Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Books and Covers

You can't judge a book by its cover. I know, I've read quite a few which looked brilliant from the cover but didn't measure up when I read them, but the converse is also true. Some which could do with better cover art still turned out to be a very good read (I'm not even going to refer to mine here, OK?). It's the same with music. I was a huge Free fan, but their album "Highway", which was a very good listen, had the most boring cover since some bloke sat down to design the 12" sleeve back in the middle ages. Another example on that point; do you remember the Motors? they were a pub rock band which emerged with a couple of hit singles at the tail end of the punk boom, but their first album flopped. This was because some bright spark of a designer had the brilliant idea of using a close-up mugshot of all four band members as the cover, but the fact was that all four were real ugly mushes. Remember the song "Airport?" Ah, those weren't the days, eh? When they eventually re-issued the album with a better sleeve it actually sold respectably, allegedly.
As usual, though, I digress. Missed my appointment this week, sorry. The Top Three Bar (which I always call that, although the sign outside says "Top 3 Pub" - but I can't bring myself to acknowledge the word "Pub"  here in Rhodes. Must call the therapist and get in for next week) is run by, as I've mentioned on many occasions, a very nice family. Spiros & Maria are the parents and they have two sons, Dimitri and Kostas, who, incidentally, turned thirty while I was there yesterday, Tuesday July 17th. He was a bit depressed because he'd now entered the "andas". See, ten in Greek is "deka," twenty is "Eecossy" (spelt phonetically there, no writing in please!). But once you get to thirty it's "...andas" all the way. Thirty is "trianda," forty "saranda" and so forth. So I ventured the suggestion that he also add "...and eventually it'll be yia panda!" which means in English - For ever.
For years I never went near the Top 3, having taken a look at it from the outside and decided that it wasn't my kind of place. It's all decked out with British football team scarves and banners and that kind of stuff. But that was before I remembered something quite important about modern Greek culture. To follow British football is just as important to your average Greek as it is to follow the Greek league. If you've read Feta Compli (and if not, why not. Didn't you know I'd be asking questions afterward?) you'll have come across this fact in chapter 17, which was entitled, funnily enough, "Football Crazy."
So, when I eventually reluctantly succumbed and entered the Top 3, since it is the oft-used gathering place for the reps who bring guests into town on excursions and thus incredibly useful as a point to which all one's guests need to return to meet the coach, I was rather annoyed with myself that I'd left it so long, since a nicer Greek welcome you'd be hard put to find. I have, in the couple of years since then, become fast friends with Spiro and the family. Maria actually makes one of the best frappes on the island too. You can take that from a frappe addict folks. But I don't have a problem, alright? I'm not yet at the stage where I ought to look up "Frappe Addicts Anonymous" in the phone book. OK, so perhaps the number's in my mobile for possible future reference. Give a guy a break here. (To find out how to make a perfect frappe, click here!)

The Top Three from across the road

Spiros, left and Dimitri behind the bar
What am I driving at? Well, to return to the books and covers analogy, the Top 3 may not look like it's traditionally Greek, but in fact, when it comes to the kind of experience we all like to have in Greece, that of meeting a genial Greek host (or hosts) and perhaps being spoilt now and again as a reward for being a regular, the Top 3 takes some beating. While I sat there yesterday talking to a couple from the UK who've been frequenting Spiro's place for many years, he told them that the drinks were on him this time.

Now, one of my regular correspondents (who also needs therapy as he seems to like my books), Dave Harris, has recently told me about a bar in the Old Town which has much in common with the Top 3. It's called Stavros and it's up at the top of the Old Town on Ipodamou Street, which is the street you end up on by turning left (
opposite the mosque) as you reach the top the main shopping street in the old town - Socrates Street. Dave tells me that he's been frequenting Stavros' Bar for 24 years now. Still can't work that out as he tells me he's not yet thirty. He's got a son called Josh too, who he must have had when he was about 2. Hmmm. Do you think I may be a bit gullible here?

Anyway, Dave and I are probably going to meet to chew some fat up at Stavros in a couple of week's time, so I'm going to have the pleasure of meeting Stavros and his wife Soula too. Watch this space for a report on this bar. meantime, here's a link to their own rather nice blog site.

"Airport, doo doo dee doo dee doo…"


  1. Hi John,

    Ah the memories...saw The Motors down in Penzance Gardens way back. I also have the first release of the album, some great tracks on there - remember Ricky Slaughter?


  2. Umm. no can't say I do!! You should get out more...

  3. Kat Andrews aka ouzopower18 July 2012 at 14:12

    Hello :) just watched your frappe making video, and having got some more good tips am going to go make one as heard summer is on its way to England at last (bit hard to believe today lol but I have faith) Excellent video and as always excellent reading of blogs (have finally caught up with them after being away in Cornwall for 2 weeks (more walking blogs to come from my dear Griff)and up in Norfolk for a long weekend at a beer festival (100 beers to sample). Will keep up with the reading now, keep up the good work, and hope you are having a good season
    Kat & Griff

  4. Is that Stavros bar full of football scarves, penants, naval photographs, etcs? If it is then it is a fab place and the guy who runs it is really entertaining.


    1. Sounds like you're spot on Annette. That's why I compared it to the Top 3, where they also have all the football stuff hanging all over the place. Full report will follow in a couple of weeks.