memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘feelings’

A room with a view

I have just spent most my morning  admiring the sporadic flocks of migrating birds on their way north in the early spring (while at the same time catching up on Radio 4 podcasts of The News Quiz).

The birds winter in North Africa (lucky them) and then rendezvous in the environs of Algeciras in Morocco to await to their turn for streaming funnel of avian life crossing the Dire Straits to Gibraltar and beyond. My particular contingent then wheel west along the Algarve coast until they reach the Cape of Sagres before turning north and eventually crossing in front my bedroom window – left to right using the narrow corridor of pine and eucalyptus forest between the village and the ocean.

later they will build their nests in the bosky fields of Hampshire (lucky them).

A miraculous cycle of nature, a spectacle laid on just for me. The message is clear – relax and be in harmony with nature. Go with the flow.

The view from my bed in the morning

After lunch (stewed chicken with pasta – a culinary mésalliance in my opinion) I return to my room for a nap/siesta/snooze/40 winks from I wake 30 minutes later. I then dutifully carry out my physiotherapeutic exercises. First an isometric routine for beginners (even I, handicapped as I am) can do them in my chair followed by a lurch/stomp/stumble on my walker/Zimmer frame down the corridor outside my room.

Up the corridor to the right is a bathroom into which I enter/slip/pop to lean back against the radiator for my straighten-the-back-to-improve-my-posture exercise (with some deep breathing thrown in). After a while I get tired/bored with the straighten-the-back-to-improve-my-posture exercise and put my hand into my pocket where I encounter my mobile phone (not a «smart» phone but-pretty-intelligent-for-the-price) and take a rather eery picture of myself, taking a rather eery picture of myself, taking a rather eery – OH JUST SHUT UP WILL YOU!



I return back down the corridor to the end and turn right to admire the fine view of our local church (I don’t mean that the church per se is particularly fine – just the view of it).

After tea (the old dears can’t be doing without their tea, you know – it’s a lifetime habit, useful survival skill as well in case they starve to death between the twin fueling stations of lunch and early dinner. They dunk (good word) their bread or biscuits into heavy outsize cups of tea or milky coffee made from turnips (you have to be a weightlifter to be able to raise them to your lips) instead they crouch devotionally in front of the heavy cups and spoon the resultant pap into their mouths) so after tea, I spend time in my atélier working on my lastest painting.



Back in my room I’m beginning to run of steam.

«… Fragments, that I have shored up against my ruin»

And at the end of the day the sun sets at the orbiting rim of our world.

Anglo-Saxon rocks

I fell in love with my own language

When I was in my mid-thirties

You know how it is

First I noticed it

Then I felt drawn to it

Lastly I fell for it

Hook, line and sinker.


Those old tribesmen

Round their fires at night

Little dreamt that their

Mode of communication

Would journey to the stars


English is on a roll

Sibilant and sinuous

Compressed, economic

Fed by the dual rivers of

Romance and Germanic

Lyrical fused with bluntness

Softness with violence

Races prevail

Hegemony of

Ubiquitous language

Probes the four quarters

Of the spinning world

Whispering susurrus

Subtle persuasion


And as a bonus

It’s the idiom of rock and roll

Yes, English really rocks



Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.

Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Saramago & Censorship



I read somewhere that during the time of Portuguese dictator, Antonio Salazar, The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin was banned.



Several Portuguese intellectuals have showed how the various forms of censorship have hindered the cultural development of Portugal with the cultural elite becoming something of an aristocracy, disconnected from the rest of the population.

This is evident by the prevalence of a gap between popular culture and high culture, with the arraiais (popular gathering with light music and ball dancing), pimba music (based on double-entendre or straightforward sexual slang) and racho folclórico (folk and ethnological dancing and music groups) on one side, and literature, drama and classical music on the other.

I stepped from one side of the divide to the other.

Portugal has become one of the countries in Europe with the lowest attendances of theatre and the lowest rates of book-reading.

So during my years here, in this place,

Physically I have taken one step forward

Spiritually I have taken one step sideways

But culturally I have I have taken one step backward

Of course, philosophically, none of this should matter

But it matters to me

It matters to me



In 1992 the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Souza Lara, who had final say on applications from Portugal, prevented José Saramago’s The Gospel According to Jesus Christ from participating in the European Literary Award, positing that the work, rather than being representative of Portugal, was divisive for the Portuguese people.

As a result and in protest against what he saw as an act of censorship by the Portuguese government, Saramago moved to Spain, taking permanent residency in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.



In 1996 José Saramago won the most prestigious award in the world for a writer – the Nobel Prize for Literature.


The reaction of the Portuguese government was muted and ambivalent. On the one hand the (very natural) desire to vaunt the achievement of a Portuguese citizen was offset by the writer’s evident hostility to the culture of his native shores to the extent of becoming a permanent resident of a Spanish island.

Or to put it another way

Or to put in another way (in Afrikaans)

Ek het jou lief

Or to put it another way (in Arabic)


Or to put it another way (in Cantonese)

Ngor oi ley

Or to put another way (in Dutch)

Ik hou van je

Or to put another way (in Gaelic)

Tha gradh agam ort

Or to put it another way (in Hebrew)

Ani ohev otach

Or to put it another way (in Hindi)

Mai tumha pyar karta hu

Or to put it another way (in Japanese)

Aishite imasu

Or to put it another way (in Lithuanian)

As tave myliu

Or to put it another way (in Romanian)

Te ubesc

Or to put another way (in Russian)

Ya tebya lyublyu

Or to put it another way (in Thai)

Phom Rak Khun

Or to put it another way (in Urdu)

mi-an aap say piyar karta hun

Or in just plain English

I love you

I’m a grey mood today

I am in a grey mood today.

Sometimes I get into a brown study.

Usually I’m in the pink but there are times when I feel blue.

When my family goes to a Spanish island for a couple of weeks in the summer I’m green with envy.

Occasionally, when I witness something inappropriate inflicted on the old folks, I see red but I’m too yellow to do anything about it.

But when life  starts to look really black

I take comfort from the old saying:

Every cloud has a silver lining


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