Last night was the first evening in Portugal for either of us & we wanted to hear fado. Went for an evening stroll, and lo! on the first hilly corner was a handwritten sign saying, Fado Tonight. And on the next corner! And the next! We’re in the old quarter and fado is a boom industry. Touts walked backwards in front of us, crooning, Just buy one drink & entry’s free. Prices in the fado restaurants are oddly Scandinavian. We kept climbing. Up a side street festooned with colourful laundry, pelargoniums spilling from plastic pots, was a stooping little bar with crumbling steps. The bar owner was affable and had a genial, rubbery face. We ordered dessert. In a shadowy corner two fellows were playing guitar. One of them tilted his curly head back against the wall and began to sing. After his first song there was a modest commotion at the doorway: up there at street level stood a small, gleaming, bald man of 70 or 75 resplendent in a cream suit with wide lapels and the most gorgeous pale blue tie. He came down the steps and conferred with the musicians. Then standing easily with no affectation of manner he closed his eyes and sang. His voice was throaty and weathered, from time to time it throbbed. Caramel rice custard dissolved down my throat like sweet tears. He sang two songs and then vanished with a kind of conqueror’s wave. Then it was the turn of the bar owner, who turned up some canned background music and puffed out his chest. His voice was big and round, his gestures dramatic, he was a natural-born ham. His wife kept serving, stoically. He slid past all the tables and with three pinched fingers took up a trilby hat from the top of the cash register. Setting it on his head he went on singing, oh so roundly, oh so bigly. His wife behind him gestured to a table of Germans “two beers? oh, three? three beers” and as her husband simperingly launched a second song (“I sing just one more,” he said, “one more,” so apologetically that my heart rushed to love him and their hard-working marriage) she glided round the bar with three beers and presented them, carrying a little last-minute shimmy of the hips. He had tears in his eyes when he finished. Because music makes queens of us all.