Suddenly it hits me; comes down on me like a ton of bricks. I’ve woken up in a foreign land. I can’t hear England outside. The sounds are strange, the light is brighter, the air is warmer. Then I remember the truth – England, my old life, everyone I used to know, is a million miles away. This is Brazil and I’m stuck here. I live here. I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien – I’m an Englishman in Porto Alegre.
As I face another day, I reflect on the things I miss. Pubs with real ale in them, charity shops, Radio 4, endless cups of tea, sausages, libraries, newspapers, gardens, record shops, the English sense of humour, Bradford City FC. When you add it all together, it hurts sometimes.
Then I consider my good fortune. Sunshine, Portuguese, papaya for breakfast, mango for lunch, sitting outside bars with a freezing glass of beer, ex-pat parties, daft soap operas on the telly, mental football fans jumping up and down, kissing women on the cheeks, being respected as a teacher, no mortgage, no tax, no yobs.
It’s a delicate balance and the scales can tip to one side or the other. Unless, of course, it’s a sunny day.