Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Living in Greece

November 2013

I flatter myself I have been punctual with this diary over the last few months, or punctual enough, but now I am separated from my laptop, which went suddenly bung the other day, with the result that I am struggling with an old and recalcitrant notebook. The notebook is not only slow, but has a will of its own. The laptop, meanwhile, has undergone its diagnosis (nothing very serious or too expensive, praise the Lord and the technician) and must languish for a couple of days before being restored to Home and Mother.

Resentment is accumulating as the notebook clanks on, freezes, and then shows its determination to frustrate me.. But I remind myself of all the years I wrote longhand and trekked to post offices, in Melbourne, in the village, and in Kalamata. And I still do this to a certain extent: I make great use of a series of faithful biros, and still send and receive a certain amount of snail mail.

An email correspondent recently said that the little walk to the letter-box, with all its attendant suspense and anticipation, was a thing of the past. Not for this ageing baby, it isn’t. Although my inbox draws me and how, the letter box still sings its siren song, and I check it more than once a day. When I wrote my first book, the manuscript was all in longhand, and I used to post the various chapters to a friend who was also a very good typist. And now all this sounds positively antediluvian. But we look back nostalgically sometimes: we had more control over our limited technology then.

My television set has had to acquire a decoder, too, as the Peloponnese recently went digital. I myself went all feeble and asked a young techie to set the mysterious little black box up for me: it was done in a trice, whereas I would have needed half a day at least. And that half day might well have involved a crying fit from sheer frustration. Or I might have given way to my Luddite tendencies and thrown the little black box against the wall.

A friend Down Under asks why we need these things. Once upon a time, she emailed recently, we had pens and radios. And, she added, Shakespeare did not have a refrigerator. Well, no. But neither did my family when I was a child. We kids would follow the iceman’s truck about, and cheerfully ate shards of ice which were usually coated with dust and dirt from the road. And we survived. In the previous generation, my grandmothers had to make do with Coolgardie safes.


Of course it never rains but it pours, although farmers here are complaining about the lack of rain, as the Little Summer of St Dimitrios, dating from the relevant Feast Day on October 26th, lasts and lasts, and this year said Saint got started rather earlier than usual. But in the middle of all this idyllic weather, I fell ill with my first ever bout of bronchitis. (I had pleurisy more than forty years ago, and can distinctly remember vowing never to have it again.) Ingrate that I am, I take any form of illness as a personal affront. (What a nerve.) But it’s a salutary lesson when something like this does happen: I am very grateful that I was born in the 20th century.

And in Pollyanna mode, I am thankful that gloom and greyness have not yet descended: the miniature purple cyclamens have sprung up in tufts and bunches everywhere, the bougainvillea is still blazing, and the Virginia creeper has turned its satisfyingly glowing shade of red. I am also glad that my son came to collect me so that I could watch his sons compete in an athletics competition. Proud Granny sat quietly yesterday as Nikitas, who is seven, won two medals, while Maximus, aged five, got one.

A trip down Memory Lane. Nikitas, in particular, is very like his father in his quiet determination. In his sprint, he took off like a rocket and won by yards. I mentioned the word antediluvian, didn’t I? When I was seven, and for quite a few years thereafter, I, too, used to take off like a rocket. And I often won. Ten thousand miles away, and wearing my very low-tech white runners.

Now to return to 2013: the laptop is back.  


Gillian Bouras


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Gillian Bouras 2018