Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Living in Greece

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.

I am also shocked, but not surprised, to learn that Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration, has no quibble with Donald Trump’s banning of refugees and Muslims from seven specific countries. (Trump has exempted countries in which he has business interests from the ban. Again, no surprises there.)  Lack of empathy appears to be a prime requirement for politicians these days. So it’s difficult to be glad, except about small things; on the other hand, it’s often the small things (e.g. grandchildren!) that matter most.

I seem to be doing things in reverse order: by that I mean I have become more interested in politics and indeed more radical as I’ve aged. When I was young I tended to keep my head down and concentrate on my work, and there was always plenty of that. I think having children and then grandchildren makes a huge difference: you have souls in your keeping, so to speak, and you consequently worry about them and their future. In the meantime, there are many good things to report about my grandchildren’s present.

Christmas is now a blur, and I didn’t see them then, anyway. But on December the 27th I went up to Athens in preparation for the big trip to Crete. Three generations flew from Athens to Heraklion, not without incident. We were all up before dawn on the 29th, as we had to take an early morning flight. We looked out our windows, and lo and behold! Athens was covered in snow. I’d never seen so much of the stuff outside Germany, and in fact suburban Athens, eerily quiet at 5 in the morning, resembled nothing so much as a German Christmas card.

Alexander drove in gingerly fashion to the airport, and we all heaved a sigh of relief and surprise once we were on the motorway, as the maintenance vehicles were out in full force and working away with a will in order to keep all-important surfaces clear. I dreaded the flight, of course. Mercifully, it is only 35 minutes in duration. But sure enough, it was so turbulent that the flight attendants had no hope of serving even a quick cup of coffee. Orestes, who is not yet four, was seated between his parents, and apparently did not turn a hair during all the bumps and dips: unlike his aged grandmother, I admit. Every hair on my head was turning somersaults. Yet here is a child who is scared of the extractor fan on the wall of the Cretan kitchen. Fears are strange and idiosyncratic things, clearly.

We obviously arrived safely, and had a good time thereafter. But it was bitterly cold: would you believe 4 metres of snow on Mt Ida? Needless to say, I took up residence near the wood stove, and had no desire to go mountaineering. But we managed a couple of visits to Heraklion, and a jaunt to Rethymnon, a city I have always liked. I first visited Rethymnon with my parents, and way back then my mother and I bravely climbed what seemed like thousands of steps to the top of a minaret. Going up was more than manageable, but getting down was quite another matter, as we discovered the next day, when a whole set of very new muscles was screaming in agony. Beware of Minaret Knees!

It goes without saying that Orestes had the time of his life. He is his maternal grandparents’ first grandchild, and naturally they dote. Grandfather Vasilis even brought snow down from the nearest mountain so that he could build Orestes a snowman in the garden! O also formed a friendship with famous exponent of the Cretan lyra, Psarantonis, who is a friend of the family. Psarantonis is seven decades older than O, and sports a full beard and a mane of crinkly hair, sights O had never seen before, but like most Greeks Psarantonis loves little children, so within a short time all was well. To the extent that soon Orestes himself was trying to scrape away at the lyra. Well, here’s hoping that one day he may keep us all in the fashion to which we are definitely unaccustomed.

Gillian Bouras


Eureka Street

Gillian occasionally writes for

Eureka Street

(Type 'Bouras' into their search bar to find all her articles.)

Gillian Bouras 2018