Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Living in Greece

February 2014

I know I’ve moaned about the speed of Time’s winged chariot before, but the vehicle seems to be accelerating, even while people of my age are trying, as a friend rather ruefully remarks, to break said chariot’s axle. To no avail, of course. And we can’t shoot the horses, either.


February is not my favourite month, and I’ve said that before, too. Many times. I dread the cabin fever that endless wet days produces, but usually go walking, anyway, sloshing through rain and mud to the bemusement of any locals who happen to be about. Another defence mechanism against melancholy is the reading of mood-enhancing books. The latest of these is Sebastian Faulks’s homage to P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

The extremely versatile Faulks was conscious of the difficulty and responsibility of producing a novel in the style of PGW. I would have thought that style inimitable, myself, but now think that our Sebastian has pulled the trick off, and very successfully: I found myself laughing aloud very frequently. The immortal Jeeves is a wonderful character, and the perfect foil to his employer, the intellectually challenged Bertie Wooster.

Faulks captures the contrasting characters via dialogue perfectly. In the early stages of the novel, Jeeves informs Bertie that a Mr Beeching has called to see him, and will return later.

‘Good God, not “Woody” Beeching?’

‘He did not confide his first name, sir.’

‘Tallish chap, eyes like a hawk?’

‘There was a suggestion of the accipitrine, sir.’

In the meantime, Stratis Haviaris’s novel The Heroic Age has reached the top of the ever-present pile of volumes on my table, but right now I cannot afford to be harrowed by any sort of account of children’s ordeals during the Greek Civil War, which is the subject matter of this much-lauded book. It will have to await the balmy days of spring.

I am just back from a quick trip to Athens, and may well visit again this month, as having the company of my grandson Orestes is also a good way of curing winter ills. And of course I always want to see him for his own sake. Orestes’s name means he who can move mountains, and he has been moving them ever since he was born eleven months ago. He had a major operation on the first day of his life, and may well have to have another shortly: we are waiting for test results even as I write.

But to look at him, you would never know there was anything wrong. He is lurching around with the aid of the furniture, and becoming more confident about this walking business with every passing day. He certainly knows his name, and is learning to say OXI (NO) very emphatically. He loves to laugh with and at the old foreign chook who flaps into his life every now and then, but has no objection to the different noises she makes, and is indeed in a fair way to be addicted to her singing or chirping of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. He even tries with his fingers, usually successfully, to imitate the diamond shape to go with the line like a diamond in the sky. There is quite a repertoire at his disposal, but Twinkle, Twinkle is his favourite. So far.

Back here in the Peloponnese, it is a very cold, grey day as I write. But there is much to be thankful for: the miniature purple irises are in bloom, and so are their much bigger companions, the white ones. Camomile is spreading a carpet of white in the olive groves, and two days ago I saw the first paparouna. This is the common name for the red anemone or poppy that I once thought bloomed only in Flanders Fields: how wrong I was. My winter pansies are still doing well, and a very superior jonquil, planted as a bulb and nearly forgotten, is blooming in white and scented splendour.

I wonder how many Greeks knew of or about the legendary Pete Seeger, now no longer with us. Modern Greece could certainly do with somebody of his sense of justice, commitment to the environment, and general passion for good. But Pete was unique. For people of my generation, his death means that yet another part of our youth has gone forever. We were fortunate to have him in the world for so long: 94 colourful years. Vale, Pete. 

Gillian Bouras


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Gillian Bouras 2018