People are never asking me if living in Brazil has changed me, but I suppose I would answer, “Yes, I think it has.”, if they ever did. To start with, I’m drinking coffee now. Brazilians run on hits of small, strong black coffee, ‘cafézinho’, and I’ve gradually become unable to function without a regular dose of it throughout the day. Although my dear old Mam still sends over my Rington’s tea in bulk, I don’t think I’d cope without it!
The drinking culture is a lot more relaxed. By ‘relaxed’ I mean there’s nee bairns binge-drinking their livers away, looking for someone who’s looking at them…
Even though the temperatures stay in the mid to high twenties at night there’s no pub crawling, either. There are times, when sitting outside a crowded bar at midnight in shorts and t-shirt with a warm, gentle breeze wafting in off the ocean, that I have to remind myself I’m not on a 2 week holiday in the Med.
When choosing a bar, the quality of the food is generally more important than the beer, if you can believe it, basically because all the Brazilian beers are pretty much the same; light lagers with about 5% alcohol, which are sold in either litre bottles to be shared or cans (that’s right, cans). If you’re lucky enough to be at a bar with draught beer, it will have a single tap of EITHER Brahma OR Itaipava. Is it any wonder I miss The Newcastle Arms and it’s 5 new real ales every week?
I was shocked to wake up last week to an overcast, breezy morning and feel the chill. I even put a jumper on. I was even more shocked when I discovered it was 23 degrees! How can it be possible a born and bred Geordie can think that 23 degrees is a ‘tad nippy’?
More noticeably, I suppose, is my accent. If you were to ask me if I’ve lost my Geordie twang I’d deny it to the hilt. But ask my friends and family and I suspect you’d get a very different answer. I’m not saying I’ve done a McLaren or a Barton (at least I hope not), but I certainly have sympathy with them. When living abroad, especially in a non-English speaking country, you have to make your English as understandable as possible, and as even most Brits are hard pressed to understand a Geordie in full flow, foreigners have no chance! So yes, although I certainly don’t speak like a Hugh Grant, I have had to slow my speech down and have tried to soften our flat Northern vowels. Whereas I’ve done this consciously, what happened to McLaren (and to me, I suspect) happens completely unconsciously; you start to adopt the stresses, rhythm and speech patterns of the local population. That’s why Steve went all, ‘I vishited Amshterdam on the shitty hopper lasht week’ and why my Dad didn’t recognise his own son when I called home last year…
My wife and I had taken our (by then) 18 month old son home to meet the family and friends. Of course, we stayed with the folks. I’d popped over to town alone to pick some things up and, being a bloke, I’d completely lost the plot and needed to call my wife to remind me why the hell I was standing at Grey’s Monument without a clue as to where I was meant to be. We’ve all been there. So I called the home and the old man answered so I asked if I could speak to Lu, to which he replied, “Oh, I’m very sorry but they’ve just popped out.” Who’s popped out, Dad? “John and Lucy, John’s in town and Lucy’s gone for a walk with the baby.” Dad, it’s me, John… “Oh, sorry son, I thought you were one of your Brazilian friends calling to speak to you.” It should be no surprise that I went aal geet proper East end lad after that conversation…
Rio is a pretty madtown. Imagine my surprise when the newly married Mrs Milton arrived in her new home in God’s Own City with a picture of herself with her fellow passengers; only the bloody 1970 World Cup winning team! Well, part of it, anyway… (They were on their way to Sheffield to take part in Sheffield Utd’s 150thanniversary celebrations).
A couple of blogs back I wrote about escaping the flooded neighbourhood where I work. It wasn’t my first experience of driving through flood water; that was back in 2008 (although I was only a passenger). I had taken a video of the event but hadn’t been able to find it in time for that blog, but as Murphy’s Law commands, I have found it since so I thought I’d share it now.
It’s not all sun, sea and sand in Rio!
Thankfully, the CampeonatoCarioca has come to an end. I can’t say I’m sad. Botafogo had won the 1st phase (the Taça Guanabara) and managed to reach the final of the 2nd phase (the Taça Rio) where they faced Fluminense. Should Fluminense have won, we would have seen a final between the winners of both phases (yes, that’s right, it would have been another match between Botafogo and Fluminense). However, as Botafogo did the double they were automatically crowned Rio State Champions. It’s nice when it happens like that, it puts us all out of our misery…
However, my unofficial team have won a silver pot which is a damn sight more than I’ve ever seen Newcastle do, so – PARABÉNS OS PRETOS E BRANCOS!
I really like Botafogo, they’re the least supported of the big clubs in Rio so the fans are tenacious little buggers. They wear Black & White stripes and hardly win anything – what’s not to like?
Also, Seedorf has had a huge impact on the whole club. He’s club captain, he has unified the players, the club and the fans and genuinely appears to be relishing his new project. I’m really pleased to see that he has been rewarded with another piece of silverware to add to his extremely impressive collection.
It was a shocking position to be in, 3 games to go and destiny out of our own hands. I still cannot come to terms with the fact that an excellent point at West Ham was transformed into what looked like points dropped. I was very happy to see we’d managed a 0-0 at the Boleyn Ground, but was then flabbergasted (no exaggeration) to see that Wigan and Vile had both won. Then to confound matters, 10 man Sunderland went and pulled an unlikely result out of the bag v Stoke. However, Swansea did us a massive favour by beating Wigan and therefore giving us some control over our own destiny going into yesterday’s game.
I have to admit to have been over the bloody moon at those 3 points, only our second maximum haul away from home in what has been a deeply troubling season. However, after the stress that we have suffered over the last few weeks, we are now safe and, to plonk the cherry on the top of the cake, one of three odious little clubs will go down with the god-awful QPR and weak (even though I kind of like them) Reading: Wigan, Vile and the Mackems have found themselves in the mix. Wigan are favourite to go down, but as my beef with them is only with their chairman, I am now their biggest ever fan. I’d love to see them win at Arsenal. Can you imagine the state of the collective undercrackers in blunderland and Birmingham going into the last game of the season? Oh, the joy of schadenfreude!
I’m not about to start pointing fingers or blaming so-and-so for the shitness of our season – that can come after Arsenal. Right now I’m bang on song with Michael Vasey’s message.
One city, one set of fans, ONE CLUB! Get right behind the bastards and show the rest of the country what it means to be Newcastle UNITED! HOWAY THE LADS!
Long standing true faith writer, Tony Higgins who regular readers will recognise from his Real Spain articles has his first book out now. Travel with Tony through the undergrowth of Spanish football and life for only £4:99. Only in digital format. Get it on Amazon here.
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