Hello again and a Happy New Year! R.I.P. 2013 – welcome 2014.
Call me superstitious, but even numbers have somehow always been better than odd ones and I am hoping that the next 12 months will be luckier, healthier and more enjoyable than the ‘13’ left behind – for all of us.
Before I start, let me tie up a few loose ends from my last piece in October…
My friend Brian was able to rise from his American hospital bed and return to the UK. He has since sufficiently recovered to have undergone the required operation to remedy the situation just before Christmas, and I am expecting him and Carol back in the Algarve at the beginning of February, fully restored.
Secondly, I need to apologise to Manuel for calling him “grumpy” – it turns out that he was suffering from gall stones which is enough to rob anyone of their sunny disposition.
But enough of ill health! It is still winter and the Algarve and Alvor in particular are very quiet.
Finances permitting, I have been doing my best to break up the prevailing monotony – regular trips with a group of friends supporting our local football club Portimonense, which stands a good chance of gaining promotion to Portugal’s top division in its centenary year, weekly ten-pin bowling, darts and quiz nights involving both residents and visitors, as well as the odd curiosity such as a recent one-off hypnotist show.
The last time I ‘starred’ in such an event was at university, but 30 years on nothing has changed. Deliberately attired with my leather cowboy hat in order to ensure I stood out from the crowd – as if that was needed! – master of ceremonies Robert Hisee promptly asked me on stage and the rest is history as they say.
Once spell-bound, it seemed as if I had only just left the student union building of my alma mater as I performed clucking, square egg-laying chicken impressions, took a fellow contestant for ‘walkies’ on a leather leash, gyrated while slowly disrobing to the screams (of terror) from female audience members, or relished devouring big chunks of raw onion which, I had previously been told, was in fact a delicious strawberry. It took two days of vigorous Colgate brushing and an extra hot Vindaloo to get rid of the taste.
Thus transported back in time, doing exactly the things I did three decades ago, I am now absolutely certain that nothing changes and that being an ‘adult’ is not for me and never will be.
As a footnote, I was, and still am, asked if hypnotism really works. My answer is yes and no. “Yes” in so far as you will drop your inhibitions and perform the tasks asked of you. Many people, for example, report having finally succeeded in giving up smoking following sessions with a professional hypnotist. “No” because you will only enter into a trance-like state if you open up your mind and permit yourself to become receptive to suggestion.
While I – and surely my co-performers would agree – am part of the ‘act’, I am certain that I can stop at any time, walk off and sit down – but I don’t. The cynic in me tells me that only latently extrovert subjects are selected – the host’s expertise lies in identifying suitable members of the audience – and the fact that I progressively make more and more a fool of myself has a lot to do with meeting the expectations of those watching.
Which version is correct? I don’t know – maybe you should undergo such a mesmerising experience yourself next time the occasion arises, and make up your own mind.
Earlier I said “nothing changes” – some things do. When we look back on our lives, past experiences, everything seems to have been ‘better’, the ‘good old days’… We are said to ‘wallow’ in our memories, a statement which carries a degree of negativity. Yet such self-indulgence can leave you feeling happier about the future. Recalling happy times improves our sense of wellbeing.
“Memories of the past contribute to a brighter outlook,” says study leader Dr Tim Wildschut. “Our findings imply that nostalgia, by promoting optimism, help individuals cope with psychological adversity.”
Now I could have told you that without carrying out lengthy research, or boast letters in front of my name rather than after it … But I get sidetracked. Some things do change – for better and for worse.
Apparently McLaren are in the process of designing a sports car that uses a system adapted from fighter jets to keep a driver’s vision clear in bad weather without the need for annoying windscreen wipers. If successful, the new technology using high-frequency sound waves could soon be mass-produced for general use rendering whirring blades obsolete.
Unfortunately, such a development would also sound the death knell for one of my favourite useless words – “memphis”, denoting the inexplicable ‘fluff’’ always found under said wipers.
Then I read that Mars and Snickers – Marathon in my day – are being shrunk “for our own good”. What a load of rubbish! Manufacturers Mars UK are reducing the size of the two most popular bars again and say they are doing so to help quell the obesity crisis – while the price is staying the same!
If you are worried about your waistline, eat healthier, do sport, but DO NOT cut my favourite treats. In future ‘a Mars a day’ will not keep the bank manager away!
In closing, two pieces of advice. If you are planning an exotic holiday – my sister is currently in Thailand – be careful what you drink and what you wear. Two men were sentenced to five years in prison for ‘ordering Baileys Irish Cream’ and ‘looking gay’ in Cameroon last year.
Also, please take care of your dogs and go to the bathroom at home before venturing out if you live in a rural area – it is still hunting season. Not only was my mother’s young dog caught in a vicious, illegal steel trap the other day, but (!) a hunter who fired at a wild boar in the woods also accidentally hit a man sitting on the toilet in a nearby shelter.
The bullet flew past the animal, pierced the wooden wall behind it and struck the man, in his 70s, in the … butt. The victim was taken by helicopter to hospital, but (!) his injury was not life-threatening.
On that note, keep well and see you in the spring!
By Skip Bandele
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Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 15 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.
Hello again and a Happy New Year! R.I.P. 2013 – welcome 2014.