In with the new?

•May 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Too many fruitless journies give us time to reflect on the trials and tribunes of life, and, in turn allowing for a long and clear analysis of all that goes on, for which we don´t normally have time to decrypt, or mildly attack, in order to process, leading us to some very interesting observations and thoughts.

Watching the tornadoes of yesterday’s news, listening to the children of a failed education who mean no harm, seeing the desperation in the eyes of the homeless, helpless and has-beens of the wonderful city that I frequent and watching the wealthy and “better off” ignoring the cries for help while turning a blind eye to their existence… but they exist!

Harmlessly and unintentionally we prejudge the poor or the unfortunate, demoralizing entire generations to come, with the thought of failure and committing them to a segregated life, it doesn´t need to be this way!…

We brush these people to the side for fear of them incommoding our passage or routines, and for the greater fear of violence.

Yet, we grant the very same people access into our lives to care for our children, to cook and clean, to bring us our purchases from the stores, to polish our boots at lunchtime or simply to keep us safe. In general, they’re treated differently, sometimes as a sub species or as if they had brought the plague with them and in turn, they treat others differently, treading on egg shells, obeying every uttered word and all the while practicing self-segregation.

They are not all bad people, we paint them that way and yet, we celebrate the wealthy ignoring their crimes….

Memories of the past…

•March 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So the rain has arrived once again and as it continues to fall with force reeking havoc on the unprepared Brazilian public, I’ve decided to seek refuge at home ticking a few items of the never-ending to do list. Whilst working through the general chores and listening to some old (’90’s) “motivational” music I have been somewhat ambushed in full force by memories, times of joy and sadness, all of which were situated in Blighty, the CD that’s currently annoying the neighbours somewhat originates from the latter part of the ’90’s and had been a stable part of my personal music diet “back then”, supplying the soundtrack to many a trip to the south coast of Blighty, come rain or shine, sun or snow… as I listen I can feel the breeze of the British summer whistling in my ears as we batter on down the M3 in search of sun, all the while a conversation about music, work and other nonsense fills the little car, as does the whiff of KFC being eaten at an alarming rate, as we bounce along “slightly” above or below the speed limit…

Now, Memories are very much like dominoes and as this memory pastes a silly smile on this tired face, I can feel a tsunami of memories heading this way, with more nonsense than I care to admit to…

I’m forever asked, almost on a daily basis in fact, if “I miss Blighty?” or how is it remotely possible for and Englishman to enjoy the 40c+ scorching summers… let’s address the heat first (as that’s easiest), after spending the best part of 30 years living with two or three weeks of really good sun in Blighty and having this outweighed significantly by the three months or so of below zero torture, it’s quite easy to “enjoy”, or endure as many people here think, the 40c+ heat. For me it’s very simple I like the sun and I simply cannot bring myself to complain about the heat having endured the years and years of below zero torture.

Missing Blighty is something a little more in-depth, as I remember some good (and not so good) memories of a British childhood I’m left wondering if I do actually miss the place or not… People – for sure, many people I would like to have an alcoholic beverage or ten with again and again, and many, I don’t… I remember the days spending the best part of a summers evening putting the world to rights over a few such beverages in a countryside beer garden, shovelling hot chicken curry in as quickly as washing it down with beer, watching disappointedly as the sun slowly slips away behind the trees signalling the end of another long hot glorious summers day, subsequently counting them down in our minds as each day is killed and lost to make way for the torturous times of below zero winter, with short days and long dark cold nights…

Many things from Blighty are remembered on a daily basis, as is the many adventures that have taken place in Brazil…

I remember the countless hours working alongside “serial complaintists” complaining about (non)problems or (non)problematic people, those things in our lives that could be resolved simply, easily and relatively stress free, if we just step back and take stock. Complaining is a big part of being British, nevertheless it gets rather tiresome rather quickly…

The rain continues… the cup of Earl grey is now empty once again and the reminders of the past still linger…

As much love as I have for Brazil the social and political problems are making each day that little more difficult and slowly eating away at the enjoyment within… but, when the thoughts of Blighty flow I’m left a little deflated, Blighty is no longer what it once was, Blighty has changed as have I.

20 cents of corruption.

•July 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

First let us set the record straight once and for all, twenty cents is not what it’s about…

The level of inequality in Brazil is something that simply should not be accepted in these modern times in which we are living. But, it is! And this needs to change.

“The richest 10% of Brazilians receiving 42.7% of the nation’s income, while the poorest 10% receive less than 1.2%” – This statement alone makes the blood boil of the 90% of Brazilians who fall below that magical richest top 10%.

Brazil… A country fighting for the right to the basics in life: health, education, security and a home, none of which the government are willing to provide at an acceptable standard, Instead they happily take between 0% and 22.5% of the middle class’s salaries to use for personal gain and allow private companies to take over their failings in the public sectors, leaving most of the population having to pay for their own health care and education. In 2011 the Brazilian government were happy to announce that 31 million people had been lifted out of poverty (1999-2009) and into the dizzying heights of the middle classes swelling the numbers to around 52% of the population at 95 million people (in 2011), meaning that an equivalent of 1.5 times the population of the UK are earning a monthly income of between R$1000 and R$4000. This all sounds good and well but, let us consider that the minimum salary in Brazil is currently set at R$674.96 per month and the average cost of private schooling and health care can topple that figure easily, leaving the poor/lower class to struggle with the public system which has little, or no governmental investment and the 95 million of middle class Brazilians to really fend for themselves.

Earning a little more than R$4000 per month propels you out of the “middle classes” of Brazilian life, along with most civil servants, Judges, politicians and the millionaires, making the so-called upper class a rather large section of the population who have 27% stolen from their salaries each month by the way of taxes.

Then we have the Social security: (Private sector workers)
“All individuals earning remuneration from a Brazilian source are subject to local social security tax, which is withheld by the payer. Contributions are levied on employees at rates ranging from 8% to 11%, depending on the level of remuneration, with a maximum required monthly contribution of R$430.78. Employers’ contributions are calculated at approximately 26.8% to 28.8% of monthly payroll, without limit.” – yet more money stolen?

Where does this money go? Not where it should, that’s for sure…

Maracana the world famous and loved stadium in Rio de Janeiro is yet another example of a waste of public funds, finally reopening at a cost of more than R$1 billion, 48.8% over budget and a few months late. That’s a lot of health and education right there! And along with the other stadia that were built or renovated and will be used for the Confederations Cup and World Cup, there are plenty of reasons to protest against the waste of public funds.

When it was announced that Brazil “won the right to host the World Cup”, back in 2007, with no opposition from South America, the then government made it very clear that no public funds would be used. (I remember the day well, it was a joyous occasion, Brazil partied hard on the wave of the good news.) now 6 years after that joyous event the Confederations Cup got under way amidst the jeers and boos of a tired population. Leaving their faithful leader unable, or unwilling, to give her prepared speech to officially open the tournament, simple announcing “I declare the 2013 Confederations Cup open”, with a look of betrayal and astonishment. Was she really that shocked?

Not one of the “promises”, made on the back of the 2007 announcement, were kept and not even closely. Eike Batista and his merry men have one hand on Maracana and almost certain to take over the lease. The cost of renovation was split 75%/25% between BNDES and the Government, remember how it was going to be “privately” funded?

Past, Present and Future.

•June 18, 2013 • 1 Comment

Seven years ago in January of 2006 I was lucky enough to embark on a journey for three months, a journey that would change my views and feelings about a lot of things. After a difficult 2005 it was a much needed escape of all things British, it would be a change of biblical proportions , a change that not only opened these tired eyes but opened many doors, causing them to fling wide open…

A year after this “holiday” came the big move to the same location, a country which would become “home”, A place I love to wake up to everyday, a place where I feel the sun blazing down over the water, I see the mountains and high-rise buildings in the distance, but, Life is no paradise in paradise these days.

Brazil. Where I chose to start a new life, a life people think is easy and is far from. In the six years that I have lived here I have gotten married to a wonderful woman (Andrea), witnessed the birth of a wonderful little girl (Giovanna) and try to create the best environment for my family to grow and progress, not easy to create stability in an unstable environment, which has just become even more unstable, but, we try!

Brazil is not just the paradise of bikinis, football and beaches that we all drool over on TV, we work hard out here, a lot harder than perhaps we should – it’s not uncommon to spend 12-14 hours outside of the house to earn and average wage. Of course we still have the drug overlords of the Favelas pimping their “Crack” to the kids in the “Pacified” Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, we still have corruption which only rivals that of Zimbabwe to which a concert hall (Cidade de Musica) originally targeted to cost a mere 96 Million Reais back in 2006 and looks set to finally open officially this year at a cost of around 563 million Reais, almost 6 times the original cost, and I ask you Where is that money? Did it buy new schools or hospitals perhaps? No, infrastructure? Again no, improvements in policing? You guessed it, no, but we have seen the lives of politicians and certain friends being greatly improved… the poor still remain poor and the corrupt, I mean rich, get richer.

Now the people are speaking out and fighting back against years of corruption and at a time when the world has both eyes firmly fixed on Brazil, football fever has arrived and the confederations cup has started, with boo’s against Dilma in a shameful display of retaliation to the years of abuse suffered by millions, Was it wrong to boo the President? Justified – yes, wrong – open for debate.

Rioting and looting all over Brazil is perhaps not the correct way to protest. I’ve seen the destruction of banks, shops and restaurants in Rio de Janeiro, and it’s not a pretty sight and it makes me sad to see what a few mindless idiots have done to the marvelous city, it is wrong to attack the common people who are just trying to make ends meet.

The government needs to act, for this the people need to vote differently, Brazilians are obliged to vote in each election and they need to make them votes count, we need a government who will stand up to the various mafias in Brazil such as the Bus mafias who control the biggest part of public transport, the health care companies who steal millions from us each year because the Government cannot provide a good basic public health system… we need someone to grow some balls and stand up to corruption and not just say “enough is enough” but to act upon those words.

Life is not easy in Brazil, yet, I still love this country…

Those no longer with us…

•December 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Despite the trials and tribulations that life throws at us some things will remain the same… keeping the core elements of being British it’s hard to open the doors of emotions and set them free, however once in a while it’s good to let those doors fling wide open with the wind let some things out in the wild, to be let’s say “less British, more Brazilian”. Very few times in the year would I really prefer to be somewhere entirely different, and today is one of those days.

The celebration of a birth or birthday will always be a joyous occasion no matter how many years are being celebrated, in times when the Birthday being celebrated is for someone who is no longer with us, the day holds a very different feeling, one of sadness as we reminisce over the days of yore, choke up unexpectedly and maybe a tear or two be shed in honour of the life lost… we will soldier on and try to hold it together as best as possible, no matter what happened in the past the years missed of the future will hold a thoughtful somber feeling.

All is not lost though, for this is a time we need to reflect and think deeply about the future…

Not a day passes without a thought of you.

Naked Schmooo 2 and a half…

•September 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Two and a half glorious years have passed since you graced us with you presence, and I`ll never forget the entrance you made that night, a lot of things have happened in this short time, both good and bad and the general consensus is that the good has very much outweighed the bad in all disciplines. Right now we are dealing with the generic problems that come mid-way through our second year together and the terrible two’s are keeping everyone on the toes, literally, you have your tantrums like any your age and you strive to fight for what is right (in your mind) and are not willing to listen to reason in any shape or form, no matter it’s source. Even though living in a bilingual household raises many problems for most, you are conducting yourself considerably well. You are still finding your feet, so-to-speak, although walking is never a problem now, running can be. Selective vocabulary is something you have learnt and it’s not patricianly good, especially when you know more words than you make out, No/não and Oi (Hi/Huh) are your favourite choices for response which in turn lead in to “You heard!” as you try to trick us with this game of cat and mouse with words… Some still fall for it, others, like us, are a wiser…

Also with the terrible two’s come the feeding problems as one would expect, the fights over eating habits and choice of lunch or dinner are seemingly endless at times and you always seem to end up with milk… we look forward to the end of this little game…

In this very short time you have defined many things about who you are, despite the terrible two’s manipulating your personality a little, the very basic components are there for all to see and admire, to love and to watch in pure amazement at some of these things that most would not think possible for such a young child. You still love the water, sand and the outdoors in general – going crazy if stuck at home for a little longer than you would like, you are still struggling to find or accept the limits that are there physically, mentally and emotionally.

Some days you can be a handful and we are sure this will pass as you learn more and more about yourself and you relation to others. Other days you smile and laugh and generally have fun showing us why you are who you are, you always show love and affection, albeit a little too much at times, and each day presents a new challenge. Others you are calmer, more relaxed and caring; attacking us with your hugs and kisses when we arrive home, or not wanting us to leave and there are days when your behaviour is unacceptable… It’s a time for understanding and compassion for all.

Very recently you have started to really understand some points about the two languages, of which you are exposed to daily, even trying to trick us by switching from one to the other, so much as to disobey us by saying things you shouldn’t in one of them. “Cale boca”/”Shut up” springs to mind, these are things you shouldn’t say too much, but due to the process of exploring yourself and your surroundings you will push your luck – sometimes a little to far…

We see changes in you almost as fast as each day passes, as we make the transitions together through each stage in your childhood, we suffer together, celebrate together. When you feel pain, we feel the same pain; we are trying to help you understand all these little things about life for you to continue this path you are on.

Reflections of Schmooozinha

•August 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Schmooo changed my life forever, she is the reason I try to be the best “Papaizinho” I possible can, my family is the sole reason I wake up far too early and arrive far too late most days, but I am forever grateful for every second I get to spend in the comfortable surroundings of the girls and this little world we have created together. I miss the time with schmooo and cherish the hugs I receive when I arrive home or the 4am wake up calls to go “Pee-Pee” (although not right away), it’s exhausting to carry her home from school if she sleeps, but it will always be a pleasure, it’s always pleasure to accompany her in everything from the mundane to special occasions.

We are blessed in Schmooo being the (generally) sweet little girl she is, the pain and destruction she causes will pass in time, making way for various other exciting developments, however frustrating and tiring this phase is. She’s not perfect, and I have no shame to admit that, but I ask you who is?

Now, we are doing everything possible in every way possible to secure the future she deserves and ensuring she has the best education, at home and school, to be an older version of the sweet little girl she is today.

I spend many an hour looking back, through Schmooo, at my upbringing and who I am today (I may not be perfect, but I do my best) and I didn’t turn out to bad, so Dad – you and Mum didn’t do a bad job in the end…

I hope she enjoys reading these as much as I do writing them…