The forecast for today was overcast and when we woke up the planes flying over our heads looked as though they were flying into a misty haze, so we decided that it was time to head off to Funchal. We drove on the VR1, exited through the gift shop, and picked up our photo. Karen had refrained from flashing. (That gag will mean nothing unless you have read last nights blog. If you haven’t read it, then why not? You can’t just skip over a chapter, this tome has to be read in its entirety. It’s not just the outpourings of a man drinking beer before dinner. It has a narrative arc and everything. Note to self: Google what a narrative arc is and try and squeeze it into Sunday night’s blog).
Funchal is dead arty. Not arty like a UK town or city which introduces cows or owls or penguins or gingerbread men (any news people of Ormskirk of when that is going to happen?). When they do art, they go for it big style. Many of the doors in the old town are painted with amazing pictures. Some are painted with well dodgy ones, but most are excellent. We have spent a lot of time deciding which are our favourites. I think these 2 are the current favourites.
We were actually here on Sunday as it was raining and so seemed a better option than sitting on the beach in cagools. (I know that’s acceptable in the Lake District, but please, it’s a bit more sophisticated here). We did one of those tour bus thingies (it was all part of that “getting your bearings” things that our holiday brains were doing (Day 3 blog. What do you mean you haven’t read it? Go back and read it now. We’ll wait. It’s your time you are wasting (oh the double edged irony of that line)). We went upstairs and sat at the front (under cover). Of course only one of the headphone sockets was working so we had to share one set of headphones between two and just sit with our heads very close together. I think the couple behind us thought we had just stared courting. (I love that word. It’s my new favourite way to freak out teenagers at work. Just ask them “are you courting?” and they really have no idea what to say. They don’t know if you have asked them something completely innocent or incredibly rude and so they just take on the default “embarrassed mode”. Try it out. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving).
We went past a church on the bus (no idea which one, there are literally hundreds of them on this island) and the man in my left ear (Karen’s right) said that the church we were outside had an extensive collection of “Mannerist” paintings. “Oooh, you don’t often see many mannerist paintings” said the A Level Art history student sat next to me. (That was Karen by the way. I hadn’t just swapped Karen for an A Level Art history student. I have tried in the past but it usually ended up with getting a slap and them saying “what do you mean “Am I courting?””. Just wanted to clear that up. Wish I’d just said “said Karen” now). So today we headed back to the church to explore the world of the mannerists.
We entered the church and slipped into a pew half way down on the right side, With it being around lunch time there we are a few people who had popped in for a lunch time pray, but mainly it was tourists clicking away at the mannerists. It would appear it was also organ practice. On Saturday we had popped into the church in Machico as we we had been sat in a cafe next door stuffing our face with custard tarts and we heard singing. We popped in and there was some sort of youth choir rehearsing. They were good. They were Songs of Praise good. (By that I mean I’d book them as they were, but my musical advisor would probably insist that we pop in a brass section to give them a bit more welly). The organist in Funchal was not good.
To be honest, he may have just been practicing the twiddly bits as at random and with no warning he would start “playing”. (Air quotes again please people. Oh come on….Day 3 blog! You only get out what you put in!). I may have used this analogy before (I never re-read my blogs, it’s bad enough writing them, never mind actually reading it again) but you know that scene at the end of Close Encounters were the aliens are trying to communicate via the medium of music and it just makes an atrocious racket and breaks windows (No? Well it’s here. Just go about 2′ 30″ in: http://youtu.be/j0bBUmZHb8o ). Anyway it was like that.
Now not being an A Level art student (my mum did her nut when I dropped Biology for O Level. I think doing art would have sent her over the edge. I don’t think she has ever got over the fact that I have a BA not a Bsc) I had no idea what or who the mannerists were/are. Karen began explaining:
“It’s all to do with….”PHARRRP, PHARP, PHARRRRRRRRP. Yep, the organist had started trying to communicate wit extra terrestrials. Undeterred Karen just spoke a bit louder. A few seconds later, unannounced (and in my opinion, unplanned) the organist stopped abruptly. “A BIT LIKE THE RENAISSANCE PAINTERS IT’S ALL TO DO WITH THE COLOURS AND EXAGGERATION” Karen yelled at me, in the now very, very quiet church. “They are very colourful” she whispered.
Then, as if to add insult to injury, her phone went off. Luckily it was just a text from the Body Shop (how did they know we were running out of body wash. We’ve used twice as much as we planned, it’s washing all that sand off. Day 5 blog…oh I give up). It was enough to make Karen grab her phone out of her pocket to put it on silent. As she did, there was a little “rat a tat” sound as something flew out of her pocket as well as her phone and landed somewhere on the floor.
“My mebevarine” she screamed (quietly). (Mebevarine is an IBS tablet that needs to be taken with food. Yeah, I may have given up biology before O level, but I can read the label on medication). With lunch rapidly approaching, she would need to take this soon, so she set about rooting around on the floor for it. I decided to just sit there quietly and not draw attention to the fact that Karen’s head was bobbing up and down in between the pews ahead of me. A few minutes later, she found it, wiped the dust of it and placed it back in her pocket ready to take later on. Having decided that I think we had had enough culture for one morning, we left. Quietly.
STOP PRESS: Whilst writing this, our host has just rung us to tell us that tonight is Fiesta night in Machico, so we have changed our plans, I have put on my flowery Fiesta shirt and we are heading down shortly. I will update you all tomorrow.