This post is running a bit late.
We had eaten in a quiet restaurant in Rebelva, near Carcavelos, arriving early so as to get dinner out of the way by mid-evening. It is one of those little restaurants which are packed with quietly grazing elderly couples at lunchtime but are quieter in the evening. The food is simple, tasty and cheap, in the Portuguese way. I’d had some excellent braised pig’s liver with proper hand-cut chips, my wife had the sardines, and I’d had the lion’s share of a half-litre jug of wine.
On the way home we stopped in Carcavelos to drop off one of those light recliner-rocker chair things for babies, the sort of thing you strap a one-year-old into to watch cartoons until they doze off. My wife’s son and daughter-in-law have a new baby.
We parked and walked towards the flat along a quiet street. I was carrying the chair. In a two-and-a-half-glasses-of-red-wine sort of way, I thought it would be jolly to demonstrate an amusing thing I’d once done when carrying an empty Moses-basket across the school lawn (someone needed one, and I had one to lend). It was lunchtime, and noting a number of chatting teachers observing me idly, I made a show of clucking and grinning into the empty basket as I approached, before simulating a trip which sent it somersaulting into the air, drawing gasps and shouts and screams of alarm in the split-second before everyone realised it was empty. I told you it was amusing.
Unfortunately, this time I was walking on an uneven pavement of those sharp-edged little Portuguese cobblestones, and in theatrically pretending to trip I actually did trip, falling forward heavily and hard onto my right knee. It was a second or two before I was able to collect myself and inspect it. The impact had opened a jagged three-cornered gash in the kneecap, the shallow flesh split open in the manner of a burst sausage. Blood had splattered around it and on the ground. I gripped the kneecap tightly in my right hand to stem the bleeding.
Is there much more of this?
Quite a bit, but I can hurry it up.
If you wouldn’t mind. That’s probably enough detail on the knee, for instance.
Veronica, that’s my wife, went on to the flat to get help. After some time an ambulance arrived, and I was taken to Cascais General Hospital, emerging an hour and a half later in a wheel-chair with nine stitches in my knee-cap. Since then I have been twice to the local Health Centre, for follow-up and to have the dressing changed. I was well-treated by the emergency services and have been well-treated at the Health Centre.
Very drunk man
Kept me company (ie wouldn’t go away) when I was alone sitting on the pavement. Kept trying to make me stand up by reaching under my arms, while I waved him off ineffectually. Every time he wandered off, he came wandering back.
Called from the police station round the corner by the very drunk man. Young, calm, courteous and helpful. Seemed intelligent and well-educated. Called the ambulance.
The ambulance team.
The young woman who saw to the first aid was capable, courteous, articulate and friendly. In Portugal, the ambulance service is mostly provided by the Bombeiros Voluntários. This is the volunteer fire brigade (men and women), who are paid either nothing or virtually nothing. 90% of firefighters are volunteers. Anything up to a dozen are killed each year (in 2005, it was 16). This friendly and efficient young woman told me she was a trained socorrista, which is translated not very helpfully in my dictionary as ‘lifeguard’. Her dream was to complete her nursing qualification.
The doctor who stitched up my knee.
Young, capable, overworked. She’d been on all day. Asking advice from a slightly older colleague, she asked how long he’d been on. ‘Since yesterday’ he replied.
Can I see the wound? Have you got a photo?
Ah. I thought you’d never ask.
Well. I’ve seen worse.
I was expecting you to say that.
So, about the chips.
They’d be called ‘hand-crafted’ in England of course. And they’d be ‘heritage potatoes’. Ridiculous, the menus these days. I read an article in the Mail the other week which summed it up for me …
OK can we come back to that? My point is how efficiently and politely I was treated by the emergency services, in a country suffering badly from economic austerity.
And what does that even mean, anyway?
‘Difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public expenditure’.
Is that from a dictionary?
And what it’s meaning is that huge numbers of young, well-trained Portuguese doctors and nurses can’t get a job in their own country, and are now working in places like Britain.
Lucky Britain unless they get kicked out because of Brexit
So the article was about a menu at some big dinner, and a piece of cod ‘delicately balanced on a sumptuous organic pearl barley risotto, hand in hand with an English courgette flower beignet.’
Was it tasty?
I didn’t eat it, I read about it. I told you, in the Daily Mail. You don’t listen.
Was it ‘line-caught’? You do see that on menus.
I’m not discussing fine dining with someone who eats braised pig’s liver when they go out to eat.
Suit yourself, but it was very tender and tasty. I’ll take your wishes for a prompt recovery as read, shall I?