Sunday, 30 April 2017

Megaphone Marketing

I was over in Pilona yesterday, doing some of my regular gardening for a friend there who hasn't got the manpower to keep her garden in the manner to which she'd like. There I was attacking the weeds, that were defiantly thrusting their way up through the gravel, with my trusty old screwdriver, glove on the right hand to help prevent, or at least delay, the inevitable blister that usually forms in the palm of my hand, when a familiar sound began wafting across the olive grove across the lane from the main part of the village a little way up the gently sloping hillside. Even the two donkeys grazing across the lane from me under the shade of an old olive tree perked up their ears.

A few hundred metres away a megaphone was garbling away in Greek. Someone was slowly trawling the narrow village lanes peddling their wares, in this case patio furniture. If you've ever been in a Greek village when one of these enterprising traders comes by, it does have entertainment value. Usually the patio furniture salesmen will be driving a pick-up piled so high with stacked plastic patio chairs that they ought to have a flashing red light on top to warn any passing aircraft.

If anyone actually wants to purchase a few of these chairs, which are often carried in several fetching colours, I have often wondered how the vendor gets up there to take them from the stack. These pickups are usually so laden with the seller's wares that it's difficult to imagine quite how they got it all on there in the first place. I'm quite sure from the ones I've witnessed, that if I were the one trying to load the flatbed, I'd be continually cursing as, while I attempt to load one huge pile, another comes crashing back to the ground.

Not many minutes later another, quite different, megaphone-amplified voice began to declare its presence. This time it was the scrap iron collector. Pretty soon it was interesting to listen as the two scratchy voices could be heard cruising different parts of the village, each evidently trying to keep his distance from the other. They were almost circling each other like two animals checking out the opposition before setting to with a fight. It doesn't do for two vendors/collectors to arrive at the same time after all. They don't want some householder struggling into their avli with their newly acquired shiny plastic patio furniture set while at the same time the old iron collector comes by to collect their old washing machine. That would be too irritating and just too stressful.

In fact, the scrap iron collector so puts me in mind of my childhood. It was as far back as 1957 when Peter Sellers the actor released the song "Any Old Iron" back in the days when it was quite a regular occurrence for the scrap metal collectors to come around the streets collecting old mangles and stuff (Point of interest, Sellers didn't write the song, he took it from the old music hall entertainer Harry Champion. What a mine of useless info I am, eh?). Here in Greece it's still a regular occurrence. 

Other mobile vendors that regularly do a tour of the local villages include those selling freshly caught fish (cue all the local cat population to turn out en masse), Chickens (live ones), Carpets and rugs, clothes, Fruit and veg and plants in pots. 

Yea, that's the kind of thing. Photo courtesy of

The clothes and rug salesmen are more usually to be seen in closed vans, the ones with the sliding side doors, but the others are more often driving pickup trucks. The plant sellers often have such a top-heavy cargo on the back that you do well to keep your distance, especially if they're moving. They'll often be seen on the roads between villages, trundling along with half a dozen fifteen-foot high palm trees swaying in the breeze from their terracotta pots stowed on the flatbed. All kinds of other exotic plants may be on there as well, in fact I wouldn't be at all surprised with some of them if I saw a blowpipe below a nose with a bone through it slide out from between the lush foliage now and then. I've seen huge pots roll off the back of these pickups on more than one occasion. When you consider that the seller may well be asking a hundred Euros for a large palm that weighs so much that it needs two people to lift it, you'd kind of expect them to be slightly better at securing them on their vehicles.

Anyway, the two donkeys soon went back to their lazy grazing and I took that as a cue to carry on weeding. I've got a blister on the palm of my right hand today by the way. Just thought you'd like to know. In case, you know, you may want to express sympathy or something.

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