Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Living in Greece

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.

And very recently I bumped into an ex-student in the Kalamata Post Office. Of course I didn’t recognise him, and he had to tell me who he was. But it was such a delightful interlude, and I felt so appreciated, that I wrote the whole encounter up. Check  See the edition of the 19th of December. If interested!

I’m glad about yesterday, too. I was with friends in a lovely warm house, with good food and lots of Christmas cheer. And it so happened that the gathering was of rather a multi-cultural character. Greeks were naturally in the majority, but also in attendance was a company consisting of one Albanian, one Australian, one English woman. and a man from Pakistan. A little UN in a Peloponnesian village. A good time was had by all, and daylight ended with a most spectacular rose-red sunset. The weather is delightfully sunny, but farmers are trying not to worry about the lack of rain.

People in this beleaguered land keep on keeping on, but there are various ominous signs: how long can the fight continue? On a fairly superficial level, it has been noted that the demand for Christmas trees experienced a notable falling-off this season. (Well, Christmas trees have been popular for only the last 25 years or so.) Much more seriously, deaths from cancer have increased quite markedly in number. If you subscribe to the theory that many cancers are related to stress levels, you will hardly be surprised, as a large proportion of the population is living on an economic knife-edge. It should be noted that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has incurred the wrath of the Powers That Be in the EU (what, again?) by insisting on a single payment to pensioners, a kind of bonus to get them through the supposedly festive season with a little lessening of financial pressure.

Given these thoughts about burdens, I am pleased to report on a heartening sight in the main street of Kalamata a couple of days ago. This was Atlas Man. One of those human statues that tries to remain motionless while people take selfies and think about leaving a small donation. He was also Gold Man, dressed in a kind of glittering medieval jerkin affair, with gold skin and long locks, also gold. He was bent over and working hard to maintain this position and support a light but large round balloon arrangement that was meant to represent the world.  I wouldn’t have blamed him had he dropped the whole thing, and such an event would have been quite symbolic, surely. But he kept on with nary a waver or quaver, and the public was impressed. A notice nearby announced he came from Spain, a similarly afflicted nation to Greece.

I’m a dinosaur and a Luddite, but I struggle against these tendencies, at least from time to time. Of course I still mourn that simpler era when people wrote and received letters, and used actual pens and paper to that end. But in my efforts to keep up with the modern world, I’ve just joined Twitter. I can see the attraction, and indeed the merit of it: it cuts out wordiness, for one good thing. And just in passing: I think the most useful thing I ever learned in my life was the workmanlike art of précis writing, taught me by my old Dad, who was not old Dad then. And now I wonder how many people know what a précis is.

My book Seeing and Believing, which had its first home on this website, is now in Athenian shops. Namely Politeia, in central Athens, and Evripidis bookshops in the northern suburbs of Halandri and Kifissia. It can also be ordered from, and from Gialos Books, Athens. One pleasing thing about the book’s cover is that it includes a picture of the Melbourne skyline. I had to check this, as said skyline has changed so much since I was a resident Melburnian.

A winter note: robins are more usually associated with snowy points further north than the Peloponnese, but I’m happy to say that I have a red-breasted visitor from time to time. He hips and hops along the terrace whenever the mood takes him, or whenever there is anything edible offering. I just hope he keeps a weather eye open for cats, for there are four resident ones upstairs, and various others that come and go. It’s not easy being small and feathered.


Gillian Bouras


Eureka Street

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Gillian Bouras 2018