Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Writer
Living in Greece

It's Still Greek to Me!

 

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.

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January 2014

It’s happened again: another year is here, creeping up on us when we least expected it, when we’d hardly finished dealing with the last one. Some people I know are relieved, not having been entirely happy with the notion of 2013. 2014, they say, has a much better ring to it. Well, here’s hoping they’re right, and here’s hoping for good things to happen to all people. (So many bad things seem to happen to good people, let’s face it.)

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December 2013

Forty-five years ago, my parents moved into a house that had no front fence. In most of that Melburnian suburb, although side fences served as a practical sort of divider, lawns sloped freely down to the concrete pavements, and nobody thought anything of it. I certainly didn’t, but these days the subject of fences and walls is very much on my mind, and I think of that estate’s plan as being symbolic of a kind of trust and freedom that may have disappeared forever.

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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.

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October 2013

I had planned this month to write about something quite different from the subject matter with which I have become swiftly preoccupied. In my sunset years I have become a Lady Who Lunches, and Saturday’s effort was a Looong Lunch. And while it was happening, things in Athens were changing dramatically.

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September 2013

Here in the northern hemisphere, or in the Greek part of it, summer seems to linger on: it is still very hot. But leaves are beginning to fall from trees, and spirits are beginning to drop with those same leaves. At least mine are: the melancholy fit tends to strike at the first sign of autumn.

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August 2013

Not so long ago I thought of my two worlds of Australia and Greece continually colliding, or at least grinding against each other. These days I tend to think they have blended and blurred into one another to become something more and much easier than a testing juxtaposition. Today, for example, I spent some time on a beach, a pebbly one. Not very Australian, but then the long line of gum trees was as Aussie as you can get, except that I believe they came to this part of the world from California. Never mind. The sea was like a mill pond, as unlike the Southern Ocean as it can be. The Taygetus Mountains towering over the whole scene would dwarf places like Mt Buffalo, but never mind that, either.

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July 2013

Anthropologists believe that the outsider in society is both dangerous and in danger, and I eventually learned this truth in a small but painful way when I came, very unexpectedly, to live in a traditional Greek village, where I formed an Australian community of one. The outsider is dangerous because in questioning matters s/he does not understand, a threat is perceived and the status quo, which may have existed for centuries, is seen as being threatened, if not undermined. It then follows that the outsider is inevitably in danger, because society, and often small societies are the most vicious and punitive, will usually act to crush him/her as swiftly and as effectively as possible.

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June 2013

The beginning of summer. Summers here pass in a flash, and so it is that Nikos Kazantzakis’s autumnal Peloponnesian journey of so long ago still haunts me. On this matter, I seem to be repeating myself: that’s what happens when increasing age and languishing projects conspire to combine.

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May 2013

Only connect wrote novelist E.M. Forster, giving sound advice that stresses our often-ignored common humanity. This dictum also applies to the ageing brain, and I obeyed it when I recently received a news feature about the Wimmera township of Nhill, where I spent formative years as a small child. It seems incredible to me, making the mental connection over time and space, but Nhill now has a new ethnic community: some 120 of the Karen people from Myanmar have settled there, halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide.

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April 2013

 

A fortunate life is part of five generations, taking up the middle ground between grandparents and parents on the one side and children and grandchildren on the other. Judged by that standard, mine has been and is a fortunate life. I can remember the three grandparents I had with what now seems to be the most astonishing vividness, and even the grandfather I never knew has a misty form, carefully nurtured by his widow and children when I was a child, and by the sight of fading photographs taken nearly a hundred years ago.

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March 2013

Late again, but with an excellent excuse, of which more later.

February has been a variable month. It is always difficult, in many ways the worst month of the Greek year: my eldest son used to call it ‘suicide month.’ The clouds block the mountains off completely quite often, and rain buckets down on more days than I care to think about. One February long ago, my youngest son was just three months old when it rained almost non-stop for the whole four weeks. We had only a wood stove, and Alexander was probably the last baby in Greece to be clad exclusively in cloth nappies. I say no more, but my father said plenty at the time. My parents had come for a holiday, and to see their new grandson. Whatever happened to sunny Greece? So my father asked with monotonous regularity.

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Gillian Bouras

 

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