1. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Portugal is the world’s home of natural cork. The international cork market is in crisis thanks in no small part to Australian winemakers take-up of non cork corks and screw caps for even the best of wines. Local vinos in Portugal would rather turn to vinegar than be sealed with a screw cap. Portugal is also one of the economic basket cases of Europe with 10% unemployment.
A cork crisis calls for creativity. So now you can buy cork place mats (what’s new?),wallets, hats, travel bags, aprons, shoes, umbrellas (yes cork umbrellas - makes sense since cork is waterproof doesn't it?), and cork postcards. Any country which can be that ingenious deserves to succeed.
2. Miracles can happen? Or is there something in the food?
Portugal is home to one of Catholicism’s great modern pilgrimage sites – Fatima -where The Virgin Mary appeared to three young girls in 1917. They were given three messages, the final installment of which was supposed to be revealed towards the end of last century. I recall that it was thought it would reveal some terrible secret. There was speculation that it might be a new world war or a pestilence to rival the plagues of the Old Testament. After Hiroshima, and the recent bird flu pandemic (non event) and global warming perhaps there wasn’t much more to tell. Turns out the message was thae there would be an assassination attempt on the pope – which there was. What an anticlimax.
Perhaps the girls just had a bad dose of food poisoning or ate the wrong mushrooms? I’m not
Another one concerns a cockerel who saved an innocent man’s life when it jumped up from the dinner table as the magistrate was about to carve it up and crowed just as the innocent man had foretold. Could be that it was a miracle or could be that the chook was just a little undercooked.
Anyway it struck a chord with the locals and there is now what you might regard as a chook cult across the country. There are thousands of decorated chook figurines and images adorning anthing which will take a transfer - including cork postcards.