Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Living in Greece

February 2018

The inexorable march involving that dimension. On the one hand time seems to drag, while on the other it gallops away into some sort of distance at a truly frightening rate. Gloomy February is very quickly almost upon us, but as I write the sun is shining brightly, and making all the difference to jaded spirits. And there was a distinctly orange moon in the process of sinking behind the mountains first thing this morning: astronomers all over the world must be ecstatic at this triple moon phenomenon, which occurs, I am informed, only once in 150 years.

Last month I mentioned my trip to the First Cemetery in Athens; I also mentioned the tomb of the Australian ‘Darling Willy,’ who was born in South Australia, but died in Athens in 1982. I said I wished knew more of his story, and this wish turned out to be the signal for two interested friends to spring into genealogical action, as it were. (Many thanks to Elizabeth and Bev.) Willy’s name as printed on his tombstone was Arthur William Primrose Malcom. (I worried about the missing L in Malcom, and wondered whether the Greek stone mason had run out of space.)

I suspected that Primrose was somebody’s maiden name, and sure enough, it turned out that Willy was a scion of the Primrose family: his ancestor John Primrose founded the Union Brewery in Adelaide. The family also claimed a connection with Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, and Prime Minister of Britain 1894-5. Rosebery eventually gave politics up; of him, Winston Churchill famously quipped: ‘He would not stoop; he did not conquer.’

Willy had three sisters, all of whom apparently became society beauties. He himself became a diplomat, and served in Athens. He eventually married a Greek girl and stayed on. At least one of his sisters came to visit, and seems to have been intrigued by her sister-in-law’s village near Corinth, so much so that she arranged to have parcels of clothes and other items sent there from Australia after her holiday was over. So Willy’s resting place in the First Cemetery is explained. I surmise that the sisters were responsible for the inscription, part of which reads in our hearts forever.

In other news, as they say, I am just back from Megara (between Corinth and Athens). I went there in order to catch up with my second son and his family, who had recently returned from over three weeks spent in Melbourne: it seems to have been quite hard to return to work, school and winter after a busy and active summer holiday. They packed a huge amount into the time, from A for Aquarium to Z for Zoo. There were days at the beach, tours of the Great Ocean Road and Sovereign Hill gold mining site, visits to family and friends.

My grandsons had grown: warm weather and all the fish and chips they had eaten? No. 1 son, who lives in Melbourne, had very considerately sent me two packets of bite-sized Cherry Ripes. It didn’t take too many bites to finish the lot off, as they are my second favourite Australian confection. I suppose Rum and Raisin chocolate and Violet Crumbles tie for first place, but I gather Violet Crumbles are becoming hard to get. Let us devoutly hope that they do not go the way of the late and much lamented Polly Waffle. One day we took a quick trip into suburban Athens in order to hand over various Antipodean presents to son no. 3 and his family. Orestes, who turns five this month, was all agog, and very pleased with his (late) Christmas stocking that also contained (you guessed it) Cherry Ripe bars. He wants me to visit for his birthday, and has been very insistent about this: grandmothers have many rewards in life.

Being a sweet old-fashioned thing, I still rely quite heavily on snail mail, especially at Christmas time. Once I regarded Australia Post as my life-line, but those days are long gone. Comparisons are odious, but the Royal Mail and Hellenic Post are providing good service: I never thought I’d say that about Hellenic Post, but time changes all things. I am reliably informed that almost the whole of Australia is complaining about Australia Post. And no wonder: the hitherto standing shameful record of 51 days for delivery from Coburg in Melbourne to Kalamata has been shattered. Two days ago I received a Christmas card posted in Geelong (only 50km from Melbourne) on December the 1st. The new record is now 60 days. Sometimes I feel as if I might as well be living in the eighteenth century. Or the nineteenth.  But it will be a long time before I stop writing snail mail.

Gillian Bouras


Eureka Street

Gillian occasionally writes for

Eureka Street

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

Gillian Bouras 2018