Mad world

In the current climate, one might be forgiven for thinking that the world has gone completely bonkers. Personally, I’m quite certain it has, based on my own recent experiences.

Only this week, I encountered two grown men, arguing loudly on my street as I set off for work at 9.30 in the morning. Their dispute escalated rapidly and before I knew it, one of them had picked up a not-inconsiderably-sized rock that was lying around due to building work happening nearby. In response, the other man also armed himself with a rock and I was now witnessing two irate men waving rocks at each other. The fracas culminated in Rock Man One attempting to lob his rock at the other. He failed to achieve any sort of trajectory and missed his target by an embarrassing margin, to which Rock Man Two responded, similarly unsuccessfully.

The climactic moment was in all truth a bit of a damp squib. Maybe the futility of their actions dawned on them, or perhaps they were just plain embarrassed by their lack of ability in rock-throwing. I would estimate that the men in question were around 50 years of age and, frankly, old enough to know better. Both slunk away with their tails between their legs and we all got on with the day’s business without the need for intervention by the authorities. All things being equal though, and as I commented at the time, you don’t see that sort of thing every day round these parts

A few days later, a student divulged that she was considering undergoing an alternative treatment called Ozone Therapy. Judging this to be an opportunity to practise a language point we’re working on, I pursued the conversation. It turns out that Ozone Therapy is administered via somewhere the sun don’t shine (sic) and another nearby orifice. Visualising the process left me shifting somewhat uncomfortably in my seat, both literally and figuratively, although my student was surprisingly unperturbed. Apparently it costs €40 for the pleasure and while I’m no ecological expert, I’m quite sure that the ozone in question would be much better placed somewhere other than a Portuguese rectum.

My 11 and 9 year olds have recently started an extra-curricular activity at a local boxing club. As the class only lasts for 45 minutes, I usually stay to watch, along with the other parents and grandparents. The group practises a number of different cross-training activities and one day last week the class was concluded by a game called Mata. The alarming direct translation of this word is “kill”, but from the little I can gather, it’s a variation on Dodgeball. The objective seems to be to “kill” your opponents by hitting them with the ball. Perhaps this is where the men on the street had drawn their inspiration from…..

On this occasion the group was really into the game and becoming very excitable. There were at least 3 sponge balls in circulation, none of which anyone seemed to have particular control over. Unexpectedly, one of the balls went out of play and landed among us, the spectators. One spritely grandad obviously still fancied himself as quite the sportsman and nimbly gained control of the ball, proving again that age need not be a barrier to any activity. Unfortunately, what he succeeded in doing was hoofing the ball forcefully in the direction of one of the granny’s heads. Grandad was sheepish, Granny was rather taken aback and I was highly amused. As I pointed out to Grandad, “Não vale” (that doesn’t count as a point).

In this context, I am wondering what events I can anticipate in the coming weeks. In a country where a slithering eel can make it alive to a supermarket fish counter, precipitating widespread panic among unsuspecting customers, anything could happen. It is, after all, in the words of Tears for Fears, a very, very mad world.

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