Monday, 27 December 2010


This (now pretentiuous quote free) blog has talked about the Hull librarian’s toad work before, I´m sure of it, though your correspondent has neither the energy nor the inclination to go back and find out where.

Moving to Brazil is one way of driving the fat amphibian off with a pitchfork, and no doubt explains early season gringo euphoria once off the boat and onto dry Brazilian land. Mortgages and oyster cards and career glass ceilings have all been left behind with the charcoal weather and the world seems a brighter, bluer, happier place. Of course you´ll have to work a bit, but it´s only teaching English, which as any gringo* knows isn’t like a real job, and there’s a fair chance that you’ll be free at eleven o’clock some mornings (the holy forbidden fruit grail of every working drone) to wander up and down the street or go to the park or beach or read the paper or just have a nice, entirely power free, nap.

And so life morphs for a while into a kind of pre-lapserian paradise. It´s sunny every day, the beer is cold and the women are warm (being the polar opposite of how you remember it back home) and you don’t work very much. Probably you get paid cash in hand, so you don’t even pay taxes.

The question is whether such daydreaming can sustain, or if the paradise will soon turn out to be a fool’s one. Five years and counting now for this guinea pig, and it feels as though as though nooses are being tightened all around.

The frolicing carefree days of giving the odd English class here and there have been replaced with a fairly hefty workload (up at six every morning and home too late to watch The Big Bang Theory!) and recently when catching myself beating Guinness The Dog over the head with a newspaper it occurred to me that even the earwig stress (toad work´s second cousin) might be becoming an issue.

The muscular real has stomped all over the weakling pound in recent years, so the days of dipping into the savings to splurge a tenner on four or five beers and a kilo or so of prime barbecued picanha are long gone.

Things have accumulated – cars, credit cards, middling expensive rented apartments – meaning that more money must be made to pay for them all and more time spent organising paperwork and queuing in banks.

Sooner or later there will be little Your Life Is An Impossibilities to think about and then will come the big decision of whether to stump up for private health care and schools or whether to hurl them screaming from the parapet into the bedlam of the Brazilian public system.

The realities of the Brazilian market must be confronted, namely that the poor never used to exist as a retail force** so everything fancier than rice and beans is still aimed exclusively at the middle classes, and the middle classes are seemingly happy enough to pay through the nose for anything at all as long as it´s sold at the shopping mall – you´re right sir, it is a very shoddy two seater couch, and even better, it´s only R$1500!

In other words like anywhere else the more you build a life the more you find life has been built on top of you. What is sad about this is that there was a time when this writer wrote the following:

It was at moments like these that The Luck came to me again and as my imagined future with Ana stretched out before me, a small house in a quiet, lower middle-class area like Santa Teresa or Santa Ines, a garden and perhaps a dog, later a scattering of children, I wanted to kneel and pray before it.

and genuinely believed that such a life was possible and was all that anyone needed to be happy, whereas now it seems like it would be a very hard thing to do to reduce my life back down to the level of simplicity and contentment that I once felt and would need to feel again were I try and live in such a way.

So we are left with the holidays to remember what a life sem sapo would be like. And Your Life Is An Impossibility is on holiday now, which means days spent the way days should be spent – a swim at the Salesiano College at 6am, a stroll down to the market to buy bread and cheese, the rest of the morning spent lolling at the beach, two or three good solid hours writing and reading in the afternoon before the evening’s carousing begins. Though of course the saddest thing is that even in the happiness of such days we can already feel the bitter sweet taste of their hurried passing.

*other than this gringo, who has never been so fulfilled and driven (career wise) in his life, honest, boss.

** now changing – today social classes C and D are spending more money than A and B.

3 comments:

Zack said...

An interesting post, I wonder if your feeling is a mild discontent of the 24 hour nature or something deeper to be banished only by a good dose of wanderlust?

If the former, January third will soon be upon us. Catching that bus at 7 a.m. with the requisite mad dash for the last seat on the shady side will do wonders for you me lad.

If the latter? Well, such symptoms do tend to grow and may result in your next life leap.

Only time and you can tell I suppose.

However, if I may be so bold, could you consider Cartagena as your next landing pad. Oh, and keep the diary going? I do want to go there and value your opinions.

A Happy New Year to ya.

James Young said...

thanks Zack for the kind words once again - the discontent is fairly mild and nothing to worry about, and is probably just the settling down of life, with no major leaps on the horizon - too old and too tired I think! Happy new year to you too...

Stephen Coutts said...

Ach you're only in your thirties.

We've all had doubts and I've recently had to go backwards to go vorwarts (1.5yr til Berlin).

It'll come and you won't even notice it - swap you for here? :)