(Post by John Allan, from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2021)
**Disclaimer: no body hair was removed in the writing of this article.**
Mark, a friend on social media asked me to name my top ten sporting heroes in ten days. No ! I can do better than that. I can name 11 in one day !
Félix, Brito, Piazza, Carlos Alberto, Everaldo, Clodoaldo, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostao, Pele, Rivelino. The 1970 football World Cup winners, Brazil played the beautiful game with an elegant style and swagger known as Ginga or sway, with agility and grace.
It is one among many reasons why I’m a Brasilófilo, a lover of all things Brazilian.
How cool to be known by just one name. Pelé’s real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento (which, come to think of it, would look a bit busy on the back of his shirt, so I can see the point). My name would be Alanso if a) I was Brazilian b) I could play football. Dream on.
I can’t really pinpoint my first love for the Terra do Brasil. Was it Maxwell House coffee telling me “They’ve got an awful lot of coffee…..” or more likely being seduced by “The Girl From Ipanema”.
Admittedly sometimes a bit cheesy and cruelly classed as elevator muzak by some, Bossa Nova still has a place in my heart. To me an Antônio Carlos Jobim song is like a warm embrace. “Corcovado”, “Wave”, “How Insensitive”, “Desafinado”, “One Note Samba”, “Dindi”. The list is endless.
I remember in the late 70s a dedicated band of us would congregate at a flat in Rio de Partick and work through the vast library of Bossa tunes by Jobim and his ilk, including guitarist Baden Powell – scouts honour ! John Muir aka Fred Lawnmower (something to do with his smokable hydroponics set up perhaps ?) played a very fine acoustic guitar and had an array of latin percussion instruments, many hand made.
One that took my eye was the cúica, named after the grey four eyed opossum (philander opossum). A drum with a rod up the middle which, when rubbed gave you a ‘laughing monkey’ effect used in Samba. Think the “Austin Powers” theme tune “Soul Bossa Nova”.
I later discovered that washing the food processor bowl in the sink made a similar sound. Add a clave beat on the wok with a spatula and you’d swear it was carnival time – apart from the soap suds splattered across every kitchen surface and the glare from Mrs. A !
Another Brazilian instrument that fascinates me is the berimbau. Get a big stick, a piece of wire (usually from a car tyre), a gourd, a stone and a wee stick. In Glasgow that would become a weapon of torture but the Brazilians make beautiful rhythm with it. It is used to accompany the capoiera, part martial arts part acrobatics where art meets sport. Quintessentially the Brazilian psyche.
Black, white, mestizo and mulatto seem to effortlessly blend in a great big melting pot producing a collective that just wants to PAR-TEE for the nation.
Look, I know Brazil is no utopia. Just look at the despot they’ve got running the country now, the poverty and the devastation happening in the Amazon rain forests.
I know for one, this up tight middle class white kid growing up in the 70s would gladly swap his safe and comfortable life in the suburbs for a fraction of fiesta time in the favelas.
And one last thing about Brazil. I love its nuts !
Stop sniggering !!
You didn’t read the disclaimer, did you ?