European heat record in… Pomarão city
Do you recognise that at all, that early Sunday morning feeling – that you have the entire day to yourself and you can do whatever you like?
I had that feeling this morning when I was pedalling away on my pushbike amidst the awakening nature of Andalusia.
And tomorrow again…
Pardon? Not on Mondays?
Oh, I must be doing something wrong then.
Mind you, that does not mean I’m living the life of Riley – I have my obligations too, you know. The other day for instance, the board computer of my car suddenly read: brakes need immediate servicing.
My first impulse was to ignore the message. I never use the option anyway – brakes, I mean. In this part of Portugal we have no traffic jams, you see, one can always drive on. But then I remembered that some time ago in Spain I suddenly needed to make a full stop in order to avoid an accident…
Better make an appointment maybe.
‘Tuesday you’re the first!’ garage owner Armando promised when I phoned.
Such a nuisance, one all of a sudden needs to go somewhere at a scheduled time. As if one hasn’t got better things to do – e.g. enjoying life. Give me a brake… uh, break!
So, there I was, sat in the shade on a terrace in Mértola reading a fresh newspaper enjoying the best coffee of all Europe, while waiting for Armando’s phone call to inform me that our ol’ wheels had yet again a long braking distance to go, when all of a sudden a man at a table next to mine asked: ‘You still sing Fado?’
I lowered my newspaper, looked the stranger in the eye and responded: ‘Even this morning, in the shower! Why? Where have you heard me sing?’
I searched my mind when I last had performed in a sold out Olympia, but could not quite put my finger on the day or the year – or the decade, for that matter.
The stranger came to my rescue.
‘You were singing at the yearly Fado Night in Santana, my town of birth. A member of my family there filmed you with his smartphone, so I could watch you live on this thing here, while at home in Paris where I work and live.’ And he showed me his own smartphone.
I was lost for words. I don’t have a smartphone yet, you see. On the contrary, I still have a device, that is best described as old fart phone, which runs on steam and which one has to shut up with a shovel of coal occasionally in order to keep it going. In other words, I am not entirely privy to all the modern possibilities in the telecommunications area.
He was a nice chap. He told me he was due for retirement on the 1st of August. That was last Wednesday, wasn’t it. Or was it Thursday?
I asked him if he were coming back to live in his ‘terrinha’ (area of birth) like so many Portuguese expats do, once they have retired. He could not do that, he told me, because of his children and grandchildren.
I nodded understandingly, although I didn’t have the foggiest what he was on about.
Moreover, he did not like the heat in the south of Portugal.
‘Your village down by the river is even worse!’ he told me. ‘Your village may be only 25 kilometres away, but the temperature there is easily four or five degrees above the temperature in Mértola.
Maths is not exactly my cup of tea, but – if what he told me is true – that would mean that when the forecasted temperature for Mértola is 45 degrees Celsius, as is the case these days, the temperature in my village must be pushing 50.
Put to the test, my thermometer in the shadow is reading 50.9 degrees at three o’clock this afternoon of the 5th of August.
Don’t ask me, why the thing at the same time is reading Saturday instead of Sunday – must be heat stroke!
Hang on, hang on! Why are we still talking about the European all-time high in Athens (48°C)? Or about the town of Alvega, which set the Portuguese record at 47°C yesterday?
Is it because Pomarão does not begin with an A? Is that it?