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Monday, 13 May 2019

Half way through May

How the wind worries at the still flowerless trumpet vine and tosses the May leaves of our neighbour's walnut tree. It’s become rare to see a familiar day arrayed in light from dawn, instead, day after day, morose grey driving overcast, rain and distant thunder.
Such weather's accompanyed my sense of being wrong about things. 

Small taunts and points jumped to, with over much attention. Interrupting of others – friends, guests. Lin, I slighted. We’ve been chilled. In May the last weeks I’ve lit the wood stove most evenings.
Our washing machine, hardly twenty years old, a household mechanism into which all is piled and processed, hung out to dry in long lines – a favourite garden installation – is irrevocably broken. Lin’s rebuilt the broken plastic housing of its door catch, helped by a clip on Youtube; enter make and part and click to see how the job’s done. 
But the door interlock that activates the water pump – our last hope – is inaccessible, because the rubber seal at the washer’s mouth is held by a sturdy metal ring, impervious to leverage.
Lin’s mum stopped using their old fashioned un-automatic washing machine with a mangle, even a separate spin dryer, but when Lin left home, Dorothy stopped using them. She reverted to doing all her clothes washing by hand.
“There was only her and dad. She had time. The way mum did her washing was to wash what she needed every day, unless it was raining. A few item at a time. Simple.”
“Like buying food for the day at the corner grocers and butcher, instead of loading a car once a week at a supermarket”
I have morning routines. Empty the kitchen bin outside, empty the bowl for veg, teabags and bits of paper, on the compost along with my piss pot contents and wood ash from the stove grate, make the bed, run a cloth over kitchen surfaces, ease spots of food off the cooker top with a rough edge sponge,  put away the washing left on the drainer, fill and run the washer - but that last, no more. Make a cup of tea and coffee.
Become more compassionate and less dismal. Do hand washing of our clothes, towels and table cloth. It wasn't so tricky. Squeeze and gently pummel what's to be cleaned in a sink of lukewarm water, soap in hand; scrub stains, collars, sleeves, and gussets; use cold water for a jumper. Rinse and wring and rinse again. Squeeze and drop in a plastic basin. Hang, then after a minute or so when water's dropped, wrangle the bottom edges. Not the end of the world. We've plenty of wood in the apothiki. 

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Signing things away

On such a day as this

There is something exhilarating about getting successfully through the Greek bureaucratic process! I have just left the Corfu Port Authority. I came from Ano Korakiana on the 9.00am bus to Sarocco, cycled through town to the sea and parked my little folding bike outside the office next to the quays. I entered, in suppliant mode -  different from dealing with HMRC on-line, now normal procedure in UK. I might, in earlier times, have arrived here with a gift to ease my way, but that has become incorrect. Some even call it 'corrupt'. So, with help from a friend at the end of my mobile who's Greek, I passed a Cerberus (Cerbera?) - a lean Coastguardian in uniform - in the front office, at a desk next to a barred enclosure. She received my old unsmart mobile, spoke easily to my friend, handed me back the phone, and had me follow her across an atrium to another office where I was introduced with economy and asked to wait, which I did, rejoicing at such progress. In hardly ten minutes I was asked to hand over my ID by a young woman who spoke English. In seconds she'd pulled a form from her desk, written on it in pencil in English what I needed to say about myself - tax number, passport number, name of boat, registration number. My cup was near full. Outside I could see the harbour full of ships and a glimpse of the hazy mainland under fluffy clouds over the ruffled blue of the Sea of Kerkyra.
"Take your time" she said gently handing back the one page form.
I scuttled out to the atrium. At a chair and table I carefully filled in the form for announcing that our 'ship' Summer Song (being now 'for sale') was officially 'OUT OF USE' (IMMOBILITY), and thus not subject to the new yacht tax implemented this year, but mooted in 2014, which must be paid by this 5th May lest I be fined, or declare that our boat is decommissioned.

I returned, waited through a conversation between colleagues before being gently summoned to hand over my completed and signed form and Summer Song's registration.
With my flat cap in my hands in protective mode I watched as my form was checked by another Coastguard. He nodded, wrote details in a ledger and invited my signature again before taking my registration document and stapling it to the completed form. The work lay on his desk.
"Do I need a receipt?"
"If I want it back?"
"Just come in here. Give your name"
Heading back to town, where I catch a return bus to Ano Korakiana or Sokraki, I phoned Paul to thank Lula for her role in gaining me the right entry and ultimate success in surrendering my right to sail my boat.
"Why do I feel so light headed, Paul?"
"It's the way here"
"I'd be a perfect candidate for Stockholm syndrome. I'm actually grateful for being allowed to do this signing away of our right to sail our boat"
As I'd left I'd popped my head into the office at the entry to the Port Authority and said "Thank you for your help"

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Μελίνα ~ Χρυσάφι της ζωής

Melina Spingos (1990-2019) in the centre. Her mum, Katya, sits at the back left (photo 2012: Thanassis Spingos)

Yesterday Melina Spingos, the 29 year old daughter of Katya and Thanassis, woke feeling unwell. Her parents called an ambulance. On the way to the hospital -12 kilometres - she died, perhaps of an aneurysm. In the village, death normally observes courtesy, knocking at the doors of the old, giving notice. On Wednesday, death came as a raptor, pitiless as nature, and stooped on Ano Korakiana. The clocks are stopped. People look down unseeing. Πάμε Μαζί
*** *** ***
From the Ano Korakiana website on 15th March 2019
Παιδί μου!
Μονάκριβή μας κόρη...
Ήρθες πριν από 28 χειμώνες, Θεόλστατο Δώρο.
Βάλσαμο σε κάθε πληγή και λαμπερή αχτίδα που έδωσε ΝΟΗΜΑ στη ζωή μας.
Με μια ορμή και δίψα για ζωή που εμείς οι γονείς σου μερικές φορές δεν κατανοούσαμε...
Όμως, τούτη την Άνοιξη τα ανέτρεψες όλα. Έκλεψες για μια ακόμα φορά την παράσταση, μετατρέποντας τον πιο λαμπρό ήλιο σε ένα απέραντο σκοτάδι.
Θα σε αναζητούμε πάντα κόρη μας στα πρωτο-λούλουδα της Άνοιξης, εκείνα με το αγαπημένο σου ¨λιλά» χρώμα, που ανοίγουν κάθε φορά το δρόμο για το Γολγοθά.
ΕΣΥ, θα ξεχωρίζεις ΠΑΝΤΑ σαν το πιο ΟΜΟΡΦΟ ΛΟΥΛΟΥΔΙ του κάμπου και ολάκερης της γής.
Μονάκριβή μας κόρη,
Χρυσάφι της ζωής
Αντίο γλυκιά μου...Αντίο
 (ο μπαμπούλης, η μανούλα, ο Ηλίας)

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Simon Baddeley