I am what they call a frequent flyer. And because of that my life inside airports has become a little easier, even if the intensity of that unbreathable air doesn’t subside before any power. As a frequent flyer I get to have free showers + food + drinks, early entry in the plane, more luggage. It all sounds a bit bourgeois to you, and indeed it is, but we do it for more prosaic reasons which involve saving money on travels and of course the overweight issue which plagues all bands, even if our guitars fold or we have a paper thin backdrop.
What being a frequent flyer doesn’t prepare you too is to how business men and women look at you, when you storm inside the plane, before everyone else, just like them, and sit on economy class, with our laptops, mixers, guitars, in-ears and whatnot. Taking the aisles and windows, leaving the middle seat to whoever Faith brings. That look is a mix of disgust,surprise and incredulity. They look at us so hard that once I told a Swiss businessman to take a picture for it lasts longer. Anyway, we’d be fools not to take advantage of the many miles we indeed do per year, playing everywhere in the world. Also the middle seat open, might look like a provocation for some (anything goes inside a plane) but in fact it’s just a statement big haired Metal man, who fly heavy, are doing.
Last time I wrote here I was pretty pissed at Trump and Dijsselbloem, that dude from Holland, who said Southern countries in Europe spend their money in whores and alcohol. I had a lot of eyes on me. I got a quite few comments here and elsewhere so I decided to write some more about the questions people had.
Here in little southern Portugal, outside of the big headlines and cable networks reports, the Portuguese went through hell and back with the EU austerity policies, which our previous government endorsed and enforced with gusto. They were a right-wing government. The conclusion was obvious: people were smashed by taxes, most of small and middle run enterprises closes doors, economy went down, soup kitchens were open. All in the name of a plan that didn’t work. After elections, the Socialist Party of Portugal formed a coalition with the left wing parties (CDU + BE), which many predicted it would have a catastrophic , quick end. They nicknamed it Gerigonça which roughly translates as contraption, a gadget made in a rush, defected, obsolete. That word, gerigonça, became the most googled up in Portugal enjoying an improbable revival from the times our grandparents used it, in the beginning of the last century.
The revival of the word didn’t come by chance. It was the result of a successful policy which refused austerity in favor of improving salaries thus stimulating economy and not only meeting bur surpassing the numbers Europe loves so dear. Contrary to all the moneylenders best hopes and manoeuvres. Five years ago we got tapped on the back a lot. We followed through austerity, making it even more present in Portugal than what was really needed. Portugal was the starving, humble good student from Portugal. We paid bills. Meanwhile, our country was dying.
Now, what the fuck are we now? What the fuck does one know about Portugal?
Down here, we have the conscience that things are better for us. You can see it on the streets, the true pulse of people. Many are predicting us a real bad future (the always diligent rating agencies) just because we are from the South. Others are coming here to study what happened. From obedient student to study case. All it took was the courage to change and give people a break. And yes things do come around, especially crisis. They make the world go round. Yet as the Portuguese we are we will make the most of this moment poetic justice. We now know that there are alternatives and to be honest nobody really gives a fuck about a future that technocrats in Brussels plan for you. They are simply no fun!
When the tribes of Europe meet at a business lounge or at a hall in Brussels it’s symbolic. Most of the people over there do think they are far superior to their fellow Southern men. You can call it whatever you want, pick up any excuse or misunderstanding . That superiority they truly feel is what motivates speeches like the one of the Dutch President of the Eurogroup, or Trump’s brainless rallies. Nothing else, that simple. And this goes for any stupid White, Black or Chinese man in power. The denial of merit.The clichés. The ignorance. The self importance. Disrespect.
When the tribes of Europe meet in the streets or in the clubs, something different happen. Unfortunately politicians are too busy with their own reflection in the papers and fail to see what’s true community. Europeans make babies with each other (even at war times!!!), get drunk with each other and regardless of our colonial past, at least in Portugal, we have a racial balance and multi-ethnic community working and living together that, yes, should make the headlines as an example.
When I am in The Netherlands, nobody gives a fuck if I am Portuguese. When they ask, they might be interested but in fact nationality is a detail that comes way after first impression And maybe that’s Europe. Not giving a fuck. Normal. Simple. We only started giving a fuck when Europe called us drunks and pimps or tyrants and nazis.
It’s also simple: people mingle in Europe. We only argue because of our governments. When I am anywhere in Europe I don’t feel European, no one does, but I feel at home and amazed by everything we have in Europe. Why politicise and monetise it? To what purpose?
Conclusion: Portugal doesn’t make headlines, but I feel it could for all the good reasons. For me it’s no problem, I don’t mind and you can always come back here as I will update you about Portugal as much as you want.
I was happy to see, for once, Portugal not bowing the head to stupid, offensive comments. Our PM and PR were very adamant about it. Respect.
In Southern Europe as anywhere in the world, best things are for free.
Enough of this P(Portugal)I(italy)G(Greece)S(Spain) thing.
We are all in the same ship of fools. We know that thanks a Greek.