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Nº 115 – Back to Black

Saturday 20th November 2021.


Scrambling across a pile of waste one man asks another: do you remember the times when we were kids and had nothing to worry about? When we were building sandcastles and the weather was kind to us? Every year we‘d take our Mercedes on a driving holiday. Every year we’d sail across to the islands and back to see who was the fastest?

The other guy is crouching below a bonnet, peering into one half of a car and at an engine, on the same pile of junk. Dismantling a carburettor he replies: yes, that was a wonderful time, free from all worries. There was no sword of Damocles hanging above us, and the word Mercedes still meant something. Even Salazar had one, and Janis Joplin sang a song about it.

On a Sunday, we used to take the car to the beach at Cascais, drink bubbly and eat marisco. What a great time we had back in the day. And today? Nothing is like it used to be.

You’re forgetting the bottlenecks on the way home. But you’re right in a way. Today even the words are cheap. People talk and talk and we no longer have anything of real significance to hold on to. The Mercedes has been relegated to the scrapyard and there is no more fuel available for it. It’s had its day. The carburettor? Relegated to the museum. The exhaust pipe? No longer required. The gearbox? Also useless. At the time we thought all this would be for all eternity. And now?

Let’s commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic on 21 November. What idiocy! Dead is dead, memories won’t help. Well, if you could bring the dead back to life then the 21 November might make some sense still. But we’ve not quite got there yet. This is similar to climate change. We talk and talk and talk and then … the sun shines. We find fault with everything. When it rains it’s no good either.

Cause you get wet, and sure it can rain, but then we should already start thinking about the buckets we have to set up in granny’s bedroom. And we should remember to take an umbrella.

Every time I take an umbrella it‘s guaranteed not to rain. This is the way it is here. Nomen est omen. Better leave the umbrella at home and wait for the surprise.

Do you really think that one day we can raise the dead?

Where would be the sense in that?

That you can do it, man! No longer, that would be enough. Immortality, that would be the greatest hit. Janis Joplin would sing again, and Amy Winehouse too.

And Salazar? Raise him from the dead? The way some think we can change the weather for the better? We’ll let it rain in Portugal, snow in Russia, and we’ll wish a few more hurricanes on the Yanks?

Well, if we could change the weather there wouldn‘t be any climate change anymore, right? And then things would be as they were before. We wouldn‘t have to worry, about a thing… la la la…



Uwe Heitkamp (60)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations : Dina Adão, João Medronho, Kathleen Becker
Fotos: dpa






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