Wednesday, 13 December 2006
The Weather In Sao Paolo
Owen Powell – 13th December 2006
I was late for lunch. Most of my entries here seem to involve me being late in some way – this time it was the fault of the telephone company T-Mobile, who failed to deliver a phone to my flat despite giving themselves a window of five hours to do it in. Hopefully, this mention of their poor customer services on a blog that no-one reads will be a wake-up call to them.
So, I arrived at the Turkish restaurant just in time to say hello and goodbye to Mike, then to take a photo of Alex and a waiter. With renewed optimism, we stepped out onto Upper Street to try to find ourselves one more person before our other tasks that afternoon (Alex: driving to Bournemouth; me: buying Christmas cards). I had passed a Brazilian restaurant on my quick walk from Angel tube station, but we fancied a coffee so headed up towards Highbury Corner. The first place we went in had a Latin American feel – there was an office Christmas party in full flow with what sounded like Spanish shouts of celebration flying about, as well as a mural of a very nude orange woman on the wall. However, they didn't serve coffee, and it seemed a little rude to interrupt the party.
At last, what looked like a good stop for a coffee, the Euphorium Bakery, a café that very subtly declared its Frenchness in a carefully written sign outside that stated "Artisan Boulanger". I ordered our coffees from a man with a (to me) unidentifiable foreign accent, but a nametag that read "Bert". A more English name, I thought, would be hard to find. How wrong I was.
When the late lunch rush was over, and I saw that Bert was free behind the counter I sauntered up with my folder of flags and faces, and introduced myself and the idea. Bert seemed very excited. Though the café was French, his colleagues were from Portugal and Italy, and Bert himself (Bertrand, of course) was from Brazil. Though we had seen quite a bit of South Americana about on Upper Street already that day, Bertrand told us that the true Brazilian heart of London was out West, near Queensway. He has lived for one and a half of his 27 years in Maida Vale, a bit to the north, and quite near to Alex. When Alex mentioned the tornado that had hit Kensal Green last week, Bertrand rolled his eyes. His mother, sitting at home in Sao Paolo, had seen the freak weather event on Brazilian news and had called Bertrand to check he was ok. Alex and I rolled our eyes back, as if to say that our mothers would have done the same.
The customers were starting to flow back in again now, and Bertrand looked over his shoulder as his Portuguese and Italian workmates began grinding the beans. After establishing that summer's World Cup had been a disappointing affair for both our glorious footballing nations, we let Bertrand get back to work, and finished our coffees.