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Losing count in the numbers game

Fudged figures

As Portugal and other EU members wait with bated breath, it seems that Britain’s referendum on staying or leaving is likely to go down to the wire. The expatriate vote could be decisive, it is said. But does anyone have any idea how many expatriates are out there? The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told TV viewers, “there are nearly three-quarters of a million British people living in Spain and over two million living in other parts of Europe”. Completely wrong, according to the BBC. The Beeb reckons the true figure for UK-born permanent residents in Spain is 306,000, and for the EU as a whole 1.2 million. The generally accepted figure for British expats in Portugal is only 40,000. No one knows how many of these are eligible to vote. Every vote counts, as they say, but given the confusion and contradictions in the ongoing referendum rigmarole, how many eligible voters will bother?

Irish invasion

Many more Irish eyes are expected to be smiling (behind sunglasses) in tucked away places in Portugal this summer. A big green booking surge is expected over the next few weeks. Not only is Portugal far from the maelstrom at the opposite end of the Mediterranean, but the price of meals and drinks here is alluringly low. Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association, says the focus will be away from the Algarve and Lisbon and “on country places that are not overpopulated or overcrowded, as many people don’t want to be on a beach with 10,000 people, they want small places and to meet the locals”. That lessens the chances of finding a pub serving draft Guinness. The good news is that a bottle of lager in Portugal is a quarter, yes a quarter, of the price in Ireland.

Olive oil leak

Sir Elton John was already assured full houses at his July concerts in Vila Nova de Gaia before his fame unfortunately shot to new heights. The story banned by a court injunction in England and Wales, but leaked to foreign papers and available to all on the internet, was certainly thought-provoking. Sir Elton’s husband, David Furnish, allegedly not only enjoyed unprotected threesome sex, but cavorted with two men in a kiddie pool filled with olive oil. Lord Justice Jackson and Lady Justice King in the Appeals Court in London noted the married couple’s insistence that “occasional sexual encounters with others do not detract” from their “committed” relationship. Interesting. But it has still not been disclosed if the olive oil involved was a product of Portugal, and whether it was pure olive oil or an extra-virgin brand.

Pets and people

Amid valid concerns about animal cruelty, Portugal’s Minister for Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, reportedly dislikes animals being considered “objects”. She has suggested that the legal status of animals be elevated to somewhere between “objects” and “humans”. Many animal lovers would prefer a higher classification. Correspondingly, some might suggest that certain types of people should be downgraded from “humans” to somewhere below “objects”.

Red Monday

Unlike the 42nd anniversary of the red ‘Carnation Revolution’, the 18th anniversary of Red Hat Day may pass almost unnoticed in Portugal next Monday, April 25. Red Hat Day is celebrated by members of the women-only Red Hat Society in more than 20,000 groups in the US and at least 30 other countries. The founding of the society is said to have been inspired by a poem which begins, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me”. The society soon developed into “a women’s movement that embraced a renewed outlook on life filled with fun and friendship, fulfilling lifelong dreams”. Any women in Portugal wishing to join the movement can rest assured it is only cynical males who confuse red hatters with mad hatters.

By Len Port

Len Port is a journalist and author based in the Algarve. Follow Len’s reflections on current affairs in Portugal on his blog: