Contributed by Naunton Liles
were swept along on a wave of euphoria as we landed in Lisbon and were transferred out of town to a hotel that was grand and had stunning views of the coast line (and railway line) but needed some TLC to restore its former glory.
Several outings were organised by Mike Herman who enlisted the assistance of a professor from the university who knew more than Mike. The highlight of the holiday was an evening in a Trattoria or whatever the Portuguese call a high calorie low cost restaurant. Everyone was packed in tightly and secured to the wall behind a long table when the guitarist and singer began a fado, which is a form of music characterised by mournful tunes and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation. The chatter accelerated as the wine flowed and it was not long before we'd drunk more that we should.
Then the food started arriving and we enjoyed the most flavoursome delicacies as we imbibed more and more of the local rosé. By this time a few more had joined us and we were even more than cosy, with little chance of escape. Alex Viner felt he should stand and we thought he was going to sing, but actually he was going to the loo - except that with 11 people to his left and 12 to his right it seem unfriendly and unnecessary to push behind everyone to reach the door. Instead he very quietly opened the window behind, stood on his chair and stepped outside the quick way. That was the last we saw of him - the main course and desert were both very good. Sometime later Alex arrived through the restaurant entrance and was called upon to explain his absence. It seemed he'd stepped out into a void between the restaurant and the neighbouring premises and found himself in a narrow locked courtyard. Being unable to scale the wall and reach the window again, he had to raise the neighbours who were less than amused to find a fine English gentleman gripping the bars of their locked gate. After a hopeless conversation in a foreign tongue they relented and released our worthy brother, who returned to explain his long absence.
At the end of the holiday we planned to return to the airport by local bus which went straight to the airport for peanuts. It did involve a short walk from the hotel to the bus stop, and it was raining rather heavily. We stood at the bus-stop for ages but were comforted to see the bus go past on the opposite side on its way to the terminus; we knew it would come back soon. When it didn't, and still didn't fifteen minutes later we realised we'd have to get a taxi. Returning to the hotel we were told all taxis were snarled up in the traffic jams caused by excessive rain. Eventually one came and we reached the airport at just about take-off time, instead of an hour before. We hurried to the desk where very helpful staff rushed us to the door of the aeroplane and we were seated in the nick time. This potential catastrophe was more stressful for the US members who had to catch a connection in London, but happily we all returned on time. Another roaring success for Internet Lodge No:9659 and for W. Bro. Mike Herman in particular.