Scratching on wood

I think there must be a workshop nearby where a group of dour and taciturn men are labouring in silence with ragged paintbrushes and bits of old board. There is no music in the air and no joy in their hearts. They work beneath a single naked light bulb and the room is still apart from the scratching of stiff bristles on wood.

Their job is to produce the signs that around here are hung on bits of wire from traffic signs and lamp posts to advertise local events. Their mission, however, is to give as little information away as possible.

I imagine they are men of few words, men who regard ‘good morning’ as an unnecessary display of emotion. They operate on a strictly need-to-know basis. Their signs are minimal and cryptic to a point where I wonder if there is some prize for the sign that attracts the least amount of people to an event.Sign on a lamp post in Caldas da Rainha

The one I saw this morning offered this irresistible proposition: ‘Os Lord’s, Serra do Bouro, 13 Nov’. This is not hard sell as I know it. No mention of the venue, no catchy slogan, no start time and I can’t even say for sure if the sign went up before November 13. I didn’t see it last week but that is not to say it wasn’t there. It’s not exactly the most eye-catching bit of advertising I have seen.

I know I am being way too English in looking for any more information than the sign provides. I am sure local people know that Os Lord’s is a band and so expect a night of big amplifiers, smoke machines and some jigging about on the dance floor. Finding the venue is probably not much of a problem either – according to the last census there were just 720 people living in Serra do Bouro so it would not take much detective work to figure out where they have all gone.

As for the start time, well this is Portugal and time here is a very fluid concept. Nothing happens on time anyway and pretending otherwise would be seen as a conceit by the men of the silent room.

Of course there is the possibility that the lack of information is deliberate, that the signs are there to communicate something to people already in the know without letting strangers and other undesirables know too much about the party. I’m tempted to check this out just to see if I get looks of shock and surprise at the door. After all, I now know where Serra do Bouro is.

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