disarray more often than not.

In other words, chocolate eggs are here and more frequent sightings of overtly frisky Easter bunnies signify that the new season is gradually gathering momentum.

Meanwhile, far removed from the micro-climatic and often threateningly incestuous Algarve, Barack Obama is ambling about telling all and sundry that “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” – and who can blame him?

Having rewritten the history books as America’s first black leader, the ‘lame duck’ President is seeing out the remainder of his second and final mandate bereft of any power he may or may not have had wielded thanks to a Senate swing in the Republicans’ favour during the mid-term elections six months ago.

What remains is the depressing prospect of yet another Bush v Clinton multi-million dollar dog-fight, this time around involving Jeb and Hilary rather than the gaff-prone George W. and smugly cocksure Bill come November 4.

Before then our very own ‘Dave’ is about to lock horns with the two Eds – balls and more balls – for a bit of May mayhem while hoping that Nigel ‘colour blind’ Farage will add a little spice to the pending political Moussaka (we shall return to the Greek cuisine below!).

I believe that the current administration has done well to restore Britain’s economic wellbeing, probably more by luck than design and, as such, is laudable, albeit at the cost of turning a blind eye to moral fortitude as snowballing revelations of despicable past conduct of those exercising power is tainting society with a nauseating and lasting stink – taking advantage of children is only marginally worse than the deliberate cruelty to animals.

Having said that, my experience of the political animal has always been less than positive … At university, for example, all those unable to attract the opposite sex or displaying impotence in any sphere of sporting endeavour could be found lurking in the dark and dank debating rooms housed in the far reaches of the students’ union building, engaging in blinkered rhetoric pleading the causes of the labour or conservative clubs.

Unfortunately those habits receive little refinement as those sad individuals graduate to a charmed existence in the zoo, otherwise known as parliament.

Back in the day, those activities were sufficiently repugnant to the remainder of us fun-loving, red-blooded males, eager to relinquish the shackles imposed by previous single sex school life – I do not recall anyone crying rape during four years on campus – to leave any subsequent immoral acts as well as the abuse of power in the public domain as anything but surprising.

Changing tack, and in stark contrast, a man who does have a mission is Greece’s anti-austerity coalition Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras.

The 40-year-old former socialist firebrand is currently serving as a shining example for the rest of leftist Europe, fighting against Frau Merkel’s highly polished and prohibitively expensive jackboot by endorsing the removal of German pages from restaurant menus, and may well inspire similar uprisings anywhere from Spain’s Podemos movement to Portugal’s quaintly eccentric man of the people, Jerónimo de Sousa – the long-standing Communist Party leader has to be a good egg, not just for his invigorating ‘monica’, but also as he shares my birthday on the 13th of this month!

I’m sure he is behind the billboards currently confusing Teutonic sun-seekers at Faro airport with slogans such as ‘more German than the Germans’!

Worryingly, the protest vote inspired by the economic depression and its repercussions in the southern regions of our continent has also fuelled a revival of right-wing sentiment in the better off European countries, initially on the back of the traditional immigration issue whipping horse, and more recently further boosted by the backlash against Islamic State-sponsored atrocities carried out much closer to home than far-off Syria.

We live in troubled times indeed, a fact which – without wanting to appear to be an ostrich burying its head in our golden beaches (in reality they are looking for liquid nourishment, the birds, not the ‘bifas’, although many an Irish bar may disagree) – gladdens me that I chose this quiet, little backwater all of 20 years ago to enjoy the more reflective second half of my stay on this self-destructive and short-lived planet.

All of which brings me full circle. The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon our fellow human beings is wide spread and appealing – I hope that you were not fooled all too often on Wednesday!

However, at the end of the day, none of us are immune to having our ‘chain pulled’, the most common case being that of fooling ourselves, appropriate to the Portuguese ‘Dia das Mentiras’ version.

Google did the trick for me, coming up with ‘Drunken Fool’ rather than ‘April Fool’, a rather serendipitous slip of the tongue by the search engine.

As the associated words beer, intoxication, seedy, beauty, beast, lush, slob, love, intercourse and moronic idiot amongst others flashed up on my screen, I realised that I’d much rather be an April fool any month of the year than a sober, self-righteous idiot the world appears to have suffering an epidemic of for most of its so-called civilisation.

Boa Páscoa, Frohe Ostern and Happy Easter!

Skip Bandele
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Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 20 years ago and has been with the Algarve Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.