Sunday, 5 August 2018

Where Do I Start?

I seem to have so many odds and ends in my mind this time, that I don't know where to start.

I know, travelling back south on the 'Rhodes By Day' excursion yesterday, Nikos was driving the coach and we were talking about this and that. He asked about my visit to the UK and how things had gone, and I told him that, apart from everything else, it's rather odd seeing the British countryside looking the same colour as it does here in Greece, owing to the high temperatures and lack of rainfall this summer over there. I mean, this is a rare sight in the UK...

That's Chico, my brother-in-law's adorable little dog, but look at the colour of the grass.
Nikos, quick as a flash, responded with what I thought was quite a witty quip. He said:

"You know what it is John? This government has sold everything else [the airports to a German company, the energy company to a French one, and so on] so I reckon they've sold our weather too!! They've sold it to Northern Europe."


I'm sad to admit that I've lost my joy in doing my excursions now. I'm not going to explain it all today, maybe not for a few months (owing to some outstanding matters that need to be resolved with certain 'bodies' out here), but there have been some illogical and - to me - unreasonable developments, revolving around the issue of 'demarcation' and pedantics on the part of some, that have robbed me of the pleasure that I used to take from doing them. It's hard to talk about this without explaining in full, but there are sound reasons why I can't just yet. I shall one day though, I shall.

On a lighter note, I've come unstuck again with a few word mixups again of late. I mean, honestly, it's a complete minefield in some areas. I even confuse words I know, but simply say them wrongly in my haste to speak fluently. I'll give you some more examples. I've spelt the Greek words phonetically...

"I've just been to the table to draw out some cash." Table = to trape'zi, bank = ee tra'peza.

"What a lovely string!" String - mia skoini', scene - mia skini'. String is actually spelt with a Greek 'χ' rather than a 'k', but apart from the 'o' being before the 'i' when you spell it, it's pronounced almost the same. The word for 'tent' is also 'skini', but spelt slightly differently. So, you may say tent, string or scene in any number of a whole bunch of contexts!! Let your listeners decide what you meant to say.

I told someone the other day that I'd tied my bed, when I meant to say I'd tied my tie (as in that thing you put around the collar of a shirt and do up with a Windsor knot).
bed - to creva'ti, tie - i grava'ta.

And, finally, when I wanted to say I was so sorry, fortunately not while speaking to my recently-widowed brother-in-law (not the one I was staying with), but with one of our Greek relatives, I said 'we're missing.'
I'm sorry (as in, for your/our loss) - lipa'meh, we're missing - leap'oomeh.

If you can't see me it's because the ground has opened up and swallowed me. 

I had a rather nice German lady on my trip last week, along with her five-year-old son, who was a sweetie with a jaunty Fedora, which he wore all day long, sensible chap. His mum was probably in her early thirties and spoke pretty good English. She was sitting with me and chatting in the Top Three while we were waiting for the coach to arrive for our return to the South and she remarked on Spiro's collection of football scarves. This led to our discussing the recent football world cup, which had interested me about as much as a verruca, to be honest. You know it's there, but you don't want to be bothered with it.

Anyway, she asked me, in all earnestness, "Why was it the 'England' team? Why you have different teams? In Germany we only have one team. I may be from Bavaria, but we still have only the one team, Germany. But you British have England, Wales, Scotland - why is this?"

Now, before you go into a lather of nationalistic outrage, this illustrates to me how so many other nationalities perceive us Brits, the Irish and our islands. The Greeks, for example, will always say of anyone from the UK, "Einai Anglezi." They have a poor perception of the nature of the UK and how it works. They don't understand at all that Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England are in fact, different countries under the kind of 'umbrella' of the British Isles. Thus, you may be Welsh or Scottish, but to a Greek, generally you'll be perceived as an 'Anglezos,' or an 'Anglos.' I find this with a lot of Americans too. You may be too young to remember the old Roger Miller song, "England Swings" (That would mean something else today too!), but it makes the point about how Americans perceive the UK. Americans by and large talk about going to "England', when they most likely mean Britain.

Of course we don't help matters do we? I mean there are certain athletic tournaments where there will be a "team GB" and others where the individual countries field their own teams independently. Small wonder that my German lady guest couldn't get her head around it at all, even after I'd tried to explain.

And, finally, to the subject of the frappé, or iced coffee. It seems that the self-righteous have latched on to the frappé as a golden opportunity to lecture me on how 'unhealthy' instant coffee is. It's so bad for our health, apparently. Don't I know that a Freddo Espresso is much better for me, since it's made from ground coffee, which is not processed like the instant stuff? Of course I damn well do.

Now, I'm not one to boast, but I do rather bask in the glory of my wife's expertise in all things dietary. She knows all there is to know about nutrition, the benefits of pulses and unprocessed foods, the very evident links between red meat and colon cancer and a whole host of other stuff. I could make a very extensive list here, but suffice it to say that we eat much more healthily than just about anyone else we know, apart perhaps from my wife's brother Paul, in the UK, who's a very earnest vegan. So, to order a frappé in the company of some carnivore or other who also smokes (the slower way to commit suicide folks, but it works nevertheless) and then have them say "You know that's bad for you" - galls to say the least!

We're not the types to lecture others on what they should or shouldn't take into their bodies, but if someone asks, then yes we'll explain our stance. But we're also firm believers in the principle that to indulge in the occasional 'bad' or 'naughty' thing, as long as one knows one's limits of course, isn't going to make a lot of difference.

So, next time I order a frappé, if you're in my company, I'd be grateful if you keep your opinion to yourself, eh?

Sorry folks - I just wanted to get that last one off my chest.

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