"PORTUGUESE SOMERSAULT" 1934 - The wife of the landlord had no less than two hundred dresses and eighteen pairs of shoes

The Coventry Evening Telegraph of Wednesday 14 November 1934 carries an account of "PORTUGUESE SOMERSAULT" An Interesting Travel Volume.

Jan and Cora Gordon visited Portugal in 1926 and again last year. The result is a finely illustrated account of their experiences, " Portuguese Somersault" (Harrap. 1Os. 6d. net). 

Mr. and Mrs., Gordon have a genius for reaching the hearts of the people; they avoid the ' ordinary show places like poison and wander away from the beaten track. 

This book has the warmth and geniality of the southern sun beneath which they travelled and lived. 

"For the Portuguese have three inestimable gifts laughter. song, and the sun. The Portuguese labourer need not spend much of his miserable pittance merely to keep his soul from being shivered out of his body. Social reform goes ahead more slowly in hot countries merely because there is not the simple physical demand for it. Thus Utopia, though easier to reach than in a colder clime, would be in practice just as far away.

On their visit to Portugal ..By Bookmark. Gordon. suffered many misfortunes and finally left the country vowing never to return. But the urge to go back became strong and the second trip removed many of the misconceptions of their 1926 adventure. 

Many changes had occurred during the seven years—among them being the expansion of the motor 'bus services throughout the land—and yet the "somersault" has clearly been but trifling so far as the actual temperament of the Portuguese is concerned. 

In the opening section of the book there is much brilliant descriptive writing, and this is especially true of tho account of their sojourn at a semifashionable hydro at Geraso, where there are effective healing springs. It was some days before they ascertained why they received less attention than the other guests. Then it transpired that because they were artists the servants feared that they would not tip! The one common characteristic of the visitors to the hydro was an almost peacock-like vanity.

"At last we came to the conclusion, which was a fact, that many of the women had come prepared with a new dress for every separate meal. Three weeks, which was the normal length of the cure, meant forty-two meals, or forty-two dresses. The allowance may seem exaggerated, but we discovered through the village seamstress that the wife of the landlord had no less than two hundred dresses and eighteen pairs of shoes."

Among their discoveries at Geraso was a farm labourer poet who permitted them to translate his verses on his War experiences in the Portuguese Army. To prove that everything has two points of view, I will quote the following stanza:-

"Our group of valient fusiliers
At times fired back with energy,
Bacause the coward Englishman
Submitted, mute, to destiny."

Specially gripping in the second part of the book is the description of the pilgrimage to Fatima, where three children in 1917 declared they received a visitation from the Virgin Mary.

This is a book to dip in frequently, if only to enjoy the many sketches which give added point to the scenes and episodes they accompany.

The account by the Gordons in this book of their 1933 visit to the Fatima pilgrimage became resonant in 2017, with the media coverage of the 2017 pilgrimage.

- Gallery
- Jan and Cora Gordon in Portugal 1933. January 04, 2015
- The Jan Gordon Memorial Exhibition 1944. March 06, 2015
- Jan and Cora Gordon, a 1931 Exhibition at the XXI Gallery. March 07, 2015
Jan and Cora Gordon and the Pilgrimage to Fatima. May 12, 2017
- A Cora Josephine Gordon lecture in 1947: "Off the beaten Track in Europe". June 26, 2017


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