Thursday, November 24, 2005


Madrid now ¿Where next?

Well, I've been absent from the UK for 17 glorious days! And now I'm in the land of upside down question marks!

Portugal was excellent. I met my publishers and signed copies of my promotional book EM BUSCA DO LIVRO DE AREIA. It's a really nice looking little book. True to Portuguese style I signed them in a cafe. Then I went to the Biblioteca Orlando Ribeiro to deliver my reading in a grand lecture hall. In fact I did two readings. I hadn't planned to do two, but that's the way it turned out. First I read my short story, 'The Unsubtle Cages' from A NEW UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY, and then I proceeded to read 'False Dawn of Parrots', a story that is due to be published in a forthcoming POSTSCRIPTS magazine (as well as in my second Portuguese book A SEREIA DE CURITIBA). I was given almost an hour on stage -- far more than I am used to!

Many thanks to Luís Rodrigues for arranging a Powerpoint demonstration for me so that the pictures and lists in that second story could be shown on a screen to the entire audience.

Then I was interviewed by the main literary magazine in Portugal (can't remember the name of the magazine: it's something like 'Meu Livros'). The interview seemed to go on for ages! Afterwards I went to meet Zoran Zivkovic who had just arrived from Serbia via a series of flight delays and lost luggage escapades! I had dinner with Zoran, his wife, Pedro Marques, João Seixas and Luís. The following day I gave a talk on 'Humour in Fantasy' followed by more photo shoots and interviews! One of the highlights of Portugal was meeting my friend Safaa again after more than a year!

After 10 days in Portugal I caught the night train to Madrid (a boring 10 hour journey). The same day I arrived in Madrid I went to Lavapiés, one of the many 'bohemian' quarters of this city, to sample the bars. The atmosphere of the nightlife here is fantastic! I haven't done too much in Madrid since then, but yesterday I did go to the Prado. Last time I was in Madrid I couldn't seem to summon up the energy or will to visit it. I knew on my return that this was one 'sight' I couldn't put off any longer. I've done remarkably few touristic things since I left the UK, so the Prado became unavoidable. To be honest, art galleries aren't really my thing, but it was a delight to view some of the most famous works of Velasquez, El Greco, Goya and Rubens. The highlight for me was the work by Hieronymus Bosch, especially 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' and 'The Triumph of Death'. I could stare at both of these paintings all day (or at least until the urge to have a coffee becomes too strong).

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Portugal Tomorrow

I'm off to Portugal tomorrow! Yippee! I am going to leave behind the abysmal Welsh weather and a city full of the friends of ex-girlfriends who think I'm a bit weird. It feels like having a heavy burden -- a sack of damp coal, perhaps, or an unconscious sheep -- removed from my shoulders. Today I have been packing. I'm going to travel light, so I'm only taking one small knapsack. Already it is half full of books. Curses! How am I going to fit in my clothes, shoes and portable sundial?

After Portugal I will probably move onto Spain. After Spain I may briefly go to Morocco. I want to go further -- money will determine how far I get. I would love to spend the winter somewhere warm. What are the chances of me getting as far south as the Tropic of Cancer???

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