Born in: Harrow, England
Country lived in: Portugal Has had a house there from 2006-present
Cyberspace coordinates: Piglet in Portugal (blog)
What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
Although we left the UK primarily due to health reasons, we were also in search of a better quality of life. The jobsworth* culture and the “health and safety” people, plus the PC Brigade**, were slowly driving us mad; we no longer had the right to exercise common sense any more than we were capable of making our own decisions. Yes, Mr Jobsworth, we know if we stand by the edge of a cliff we could fall off it. Or if we go out in the rain, we are likely to get wet. There appeared to be a whole army of people telling us what to do and what to think! England is not nicknamed the Nanny State*** for nothing!
* Jobsworth: A person in a position of minor authority who invokes the letter of the law in order to avoid any action requiring initiative, cooperation, etc.
** PC Brigade: Politically correct brigade.
*** Nanny State: A government that makes decisions for people that they might otherwise make for themselves, especially those relating to private and personal behavior.
Is anyone else in your immediate family displaced?
Our daughter moved to Lyon in France with her ice dance partner when she was just 15 years old to rain with a world-famous ice dance coach. When she gave up skating ten years ago, she met her French husband-to-be and remained in France. They have just had their first child — our first grandchild.
Describe the moment when you felt most displaced over the course of your many displacements.
I am unable to pinpoint the exact moment I felt “displaced” — it was more, shall we say, “moments” which gradually crept up on me over time. Language is a huge problem, and despite my valiant efforts to learn Portuguese, I have failed miserably. I’ve spent thousands of euros on private lessons, studied hard, but am still unable to converse properly in Portuguese. I’ve had to accept I am not a natural linguist and have resigned myself to doing the best I can. (No, I do not need any more lectures as to “you have to learn the language to integrate.” I have really tried.) Because of this failure, I now know what it feels like to be in a room full of people and feel totally alone — almost as if the room were empty or you were invisible. You are there in body but not in mind; simply a spectator. This is really difficult for me as I am gregarious by nature and a natural “chatterbox.” I am sure there are many expats out there who can relate… I am also a real foodie and, apart from desserts and cakes, am not that keen on Portuguese food…
Actually, you have made me stop and think again about this question.
Perhaps the moment I actually felt “displaced” was when our first grandchild was born recently in France. We also have another grandchild due in September, but in the UK. My first thoughts were: do we relocate to France or the UK? We have no family in Portugal so why stay here? I have begun to feel restless.
Describe the moment when you felt least displaced.
I have always felt at home in Portugal, despite language difficulties and a cuisine that is rather “basic” for my tastes. I have never tried to change anything: e.g., protest against bullfighting or insist our local snack bar serves fish and chips or curry. I accept life as it is.
You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from the country where you’ve lived into the Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
My curiosity item would have to be bacalhau. It is dried salted cod fish and a long-time favorite with the Portuguese. I wrote a blog post about it.
You’re invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other Displaced Nation members. What’s on the menu?
It’s a struggle for me to find Portuguese recipes I like. Most of the restaurants here in the Algarve serve up very much the same dishes: chicken piri-piri, sardines or grilled fish and meats served with salad and chips, etc. “Dish of the Day” offers other variations, but as I do not like snails, the “unmentionable” parts of animals or beans, this means the choice of food is often limited. But here goes:
Piglet’s Menu for The Displaced Nation
- Calde de Verde (Portuguese Cabbage Soup)
- Carne de Porco a Alentejana (Pork with Clams) [See recipe.]
- A selection of Portuguese cheeses and crusty bread
- Molotof — a light dessert made with egg whites. [Watch video.]
You may add one word or expression from the country you’ve lived in to The Displaced Nation argot. What word do you loan us?
My first instinct is to loan you leitão, which means “piglet” in Portuguese. My husband and I went out to lunch soon after we arrived in Portugal, and I thought I’d ordered roast pork. It turned out to be suckling pig! Hmmmm it made my trotters twitch! Mental note — I need to be more careful in translating the menu in future. Porco is pork. But perhaps it would be more in keeping for me to loan you the first Portuguese word I learned: bonita. It means beautiful.
Alice meets many curious animals when she ventures into Wonderland, including a piglet at one point. We’re curious (and curiouser!): why have you chosen the piglet moniker, avatar, and doppelgänger
Because I adore pigs. I would love to keep Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs if we had a large garden. I was nearly tempted to buy a little pig a few months ago at the local market until my head ruled my heart and common sense kicked in. Awww, but it was so cute! Some people love dogs. With me it is pigs.
QUESTION: Readers — yay or nay for letting Piglet in Portugal into The Displaced Nation? Tell us your reasons. (Note: It’s fine to vote “nay” as long as you couch your reasoning in terms we all — including Piglet — find amusing.)
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby. Kate Allison has assured us it will contain some more Alice in Wonderland references — but will there be any piglets? Curiouser and curiouser, I think you’ll agree…
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