memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘lisbon portugal’

Colour of eyes: hazel

Only a doting and fanciful mother could fill in a passport application for her son: Colour of eyes – hazel. One can understand what her thinking was: colour of eyes, well they’re not blue, not green nor are they grey or brown, I know – hazel. (i.e. mud)

My first passport was to go away to school in England when I was nine years old.

How vulnerable young Master Thomas looks with his unknowing eyes (colour: hazel)

Little does he know what lies in store for him …

We next find our hero embarking on his African adventure. Note the de rigueur well-thumbed look

And the Beatles haircut

The Algerian Immigration Authorities in those days had a neat system: entry to the country was free but you had to pay to get the hell out!

All that bureaucracy just to go on a couple of weeks leave.

Getting this work permit cost an arm and a leg too. It was the classic Catch 22 situation – you had to have une Carte de Residence to get your Permit de Travail but you couldn’t get a job until your were a resident in the country (or something like that).

Not an Arabic reader? All is explained when you open it up.

Notice how they had to rubber-stamp each page Take that! And that! And that! (And when they went home at the end of the day and their wives said to them after dinner: um … I’m tired … think I’ll get an early night … how about you, honey? they go no, you go on up, hon, I’ve still got a bit of rubber-stamping to get through … and wife flounces out of the room thinking wish he’d come up and rubber-stamp me for a change!

While I was flicking through this passport a bunch of Algerian banknotes fell out:

I like the gazelle

The desert dude is cool and I like the pink but the design is a tad tasteless, don’t you think?

Now this green one with the herd of goats trotting along has a certain retro-chic

and the back of it with that rather bizzare couple on that tractor thingy was one of the designer’s less happy attempts. So to sum up; quaint – yes, De La Roux – no.

I must gone through fairly hazy phase in my life because I failed to renew that passport, so the next one has a make-shift temporary air, a gotta-get-it-together-because-I-just-remembered-I-gonna-go-abroad-next-vacation look about it:

note the hippy look.

Next ‘ole hazel eyes finds himself in Lisbon:

I remember that photo; we were all advised to get about a dozen taken for work permits, metro passes etc; it was taken in a small booth half-way up the Rua d’Ouro on hot afternoon in October.

Then the new look, the EU look, the cheap and nasty look:

Welcome the age of cheap plastic, of easy money, welcome to the Euro-Zone.

(O)porto

After three enjoyable and carefree years in Lisbon, Portugal,

I was promoted and sent up to take over our school in Porto.

Underserved, unmerited and unearned,

The jigsaw pieces of my life seemed to click into place.

PORTO

Porto was the high summer, the apex of my life.

I finally got married to a nice attractive and intelligent Portuguese girl some ten years younger than myself, settled down and started to raise a family.

I entered the unfamiliar territory of domestic felicity.

I grew comfortable.

I became middle-aged and middle-class. The aspirations of these two groups became my aspirations.

We were very happy together and bought the top-floor apartment of a little walk-up building in a quiet, narrow street in the town-center just off the Rua de Constituição.

Over the years I began to take my marriage and my position at work for granted.

Well you do, don’t you?

I became complacent.

I didn’t see it coming.

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