Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Paros, Poached Brains and the Need for a Football Pitch

I must be getting old. I must be. After two weeks of sitting in coffee bars every morning watching the world go by I've decided that, even though I still feel 18 inside, I'm definitely not on the same wavelength as today's 18-year olds.

On Naxos there isn't much crime. There isn't a great deal of crime on the Greek islands generally, but after having studied the Geek yoof of today for a couple of weeks I've decided that it's just as well really. I mean, if you had some young chap rob you, then you went to the Police and reported it and they asked you for a description of the felon, assuming you got a good look at him, you'd probably describe 90% of the 18-30 year old Greeks in the country, let alone on this island.

You'd doubtless say something like: "Well, he was of average height, of dark complexion, with close-shaved hair on both sides of his head and a thick mass of wavy black hair on the top. He had a thick beard and wore Wayfarer sunglasses. He was in tight-fitting jeans and a slogan-covered t-shirt. Oh, and he had a collection of tattoos down each arm."

The Police would then need a football pitch for the identity parade because they'd have to round up just about every young bloke within a twenty mile radius, meaning, of course, that on an island like Naxos it would be every young bloke, period [full stop - whatever!].

I mentioned a couple of years ago that when we came here to Naxos for the first time I thought that they must have a seminar for budding orthodox priests here, owing to the fact that it was hard to find a young bloke in the bars and on the passing motorbikes that didn't have a ZZ Top beard. Of course, since then it's become an epidemic and I can only say I'm glad I don't have shares in Gillette or Wilkinson Sword. You'd probably only be able to sell them at a hefty loss right now.

Mind you, on a positive note, after yet another highly therapeutic people-watching session down on the harbour-front this morning, one has to say (as I've also probably done before) you'd never guess there was a financial crisis in Greece after sitting in a Greek coffee bar for long. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a smartphone and most people have them glued to their ears, quietly microwaving their brains for hours at a time. Those that don't have them glued to their ear are vigorously deftly tapping away at them one handedly while sipping their Freddoccino with the other. It's a sad fact that at the majority of café tables, around which sit the designer-clad smartphone-toting youngsters, no one's having a normal conversation. Usually every man-jack of them (boys and girls alike) are far more interested in their phone conversation or their e-mails than they are in the friends sat right next to them.

This morning, as my beloved and I sat sipping our frappés among the beautiful people, I saw one young woman with a baby in a stroller wend her way among the crowded tables and find herself a seat, all the while carrying on a conversation with her iPhone tucked under her ear and against her shoulder. She managed to apply the brake on the stroller, wiggle herself into the cramped space behind the table and take off her cardy without so much as taking a breath from that chat. After probably ten minutes or so the child woke up, so she lifted him out of the stroller and plonked him on her lap, with his back to her chest, before starting yet another conversation which also lasted at least ten minutes.

After that, she bounced the little chap on her knee while tapping messages (or quite possibly surfing the net) and also sipping at her coffee from time to time. Not once in the whole time that she sat there was that phone not in one of her hands. Now, call me old fashioned, but didn't I see somewhere that if you placed a few mobile phones with active calls going on around an egg in a glass of water you'd see that egg poached in minutes? I did, here. See, the thing is, we haven't had digital phones around long enough yet for the addicts to get old enough to see the long-term effects, have we? Another couple of decades and we're quite possibly going to have a generation of late-middle-aged people whose brains are all fried, well, poached. What's that going to cost the health service, eh?

Anyway, I did say that I wanted to strike a positive note and that was that there is no shortage of young folk (it seems from appearances) with enough cash to wear designer clothes, get flash haircuts, have tattoos and sip coffees costing €3.50 a throw on a daily basis here on the Greek islands. See, it's not all bad news! TBH, we've been quite amazed too this year at how much less people are smoking than would have been the case in the bars and cafés, say, five years ago.

To round off this rant with some photos would be good eh? OK, so we did a day-trip to Paros last Friday. Here are the photos. I have to say, Paros is completely enchanting. Different to Naxos, so I won't make a comparison, in fact I don't think one should. The two islands are different, with some similarities. Naxos is more cosmopolitan, Paros more essentially Cycladian. Both have their merits depending on what mood you're in at the time!! I'll probably post some more shots of this year's visit to Naxos another time, but for now, here's Paros through my iPad's lens...


  1. I know the phones are irritating. Yes we are old fogeys.
    So sorry, but it just isn't so!

    1. TBH Simon, that doesn't convince me. Plus, it's not popcorn, it's eggs! Plus there is very clear evidence that excessive mobile phone use can be damaging to the brain due to the microwaves, not the temperature. I still think it's doubtful enough to carry a health warning!!

    2. "there is very clear evidence..." Do you have a reference for this I wonder? Sorry, I have an educational background in the sciences and I ask questions like that! Let me put an opposite hypothesis to you. Could it be that those with a certain lack of brain function use their mobile phones excessively; I am reversing your cause and effect. My reference is the number of RTAs caused by hands on mobile phone use.

    3. Simon, please, this is not the time or place for such a discussion about a lighthearted piece. I can assure you though that I too am of above average intelligence. I know what I have read and indeed seen on some documentaries. But I shall not respond to this chain further because, as I said above, it's not really the time or the place. If some day we meet face to face again I'll be glad to natter about it then!

    4. Ha ha, what a lovely post John. Last week, while we were meandering around on Rhodes island we ,light-heartedly, decided that most Greek men must have started to grow a third hand. One for the frappe, one for the cigarette and another for the mobile phone! Great to catch up and sorry I forgot the polos!

    5. OK, so this post was some time ago. But if anyone's still interested in the mobile phone-cancer link that Simon clearly doubts, check this out. It's all about being sensible when there is a need for caution after all: https://www.facebook.com/TheScienceOfStephanie/videos/vb.1231785243505671/1492155997468593/?type=2&theater