Almost ten years ago now I went for a long weekend to Porto. It had either just been or was about to be a European city of culture. It had about it those characteristics of the few other cities of culture I know (Liverpool, Cork and Glasgow; faded grandeur and time gone to seed.
We went in February and although it was cool we sat out one afternoon having a drink in a square and could feel the heat in our faces.
On the Saturday evening we came across a record shop of sorts and I picked up 5 or 6 CDs of fado music, most of which were chosen on the basis of the picture on their cover.
Later that evening we found ourselves in a bar in the top room of a house on a square up from the river. There was a group of students sat at one of the few other tables and a girl sang.
There is always a layer of melancholy that lies over the start of a new year. So we have spent the day listening those half dozen CDs I picked up in Porto.