So, the last post apparently had too much swearing in it. Oops. I was over-excited with being in Greece. Anyway, it was only Gwanny who complained. Which is funny because when I was about fourteen and used to bring genteel ‘Perse School for Girls’ girls home for tea, we’d be sitting there all prim and proper talking about our Latin homework and my mum would start bashing the pans in the kitchen going ‘Och! Fuck, shit and ABORTION!’ Those poor girls probably never recovered.
Greece was the best break ever. I drove to Ligia and sat at my favourite taverna looking over the harbour. I ordered the sea bream, greek chips, tzatziki, greek salad and a carafe of rose. Having got up at four am and it now being around two in the afternoon English time, I was really hungry. I ate and ate, like I had never eaten before. The appetite for food and for life was tremendous. It was like the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he finds the half crown, buys himself a bar of Whipple Scrumptious Fudge-mallow Delight and wolfs it all down. It makes him breathless with happiness. That was exactly it. I was breathless with happiness. I reached the house, ran down to the sea and had a long swim, the first swim the Beaut has ever had. Gingerly at first with my right arm, but very soon striking out strongly and turning my body every which way. I went back to the house and slept.
So, from Sunday to Thursday I was alone. I worked. I finished Dennis’ book and added fifteen scenes to my script. It’s mostly there, but needs to be in the right order. I realised I needed skilled help with it. Maybe I could order it by focusing on place. After all, my main arena is the village, with its farm, shop, school and pub. I also decided that not just Booby and Busty are going to defect to the other side; ALL THE MILKERS are going to defect, apart from the British Standard Handfuls, of course. Hetty is going to find them all, dying in a lab, overdosing on chemo, mega-pumps sucking them dry, their babies strapped down and howling. I would stop to muse upon all this while doing yoga on the balcony and going for swims. I was looking forward to picking my fwends up from the airport on Thursday night.
Now, really Claire should tell you the next bit in ‘The Worst Blog in the World,’ but she hasn’t started it yet, so I will: they were so excited to be going on holiday that they not-quite-accidentally got pissed at Gatwick at the fish bar, ordering two bottles of champagne with smoked salmon platters no less thus squandering all their holiday money. Jill is a wonderful influence, being a jet-setter of the highest order. She is also an incredible loon, managing to mislay her ticket, money, passport, boarding pass, everything, but nobody cared as they were having such a wonderful time already.
Can you see the strange, disembodied hand about to fondle Jill/Claire on the shoulder? (oh, Bash just pointed out that it’s someone’s hair in the background.)
They had the plane to themselves, so had whole rows of seats to lie down in. Lush.
Their first day we explored the deserted west coast of the island: Pefkoulia, Kathisma and Porto Katsiki. The sea on that side is a truly intense turquoise. There are massive foamy breakers one of which knocked Mad Lucy over. She ingested a few pints of salty water and had to scurry off on her own to vom behind a rock. After that she felt better.
At Porto Katziki Claire and I leapt in with nothing on but I had to clutch the Beaut to me as it flobbled up and down alarmingly in the swell. If I hadn’t already been healed by Dennis though, I would have been healed by these waters. They have a magic energy. You can feel it soothing your spirit.
On the way home Jill started to fantasise about Greek chips, so we had quick gin in the dusk on our beach and then went into Lefkas town for a bit of shopping and tzatziki, salad, butter beans, chips, wine.
At four in the morning Jill woke up looking like she’d had a massive botox lip job gone wrong. She thought she was having an allergic reaction to something and was having a ‘death ensues, oh no, oh no,’ moment. I said it was bound to be a mozzie. I had seen it before, on Gavdhos, when Nellen had slathered mosquito repellent everywhere except her eyelids. She woke up in hysterics, unable to open her eyes and looking like a frog. So anyway, paranoid now, Jill carefully wrapped herself in the mosquito net and sat there reading her book. At a certain moment she realised to her utmost thrashing panic that the mosquito was inside the net with her. It took three of us to untangle her and restore her to calm.
The second day we started with Bougatsa, (a vanilla and cinnamon cream pie from the baker) for breakfast with yogurt, honey, peaches, grapes and muesli. Pouty Jill still looked like she was angling for a snog, but was fine otherwise.
We went to our beach with chairs, Jill’s lip, the Beaut, Claire’s turquoise toes, our books, the snorkelling stuff and a huge tray with pistachios, gin, tonic, ice, lemon, vodka and peach juice. Ooh, sounds like we’re playing ‘Granny went to Market and she bought…’, doesn’t it? We got our tits out and talked about the ‘no more Page 3‘ campaign which is on Facebook and has 46,000 signatures already. We drank and drank and snorkelled and snorkelled. Silver Sea Bream everywhere with their stiff, upright bodies. Little roundish black fish with neat curved fins: they look like swallows would look if they morphed into fish. Grey spotty slug-like fish basking on rocks. Mad Lucy would come across a wondrous shoal and you would hear these muffled ‘oooh!s’ and ‘aaah!s’ of appreciation through the snorkel. She would then look up, rip the pipe out of her mouth and shout ‘It’s a whole new world under here!’
We were trying to hold onto time. We were trying to make two days into twenty. It almost worked. That day went on and on. As we got more drunk the clothes became more scarce until we had none. Well, Claire had none. (I had to protect the Beaut from the sun.) We watched her white bum looming about as she snorkelled. She would occasionally pop her head up to say ‘I am a mermaid!’ The chaps packing up the beach bar applauded as her naked form came out of the water. It all fitted in with the ‘No more Page 3’ theme, but we were too drunk to know how, and even now I’m not sure.
Claire was very pleased that her turquoise nail varnish was the same colour as the sea.
We ate in Ligia. Jill thought she saw the moon but it turned out to be a tin lamp. (She’s a bit blind poor thing.) We had lemony fish soup with a big chunk of tender sea bass in it. Apparently I upset the table next to us by talking about TITS and probably other terrible things too loudly. The waiter brought us cake of course, and some ‘rosoli’, a brandy with cinnamon. We loved it so loudly he brought us the whole bottle.
On being asked for her boarding pass, Jill dropped hundreds of coins all over departures. You would never think she’s some grand CEO in International Publishing, would you? Claire had some difficulty coming back. She wanted to drink the plane dry. We didn’t let her.
We landed at four pm on Sunday afternoon. They went to get the train and I went to find my car, as I was going to drop in on Tabby in Guildford. Oh, bummer: couldn’t remember where I’d left my car. It seemed years since I had dumped it in a car park at five thirty in the morning. I got on the Long Stay bus with many others. The bus driver would call out, ‘C – bus stop three’ and people would confidently alight. I was not confident. C did ring a bell, as did B and D. 19 struck a chord, but so did forty nine and eighty three. I alighted (or is it alit?) randomly and started trundling my case along the rows. I was still so buoyed up by my holiday that I did not sit on my case and cry. I felt quite positive if a bit stupid. After I’d done about five long rows and was starting to consider the ‘sit on case and cry’ option, a lady stepped out from between two cars and called ‘Hello, lost person!’
‘Hello,’ I answered pathetically.
‘We’ll help you find your car, in our car, if you like,’ she said.
Oh, the kindness. Luckily, ages ago, Barney attached some wooden slats to my car as an improvised roof-rack, so it’s not difficult to spot. We did about twenty rows with my head swivelling left right left right like I was watching the tennis, and found it. The kind couple told me the same thing had happened to them a few months back, and somebody had helped them. Swings and roundabouts, that’s what it is. And karma. Driving towards Guildford I remembered a hitchhiker we picked up on our way from Andover to Cambridge, about twenty years ago. We went out of our way to drop him off at his house in Guildford in exchange for a cuppa and a spliff. Maybe kind couple was the payback for that day, who knows?
I saw Tabby’s lovely little room which has a tree outside it. I met her ‘uni fwends’ aah bleeesss, gorgeous, all of them. We walked into town from the campus and ate at Jamie’s Italian. The linguine there is so ‘al dente’ it’s practically raw but the rich tomato and chilli sauce balances it fine. Drove home and found to my surprise that Alfie and Bashi had positively thrived under the care of Fred, and had done their washing for the week ahead. Had forgotten to go to the Japan Trip meeting though. Now Alfie will be the one who wears the wrong slippers into the loo or commits some other terrible faux pas.
The next day I saw Miss Benyon. Oh joy, I had her all to myself, apart from a registrar chap who accompanied her. ‘Gosh, you do look well!’ she said, ‘cos we were just saying, it’s only been two months. Has life started to take over again?’
‘Yes, it really has,’ I said. I told her about swimming naked with the Beaut. She was pleased that her creation had already been on such exotic adventures.
She said she would do me a nipple in three months. If it wasn’t her doing it, I probably wouldn’t bother. But this way, I get to see her a few more times. She started going into various options. I couldn’t take in a word as I lose the ability to concentrate when she’s around. ‘Look, I trust you,’ I said. ‘You just choose the best one.’
My infatuation has not gone away. The Benyon effect seems to last for about five hours. I can still conjure up the peace and joy just thinking about her. Almost as good as a holiday.