After a long wait of nearly six years, conditions had been created for a return to Portugal without risking being accused of escaping the army. In that summer of 1974 it was decided we would take the trip and fly to Lisbon. With us the new baby that we would introduce to great grandparents, Joseph and Pat in London and Bua in Lisbon. Great-grandfather quickly gave the baby a nick name. He became “Barbershop” as he sang himself to sleep.
It would also be the opportunity for grandparents João and Pamela in Lisbon to meet their first grandchild John.
Besides all this, a return to a country that was still celebrating and where everything seemed to be possible. The revolution was on its way and nobody would stop it! Mistakes were made and consequences were laid on those who most probably were innocent. But the fear of things going back was there, as were the demands for nationalizations of all types of production. Like all other revolutions things tended to go to extremes. Many people that had businesses were seen as supporters of the recent regime. It was obviously not so.
We were met by my father at the airport, who said- This cannot go back!!!!
But before that landing, the pilot gave us the grand view, which is standard when coming from the north and landing from the south. The plane turns over Lisbon and gives the passenger the opportunity to see this beautiful city across the Tejo’s majestic estuary, the long Caparica coastline to the south and then across the whole city for a landing practically spot on it.
For the first time there was no fear from passport agents, instead a smiling welcome. Benvindos! Suddenly a uniform was something positive. Things had indeed changed. The emotion of this return was strong and I am not capable of putting into words the extension of these feelings.
The year of 1973 was almost all spent in London! It was an eventful period. Looking at the pictures it is clear that Mona came back in the summer now evidently pregnant! At this time she would have taken Maxwell, the cat, to Sweden. During this visit a rare family gathering can be seen outside my grandparents’ house in Croydon. The reader can enjoy the two pictures on display and sort out who the photographers were.
Sometime around this time I had started a new job. Someone said a person speaking Portuguese was needed at the Banco do Brasil near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was interviewed and offered the job by the Brazilian manager. In reality I was working for the Portuguese bank BPA- Banco Portugues do Atlantico. My job was to send remittances (money) from Portuguese immigrants back to Portugal. At this time immigrant remittances were an important part of the Portuguese economy . Some of the clients came from far away as Wales with their money in cash. Every morning I awaited a fax message stating the actual exchange rate. Someone in charge for this office once came and gave me some instructions. I kept this job right up to my final return to Sweden so when I did arrive there it was as a bank clerk.
The king of Sweden Gustav VI died on the 15th September in Helsingborg so the chap I was serving drinks to, a few months earlier at the Tramp Club in Jermyn Street was now the Swedish king under the name of Carl XVI Gustav. He was crowned on the very same day of his grandfather’s death, exactly 40 years ago, yesterday.
Passport stamps do not lie! Because of them we know that the newlywed couple Mona and João, did not stay long in Stockholm in that cold and windy autumn of 1972. Something made Mona decide she wanted to quit University and digs at 5,Forskarbacken. She suggested we should go back to England. I did not feel that our situation was worth defending, so I agreed.
London was, after all, our hometown, together… According to the stamp, we left on the 2nd December on what I recall was a charter flight with hotel. The hotel was somewhere in the Elephant and Castle area. We got about looking for a room or flat as soon as we arrived. Eventually we moved in to Mornington Avenue. It was a small basement room, furnished and clean. There were some green bushes and grass outside the window. We were quite comfortable and even grandfather Dadda glasses and Pat came to visit.
We both went about looking for employment and we had contact with Rodolfo and Luisa just down the road.
Twenty year olds could get work those days. I registered at an employment agency and was sent to different places like a big publicity company and a council office where boring work had to be done! A new life was evolving where an old one had just been left behind!
Even when one has moved away from home and is trying out one’s wings it is always good to have a fixed place to go and relate to. In London my home from home was Pat and Dad’s at 3, Hurst View Rd, Croydon.
I visited my grandparents quite often and kept a good and healthy relationship with them. I often took the train from Barnes or whatever station was nearest and headed to South Croydon station. These trains were practical and ran quite regularly. Once in the platform you waited for the train and opened yourself the door to the compartment where you would sit. There was a special feeling about travelling on these trains that served the greater London area (probably still do!).
Every country has its own feeling…its own smell! England is no exception. Those who have not been inside a typical middle class detached house in the London area might not be aware of what makes it different. To me there are a few things that prop up. Let me try to give you some examples that contrasted with Portugal.
Fitted carpets everywhere, large flowery furniture and wallpapered walls with different patterns. Very soft beds with thick quilts. Well scented toilets with the windows opened almost continuously, access to hoovers labelled Hoover. Piping running outside the house, central heating, large rubbish bins, milk bottles outside the front door, Sunday meals with lamb joint and roast potatoes with vegetables and gravy or mint sauce. Colour television showing cricket matches. Gardens with roses and apple trees, lawns always green, bonfires, garden sheds, blackbirds and robins.