Barnes- the arrival!

Barnes mapMy arrival in London on the 11th September 1968 was a turning point in my life. My nervous state arriving at the airport only got worse when the immigration officer started to enquire about when I would be back in school in Portugal. Inside I was shaking but I do not know what it looked like on the outside!

It was the last push off the nest, but I felt I was prepared. In my sixteen year old head there was a will to make it work, but I needed help. ..My Uncle Dennis and Aunt Dorothy provided this first help. It was brave of them and not without problems. With two own children to bring up, my cousins Stephen and Louise, it was an extra responsibility for them to take on. I am glad they helped me on those first struggling steps into a new world, the adult one.

Uncle Dennis owned at this time a chain of Patisseries spread over southern London. The bakery was very near their home in Barnes. Frith’s Patisseries Noisette employed pastry chefs from Switzerland. I was then presented with where I would live and how I would finance my stay. I would be staying at 54, Westmoreland Rd. Barnes, at the home of Mrs. Meltzer who already had a couple of the Swiss boys as lodgers. The deal was bed and breakfast and certain hours to be maintained as Mrs. Meltzer had to let me in. This would cost med £4 a week. How was I to pay such a huge amount of money? My uncle then informed me that he was prepared to give me employment and pay me 6 guineas a week. This was to me a huge sum from someone who practically never had owned more than a pound at a time. After all, I only spent money on cigarettes and sweets. I was to help out with different chores at the head office in Richmond. I was also expected to enroll for evening classes there, which I did.

It was a fair deal and I was happy with the arrangement! I travelled by bus and enjoyed my new independent life. If I took the bus down Castelnau I would cross the bridge to Hammersmith, which was a larger community and had underground trains and cinemas. Teenage kids were at this time very influenced by the skinhead culture and the reggae music. It would take some time to get friends and to fully understand to adapt and integrate in this new society. My determination not to look back would see me through! Happy New Year!

A Praia das Maçãs

praia macas aéreo

Teria uns 8 anos quando me mandaram para a colónia de férias do Colégio Valsassina. Era um casarão a uns quilómetros da Praia das Maçãs. O casal de Santiago, como penso que estava batizado, ficava a uns dez minutos a pé da praia. Para aí íamos e daí vínhamos continuamente, em ordenada fila indiana.

Fui para lá conduzido duas vezes diretamente do colégio, onde estava internado! O chofer era o dono do colégio, o Sr. Heitor que tinha a particularidade de conduzir um automóvel de dois lugares da marca Carmen Ghia. Fazia o sr. Heitor uma espécie de som, entre assobio e cantarolar, pois há que ter em conta que eu não seria grande conversa para ele e ainda não havia aparelhagens de música, para automóveis.

Seguiam-se rituais e rotinas na colónia de férias. De manhã, pequeno almoço,passeio para a praia,volta para almoçar, sesta, lanche, passeio para a praia, volta da praia, jantar e cama. Antes de cada dormida haviam rezas. A senhora encarregada da ordem do nosso dormitório fazia questão destas rezas e foi assim que ainda hoje sei de cor a Ave Maria e o Pai Nosso e mais umas extras!

Fora destes hábitos diários, que nos traziam e levavam, num vaivém mergulhados, naqueles ares saudáveis da serra, havia ainda uns pontos altos que me vêm à memória.

Um era um campeonato de futebol de salão na área da piscina em que os mais novos, como eu, aspiravam a algum dia tambem, jogarem num sitio que até tinha bancadas e logo como consequencia, público.

O outro era o meu sonho mais alto. Ter uma bicicleta. Abria-se a possibilidade, participando no concurso de contruções na areia que se efetuava anualmente por muitas praias em Portugal. Era possivel em teoria e estava à minha mercê, mas na prática… Nunca aconteceu!

Os alcunhas!

Jaime Graca

Ainda hoje me espanto se alguem do meu tempo na Praceta,  conhece o meu nome. Vou contar.

Já viviam os meus irmãos Pedro e Joana em Carcavelos, mas eu tinha ficado em Lisboa com a minha mãe. Aos fins de semana ía visitá-los e ver como era a vida lá na Praceta embora com alguma desconfiança e desagrado. Estava eu a caminhar debaixo duma arcada quando uns rapazes meteram conversa comigo. Começaram a entrevistar-me- donde era eu, como me chamava, e onde tinha nascido?  Quando lhes disse que tinha nascido na Inglaterra ficaram desconfiados e queriam saber mais. Mas na Inglaterra onde? Disse-lhes como era- em Stafford. Pronto arranjaram-me logo o nome de Staffordiano. E assim ficou para  todos os da Praceta.

Os nossos momentos livres eram passados a jogar à bola. Eu tinha começado cedo. Tinha começado a jogar em Lisboa no velho campo da Aliança que ficava mesmo ao lado da nossa casa. Tambem jogávamos na rua o que era fácil pois era um beco sem saída- a rua A às Amoreiras. Teria uns 7 anos quando descobri o encanto de jogar futebol. Em Carcavelos tinhamos um campo mesmo na subida continuada da Praceta e onde agora se ergue um hotel de várias estrelas.

Como quase todos os miúdos, quem tinha jeito queria era a bola nos pés e a melhor posição é o lugar de médio. Tambem não me recordo quem me deu esse alcunha mas a uma certa altura passei a ser conhecido como o Jaime Graça. Talvez jogasse como ele, mas tinha certamente um penteado e cor de cabelo que fazia pensar nesse grande jogador e que foi figura importante no mundial de 1966. O próprio Eusébio que ia fazer os estagios em Carcavelos achou piada e viu a parecença. Não sei se o Jaime Graça tambem gostou mas, provávelmente, não se importava.

Em Portugal é fácil ter alcunha. Eu na Praceta nunca fui João Pinheiro.

Nine eleven!

Ponte Salazar_19[4]

The time was ripe and I certainly was prepared. I had passed my exams of Portugal’s comprehensive 9 year school system sometime in July/August. I should carry on with my studies in England. Awaiting all boys at that time was the obligatory military service. Due to lack of officers and soldiers for the enormous colonial territory in Africa, Portugal was meant to defend from ever growing independent movements, these periods were getting longer. That argument helped my father come to terms with my departure.

I spent part of my holiday fixing the necessary documents. I needed a passport, a military licence and a student’s flight. I am convinced some degree of lying was needed to get the three months license to travel abroad.

The day arrived. My father, who owned and drove a car, came to get me. Hardest was to depart of my grandmother Bua, already in her eighties. I looked for my cat Silvestre that had been with us since I could remember. We looked under the cars parked in the Praceta but never found him for a last farewell.

The Marginal road gave a good view of the Lisbon coast. When would I ever see it again? We drove under the Salazar Bridge that my father helped to build. He told me about his own immigration plans. That did not increase my wish to stay!

Death of a City

SaadaMy maternal grandfather was Joseph Ineichen. After my grandmother’s death in 1959 and being in a state of mental distress someone at Lloyd’s of London, where he worked, advised him to take a trip and get away for a while.  It was suggested that he would go to Agadir, in Morocco.

This trip was in January 1960 and he later described the fortnight there as a great success. He was then asked to write an article about this holiday for the Corporation’s magazine- The Lloyd’s log. This was my grandfather’s first attempt at writing. The article was approved and meant to be published when news came, of the terrible disaster that struck Agadir just over one month after his departure.  The city which he had visited and enjoyed, the city he had just described, was gone! The hotel Saada where he had drank coffee with the owners Mr. And Mrs Rosen, was left a ruin. On the 29th of February a violent earthquake had struck on Agadir.

After that the article was withdrawn and rewritten. Fortunately for the family it was but the first of many articles published for the Log. Because of this, we can now learn much about his own upbringing and breathe in the memories of a Londoner born in the year 1900. I remember how my grandfather enthusiastically told me about his articles in the Log and I feel that this blog will give me the opportunity to reminisce and report on some of those stories.

My grandfather was an important person in my life. Especially during my first years in London when as a teenager I was obviously in need of more support than I would probably ever admit. He helped me to my first job in the City, bought me my first tie and taught me to make a knot with it. He sent me an envelope with a pound every Friday and I will admit that that pound many times kept me going.

A curiosity not to be ignored is that even I started writing about my memories at the age of 60.

 

Após mais de 40 anos…O Raminhos!

PiccadillyEm continuacão do texto anterior vou expor algumas das memórias relacionadas com a minha vida em Carcavelos, mais própriamente na Praceta do Junqueiro. A Praceta fica no fundo da praia de Carcavelos, para quem vem de Lisboa, mesmo à saída da marginal.

Foi aí que passei tres dos melhores anos da minha vida. Na Praceta havia muitos jovens de diferentes idades e nunca era dificil estar num convivio com eles. Um deles era meu vizinho e amigo o João Raminhos e vejam lá que tambem acabo de o reencontrar por diversos esquemas de internet!. Residente no Luxemburgo já há muitos anos tinha-o perdido de vista algures em Londres naquela que teria sido a sua primeira viagem ao estrangeiro, em 1970.

O João era um aficionado do desporto e não havia nada que ele não captasse de noticias desportivas. O rapaz era uma enciclopédia desportiva. Andava comigo no Liceu de Oeiras e jogava à bola como todos os outros rapazes da Praceta além de andar aos gambuzinos e outras coisas que felizmente já foram arquivadas!

O pai Raminhos era o dono duma papelaria e tambem do Café Atlantico que agora é uma fina marisqueira onde faço questão de ir jantar quando estou em Portugal. Era aí que íamos aos domingos ver os desenhos animados do Bugs Bunny e uns anos mais tarde beber umas imperiais! Aí na esplanada do café passam em revista muitos daqueles personagens que foram tão importantes para mim no periodo da adolescencia. Despedi-me deles abruptamente pois já não fazia tenção de voltar quando no dia 11 de septembro de 1968 saí para Londres munido de passaporte português, duma licença militar e de um bilhete de avião (para estudante que era mais barato).

Recordo-me do Luis Lacerda, do Mário Simões e do Toni Feio que infelizmente já não estão connosco. Das irmãs Mette e Anita Amundsen que não nos passavam cartão. Do João Paulo e da Paulucha! Da Luisa, da Marina, do Johnny e do Zé do Carmo,do João Cardoso filho do Sr. Virgilio, do Zé Borsatti. Enfim deles todos me lembro e de muitos outros que por aí passaram  nesses anos! Deles terei mais histórias para contar! Por agora fico feliz por ter reencontrado o Raminhos!

Depois de quase 50 anos…O Valsassina!

Muitas vezes são as circunstancias que ditam os acontecimentos. Por exemplo o facto de ter reencontrado um colega de escola no Facebook depois de quase 50 anos, provocou o aparecimento deste tema que vou desenrolar e que será o meu primeiro em lingua portuguesa.

O amigo é mesmo o Jorge Valsassina! Andámos no Colégio que tambem tem o seu nome, o Valsassina! Temos a mesma idade quase nascemos no mesmo dia mas concerteza com percursos diferentes nas nossas vidas. É disso que iremos saber mais, o que nos dará azo a relembrarmos “ A casinha dos pais que não abandonam ao entrar prá vida sem a comoção e a dor da partida”!

Da escola haverá uma ou outra história para contar!

O pai do Jorge era diretor da Telecine, o Galveias Rodrigues! Ele tinha no seu staff publicitário o poeta Alexandre O’Neill. Ora é aí que entro eu.  O Alexandre sugeriu-me como ator infantil de filme publicitários.Estava a empresa sitiada no Palácio de Ludovice na Rua S. Pedro de Alcantara e aí se faziam muitas das filmagens.

A maior produção em que participei foi a dos chocolates Regina, onde uma data de putos, vestidos de piratas andavam em aventura lá para os lados de Sintra e para acabar estava uma mesa posta com tudo o que se fazia em chocolate nos jardins do Principe Real mesmo ali em baixo do miradouro!

Vai daí deu o realizador ordem para se comer alguma coisa para que a mesa não estivesse tão composta. Bom, os miúdos são obedientes e rápidamente fizerem o jeito ao realizador que em poucos minutos concluiu que era preciso ir buscar mais chocolates pois a mesa tinha ficado demasiado decomposta. Tinha de facto sido uma razia fora do vulgar! Uma autentica pirataria!

Era dura a vida de estrela de cinema…mas como pagavam…miradouro-sao-pedro-alcantara

Uncle Bernard, I presume?

bowls 

My stays at Pollard’s Hill North were in the summers. Coming to London in the late fifties, early sixties was a special experience. For a start, transportation there, was by plane. A time when private flying was still rather exclusive.  Propeller plane BEA (British European Airways) the largest British airline that ceased in 1974. The flights started at night and the arrival was in early morning when invariably we were met by some rain in sheer contrast to the Lisbon hot weather.

 Not far from my Grandparents’ house one could still see ruins from the Second World War. Most homes had a shelter in their gardens. It was all very interesting. My grandfather went off up the road to play Bowls…A game as exotic as Cricket but perhaps with more accessible rules. I think you needed to be over a certain age in order to participate. At a distance you could catch a glimpse at the “old boys” dressed in white! Perhaps children were not allowed as the game of Bowls requires concentration.

 I stayed in my Uncle Bernard’s room.  Uncle Bernard Ineichen was not anyone you ever met. He was just the most exciting person anyone could imagine. An Indiana Jones of the period. In his room there were to be found relics of far away destinies. Things collected in Africa on mysterious expeditions. Photos in uniform in some Mediterranean hideout! Uncle Bernard’s life was an adventure and it was so I perceived it!

Pollard’s Hill North, revisited!

 Google Earth is an amazing tool! I decided to look for my grandparents’ home in Norbury, London. Suddenly I was there. The hill top, the church at the bottom of the street… It was here I played in the living room with a sofa with large cushions. They were huge so a house could be made out of them. Sadly I have no memory of my grandmother. My grandfather was a City gentleman that I thought was quite jovial and he certainly lightened up when the ice-cream appeared on the table!

There was an older neighbour boy, that somehow got into my life during this summer visit. Could his name be Barry? He had a bike and I am sure that it was in this street that I learned to cycle, on a bike with wide tyres.

 This neighbour boy had a Terrarium. He kept lizards at home! This was to me the weirdest and most fascinating hobby. After all in Portugal lizards were everywhere and in the eyes of young boys something you threw stones at.

 A vivid memory I had was that he took us by bus to South Kensington and a visit to the Natural History and Science Museums. This was any boy’s dream. I particularly remember the whale and all the type of contents that could be found in its belly: The science Museum was even more fantastic with all the buttons you could press and the enormous collection of cars, trains, planes and other technical advances humanity had put together up to the sixties.

Pinworming in the sixties

hornblowerIt was about the time when Kennedy was assassinated…We lived at Engenheiro Miguel Pais, top floor. I do not remember where I went to school but it was either the Valsassina or the Pedro Nunes. This school period was never seen as being a great achievement on my part. Not by me, not by anyone else!  I have other memories.

I shared my room with a couple of budgies that increased in their numbers. They were quite happy to reproduce in their small cage and I suppose I took good care of them. I happily enjoyed radio plays with lots of action.

I had chosen to live with my mother and she was together with the poet and at that time also advertising creator Alexandre O’Neill. Sometimes we went out! At one time we quite often visited another couple. It was at João da Camara Leme’s and Minna’s posh apartment that these gatherings took place. Camara Leme was an artist and created illustrations for book covers and I think it was through this connection that I discovered my childhood’s favourite books- those about Captain Hornblower.

How we got to the apartment I honestly do not remember, taxi perhaps. I do not think O’Neill had a driving license; he certainly did not have a car. More often than not we would also meet up with Sttau Monteiro and Maria do Vale. What I did to entertain myself I do not know but in those days there wasn’t much so I suppose I listened to what the grown-ups talked about and that was specially rewarding as they were interesting people as anyone might understand. O’Neill was at one time rather excited about a recording he had done on 45rpm. On this recording he read out some of the poems that have made him a reference on the surrealistic style he pursued. I’ m sure Maria said that I behaved well, even though I suffered a lot on many of those evenings!

My guts were infested by pinworms- I was suffering from Enterobiasis.  These worms are white small parasites that in the evenings give you hell as they lay eggs literally on the regions of your anus giving you the most intensive and maddening itch. I remember how worried and at times feverish I got. It was embarrassing to talk about it so I kept quiet. The pinworm also known as thread worm is harmless and easily eradicated and when I told my mother she quickly got me a cure and a -don’t think about it anymore!