Thursday, 22 March 2018

Eavesdropping and Clanger-dropping

I was in the local store the other day, queuing patiently at the 'checkout', behind a couple of locals, when the person in front of me reached the till and began a conversation with Vasili, the store owner. It was the kind of chat that reveals a relationship that goes back many years.

At times like these it pays to remember that no one here is in much of a hurry and they don't expect you to be either. It doesn't do to display impatience, after all, does anyone around here have a train to catch?

Ilias, was probably only about five six in height, and I'd say almost as wide as he was tall. I doubt he's seen his toes in many a long year. He didn't have much in his basket, but he did have plenty of time to natter about the government and what a bunch of thieves they are, about how Mr. Ertogan, the Turkish President, was intent on provoking Greece into some kind of aggressive military response to his constant goading so that he could lay the blame on Greece's shoulders when hostilities broke out, about the rainfall situation and the state of the roads. A few other topics were covered too, like who's recently died, who recently got married and who recently had some grave illness that they only just managed to pull through.

All this time I was busy eavesdropping and was rather amused when the conversation turned to the subject of Ilias' state of health. Like I said, he's of no small girth. I mean, try to imagine a medicine ball with a flat cap on, and you're about there. Vasilis asked him:

"You still walking a few kilometres a day?" 

He asked this in response to a statement that Ilias had made about his evidently futile efforts at losing a few Kg. He also asked this, I believe, feeling safe in the knowledge that the answer would be in the negative, since it didn't look like his shape had changed at all.

By now it was reckoning-up time and Ilias took his time about responding while he counted out some readies from his bulging back pocket. It never ceases to fascinate me how all these 'poor' horiates regularly whip out a fat wad of notes whenever necessary, yet at the same time profess that they're about to starve to death due to having to pay their exorbitant electricity bills.

Ilias stuffed his purchases into his ageing, yet still just about serviceable, frayed and faded cotton shopping bag, and began walking out the door. As he exited the store and I cautiously moved to the till, he called back his response over his shoulder, without looking back...

"Walking? Gave it up. It wasn't working."

As Vasili nodded to me and opened his mouth to utter a greeting, before he could actually utter anything, the final words of Ilias wafted in through the door, just before his creaky pick-up door slammed...

"No. These days I'm running!"

Although I'm - in all humility - proud to say that I can hold my own pretty well during a conversation with the locals these days, even though some of them have accents so thick that you could slice them and put them on your toast, I still quite often cause loud outbursts of laughter. It's never with malice (it isn't, is it?), but I'll give you one or two recent examples.

So, there I was, standing at the till while Vasilis rang up my purchases and we heard the rather rotund Ilias' creaky, suffering old pick-up truck pulling away outside in a haze of blue smoke.

"Maria and I used to do a lot of knitting to keep fit." I confidently declared.

Vasili's face revealed a complete mystification about how knitting could be classed as a fitness exercise. 

"You must have used pretty large, heavy needles, then." He replied, a nervous grin gracing his face.

"What?" I said, "Why would I need needles to do some knitting?"

Cutting to the quick here folks, I had good reason to be glad that there weren't more people waiting behind me, because it would have resulted in major embarrassment on my part and general jollity on everyone else's, because the penny dropped for Vasili, who said:

"I think you might mean treximo, yes?" 

See, 'treximo' is the word used for 'jogging' or 'running'. The Greek word for knitting is 'pleximo'

I was getting my words tangled wasn't I. I can't help it if my mind gets all woolly now and then.

One more example: I told someone the other day...

"I'm just desiring you,"

...when I meant to say...

"I'm just reminding you."

Desiring is 'epithimi'es', whereas reminding is 'ipenthimi'es'

Ah, well, many a slip as they say. Anyway, must knit, I need to desire someone about something...

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