I am currently winning 2-0 (yes I know shock horror... Orlaith is losing again) in my attempts to get out of bed after her. Deep down I know that she is upset, but she is pretending that she's not competitive - she can't fool me). Today I had another two journeys into Funchal courtesy of the suicidal municipal bus drivers of Madeira. If you have yet to experience the death-defying mountain roads of this volcanic Island these journeys are a essential part of any visit to this fair isle. Picture the scene; state of the art 1970s vehicular technology, together with 1950s design, complete with fake plastic leather seats (no expense spared) combined with a near Hindu belief in the virtue of death - a bargain at one Euro forty.
You may have heard about the main industries of Madeira being wine, wicker baskets, or as hosts for massive cruise ships. Whilst no doubt important contributors to the island's GNP, they appear to have forgotten the massive work being undertaken by the population in gearing up for Christmas - especially the light decorations. I can only imagine the countless unswept streets, poorly maintained Levadas and the general lack of untidyness that is currently being endured by the proud Madeiran nation as they attempt to outdo last year's light extravaganza. In this noble aim, every available hand - and let's be clear, only male hands are deemed safe enough for this important job, for this onerous task is too important to be left to the weaker sex. And no one with even an elementary knowledge of Madeiran history needs to be reminded of the great light disaster of 1972, when the fair maidens of Madeira electrocuted all single men between the ages of 18-35, a disaster from which the island is still recovering - has been called upon to wear yellow safety jackets, receive basic health and safety training in ladded ascending/descending techniques and complete a course in the subtleties of colour co-ordinattion kindly sponsored by the Dulux corporation, this year's generous sponsor of the newly named "Dulux Festival of Colour and Light".
It will be a spectacular to beold!
(Copyright Martin Samuel 2006)