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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Τι κάνει νιάου-νιάου στα κεραμίδια

A Greek friend, while helping translate, a page of the Ano Korakiana website, has introduced me to the phrase ‘something’s going “niao-niao” on the roof’ which like all good sayings in another language is untranslateable, but describes somewhere between ‘something funny going on’ and ‘ something rotten in the state of Denmark’. She was amused at finding it; pleased to repeat it to me and I even more delighted to be presented with it, especially as it showed the village’s music chief peacemaking after someone has called on the internet for ‘something to be done’ about the fact that although there were at most 120 people at the last Vassilopita cake cutting in late January, all 400 pieces of the cake had gone. Spiro Savvani wrote that he had heard about this, that ‘Τι κάνει «νιάου-νιάου» στο κεραμίδια’, but that it wasn’t worth «Αδελφοί και αδελφές Κορακιανίτες και Κορακιανίτισες» – 'sister and brother Korakianas' - getting too worked up about it as this has often been the way of things.
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How lucky! We were in the place on the Ipsos waterfront that’s replaced CJ’s, now managed by Sally who’s well liked and has that touch that makes you feel welcome as soon as you enter the place.
Sally at Sally's in Ipsos
There, the other day, for coffee and bacon sandwich, we ran into the slender figure of Aleko Damaskinos who’s running Greek classes for Brits – an hour, twelve to one on Tuesdays. He’s popular. “I learned so much in one lesson” said Mickey, She was sat near us. We’ll go next class.” Aleko promised to send us his last 13 lesson notes. They arrived attached to an email from Nisaki next morning – a pleasing mix of Greek phrases with grammar explained and trickier words in Greeklish as well as Greek.
We were doing our e-mail since Sally’s put in WiFi. We’d seen the news on the screen over the bar but there was a message from Linda’s cousin in Dunedin, where we were last November, a few hours by road south of Christchurch:
From: Valerie Hawker Subject: earth quake. Date: Tuesday, 22 February, 2011, 8:55. Hi Lin. Christchurch has been devastated by another earth quake. It was only 6.3, but, it was only 5K below ground, :. There is a lot of damage done. This time the quake was at lunch time, so there are a lot of people badly injured, missing, and there are multiple fatalities. The Cathedral is very badly damaged, the spire came down, with tourists inside, they haven’t found them yet. Although I am officially on sick leave, I am on stand by to go into the hospital when needed. They have been busy discharging people all afternoon to make room for casualties from Christchurch. 65 confirmed dead so far. Val.
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Up cracked metalled roads that lead into lanes that become footpaths are shanties. I’m puzzled. Am I coming across the remnants of the island’s pastoral economy? I see these ramshackle sheds in the woods; usually deserted; sometimes a dog on a chain. This speaks of an old man from the nearest village going put-put-put up to his plot in a narrow flatbed van with square mudguards of dented metal on a diesel powered chassis that might once have been a small saloon car, though Paul J, down the road, tells me that a lot of these are adapted road mending vehicles, stewarding a stremma and a half of olives. Hay's for a donkey and sheep; brooms made of olive twigs for sweeping the black fallen olives to the edge of  the nets that will be spread on the ground to catch them; many plastic containers for water in summer. Why the innumerable discarded plastic bags? What were they used to carry?  The metal fittings on the doors look old. I guess this was made of whatever came to hand. The shed is hard pressed by heavy clay thigh tiles with ellenite used on the other end, and hammered sheet metal on part of the shed sides. Strolling on through the little estancia following the sound of falling water I came across a high cascade tumbling down rocks from the thick steep forest above this place.
Under a magnolia above Episkepsi
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Mike Tye in Birchfield Birmingham has sent me a link to the latest edition of the winter 2011 Birchfield Bugle with a piece about me as a local flâneur on p.5. I'll buy that!

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