Monday, 28 May 2012

Turtles and Other Distractions

If you check the previous post you'll see toward the end that I refer to the turtles which breed in a small lake near the beach here in Kiotari. Well, on Saturday I went back down there with the old digital camera and, low and behold (apologies for the quality of the close-ups, as they're snapped with my very modest zoom at maximum and then cropped on the Mac to try and show the little darlings as something more than a small smudge in a vast area of green water)…

 




After feeling well pleased that the baby turtles had put in an appearance I repaired to the Gre Cafe up the road for a spot of serious people-watching. It was a good session. Shame my wife wasn't with me. She was working. Well, someone has to. See now I've gone and reminded myself of Spike Milligan's book, "Adolf Hitler, My Part in His Downfall". He describes how, when he was a child just before the war, he and his dad were standing at the back door of their house while his mother was out in the garden digging the ditch for their Anderson Shelter. "She's a wonderful little woman your mother," his dad says, as she throws shovelfuls of dirt out of the ever deepening hole, "and getting smaller all the time." Reminds me what a tough life I lead…

I hadn't been sipping at the newly-arrived frappe which George had deposited before me for long, when I got my eye in. It wasn't hard, as two fifty-something blokes ambled up to the tables and sat down. They were of similar build, which I'd describe as slight and wiry, average height (and it IS height and not heighth, OK!? In the same way as the letter "H" is pronounced "aitch" and not "haitch" - which really drives me scatty. Almost as bad as all those wrongly inserted apostrophes one sees on plurals these days. I blame the teachers…) …and both either had dyed their hair or were amazingly lacking in grey for their age. One sported a jaunty straw fedora with a navy blue band and the other didn't. They both smoked continually and I tried not to stereotype them, but they had me in check-mate.

See, it's not good to stereotype people, I know, I know. Everyone's an individual and all that stuff; but these guys, who I decided were either brothers or lovers (the jury stayed out on that one), both wore t-shirts which were predominantly white, but had dark blue horizontal stripes all over them at regular intervals, the stripes being about an inch and a half apart and probably a centimetre thick. They both wore dark tracksuit bottoms and their feet were in the ubiquitous trainers. But the t-shirts shouted very loudly at me. The moment I clapped eyes on them my brain echoed the old "haw-hee-haw-hee-haw, Monsieur" and I said, FRENCH. Guess what. They were French. All they needed were a couple of berets and they could have been extras in a Pink Panther movie.

Whilst I was being entertained by trying to catch snippets of their conversation the floor show began. Oh, how I love this aspect of the Greeks. A few doors down is a pharmacy and it's run by a bloke who doesn't really know me, after all I've only ever been in there maybe twice in several years. But I know him as he's always about if I'm there, usually ordering yet another iced coffee from the cafe to take back to the shop with him. Either that or outside the door taking a little fresh air while polluting it with a cigarette. He looks exactly like Uncle Fester from the original Addams family TV series from the 1960's. Remember? "Their house is a museum, when people come to see 'em, it really is a scre-am, the Addams family." Now if only those lyricists could be cajoled into writing the next UK Eurovision song. He is totally bald and has very dark patches under both eyes. Not altogether the best advert for a pharmacist I suppose. Still, he acts like he's pretty healthy, so maybe he just burns the candle, I don't profess to know. He doesn't wear the Uncle Fester floor-length overcoat though, opting instead for your more "safe" blue jeans and faded t-shirt.

He trotted up to the cafe and stood by the bar right beside me and shouted for a frappe. Meanwhile a young stoutly-built Greek woman with hair which was cut to a no. 1, ears perforated with innumerable studs and a distinctly masculine air about her struck up a conversation with him from a nearby table.

Now, there are occasions when I'm quite pleased that I don't look particularly Greek. This is because they don't expect me to be able to understand their conversations if I keep myself to myself and just listen. Within a few milliseconds they were on to the subject of the elections, the austerity measures and politicians in general. This was when it got really good. Both had very firm opinions and were sure going to express them.

"That Papandreou has destroyed this country!" This comment betraying a woeful lack of understanding the facts about what kind of situation the country's finances were in when Mr. Panandreou came into office.

"Tsipras is your man!"

"No, NO! I'd rather see Samaras in the driving seat than HIM. And Samaras is the worse thing to happen to the ND party in decades anyway."

"They're all doing OK that lot in Parliament. They've still got their Mercedes. It's the small man who's suffering. You couldn't describe Venizelos as small though."

"This country's finished if it stays in Europe."

"It's finished if it leaves."


And so it went on. Uncle Fester remained standing, the whole time pacing to and fro and talking so loud as to give the distinct impression that, had he been able to find a soap box, he'd have used it and drawn a crowd. His sparring partner held her ground and her seat whilst he flailed his arms all over the place, betraying that attitude that we all do when we get going. We know how to solve all the problems, if the politicians don't. What's great about such scenes is that, to you and I as foreigners, it looks like it's all going to end in blows, or at least tears and ruptured friendships; but no, it never does. Once "Fest" had received his frappe and taken a couple of sips from the straw, he bade his adversary cheerio with a "Yah!" (commonly used as a shortened version of "Yia sou") and cheerfully strode back to service the next person with a pharmaceutical need.

The Greeks discuss politics with the same enthusiasm as we Brits do the weather, only with much more animation. Mind you, the forecast is a bit iffy...

10 comments:

  1. Thankyou for the lovely pictures of the turtles, takes me back years ago when we USED to go to Kefalonia, on what we named "Turtle beach" between Katelios and Skala, mind you that was before the pink and lime green t. shirt brigade took over. Ah well just off to Primark to get a refund for mine, going to look for some black polo necks to keep in sinc. with the people watchers on Rhodes!!!!!

    Regards

    "Porridge Oats"

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    1. I should think so too. Mind you, polo necks went out with the ark, plus you'd be a might too hot in one of those here. Not planning on falling out of an aeroplane with a box of Black Magic under your arm are you?

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  2. Thank goodness, i thought i was the only one who noticed the "haitch" thing. It's even on tv ads now advertising the "Haitch" T.C. phone. Drives me potty too.

    Good work John. Maybe a blog entry dedicated to this might educate some people or at least encourage some well deserved sneering when we hear people say Haitch. Aaaaagh.

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    1. Thanks for the response "Bob," And by the way, I love the latest album!!!

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  3. hellooooooooo, am I right in remembering the loggerhead turtles are also known as caretta-caretta? I recall them being called that in Zakynthos when we went on a round the island (almost) and the captain shouted out caretta-caretta and there to see were a family of them swimming off the south coast. They are lovely and good to see they are protected. Will have to come see the Kiotari ones when we are next there.

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    1. Yes clever clogs, they are indeed caretta-caretta. I'll let them know to expect a visit from you...

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  4. Those little turtles look so cute! I hope that they thrive and return for many years to come. I have read Spike Milligans books, really hilarious!!
    Your people watching skills must be of Olympic standard.

    Love
    Annette
    xxx

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    1. Got to keep up with you haven't I!!

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  5. Well it is double bank holiday for us in Britain! That means major people watching where I go drinking, local bars for local people who seem mainly get dressed in the dark!

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  6. Sorry I forgot put my name on the bottom of the previous comment - must be that yellow disk in the sky!!

    Love
    Annette
    xxxx

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