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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"..while there's moonlight and music and love and romance"

Carnival 2011 in Ano Korakiana
An email to Ano Korakiana neighbours now in England:
Dear B & K. Lin says plaka-ing your garden isn’t such a big deal. She did ours and could help show you how to do yours. As for building and especially architectural changes and additions there is of course Alan, who with help from Michali on the railings, designed and built our balcony, stairs and later our porch, but we've been out of touch with him now for over 6 months...I’ll happily give you his phone number in case you can persuade him to help. Otherwise, though always busy in our experience, is Ian – whose second name we don’t know. His phone (no email) which we had last Spring was 0030 6978272854. Then there's Paul McGovern who, with his wife Lula (Corfiot) , runs a property business from Ayios Ioannis (OCAY Property Services) and who found us people to work on our roof when it had been messed up by builders of our initial choice. Paul is on 0030 2661058177. He knows Ano Korakiana well. Lionel is a friend who sometimes mans his phone. I hope this is at least a bit helpful, but I realise these aren’t perfect leads. Good builders are unemployed all over the place but also bad ones and it’s always tricky and risky having anything done in absentia. Even with Alan who we trust completely, skype and email didn’t carry enough bandwidth to avoid misunderstandings.
Linda at Carnival - I think
We've just had Carnival on a rainy Sunday in the village. We were shocked - so much so we felt impelled to follow the procession from start to finish despite wind and rain. The carnival chariot carrying the ‘king’ - pagan and visibly rampant - was themed to mock the economic crisis*, with lots of 'for sale' -  <Πωλείται> - signs for the school, for the Philharmonia and even the three crags above the village. Riding it, in black suits, were 'the men from Brussels' poring over the books, followed by a coffin covered in pictures of gnashing teeth and carrion crows mourning the abolition of the local Faiakon Demos under local government reform.
A swarthy ‘farmer’ with a vast moustache across his face led two ‘pigs’ in sacks on a leash, one smoking a pipe and engaging in conversations about politics. A middle-aged woman, swaying provocatively, sported an inflated willy with the words ‘Have you seen my frankfurter?’ and something ruder in Greek that included the phrase 'thrust it in', and all along the band played ‘oompa ooompa’ music, while boom-boom speakers in a van followed, blasting out a beat of amplified music, with songs in Italian, while a master of ceremonies with a microphone teased people watching from balconies and through casements in the narrows of Democracy Street. Twice the procession stopped and the ‘maypole’ decked in ribbons came out and women did intricate rotations round it, and all the time the rain came down on a score of twirling umbrellas, water flowing down the street carrying clouds of confetti thrown from the houses. 
Great fun, especially the dance after – with indecorous role and rule reversals including ‘priests’ bearing phallic emblems, Constantinos the most magnificent long haired blond with short skirt and thong over his magnificent hairy body and bum (“I am overwhelmed by my passion for this exquisite bouboulina. I shall abandon my wife so we can run away together!”), as well as Leonidios a, slim young man in a lacy low dress and six inch heels who was almost the belle of the ball dancing superbly, as well as many very handsome and pretty women and girls dressed as nuns with red garters mid-thigh...
...along with a female nosferatu – scary – and others as pirates in dresses that ‘floated’ enticingly when they climbed up to dance on the tables and all the old blokes and yiayias watching, dancing and singing and Lin and I getting up to dance and me not making a complete fool of myself and a few babes in arms being cosseted and plenty of much loved smaller children running in and out and under tables that were loaded with wine and soft drinks and bread and sweetmeats and other dishes to pass.
The dance went on until 3.00am finishing with a naughty song where people parade in a circle repeating a chorus preceded by bawdy slanders of people in the village - “they are saying very bad things, very bad” said Natasha and left it at that - and thank goodness we didn’t understand enough Greek to be as shocked as we should be as each verse became more ribald and people laughed at each other and mock-cowered when they were mentioned. 
Yesterday was Clean Monday where everyone ostensibly gives up meat and we tucked into a delightful spread of seafood with our neighbour’s family over the whole afternoon.
Clean Monday with friends
It looks as if we can definitely meet up at Easter. I feel for you in your uncertainties about the present crisis. We read of it on the local newsstands and on the internet of course but also watch events unfolding here as well as there. The state of the economy is ever present. It feels like ‘pay-back’ time in our so far relatively comfortable universe. You escape one earthquake with no lives lost and then another comes along six months later and kills 200 people or more; people you know go far away, friendships falter, marriages break-up, people get ill, some die, and as Gordon Gekko says to his packed audience of admirers (film: Wall Street – money never sleeps) “you’re all pretty much f*cked” an introduction received with a thousand nods, laughter and applause. My stepdad used to say ‘man is not a fair-weather animal’. I’m far from welcoming the present situation which I suspect will, as they say over and over, become ‘the new normal’, but tougher timers don’t half bring out the best in a lot of us even as comfort and prosperity can do the opposite. Best wishes XXX Simon & Lin
*Link to an op-ed on the context of the Greek economic crisis...The current situation is heightening fears that Europe will be unable to avoid a new debt crisis. The controversy has polarised major European member states, making the upcoming March 25 European summit, where the debt crisis and Greece will be discussed, of key importance. Inside Greece, concerns over the crisis are causing political turbulence. Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou is losing the narrow consensus he has tapped to push ahead with reforms. On February 23, the tenth general strike in 13 months was accompanied by violent riots... 

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Simon Baddeley