In Greece; Forever England

Since City Jackdaw has been flying, I think I’ve probably made a Remebrance Sunday post every year. Except yesterday.

As usual we spent the day, which coincided with the Armistice Centennial, by visiting the memorial on which the names of past family members are listed. It’s this personal connection that gives context to the wider impact of that war.

As I didn’t post yesterday, I will share this photograph today: it’s from when I visited the grave of my Gt Grandfather, Timothy O’Sullivan, in 2007, ninety years to the day since he died. He is buried in Thessaloniki. A plot that is forever England.

R.I.P

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It’s All Greek To Me

I travelled into Manchester on a warm and stuffy bus, the heat only adding to my lethargy. I’d had only four hours sleep due to the late arrival of the student due to stay with us. (Don’t ask. No really- don’t ask! My WordPress word count couldn’t take it.)

After delivering him safely to the academy I called for a quick early lunch at the food court in the Arndale Centre. Sporting different stalls offering food from many different countries, I opted for a  halloumi pitta from Zorba’s.

Don’t worry this isn’t a food post, I’m not that kind of blogger.

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I took a table and began to eat while reading the book I was currently in the middle of, maybe not a good idea whilst making a mess of myself with yoghurt sauce. A voice reached me from a neighbouring table: “Do you like Greek writers?”

I looked across to him whilst frantically dabbing at my chin with a napkin. He did indeed look Greek, but I don’t think he was one of Zorba’s workers. Perhaps an expat with a craving for home cooking.

Emboldened by the name of the food stall, I replied “I’ve read most things by Nikos Kazantzakis.”

“He is Cretan.”

I conceded that he was, and that I’d actually seen the author’s grave in Heraklion.

“Crete is not Greece,” my neighbour said firmly. And then he glanced down at my plastic tray. “And halloumi is not meat.”
You had to hand it to the guy, he certainly knew his stuff. Again I conceded the point, and briefly considered asking him for both author recommendations and favoured meat dishes but decided to cut and run. For no doubt English would not be Greek and my wife’s cooking would not be his Mother’s.

I packed both my book and lunch into my backpack and said a hasty goodbye, bus to catch and all that, making  my escape through the adjacent indoor fish market. As usual with the fish market it is your sense of smell that registers before your sense of sight, but then Conga eels, live mussels and all types of fish parts catch your eye, including, at the end of the display, a sign for Cod Flaps.

Cod flaps? What part of a fish could that be?

Surely not?

 

McDonald’s Nuggets Of Wisdom. Pun Intended.

In 2007, while in Greece, I travelled north to Delphi, climbing the slopes of Mount Parnassus, to see the Sanctuary of Apollo where the Oracle, the cloth eared Sibyl, would utter forth her prophecies.

But it was closed. I did not see that coming.

Seriously-all that way and I had forgotten that everything comes to a stop in the afternoon in retreat of the heat. I did the same when in Crete a year later, when we drove to see the ruins of St.Titus’ church in Gortyn. You think I would learn, wouldn’t you? At least we could dob around the back and look at the still-standing apse over the fence in true snooping, Mancunian fashion.

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These memories came to mind as I was sat in my local McDonalds this morning. I am fast coming around to the theory that this fast food place is the Middleton equivalent of Delphi, with all sorts of deep words of wisdom and scintillating anecdotes being dispensed by our very own intoxicated oracles.

You may recall my post of 9th of January, entitled Play the Game, Don’t Make Eye Contact? In it, in this very restaurant, I mentioned the girl telling her less than captivated grandmother all about her sex life. I omitted the account on the same day of the guy who was accusing all and sundry of being the lowlife scum who had stolen the newspaper that was actually hidden beneath his tray. Bingo day, eh?

When I’m in there I don’t mean to eavesdrop, really, I don’t. My intention is just to try and have a quiet coffee while sitting unobtrusively in the corner, reading my book. But it seems that in the Happy Meal Code of Conduct I have overlooked the bit that requires all conversation to be conducted above a minimum decibel level.

This morning two girls were sat in front of me, the Foghorn Lass and the Unable to Get a Word In Companion.

I tried to concentrate on what I was reading, but I kept on re-reading the same lines, the words not sinking in, as Foghorn slowly built up to exclaim through a mouthful of hash browns:

“At school I was always the smartest in my class, in all my classes, but I was never valued.”

Okay, we all need to work on our self-esteem, but then, after a few shouted, crumb spraying sentences that I had managed to tune out, came this nugget:

“He wants to marry me because I’m English. I think if I went over there I could probably stay at his house. I mean, we’ve been friends since…..when did I dye my hair purple? He had a girlfriend who lived in California and he lived in Vancouver. She finished it though because she said he wasn’t attentive enough. But he works, you know.”

Well how unreasonable was Californian Cold Heart? Just how did she expect him to be attentive when Cold Shouldered was trying to hold down a job? Never mind the small matter of the 883 miles that separated them both. Just what did kids want from their relationships these days?

I gave up on my book. Dystopian fiction is definitely not true to life.

That snippet of real life romance disrupted my train of thought all afternoon. l found myself haunted by the questions:

Would Foghorn go and stay with Cold Shouldered in Vancouver? Would they get married, what with her being English? And just when did she dye her hair purple?

Tune in next time. Because I can’t tune out.