Enigma was overrated. I have discovered a more intransigent code: Portuguese pronunciation. Apparently “hello” in this alleged language is “bom dia”, only spoken with such an inscrutable combination of accents and inflections that I am convinced they do it solely to aggravate me. My pronunciation guide said it is pronounced bAWNg dEEyea, which must be a lie because it’s got a flipping g in it. What do they think I am, some sort of cretin?
Anyway. I have just returned from a workshop in Portugal; specifically Setúbal, which is just a wee bit south east of Lisbon, on the Atlantic coast. Jose Mourinho hails from there, or rather he will do when he is able to master the weather to that extent. Setúbal is kind of like Southampton would be if it enjoyed unremitting sunshine, palm trees and a 60km stretch of uninterrupted beach. Oh, and had Europe’s second largest cement factory (which looks like something out of Robocop and is the size of a medium town on its own).
This was a more interesting workshop than usual; not for the papers in particular, but for the crowd it attracted. I was privy to the following alarming conversation between a friendly Israeli named Yaniv and a Chinese guy whose name I forget (CGWNIF for short):
Yaniv: “I’m from Israel, near Haifa.”
CGWNIF: “Ah, many bomb! Ah ha ha ha ha ha!” (complete with hand gestures)
Later a Lebanese guy offered Yaniv his heartfelt sympathies and best wishes in the fight against Hezbollah, and made a point of shaking his hand, which was almost as heart-warming a moment as the dolphins we spotted later. The difference really was only that the dolphins lacked opposable thumbs, so their efforts to shake Yaniv’s hand were hampered in an endearing kind of way; like watching an elderly uncle try to comprehend the internet, or when you try to teach your cat calculus.
The downside of this trip was that it coincided precisely with a midweek relationshift; however, Jen has proven singularly unable to provide me with dolphins thus far, so I consider the outcome a score draw. Always keep ‘em wanting more, that’s my motto. Except with dolphins; that’s a sort of sub-motto, like those tag lines they have in films. Only dolphins don’t save the world; they leave that to Tom Cruise.
I think I’ll edit that last bit when it’s not 1am.