Mercoldi Musicale

My friend Jim posted a music video on FaceBook last week that had me close to tears. I had never heard of Eva Cassidy, and it would appear that during her short career not many people had. Listening first to her sing what is after all a pretty well-covered standard and then reading story gave a second hearing further depth of poignancy and longing. I suggest you might want to do the same.

This is restored footage of Eva Cassidy performing her signature song at the Blues Alley jazz supper club in Georgetown, DC, on January 3rd 1996. Six months later she was diagnosed with cancer and died in November of that year at the age of thirty-three.

On this day in 1862: Hartley Colliery disaster: 204 men and boys were killed in a mining disaster; this prompted a change in UK law requiring all collieries to have at least two independent means of escape.

Lisboa XI … continued

And our wander through the world of puppets at the Museu da Marioneta continued with things amusing, exotic, weird and wonderful.

Again a left click on any of the images will lead you to a slideshow of the images in that group.

Portugal – An Assortment of Ladies

Hand Puppets

Africa – Mal

Some Unusual Puppets


Though I hadn’t thought of the figures used in claymation films as puppets they certainly fit the definition. As well as a display of the remarkably realistic props and multiple featured characters there was a street scene with one of Lisbon’s iconic trams. The interactive display allowed us to film our own stop-action video of the Number 28 wending its way across the cobblestones.

And of course every Museum has it’s gift shop and many of the things on sale were aimed at children. And at least one of them appealed to my inner child.

A wonderful toy commemorating (?) the Treaty of Tordesillas (1492) when the Pope let Portugal and Spain divide the world between them! It’s entirely of cardboard including the mechanism that works the movement.

I do wish I had bought it now – it could join my Tivoli Peacock Theatre as another piece of wonder – as in friends asking “I wonder why you bought it?” Ah well maybe on the next visit.

On this day in 1962: The Derveni papyrus, Europe’s oldest surviving manuscript dating to 340 BC, is found in northern Greece.

Lunedi Lunacy

Last Monday I featured a clip from Upstart Crow, a recent (2016-2018) BBC series starring David Mitchell. I “discovered” Mitchell when I started watching clips from the various Mitchell and Webb comedy series. Now part of that was a serious crush on Robert Webb (hey we all have our own taste okay?) but also their sense of “haw-haw” appealed. I’ve continued to enjoy Mitchell on QI and several other panel shows but never thought of him as an actor more just a sketch/stand up comedian. But damn he really is a fine actor – his Will Shakespeare is a funny but endearing soul that I wouldn’t mind sharing an “ale and pie” with.

In attempting to watch the series on YouTube I was struck by a touch of sweet irony. Several years ago my friend Simonetta brought up the theory that William Shakespeare was actually Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza. I wrote about it here at the time. Strangely complete episodes of the show are only available in a rather strange format with Italian subtitles. Perhaps Simonetta had a point???

Ben Elton who created and wrote the series was also responsible for much of the Blackadder franchise. And like his hero Master Shakespeare (or Crollalanza if you prefer) has add a few well-turned words to the English language: wankington, jolly-spoiler, badlington, arsington, and my fellow blogger Mitchell’s personal favourite futtocking!

If you like to catch the first six episodes of the series (so sensible the way the Brits do this sort of thing) just click here: Upstart Crow Stagione 1 Episodio 1. As I said the format is odd and does taking some getting use to.

On this day in 1953: Josip Broz Tito is inaugurated as the first President of Yugoslavia.


Somewhere Else in Time

One of the interactive displays at the Museu da Marioneta sent me into a bit of a reverie. I can honestly say I was lost for a moment or two in time. I was reliving the hand puppet shows I put on at church and school when I was around 9 or 10. My father built me a collapsible theatre – it was painted a glossy dark blue as I recall. My mother made costumes for the puppets – I was never happy with the way they were dressed from the store, picky little SOB that I was. I recall the Punkinhead puppet ended up in smart grey with a white silk (polyester I’m sure) cravat. It was so much better than the dull brown Eaton’s provided him with. The other puppets were dressed in some of the finest pieces from my mother’s left over fabric basket.

Somehow Laurent managed to catch that moment when I was somewhere else in time.

On this day in 1569: First recorded lottery in England.

Lisboa XI

On occasion Laurent and I will write about the same thing – not that surprising though it doesn’t happen that often. I had been working on this post the past few days; then I realized he had published a post about the same subject a few weeks ago – with I might add much better photos. (I’m thinking I should start using the old Canon again rather than the iPhone.) So I apologize before hand if this seems repetitive but hey another point of view is always good, right?

Santos-o-Velho (Santos, the old) is a lovely neighbourhood just on the edge of central Lisboa. It is an area of old mansions, former convents, tile-fronted townhouses, criss-crossed with small winding streets. In 2005 a revitalization project began along the warehoused waterfront that was separated from the neighbourhood by the urban highway, a tram and railway line. The area has now become a centre for artists, architects, designers, students, and innovative start-ups. The streets are dotted with small grocery shops, bakeries, wine bars and restaurants largely populated by locals.

A street of tiled houses and shops in Santos-o-Velho.

Though the Instituto de Artes Visuais, Design e Marketing and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga are located in the area we had another museum in mind when we boarded the #728 bus. I’ve had a love affair with puppets for as long as I can remember so when I discovered that there was a Museu da Marioneta in Santos it went on the list of must visits.

Housed in the former Convent das Bernardas it involves – as does so much in the city – a bit of a climb up a hill, a further climb to the front door and a even steeper climb up a grand staircase.

The former Convent das Bernardas now a multi-use community property.

The Convent was founded in 1653 but was largely destroyed a century later in the Great Earthquake. It was completely rebuilt and with the abolition of Religious Orders in 1834 became a private building. It has been used as a school, a cinema, and a concert hall before being converted to apartments. In 1998 it was purchased by the Lisbon City Council and a much needed restoration turned it into housing, retail space, a restaurant, a neighbourhood collective and in 2001 the Puppet Museum.

The collection is a remarkable one and covers almost every aspect of puppetry from a wide range of cultures. Rather than write at any length about the various creations I’ll just post pictures (including a few that Laurent has kindly given me that he did not use on his post) with captions and the odd note

As always a left click on any one of the photographs will take you to an enlarged album of all the photos in that set.

The Far East

China and the Sub-Continent

Asia – Shadow Puppets

England/France – Punch and Judy/Guignol


The German hand puppets were taken from a captured U-Boat during the Second World War. I suppose that it was a good way to pass the time during long submerged sorties just not something I had ever thought about. I’m not sure I’d like to face that little bull dog – he looks pretty mean.

There was just so much to see on the two hours we spent there and I’ve realized this post was starting to become a trifle ungainly. So as they say at the end of the old Saturday matinee serials … to be continue.

On this day in 1946: The first General Assembly of the United Nations opens in London. Fifty-one nations are represented.