Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Increasing happiness in the Algarve

In order to continue my blog, I must reveal what I've been being a bit coy about, my exact whereabouts. I live in a place called Altura, a featureless modern resort near Portugal's southern border with Spain. I've  known it for almost thirty years without once liking the place or its people.

It was the resort in which my mother chose to build her last home, for reasons unknown to me, because her ostensible place of origin was far away, in a rural region between Mafra and Ericeira, and her sisters lived in Lisbon. She explained it by saying she wanted to remain in touch with English tourists by letting out the upstairs flat in her house to them. But why this particular place rather than any other in the Algarve?

I have no idea. Anyway, I managed to win back her large and ugly house seven years after her death in 2002, from the man a little older than myself that she had left it to, and whom in the interim I had tried to have murdered.

I recently spoke on the phone to my cousin Brian in England, and he told me what he'd never made clear before, that the police there never issued the international arrest warrant that they threatened because I had breached my licence by going abroad. I was too small a criminal to be worth their while, it seems. What good sense on their part!

Whether I can thus truly be described as being "on the run" is a moot question. If I tried to re-enter England, I would possibly be arrested, but they are very unlikely to seek me in Portugal. Perhaps I'm On The Walk. Or, even, On the Totter.

Meanwhile, and rather surprisingly, I can report that I am increasingly happy in Altura, with its million barking dogs in the otherwise ghostly streets. My house - or perhaps I should call it my mother's house - is the usual white Algarvian box with red roof tiles and decorative chimney, and is slightly misshapen as well, but I keep it cool inside by never opening the shutters, and I love to sit naked at the stone table in the back garden writing my private diary, looking at the peach and rose and jacaranda and lemon trees, and sipping at a Spanish apple liqueur.

I'm also gradually becoming more part of the local community, in so far as this is possible. I now have various clients for small doles of one or two Euros, an alcoholic old woman, and a somewhat younger ex-druggy who is now also more an alcoholic. The latter is an amusing character whom I like more than the rapacious oldie.

I repair to the Central Sports Café morning, afternoon and evening to check my emails, revise my blog and perform other acts on screen. In the morning I also go to the paper-shop to peruse the international press, buying something occasionally to justify my constant browsing. In the afternoon, when I feel like milky coffee and cake, it's quite smart to take these at the Broadway establishment.

Then, if I've got the energy, it's a quick visit to the supermarket. But sometimes I don't go there, because I must take the long way around to avoid the old woman, who sits at Snack-Bar Piri-Piri,just off the main street.

Finally, it's back home, totally exhausted, to lie on my bed for a while. Then I take  a delicious bath with the CD playing  -  German Lieder, Chopin played by the great pianists, popular music from the earlier years of the twentieth century. Then perhaps a quick snifter, or I might have had one before the bath, in the bird-haunted evening garden.

Then out again for a meal at an overpriced restaurant, where I keep the price below twenty Euros and often have to speak sternly to the waiters just before I pay my bill.

And then perhaps it's a phone call to England from the phone-box by the ocean, a visit to a late-night bar to go on with the novel I'm reading, and then nervously back to my untidy house for a final drink and record and my bed.

Despite these supine ecstasies, I'm planning my third grand tour of Europe, commencing shortly. As I walked out one midsummer morning....


  1. Hello Charles,

    I must apologize, I have not been to see you at your 'place in space' for a while. I am sad to see your last post was at the end of May, or maybe that is a good thing and you are living wonderful moments, though the moments you have described sound rather enjoyable.

    The Algarve now hot and dusty with the odd summer storm and people will soon be arriving for their vacations. How are book sales going well I hope?

    There is so much corruption in the MET Charles including Cameron with Murdoch all eating from the same trough ,I doubt you would be of interest to them. However, far better to live in Portugal than the disgrace once known as England I fear it is no more a green and pleasant land.

    Speak soon and take care.


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  3. Hi Charles, just found your fugitive blog. We last met at The Kings Place, a trendy bar and theatre or something of that sort on the canal near Kings Cross which I have never visited before or since. I daresay under the circumstances we are not likely to see you in London any time soon. Perhaps our paths will cross on the continent--let me know which countries you are visiting: perhaps you will blog about the grand tour you mentioned. I would have emailed privately, but have no address for you. Anyway, it is good to see you online!