Thursday, 17 August 2017

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

As you may know, I run a Facebook group called "A Good Greek Read". It has, I'm amazed and delighted (in equal measure) to say, become quite a success and the members generally report that they enjoy the benefits that being in the group bring. The whole idea came to me a couple of years ago while I was trawling one of the on-line bookstores for something with a Greek theme to read. 

"It would be nice," I thought, "if there were a group on Facebook where members posted links to reading material for Grecophiles." It wouldn't have to be only fiction, or only factual, not even only books. As long as it relates to Greece (or Cyprus) in some way, it would qualify for posting. Thus I started the thing up, rather expecting it to be a bit of a flop in all honesty. 

Now, over two years on, it's got 2300 plus members and people are joining every day. Members can trawl down the page for books, magazine articles, blog posts or news items that simply need to have a connection with Greece to qualify for inclusion. Every post includes a link so that, if you want to investigate the reading material in question, all you need to do is click the link. If it's a book then the link will usually be to its Amazon page, but it doesn't have to be. It can be to any other on-line bookstore, even another article about that work that will interest the reader. A Good Greek Read is a kind of virtual library for all things Greece-related.

I'm rather chuffed to be honest that quite a few pretty well-known writers on a Greek theme are also members of A Good Greek Read. This means that members can interact with the writers of their favourite Greek-themed literature through comments on the posts. Not a few have ended up PM-ing with authors too, these sending them freebies on occasion. All in all, a result. 

There was only one 'incident' that almost made me pack the whole thing in within a few weeks of starting it up. Someone joined who was evidently proud of being an 'intellectual' and a 'Hellenophile'. She was a lecturer at some university or other and very aggressively tried to make me change the name of the group to "A Good Hellenic Read." Her argument was that Greeks don't want to be called Greeks and that they would rather we all called their country "Ellada" or "Hellas". She posited that it was an insult to the Greeks to call Greece Greece and her people Greeks.

She may well have a few letters after her name, but I have had Greek relatives for over forty years, have lived here for 12 years and counting and have a large circle of Greek friends. Oddly, none of my Greek friends or relatives could give a toss about this issue. Seems that not a few non-Greeks who feel they need to champion the cause for the poor unfortunately misnamed Greeks do however, feel the need to take up the figurative cudgel.

I won't go into all the ins and outs of her argument here, but suffice it to say that I had to block her from the group when it was still only weeks old after some pretty aggressive comments that had really upset me, not least because of her annoying condescension. She was the Richard Dawkins of all things Greek. Sorry, Hellenic.

Now. let me get this straight. What do the Germans call their homeland? Deutchland, right? What do the Swiss call their homeland? Helvetia, yes? In fact, the French call Germany l'Allemagne and England they call Angleterre. The Germans call Greece Griechenland ...I could go on. Greece doesn't have the monopoly on being called something different by non-compatriots. This person to whom I refer asserts that to call Greece Greece is to insult her and her people. Odd that, because virtually every Greek I know will say, when the conversation turns to any number of endearing national traits that these folk manifest, "It's becoss I am Greek!", which is often sufficient to explain things. Oh, and they usually say it with a smile or a wide grin.

Frankly, the expression 'to split hairs' comes swiftly to mind here. Why, some years ago there was a big hit song in the Greek charts called "Greek Lover" in which the 'singer' boasts about the fact that he's a Greek lover and the 'best in the world'. Here's the official video. Warning, it's a bit racy in places!! Also it takes a while to get going, but stick with it. It would go down well at your next Greek-themed party by the way. Tell the DJ. After you've listened to that, go tell me that the Greeks are insulted about being called 'Greek'. Plus, what kind of wedding did Nia Vardalos make the subject of her very funny 2002 movie? Oh yes, that's right, it was called "My Big Fat Hellenic Wedding", right?

What did old Will Shakespeare's Juliet once say about whether it mattered what name her lover was called by?

Just time for a couple of photos. Rhodes municipality are once again having a go at encouraging folk to recycle. Just the other evening in town I saw these newly-arrived bins for recyclable materials. Across the top of the sign on the front, in the red band, it reads "Please - Not rubbish!" It remains to be seen whether that will work, but at least they're having a go again.

I wonder whether anyone who thinks they know Rhodes can hazard a guess, even state with certainty, where the street in the photo below can be found. It may just surprise some of you...

The photo below tells a lovely story. If you click on the photo and get the larger view you ought to be able to make out the title of the frame on the left. It reads:

"The Ouzo Bell Comes with Love and Fond Memories"
and at the bottom it says, "Ring the bell for Sotiris and ouzo time forever". In order to see these two frames, the right one of course containing a photo of the Sotiri in question, then you'd have to be aboard the lovely boat "Triton", owned and run by my good friends Makis and Nikoleta. In the next post I'll re-post this photo and tell you that rather touching and heartwarming story behind it. (Tune in next time folks...). Nothing like building a bit of anticipation, now, is there?


  1. I for one am glad the 'A Good Greek Read' is so popular. Your university lecturer should be credited with putting the Hell in Hellenic by the sound of it (people seem to take up cudgels on behalf of others far too much). As an Englishman I don't mind being called a limey, pom or rost-bif so long as I'm not left out of the round.

    1. Nicely put Steve. In fact, when I have French guests on my excursions, which I do quite frequently, I usually raise a laugh (haw-hee-haw of course!) when I announce in my patchy French over the mic on the coach that I'm a rost-bif!!