Friday, 2 May 2008


Brazil is a country of words spoken though often but not always the words are meaningless and repetitive and Recife is the capital of this country of words spoken.

On Thursday it is Dia dos Trabaldores, which is a public holiday. So on Wednesday night I go out with The Ex-Girlfriend to the pagode and samba bars behind Avenida Guararapes and we drink a lot. The Ex-Girlfriend drinks more than me. She is drunker than I have ever seen her, but drunk in a happy way, which in turn makes me happy for I know that when she drinks and smiles and dances she is not thinking about things she might otherwise be thinking about. We go home late.

On Thursday we sit at home and watch movies on DVD. We watch I Could Never Be Your Woman, with Michelle Pfeiffer, which makes me cry at the end when Michelle Pfeiffer’s twelve year old daughter kisses the boy she likes. But then all romantic comedies make me cry.

At night the gay sauna in front of my apartment has a live music night, and the music, which is very much the dictionary definition of the words an effrontery to all that is good and beautiful, swells and grows to the extent that we are forced to flee into the streets.

As we leave the building a young boy on a bicycle passes, then turns and circles back. As he passes the second time his eyes roam over us, looking for watches, cell phones, wallets, handbags. We have none of these, of course. He may or may not be a bandito. Given recent events The Ex-Girlfriend becomes nervous. We wait. He goes away.

We go to a bar which is not good, then we go to the Praça. But the Praça is somnolent. It starts to rain and it is not a terribly auspicious start.

In the rain, on a public holiday, when it seems every normal person has either gone to the beach or left town entirely, Recife becomes a city more dead than alive. There are more dogs and cats in the darkened streets than people, and the only people are gangs of scavenging teenagers, some of whom may have good intentions in mind, some of whom may not.

We go to Cadu´s. At one table a man with a guitar and a hat is playing samba. The man cannot sing and cannot really play the guitar either. The rain grows heavier. A gang of young boys walks past our table, then doubles back and walks past our table again, then doubles back and walks past our table again. In total they pass our table six times before disappearing into the mist.

The rain stops and an ancient flatbed truck grinds up alongside us. Two men of indeterminate age heave themselves out. They have the classic look of lives lived not in the ordinary way, lives lived through nature or art, sharp eyed and weather beaten and heavy bearded. I say to The Ex-Girlfriend I wish I was sitting at their table, for I have an idea their conversation will be wide-ranging and spirited and alive.

After a while one of the doors of the flatbed truck swings open and one of the men stands and goes over and closes the door only when he closes the door the door on the other side creaks open. He walks around the truck and closes this door only when he closes this door the door on the other side opens again. He goes and stands in front of the truck and talks to the truck and calls it my love. When he closes the door now the other door does not open.

A cat chases a dog down the street.

On his way to the bathroom one of the men smiles at The Ex-Girlfriend and I and we smile back and he invites us to join him and his friend and we go and we talk about literature and politics and music and Brazil. One of the men is a farmer and one is a fisherman and their names are Heitor and Fernando. They are both poets and they recite their poems for us. I tell them about The Ex-Girlfriend and the book I have written.

We talk about films and I ask them have they seen Amarela Manga, which is a film about Recife and is one of the great Brazilian films. They laugh and say of course, and that Cláudio Assis, who is the director of the film, is one of their oldest friends.

Later it starts to rain again and they drive us home and The Ex-Girlfriend and I stand in the rain in the back of the flatbed truck as it rattles and bounces along the gloomy streets and we sing and cheer and when we arrive home I give them a copy of Your Life Is An Impossibility, and I think maybe they will give it to Cláudio Assis and he will read it and like it and will want to make a film about it.

And then before I go to bed I sit and I smoke a last cigarette and drink a last pinga and I write this that you are reading now and as I write I can hear the warm stale breaths of The Ex-Girlfriend sleeping in the next room and in two weeks I will be thirty six years old.

1 comment:

jo said...

Hi James!
the link's working now.
and, you were right. your site is a bit different from mine! haha