One Chop Too Far

Well the journey is over. Yesterday we managed to drive through Athens without a map or a GPS system and find Glyfada and today the Suzuki has sailed away to Cyprus on Salamis Lines.

Of course it wasn’t plain sailing all the way. Athenians drive like bats out of hell and I was relying on screen shots taken off Google Maps to find our way . Supposedly we were to drive along the coast avoiding Athens altogether so it was somewhat of a surprise to see the Acropolis up on it’s hill as we entered the centre of Athens.

With this week being the anniversary of the Battle of Arnheim which spawned  the movie  A Bridge Too Far this last bit of the trip was definitely our lamb chop too far.

Lamb Chop too Far

I told you Greek cooking wasn’t too great didn’t I ? Geraldine says after the trip so far I am beginning to bleat.

The production designer for the movie was Terrance Marsh and he is married to a girl who was once my babysitter. In 1976 he was busy designing the set for A Bridge Too Far and had it all laid out as a model in his attic . I had met Sandra on a London street quite by chance. Come for drinks tomorrow she said and I did.

As I sat on the sofa in their large house in leafy Sheen I saw on the mantlepiece two gold statues. Hang on I thought those things look familiar . Are they ? I asked. Yes said Sandra they really are Oscars hold one if you want, most people do ! I stood in front of their fireplace holding Terry’s two Oscars one for Oliver and one for my favourite movie of all time Dr. Zhivargo  whilst imagining the announcer saying “and the Oscar goes to Mike Jones for …………..”

Driving through the centre of Athens whilst screaming blue murder at each other I was  still able to see first hand the effects of the “terrible” ” vicious” cuts the Greeks have been going on about. Everywhere so far has been booming but all Greeks we asked said wait till you see Athens then you will realise the enormity of the problem. A couple of Brits in Gythio we were having a drink with said the same. You have just come from there ? I enquired. No no but we have read the English newspapers and they were full of it. Hmm.

Well there were no beggars on the streets unlike London nor many shops closed. Restaurants we passed at 3 p.m. were packed, cafes were overflowing and the cars and what cars, Audi, Porche, Mercedes, BMW oh hang on they all have one thing in common they are all German. Well well.

If this is the Troika then I want in. Italy should want in too. If this is death by a thousand cuts then start slashing me. The drive up from the Peloponnese and the drive to the port of Lavrio is past millions of summer homes for Athenians . The  hotels are full  not with foreign tourists but Greek tourists. There is not a bed to be had in Athens for love nor money nor on the coast. The Brits and the Germans have all gone back to work leaving the locals to enjoy their longer vacations.

Last night we queued to get into a restaurant that had been full from 6.30 p.m. when we walked past in search of a beer  and was still full when we left at 11.30 p.m. having eaten.

Crisis in Greece 1

and outside

Crisis in Greece 2

Prices are eye watering . €4 for a cappuccino in a cafe, €12 for a 500 ml bottle of local beer €14 for a foreign one. Yet you queue to get into a cafe and cannot get near a bar to get the overpriced beer. The places are just packed with Greeks spending money.  In the bar last night the Greeks were booing the TV newscaster. She was announcing that the IMF had discovered that billions of euros in initial loans had been illegally taken by politicians to line their own pockets and the IMF wants the money back. The same politicians have said they will need to raise taxes to do it. Once the newscast was over everyone bought their €12 beers or €18 cocktails whilst continuing to argue the unfairness of the IMF. They are killing us they moaned into their beers. We will take to the streets next week once we have closed up the summer home and put the boat in dry dock.

Renzi’s threat to call in the Troika if he doesn’t get his way seems pretty stupid from this side of the Med I have to say. Bring them on I’ll have an Audi please.

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Yaberdaberdo

But before we get to Fred Flintstone I just want to add to the last blog that there are things that are different about Puglia and the Peloponnese. One noticeable one is the lack of butchers. In Puglia every town boasts a butcher on every street corner. Italians are very particular about their butchers. Most families we know have a butcher for each meat type. Go here for pork Mike, go there for lamb Mike only go there for chicken Mike, the best bombette are at that butcher’s Mike. Here we have yet to even see a butcher and in the evening at which ever taverna we eat they merely reach into a vast deep freezer, weight out a portion and throw it frozen onto the hot coals of a BBQ to defrost and cook. It probably sums up Greek cooking which has a reputation like that of the UK in 60s and 70s. My father, never a fan of Greek cuisine on our various holidays here, said one time when asked by the owner of the taverna what he thought of the meal we had just eaten ” well at least we knew the butter was fresh because I could see the cat licking it in the kitchen.”

However the Greeks do have thousands of chemists ( farmacia) almost more than the Italians have butchers whilst the number of chemists in Italy is strictly controlled by the size of the town’s population. This was to be one of Mario Monte’s many reforms that he promised Italians and the EU more chemists means more competition. Like all the other reforms they died a death as they worked their way through the labyrinth of committees that a new law has to do in Italy.  What it means is that here over the counter drugs like aspirin and paracetemol are about the same price as in the UK whilst in Italy such drugs are over 10 times as much. So Monti had a point but just failed to do anything about it.  He still an M.P. on a great salary here and shows no sign of wanting to quit a job he said he would only do for a year or two.

We left Kalamata to drive to Sparta home to the ancient Spartans those guys who had child rearing sorted so long ago. This is a bit of a post on it

“All children were expected to grow up to serve Sparta. The government only wanted healthy and athletic children to train. The officials put baby girls and boys through “fitness” tests at birth and if it was decided that the baby was too weak, they would leave it in the mountains to die from exposure. They thought these children would be useless to Sparta. The healthy, athletic children were taught as early as possible about their duties to the city-state. At age seven, the boys were taken from their parents and put in military camps in the mountains to begin a thirteen-year-long training, known as agoge in the Greek language. They were taught discipline, independence, toughness, endurance, survival and combat. They had no clothes or shoes. They were given only one cloak to wear for an entire year. They lived in barracks and slept on bushes. They were punished and tortured for doing anything wrong. The boys often fought each other to the death in practice battles. “

The road to Sparta is to say the least torturous though with spectacular scenery.

Top of the World 1

However before you get up to this dizzy height you run down and around a long ravine. All along the ravine which goes for about 40 kilometres are signs warning of rockfalls and all along the road are large rocks either in the road or pushed to one side. These things are big too and we were  in a soft top Suzuki . It was a little nerve racking almost waiting for some bloody great stone to come through the roof. It reminded me of The Flintstones the Stone Age family of cartoon fame ( rocks you see and stones, oh well I think of strange stuff) and we sung the theme as we waited for our bang on the head as we drove along.

Once out of the ravine I shouted yaberberdaberdo  just like Fred.

Two hours and 58 kms after leaving Kalamata we arrived in Sparta having seemingly gone to the top of the world and back just like James Gagney in White Heat ( great movie).

We deserved our beer in Sparta but only after we went to to see Leonidas the warrior king of ancient Sparta

Spatra

Not an ancient relic itself the statue was sculptured in 1968 but quite impressive. It is where the Spatathon road race finishes each year. This is one of the great ultra long distance runs and celebrates each year the run made by Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Some 246 kms of running in 24 hours on roads, tracks  and then takes the runners on the 1,200 meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. This is the mountain, covered with rocks and bushes, on which it is said Pheidippides met the god Pan. In 2,500 years man has had no impact at all. There is still no pathway over the mountain that is swept by strong winds with temperatures as low as 4°C. The ascent is marked out by a trail of battery-driven coloured flashing lights and its challenge is a trial for human stamina and mental strength. . The runners have no sleep and those that finish are all hallucinating like poor old Pheidippides who was chatting to Pan not surprisingly . It takes place this next weekend . Good luck to them . A British woman took the women’s title in 2012 running just 1 hour behind the leading man. Fantastic.

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Busy Going Nowhere

After two weeks touring in the Peloponnese it is clear that that they have many similar traits to the Italian Pugliese which I guess is not surprising given that the Greeks colonised Puglia in B.C. something or another and called it Magna Grecia.

I have been listing the similarities in my mind and now I am restored to the full internet drug back in an hotel after the week in a delightful rented house I can get them onto paper so to speak. So the list :

1) Dangly Hand Syndrome

Greeks like Pugliese on warm to hot days believe that when driving it is essential for the driver of the vehicle to extend his arm out of the window and “feel” the air flowing over it. This, of course, means that the remaining arm has to handle the gear changes, the steering of the vehicle, the drinking of the take away coffee, the hair buffing, the fiddling in the glove compartment, the soothing of unruly children in the front and rear, the blowing of the nose and most important of all the holding almost permanently of the mobile phone. It is particularly important to extend fully the arm when approaching a street to the left of the car ( they both drive on the right side of the road) to ensure maximum air rush over the arm. Then it is essential to place ones spare hand on the horn as the car wanting to come out assumes you are turning left and comes out in front of you. Such fun.

2) Toss it Out of the Window Syndrome

There is no doubt the the Pugliese got this straight from the Greeks. The need to throw rubbish from the car the moment it is used.  The streets of the Peloponnese are literally littered with plastic cups, plastic bags, food wrappings the lot

Toss it 1

I have been walking for an hour each morning and it can be quite difficult to dodge the stuff that is coming out of car windows as the Greeks speed by. Beer bottles, cigarette packets, used tissues all end up piled up along the roads just like in Puglia. Makes me feel quite at home

Toss It 2

3) Busy Going Nowhere Syndrome

The Peloponnese youth like Puglia youth have this strange somewhat sad obsession with driving around aimlessly. They aren’t going anywhere they are just driving because, seemingly, they have nothing better to do. So they drive into town, drive around the town be it Martina Franca in Puglia or Kalamata here and then they drive out again. They are mainly male and aged between 20 and 40. They clearly live at home and in the main are unemployed which is obviously a tragedy but a necessity according to Frau Merkel as she attempts to teach Southern Europeans how to be better Germans. Quite a few of the parents of Peloponnese youth however cannot afford to give their male offspring cars and instead give them what I would call dirt bikes. The youth immediately take the silencer off the exhaust system to give it a decent sound and practice revving whilst racing the motor bike up and down the town roads. One such youth was blasting past our hotel room  a week or so ago . We eventually went out to eat and were in a pleasant taverna tucking in to yet another lamb chop ( or lamp special as the menu illuminatingly described it). The said dirt track racer sped along the road that went by the front of the taverna. We and the other guests could hear him a-coming from a long way off. Two guys from the table opposite jumped to their feet and were on the pavement as he roared by and one took out a phone and spoke into it before returning to his meal. I had laughingly put my fingers in my ears as the biker went past and then made a shooting sign with my hand as the guy with the phone went back and he had nodded at me. Twenty minutes later a police car pulled up and the policeman shouted at the guy with the phone in Greek. He in turn said something to his wife and pointed at me. She in halting English said. They got him, speeding and dangerous driving. Two hundred and fifty euro on the spot fine. He cannot pay and is in jail for a week at least. I ordered another half litre of red wine .

Well I must get back to the internet, I’ve got 8 days of the Daily Mail to read. Anyone know what happened to those revolting Scots ? How did Wolves do ? Oh there is so much to catch up on and more lamb chops to be eaten as well.

 

 

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Un Giro ( But Outside Italy)

If you have ever travelled up through Italy to the Mont Blanc tunnel and then on into France you will know that on the Italian side the road sweeps you under mountains in the form of long tunnels and across ravines on high viaducts whilst on the French side you spend hours turning the steering wheel as you negotiate a seemingly endless series of hairpin bends that take you tortuously up and down the mountains on their side of the Alps.

From our rented house base I had planned to take day trips down into the Mani as this area is known ( it is to those of you with Google maps the middle of the three fingers that stick out at the bottom of the Peloponnese) . However the weather has proved too nice and instead we have spent the days swimming and sitting on sun loungers a few kilometres down the road. The decision to adopt idleness was helped when I read that almost all the roads in the mountainous region of the Mani were built by a virtual army of occupation from France in the 1870s. I therefore knew what to expect from any venture through the mountains and down to the less developed ( I thought) areas to the south of Avia.

Today however with a dodgy weather forecast for the first time since arriving in Greece two weeks ago we set off for un giro ( a trip).

The French didn’t disappoint. The first hour was spent winding up and then down the mountains with only one small break for the arm muscles when we did cross a deep ravine over a large and very new bridge. It was so new that there were still news reporters standing on it doing interviews. The Greeks had clearly tired of going up and down the ravine and built across it. Bravo.

This is the bridge

New Bridge

We started the day by going to Kalamata to get on the road through the mountains and so to the southern area on the Mani. Kalamata is of course home to the famous olive of the same name and to the scene of yet another one of those heroic British Army retreats. This one was in 1941 when the expeditionary force was pushed into the sea by the rampant German Army and was once again taken off the beaches by the Royal Navy. However it wasn’t really so heroic as the officers decided that the delights of a Royal Navy ward room and the clubs of Alexandria and Cairo were far too good for their men and so left the majority of them behind on the beach whilst saving themselves. The men either surrendered or stole Greek fishing boats and set off for Egypt themselves. The British residents of which there were quite a few down here were similarly abandoned and Lawrence Durrell, at the time teaching English at the Kalamta British School, who we last heard of in my Corfu blog, managed with his family and a few another Brits to “borrow” a Greek boat and headed off to Alexandria. He, like the soldiers, had quite a harrowing time as the RAF had retreated too leaving the skies full of German aircraft. Once there he sat down and wrote his famous Alexandrian Quartet of books which are well worth a read.

Kalamta also now boasts a bloody great international airport that really should have warned me that the “ deserted” southern area of the Mani so beautifully talked about in guide books might not be as quiet as I thought.

The first big town after the mountains is Stoupa and it would seem that the Germans never really left. It is like a suburb of Dusseldorf but by the sea.

However we drove on and found Agios Nikolaos and that is nice. It is how you imagine a small Greek seaside village to be. The small harbour

Ag Nick Harbour

The cafes lining the harbour wall

IMG_0420

Ag. Nick Enterance

and the blue blue sea

We had bought picnic stuff from one of the ubiquitous Lidl stores that now populate all Greek towns of a certain size and a few miles outside of Ag. Nik. we found someone had helpfully put a large bench and so we sat

picnic ag. nickand ate whilst looking at this view.

Picnic view

Not too bad is it?

Ag. Nik. is quite a nice find and one to store away in case we return again but maybe we  will wait until the Greeks have been tunnelling more or asked the Italians for help.

Of course I would always stay at our rented house in Avia ( the lady we are renting from reads this blog I discovered) !!!

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Gun Boat Diplomacy

The house we have rented has no internet. The Greek lady owner tells me that without a phone it is still not possible to have the internet. “ Greece is far behind the rest of Europe” she says as I show her the Network 3 web pocket that I have in Italy. “ Maybe next year” she says more in hope than any expectancy.

I realise it is like coming of a drug dependency being without instant access to the world. The Kindle becomes your substitute methadone  but it is hard not to have access to the world on a regular basis.

It is an holiday my wife keeps telling me. Enjoy the sun and swimming and I am. It’s just it would be nice to read other stuff too.

I have always thought that sun loungers were designed with me in mind. I have often said that a mistake was made in the hospital and that the wrong name tag was put on the wrong wrist and that out there is a 66 year old guy who has spent his whole life frustrated at having to sit on beaches and sail on luxury yachts when all he really wanted to do was work . Meanwhile here was I ideally suited to the life of leisure, flogging away at work all my life. I am not sure quite how many millionaire’s wives there were at the NHS Hillingdon General Hospital  that January maybe not that many if I think about it but there must have been one, maybe caught short at Northolt Airport or the newly opened London Heathrow Airport on Hounslow Heath.

Now one of the frustrations of sun loungers in the main is your towel. The towel is great for reserving sun loungers as you can put the lounger flat and lie the towel on it. A couple of books ensure it wouldn’t fly away and as you breakfast you can look out at the frustrated Germans pacing around looking for empty ones. But once you actually want to sit on it you need to raise the top part into the sitting position. Now the towel takes on a mind of it’s own and however much you tuck it in it falls down behind you and specially on plastic sun loungers you start to sweat. You also then wander up to the bar with everyone looking at your back and thinking you have been on the wrong end of a cat o’ nine tails.

In Florida when working there I went one Saturday to see an old work colleague from Toronto Canada as she had a winter home there . She had solved the towel issue by sewing together two 4 ft towels lengthwise. Then she folded over about 18 inches of towel and sewed up the two sides. Are you still with me? She then slipped the top bit whose sides she had sewed over the top of the sun lounger. No more slippage no more cat o nine tails. But rather a lot of work and quite a few towels needed for the exercise.

Today I settled on to a sun lounger and turned on my iPod Nano to my playlist called beachcomber music. It is my longest playlist which must prove how dedicated I am to the beach. After a few minutes I realised my towel had slipped down behind me despite me wrapping it through about three slats. I glanced down the beach to two Germans who had set up camp nearby and was astounded but delighted to see their solution to the towel issue .

Towel Pegs

Two bloody great pegs . How easy is that. Now all I need to do is find out where they bought them.

Do all revolutions start in the south of a country ? Bodica  was running around East Anglia burning Romans, Napoleon came from Corsica, Garibaldi started the Italian revolution in Sicily  and blow me down if the Greek Revolution in 1821 didn’t start just 2 kms from the beach I was on this morning.The Turks ruled Greece then and in the small village of Kitries ( and I mean small) lived the man Petrobey Mavromichalis who decided to toss them out. By March 1821 he had the whole of the Peloponnese  revolting and then the British, French and Russians asked to join in and the Turks were well and truly on their way out with the Greeks busy slaughtering Muslim converts and burning their homes or indeed towns.The Egyptians came to the Turks rescue in 1825 but then the British and French Navies put a stop to that.

I have to admit not knowing a great deal about Greek independence but like Italy it is a country much invaded and very much a pawn in the great powers chess game of the 19th century.

I am of an age that I can remember when carrying a British passport was a great thing to possess. “Her Britannic Majesty requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to offer the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary” written on the inside cover really meant something rather like being a citizen of Rome was in Roman times. Looking briefly at Greek history I came across the Pacifico affair. He was an ex Portuguese  Consul no less but was born in Gibraltar so could claim British citizenship. His house in Athens was burnt down in 1850 during an anti semitic riot ( he was a Jew ) and he wrote to complain to the British government. Now imagine today David Cameron getting such a letter. Nothing would happen except maybe a sympathetic letter from a junior F.O clerk or offer of counselling on Pacifico’s return to Blighty . What did Lord Palmerston do when he got the letter ? He summoned the Admiral of the Fleet and he in turn sent the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean fleet to blockade Piraeus. The Greeks rather than starve settled not only with Pacifico but paid up for the cost of the fleet too. Love it.

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Inundated

Sitting in a bar in Igoumenitsa last week waiting for a meal the TV had coverage of some terrible floods and raging torrents of water and mud in various towns. We assumed it was in Greece and worried that maybe it was where we were heading to the next day . However the caption underneath said it was the Gargano Peninsular an area of incredible beauty up the road from us in Puglia.

I see today the the prosecutor’s office there has opened a file as they call it to investigate the authorities for culpable manslaughter, violation of zoning laws in the building of houses and factories, billing for cleaning and clearing of canals which was never actually carried out, corruption by officials, corruption by politicians, corruption by civil servants. in fact the usual ” round up the usual suspects” that seems to happen whenever there is a catastrophe in Italy and more especially in Puglia.

I see today that it is raining again in Puglia with yet another low pressure system sweeping in before moving on into the Balkans rather than down here in Greece.

I have, in fact, been on the beach all day today sitting in glorious sunshine down here in Kyparissa  which I guess will really annoy the readers in Puglia.

The beach is still fairly busy but they operate it here very differently than in Puglia. There they charge you for each sun lounger and the sunshade. It can work out as an expensive part of your holiday. Certainly it is not unknown for each sun lounger to be €12-16 each and a sunshade about the same price.

Here they charge you a fee that if you don’t want to pay you need to redeem by spending the money in the snack bar of the beach guy you rent them from. It seems like a really sensible idea to me . In September down here it is considered low season and so we are charged just €6 to rent two loungers and a shade which is a couple of iced coffees and a couple of bottles of water. However the flamboyantly gay guy  decked out in a niffty two piece bikini who runs that place didn’t have enough English to tell me how much he charges in August and to be honest I  didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings between us about what I was asking he charged what for ! Beware Greeks bearing gifts I was taught at school !

The other amazing thing after Puglia is the space each sunshade occupies on the beach. These are more like huge pods

Pods on the Beach

I cannot imagine there is an Italian who would be happy with this arrangement. You are so far away from your nearest neighbour. How can you converse, how can you see what they are eating, how can you hear what they are saying. It just couldn’t work. As an Italian you need to be able to roll on to your neighbour’s sun lounger without almost any effort and if you can’t the beach is no good to you. We could barely see the people next to us let alone roll onto their lounger or glimpse what they were eating. These are great sun shades though and the whole beach area is like it.  I can only assume that the thousands of Italians that flock down here in August must bring sun loungers and shades that they slot in between these Greek ones so they feel more at home.

I tell you what is also very noticeable no screaming kids. Greek children are so well behaved. I watched as a small boy threw some sand at his sister by the water’s edge. the mother shouted at him to come here and straight up the beach he came to receive a lecture and return to apologise and hug his sister before resuming their play. Oh boy how often have I heard an Italian mother screaming veni qua ( come here) endlessly at her child with absolutely no effect or action at all from the child who continued to play. Eventually the mother would go down and reward the behaviour with a smacker of a kiss.

Least you however think all is a bed of roses down here let me just say that during the day while we sat at the beach we could hear but not see a high level of activity somewhere near our hotel.

As we walked back it was clear that things had been happening. Indeed a bloody great fairground has appeared alongside our hotel with several rides coming right past our window and balcony. In fact I think I can get on the octopus ride for free if I time my jump right tonight.

Fairground

The local church is having it’s yearly festa and tomorrow night the place will be jumping as pigs are slaughtered and cooked whole on spits. There will be dancing ( maybe I get to show off again ) and much revelry in other words noise . Indeed they have just as I type rigged up the sound system and I swear the hotel rocked . The dogs are now all howling. Time for a Fix beer or 6 I think.

 

 

 

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Down Memory Lane

So our leader Renzi says no growth for Italy either this year nor next year which means his €80 a month tax break for lower paid workers is not going to do what he promised and start people spending.  He did get in a dig at Frau Merkel however by calling for a much weaker Euro going forward. The way to achieve that is by introducing Quantitive Easing which the Merkel is very opposed to and indeed last week said that her poodle Draghi  at the Central Bank had been “misunderstood” ( he speaks fluent English) when he also talked about introducing it. Bloomberg reckon Italy needs the Euro at 1.17 to the US$ to kick start industry and begin the recovery. It is 1.29 today so a long way to go. It would be great news for the British expats too except those Scots are revolting thus stopping us enjoying a jump in purchasing power.

Still we are now down in the South of the Peloponnese having left the lovely little town of Nefpaktos

herbour enterance

Last night as I walked into town to post a letter I heard a few notes of a tune as a car drove by me with a CD on.   As I caught those few notes I felt a little like Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited when he first hears the name of the large house where his army group has been sent

“an immense silence followed, empty at first, but gradually, as my outraged sense regained authority, full of a multitude of sweet and natural and long-forgotten sounds – for he had spoken a name that was so familiar to me, a conjuror’s name of such ancient power, that, at its mere sound, the phantoms of those haunted late years began to take flight”

For I had heard that song many years ago not on my first visit to Greece but on one to Corfu for the first time in 1964. Corfu then was almost as it was in the 1930s when the Durrel boys Lawrence and Gerald were living there. Just 3 hotels had been built and package holidays were still some way off. As the Economist said the other day ” it is hard to appreciate the freedom, sunlight and sense of space that Corfu provided 50 or more years ago. Intrepid travellers would come to explore  ancient villages in solitary peace, and sleep under the stars on empty sandy beaches. The island was especially enticing, and no books contributed more to it’s image as a paradise than those by the Durrell brothers, Lawrence and Gerald. “Prospero’s Cell” (1945), Lawrence’s diary of life on Corfu, and “My Family and Other Animals” (1956), Gerald’s account of his experiences as a child there, are brilliant, contrasting views of life on this Greek island in the 1930s, and remain popular to this day.” Both are well worth a read.

We stayed at one of those which was managed by a very lively Greek from Crete. He loved Greek dancing and insisted on teaching the guests his favourite ones each evening after dinner. He had bought with him a selection of records to play and we were all eager learners as Zorba the Greek the movie was out as well. Over the two weeks we all became quite proficient at both a slow dance and a fast one .

The car that had gone past me had played one of those tunes and I felt a little like one of the contestants in that game show both in the States and in the UK called Name That Tune. The players had to decide how few notes it would take them to name a tune. “I can name that tune in three notes” etc and then a pianist would play the first three notes.

What was the name I thought and then I remembered that my mother had asked the Greek manager what it was called because she thought it would be great to take back to play at our yearly Christmas Day night time party. The manger became very embarrassed and mumbled that he would prefer not to say it to her. It was rude he said. Perhaps he could tell her husband instead . Intrigued she called my father over and he whispered the title in his ear.

We were all desperate to know the name. Who would have thought a rude Greek song and we had been dancing to it for two weeks.

My father, of course, held out for as long as he could but eventually told us the title. It is he said in Greek “Strose To Stroma Sou”  Yes but what does it mean we shouted. Shocking he said it means …………….Make a Bed for Two . The Swinging Sixties had yet to arrive in Corfu and to a Greek this was a very naughty title.

This is it

I took the record to sea with me on P&O and many passengers on S.S. Orcades learnt their first Greek dance from a young Purser Cadet who the Entertainment Manager coerced into teaching Greek dancing on Thursday afternoons.

Think I can still do it too. What a teacher. What a song.

 

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