sábado, 19 de abril de 2008

After London

After almost 10 years in London and virtually all the time working for the theatre in london I and my first wife decided to leave our rat race and try to join friends who we had met whilst at College in Exeter , John and Jenny Arthur who had moved to Hexham, Northumberland, in order to take on a farm that John's father had bought. John's family had been the oldest tenant farmers for the Duke of Northumberland, I beleive from the 1500's and the family farm on the edge of Newcastle upon Tyne had gradually been sold off to make way for the expanding city of Newcastle. This gave John's father some cash to buy up other farms on the outer perimiter of Newcastle.
Jaqueline Catherine Simkins was born in Dublin, Ireland, which did give us problems with the police during times of terrorism, on the 26 October 1949, family name of Adams, I beleive her mother came from Wicklow and her father from Cork and that her mothers family were builders in Dublin and later with the Guiness company. Her father was a naval officer, supplies, before moving to Exeter around about 1962, having a job with the Royal Navy in Greenwich, London.
The photos abve show John and Nathan Arthur on top of the Gin Gang just before he decided to demolish it, history lost and not many photos taken. The other photos are of my attempt to keep a marriage alive with the undertaking of a barn conversion. On a cold day John(designer friend) with myself, have a break from installing a water pipe from the spring several fields away. One fine day friends arrive to help for a couple of hours and have a picnic, John and Nathan Arthur with my solicitor/friend John Halliday, sitting at the grill are Jenny's mother Pam and Jenny Arthur with Maria Halliday and Jacky's work colleague Liz. Then there are two photos of myself taken by Jacky and show the real truth of a one man project that was to take the best of 6 years and end in divorce.

art school 1964 to 1968

I am yet another of those late developers that failed their 11 plus first time round and made some descisions that moulded my future. I was taken to Rookery Road Infants School on my 5th birthday by my mother but that was the last time she took me there, my brothers as usual got the job of taking their younger brother to school as well as the Sunday Methodist class and any time that they wanted to leave the house together. When I failed the 11 plus I went automatically into the Rookery Road Junior school which was litorally at the top of the playground, nearer to the Rookery Road (rua da colonia de gralhas)and with my struggle over English Language and Literature,History, Mathermatics etc I started to feel that I was in for a rough few years and no prospects of leaving with good qualifications. I guess to my credit I did try hard to make progress and was possibly aided by the sadistic nature of the technical drawing master, name of whom I thankfully have forgotten, whose joy and hability was to throw the chalk eraser at childrens heads if he felt their attention was not sufficient, also the means of chastising young pupils was to put two wooden rules together and hit the knuckles of the child,creating water blisters and difficulty writing in subsequent lessons. I recall that the school did give me my first girlfriend and lessons thereby in kissing girls as well as the memory of chewing natural liquorice, bought at the chemist. My elder brother, Graham, 12 years the older, went to Moseley road Art School when he was 13 years old and that left my mother with the impression that that was the normal intake age for the school. It had in fact been changed to 11 years in accordance with the rest of England, although that was about the only similarity to normal education that it gave. All I had ever wanted to do was paint and my father being an architect was even more of an incentive, so I asked my parents if I could take the entrance exam for Moseley Art School, it must have seemed a good idea for my parents as Graham had finished school there and gone to Birmingham College of Art then on to jobs ( one for the company Vono) designing furniture. My great- grandfather, grandfather and uncles had been in the trade of cabinet makers, going back before them the family had been ceramic painters as well as other trades so the blood line was promising and I was clearly going to work hard at succeeding in something that I loved.
Moseley was an amazingly good school for education but lacked amenities and also the time that I spent there I did not learn a second language, small price when the school taught us ART in a way that I still feel was superior to most art college education. I later went to Exeter College of Art and there the staff decided because of the quality of the teaching at moseley I should not bother with the foundation or first year at the college but do the course in two years, the second and third years only.
The photos here are of the art school and the library/swimming baths that where opposite, myself at 16 years old ( the same time that I used to stay on at school to do life class lesssons and have a drink with John Swift and Bob Ashby at the pub up the road, forgotten the name though) and Bob with his wife Joy, whom I remember as being both very good artists. I have recently found a web site for the art school and am trying to get in touch with staff and old school friends in order to give something of a true feeling of the times I had there, still I will write about some of my life there and later make additions.

quarta-feira, 16 de abril de 2008

É duro, ficar sem vocé

De volta pro meu aconchego
que bom
poder tá contigo denovo
prá mim tu és a estrela mais linda
seus olhos me prendem, fascinam,
a paz que eu gosto de ter
É duro, ficar sem vocé
vez em quando
parece que falta um pedaco de mim
me alegro na hora de regressar
parece que eu vou mergulhar
na felicidade sem fim

terça-feira, 15 de abril de 2008

Third time

Whilst in Salvador, after the wedding in Rio, I met up with a Canadian who had lived in Aberdeen and now works off shore on the oil platforms of Brazil. He was sitting at the bar of a small youth hostel waiting for the computor to become free, I was looking for another hotel as the first one that I found was in need of restoration ( the electrics were hanging off the wall and the cock-roaches seemed to be hungry).
My bad Portuguese captured his attention and we chatted about Scotland and our reasons for both being in the same bar at the same time, Phil asked if I had seen the centre of the city and then offered to show me the sights and the shows that where on that night, he was due to leave the following day for Sáo Paulo but had the time that evening to act as guide, I agreed. It was in fact a fatal decision as we arrived at one bar in Pelourinho (in the historic centre) at around 2 in the morning, sat down and, for all of us that have hindsight, we were accompanied by a Rastafarian, a drug dealer and two young ladies as well as a host of children that constantly beg from tourists. The one girl was Edneide who was to become my wife in the year 2000 and to introduce me to a mixture of Brazilian etiquete that can only be discribed as base level ehics, the sort that allows you to rob your mother and kill your brother. During 2000 i helped build and finance a small bar for Edneide's family in Salvador, thinkiing that they had no money and had difficulty in making ends meet, the bar is the pink number in the photos and was origionally going to be my home (the location of Sete Abril is in fact notorious for bandits) and so I built an appartment over the bar, it simply never entered my mind that the location was suspect and that Edneide too was to be suspect. I have had some interesting times over the last 8 years of living in Brazil, the best so far was my divorce on the 12 January 2007 ( the day before my birthday) and the worst was two years ago on the 21 August 2005 when I had been back in Brazil for two weeks, having had my usual visit to Scotland, I went to leave the house at 6.30 in the morning only to have two men with pistols force me back into the house and hold me at gun point for 5 hours.
I certainly never expected to be alive after the 5 hours and that seems to me to be an example of the luck that I get.

Butterfly effect

Since my first marriage broke up I feel that I am very much a drifter with bad luck and amazing good fortune mixed together to simply create a good life with lots of experiences and always having surprises that I am sure would not come if I had opted for a more conventional life style with steady work and tamer women. Here are some photos of Ruth with her two sons, myself on a pub crawl in Edinburgh the new year 1990, Susan's family with a rocking horse that I made for Emma's birthday (Emma is sitting on it) and Edneide whilst in Edninburgh and with my mother.

Scotland to Brazil

Most of the time I think I am safe in assuming that the Brasilian football team will win their matchs and that the Scottish football team will struggle against practically all other teams worldwide.
I had been some what at a loss after my second marriage failed and I became divorced for the second time. For almost four years after the divorce from Susan I became very attached to my friend Ruth who gave me stability and affection, Ruth could and wished to stay by my side for a very long time but having felt the pain of love that is one sided I decided to leave the relationship and go it alone. The friendship ended when I told Ruth that I wished to go back to living on my own and she did not wish to have only a friendship with me. This led to my having a number of relationships very close together of which one with Winn gave me a good friendship but the same problem arose when she expressed love for me and I did not have the same passion for her, the parting with Winn happened the same time as a friend in America was trying to organise a partner to accompany her to the wedding of her friends daughter, Margarita phoned me at 2 in the morning ( Edinburgh) to ask if I would consider the idea, as I thought she was refering to a wedding in Seattle or Washington, I said yes and she could ring me later with the details.
The idea of a few days away seemed appealing and when Margarita phoned to tell me that the wedding was in fact in Brazil I had already accepted the idea. Margarita phoned again to then modify my plans to take in a trip to Argentina, not keen but said, as I usually do, yes to the new plans. This was now to go to Rio on the Wednesday and the wedding would be on the Friday, I think! then there would be a two day stay in Rio before flying to Buenos Aires and on to Terra del Fuego for Margarita to refind her roots?
Before the wedding our hosts took everyone to a Carnaval show and the following day collected us to go to the wedding location high above the city, briefly the wedding and my hosts where wonderful and the setting for the wedding was beautiful. The day after the wedding we all had a trip out to the beach and a restaurant in the evening when we all basically said our farewells, the problem for myself was that I was in the Sheraton Hotel at £200 a night and my companion was glued to the fax and phone selling/buying stocks and shares. Since Margarita had the opinion that I was there to travel where she wished and when she wished I decided to abandon the plans and cancel my flights and on the spurr of the moment bought a ticket to Salvador. Arriving in Salvador late in the evening I asked the Information desk for details of hotels and the caught a bus into Salvador.


Here are some snapshots of my family and you can find myself in the middle of my brothers holding a bucket, also I was given the task of taking the icecreams to my brothers but seemed to have eaten them on the way. The holidays when we young are vague and I think it would be difficult to write about them without consulting my brothers, sadly I would have phoned my mother in the past as her long term memory improved greatly with age and could be relied on as gospel. At 57 I think my long and short term memory is going just like my eyesight.
A few weeks ago I was feeling sick, having had flu symptons after my trip to Birmingham for my mothers funeral, there it was minus 8 degrees C and here it was plus 32 degrees C, I then caught Dengue, mosquito transmitted virus that leaves your head and eye sockets pounding, all your joints aching and not able to support weight, 5 to 6 days of fever (39 degrees was mine) and no appetite. The good news is that there are 4 types of the virus and the other forms can cause internal bleeding and vomiting, death for the young, this is very nearly epidemic in Rio de Janeiro where the problem is added to by the lack of fresh water, lack of sanitation and the hospitals have few staff and frequently run out of medicines. It is whilst I was unwell that Graca asked me to eat mingua (Scots porridge) as this would build me up since I had no appetite and that made me think of the fact that oats here are thought of as being Brazilian food
The food that I remember eating when I was a child in Birmingham and its similarity to the food that is eaten in Brazil possibly shows that there was very little difference in the past between the european countries and that the economy and trade links of the countries have provided and changed the eating habits worldwide. I think it would also surprise many Brazilians just how much variety of fruit and vegetables are eaten in europe and the quality of the food, clearly the best of Brazil's food is exported judging by what is in the markets of Salvador.

Scottish soul

some pictures for those poor lost souls that come to 25th and feel the need for haggis and neeps, the cry for Hearts and the sound of pipes, the frezzing wind on the High Street and the mist rolling in from Leith Docks. I had a workshop in New Street, an old school next to Waverley Station and by all accounts a good location. The main problem with edinburgh is the councils lack of art training and their lack of vision, along with short term attitudes that seem to only suit the parking of cars and its potential in raising money. I think it must be impossible to find any one outside the council that agrees with the councils aims.
I remember being told of all the different trades that once exsisted in Edinburgh and must have given the town a real sense of identity, some individuality that every town requires, not the removeal of any sign that people work and live in the place, leaving the city for tourists, bankers and now parlimentarians. I was constantly being hounded by the council because of the prime location that my workshop had, I was the last there to be creating hand made goods in the form of furniture. The council got their way in the end for I decided that I would only have a marriage if I left Scotland to live with my wife and her daughter (Ednanda) here in Bahia, Brazil.
Artisans are for me the most important part of a community and please take me as an example for I have left in Edinburgh, Northhumberland and London not only my work but the interpretation of other peoples wishes and hopes. There are many ways to bring happiness and I feel that art is the most successful and long lasting, be it in paintings, pots, furniture, jewelery, designs of door handles, staircases ( this is now going to be a current problem for me as Michael and Zoe wish me to create something of an art staircase for their new home in France, so any gooooooooooood photos or ideas are welcome) practically every thing that you use when it is good design brings pleasure, that of seeing and ease of using. So when the Scottish councils and new parliment see money as their resource they forget the soul of the Nation is in its heritage and the culture, the sad loss of the Edinburgh Glass trade which easily rivalled that of Venice must show that museums are no use if the trades die out, like Zoo's can only show samples of what has been.
I have felt for a long time that the only way to save animals is for humans not to find them in the first place, still this is a bit late now and I guess my friend Mike Faulkner (http://www.thebluecabin.blogspot.com/) now living on Strangford Lough can only watch as the new wave of turbine power is installed into an area of preservation! This is a clip from his blog...
'When it goes operational, the SeaGen Tidal System, designed and built by Marine Current Turbines of Bristol, will use the narrows' eight-knot tidal run to deliver enough electricity for a thousand homes; and the long term aim is that this and other tidal bottlenecks will provide up to 10% of Northern Ireland’s power needs within five years; indeed, the same percentage figure is claimed for the UK as a whole using sites like the Solway Firth and the Skerries, off Anglesey'.

segunda-feira, 14 de abril de 2008

contra face

For the most folks visiting the city of Salvador the history is very much a visual thing as so much of its history is now in the the buildings, the nature and the economy as changed greatly over the past century and it is hard to see what the true economy is today. The prefeitura seems to vaguely have tourism in mind, the centro historico is gradually being restored and there is the new Metro that may yet get opened, but the reality on the street is of poverty and lack of any basic amenities, lack of spending on roads, health, security and transport leaves those of us living here in a state of desporation that the government as plenty of money but few ideas on how to channel it all for good causes.

inside the city

the historic centre of Salvador is sited high above the port and comercial centre. It is really now an area for tourists with churches, small gift shops, bars and restaurants being the feature.

São Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos

The first city to be created in Brazil and one that has links to Africa and the slave trade. Sao Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos, the bay of all saints that saves us, and clearly when the first ships spotted this large bay with many islands it must have been a pleasant relief as well as a beautiful sight. The first sight for most of us is by air as the aircraft sweeps over the sea and turns a large circle to land at the airport to the North of the city. There where many forts built in and around Salvador but the one that is most striking is one of the earliest to have been built and as recently under gone restoration, along with some extra facilities being incorporated for tourist reasons, restaurants etc. The port of Salvador can and does support the entry of large ships and liners but also as a small mariner with a varied collection of expensive yatchs to simple fishing vessels, all adding to the picturesque view of salvador from the high position of the old town and its elevator. It is probably best to leave the history of the city to the many web sites that already exsist.


This is the house and appartment in Jauá which is about 25 minutes drive North of Salvador airport, the area was part of a farm nicknamed the Grillo, the name for large grasshoppers or cricket, although really there would have been very little here for one to farm, the area 40 years ago was still a virgin beach with coconut trees and then mangrove and sand dunes. The photo of the appartment over the garages shows the view inland with white dunes and the area between the house and the dunes is still a slow flowing river, although here it is called a lagoá (lake) and has fish as well as large snakes living in and around it.
When I first arrived here in jauá, during 2000 I think, there was less housing and my house along with neighbours had more trees which gave cover and food for several families of small monkies, sadly I and others have found it necessary to cutdown a lot of the almond trees in order to reduce the mosquito population and get more ventilation across the gardens. This as also cut out the sight of vaga lume (glow worms) which where often present at night fall in the trees and bushes (I suppose the litoral translation of the insect is vague or spare light).
The sea here still is reasonable rich in marine life but that too is gradually deminishing as the tourist trade is starting to grow, mainly with local Brazilians and those that have family or friends in the South of Brazil. Some 50 kilometres to the North of Jauá is the eco resort, another name for anywhere that caters for the rich, of Praia da Forte, the names is the give away in that the coast here was once lined with forts to protect the coast line and there is the remains there of a very small fort. The attraction now is the Tamar project which was set up to protect the beach area for the breeding tartarugas (sea turtles). There is also there a large resort and now a small town as developed to cater for the vast number of European tourists, the German, Dutch and Belgium visitors are especially keen on Brazil for its nature and flowers and seem to send a lot of university lecturers on fact finding tours which include the interior of Bahia as well as the Amazon.