Portugal: Vida Pura, concrete sculpting and cross-dressing.

Julian the Frenchman drinks too much red wine and drives his moped too fast. He flies past us on our walk home from pretending to watch/watching the football at the bar in Odeceixe. Dennis the Harley rider recognises the whizzing sound a bike's accelerator makes when someone falls off and is suddenly sprinting up the dark road and it's all very dramatic until we find Julian mounting his moped. Luckily all he has lost is most of the skin from his knee and a little bit of the skin from his elbow, and the alignment of his front wheel and his front bike light. He still wobbly zooms past us on the dusty track, one hand in the air 'BONJOUR!!'

There's a pirate party for Ami's 3rd birthday. Transform from dirty workers into dirty pirates. Screaming and cake and indoor fireworks and a spectacular treasure hunt for a real buried chest filled with gold, shots of Portugese nonsense spirit, flying an excited Ami around the decking for ever and ever and ever in our arms like a fairy.

Robyn tells me about his vision for a 'lounging lizard' in one of the bathrooms of the new houses, and asks me if I'd sculpt it for him, out of concrete. (concrete..!?). The house is beautiful and nearly finished, the bathroom surfaces and walls are smooth, finely-sanded clay with soft corners and edges… ahhhhh fuuuuuck..!! Not expecting a hugely welcoming response from the concrete-providing builders to the conctrete-sculpting artist, I arrive at building site and set about mixing the concrete like Robyn showed me, 3 parts sand, 1 part concrete, river water not tap water..  A few minutes and I'm aware of a something behind me, something is the Portugese builder staring over my shoulder at my mixing. Here begins our days of hilarious failed attempts at communication. He is incredibly helpful, explaining and teaching me, in Portugese, everything I could ever need to know about concrete and tools. Unfortunately I don't understand a word he is saying and to everything he says I respond with 'obridgada' or 'muita obrigada' or 'bom dia'. He laughs at my weak mixing and sighs at me trying to signal about whether the power drill has a reverse function, and looks totally exasperated at me trying to drag an extension lead across the building site and fucking the whole thing up.

He mixes the perfect mix of concrete for me, precise to the nearest droplet of water, untangles the knotted extension lead, shows me the correct setting for the power drill, pops his head around the corner giving me a nod of encouragement, and when I'm trying to get a smooth finish as if by magic he appears with a sponge that does the job perfectly.

He tries to explain to me that I need to wear gloves, grabbing my hand before I can dip it into the mix, comparing my palm to his palm, my palm to his palm. I shrug and smile that I don't really mind, he shakes his head and leaves me to sculpting my lizard in concrete. Concrete is so much fun to sculpt with. Later that evening my hands tighten and blister and over the next few days begin to shed a thick layer of skin. Concrete is toxic, stupid fucking Welsh girl.

Fancy dress party for Sean's 25th birthday. Pimps and Whores. 3-course meal, fake penises, whips and chains, a lot of Sagres, a lot of smokes, music from Ole who used to be a DJ at forest raves in Holland, more Portugese nonsense spirit that I get warned about every time I pour a shot of. There's purple sick in the garden. I'd heard about Robyn and cross-dressing, he arrives at the party as an entirely convincing woman. And tells the boys that if they intend upon living a life of good mental health they need to embrace their suppressed feminine desires. The Dutch are goooooooood.


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