Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Writer
Living in Greece

It's Still Greek to Me!

 

August 2017

The summer seems to be speeding by, as summers anywhere mainly do. My four grandchildren are all at the beach: the big boys are visiting the island of Spetses, where I have never been, and the littlies are on Crete, visiting their other grandparents. I have been to Crete many times, but I was sorry not to be there yesterday, as it was granddaughter Natalia’s first birthday: I’m sorry I missed seeing her enjoy her birthday cake, which was an ice cream one, I’m told. And she drank from a straw for the first time. Babyhood is disappearing fast, as she is now walking, although she likes to hang on to things while doing so. I can see the attraction of that practice at the other end of life, too! She is to be christened at the end of this month. I confess I do not look forward to the occasion at all, for Orthodox christenings, involving the ritual triple immersion, are an ordeal rather than anything else.

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July 2017

A mixed month, the one just past, to say the least. Which is one reason this month’s entry may well be posted late. Other reasons include those of natural sloth and unnatural heat: 45 is supposed to be today’s maximum temperature, and I’m not really interested enough to check. My rare excursions outside tell me it is HOT, and that’s all I need to know.

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June 2017

Kalo meena, as the Greeks say: have a good month. Summer is supposed to be here, but we have had most odd weather over the last week: dramatic thunderstorms and torrential rain. This pattern did not do a lot for ageing adult enjoyment of a school excursion. I had arranged to meet Nikitas and Maximus, my elder grandsons, now aged 11 and 9, and their mother, in Kalamata. Last Sunday they travelled from Megara, the town between Corinth and Athens where they live, for the day, and were a small part of three busloads of primary school children: I felt weak at the sight, and weaker still at the sound of at least a hundred Greek children at leisure.

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May 2017

A happy May Day and Labour Day to all. As I write a little ahead of time, it is not a pleasant day here in the Peloponnese, with quite high and bothersome winds. Anybody who wanted to be exotic and dance around a May pole would have his/her work cut out just to keep said pole upright and ribbons untangled. Wreaths of spring flowers for front doors are the custom here, and at some stage I’ll go on my annual wreath-counting expedition. I have never learned whether the Queen of the May is part of Greek folk-lore, but in every European country the day has always been celebrated as the victory of summer over winter (at last!) and customs and traditions are of ancient origin. In Greece, for example, Persephone was supposed to return from the Underworld on May Day.

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April 2017

Time seems to be speeding away, and having visited all my grandchildren very recently, I could wish that matters such as their growth could be slowed down just a little. The Big Boys (Nikitas and Maximus) turn 11 and 9 next week, a fact I find hard to believe, and are in current need of bricks on their heads. Before they turn into yards of pump water: both these expressions per courtesy of my late mother, who was always very interested in words in general and colourful expressions and parody in particular.

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March 2017

I’m sure I have a lot of mates who will join me in bidding a glad farewell to the trying month of February: I know this refrain sounds monotonous, and it is, but there you have it. Eventually, of course, we will be glad of the amount of rain that has fallen. In the meantime, however, we are all convinced that T.S. Eliot got it wrong: April is not the cruellest month, as that dubious honour goes to February.

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February 2017

It seems quite a long time since I wrote last, but 2017 is already speeding on its way. At this point, I have to admit that my Pollyanna resolution of last month is already under pressure. The main reason for this is the constant stream of news emanating from the USA in general and from the White House in particular. None of this news is good. How can it be, when there is a madman in residence in the aforesaid mansion?  Simon Schama, noted historian, and a person I follow on Twitter, has asserted that President Trump is ‘clinically unhinged.’ I agree wholeheartedly, and I’m sure I have millions of mates. Trump’s cry of ‘betrayal’, recently directed at the US Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, is typical of people who have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Mine is a lay person’s opinion, of course, but again, I think I have millions of mates who would agree with this diagnosis.

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January 2017

Having reached (at least in theory) the so-called years of discretion many moons ago, I no longer leap to welcome the New Year with a glad cry. Let caution be your watchword, I tell myself, and let’s see what happens: it’s bound to be plenty. We have to admit that 2016 was a trying time, and that’s putting it mildly. But we also have to keep hoping for better things, so let us be like Pollyanna and be glad about the good and bright spots: we each have a list. Tomorrow, for example, I’m glad I’m going to see my two youngest grandchildren. Very glad. And I’ll catch up with the others, my two big boys, before long.

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December 2016

Post early for Christmas, they say. Well, I’ll try to do so with this section of Diary. I can’t promise about cards, however: every year I make resolutions about being organised and early, but guess what? Well, the answer to that question is very predictable. The best-laid plans etc: my attempts to clear the decks before decking the halls, so to speak, usually end in ignominious failure.

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November 2016

Here in the Peloponnese, autumn is drawing to a close with wet and dreary weather. The occasional storm is also on the agenda. British journalist India Knight says she loves this sort of weather, as it gives her the excuse to loll around the house and wear enormous socks. I like big socks and admire India Knight, but cannot share her enthusiasm for this coolness: I eventually find the grey clouds depressing.

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October 2016

School has well and truly started, and eldest grandson Nikitas is (miraculous to report) learning French! I’ll soon be able to check on his progress, as I am about to set off very soon for Megara and Athens. Once upon a time I hardly ever went to Attica, but now, of course, the grandchildren are a great draw. And they change so quickly and grow up so inexorably. Each phase is interesting, but sometimes I wish the growth rate would slow just a little. Especially in the case of Natalia, my granddaughter, who is in her third month already.

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September 2016

My granddaughter is here! She is now a month old, and I will go to Athens to see her again shortly. She’s a big girl, in training to be some kind of Cretan-Peloponnesian warrior princess, I think, as she was more than 4kg at birth. And 54 cm long. Yet her mother took only five hours to deliver her: copy-book stuff, apparently. It’s a pity more of us females can’t manage this trick, or do not know the secret of it. In Greece babies are supposed to be named after the father’s parents, but I let all my children off that particular hook a long time ago. So my granddaughter is to be called Natalia, which means ‘birthday of the Lord.’ As you might imagine, she has a good head of dark hair: I am not used to bald babies!

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Gillian Bouras

 

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