30C in Britain and Caroline’s dad, Gerry, texted to say he’s looking forward to coming out to Crete to cool off. Today Caroline texted him to let him know that we were sitting outside at 9.30 in the evening in a temperature of 33C.
Expats here from ‘up North’ express their delight in eating mushy peas and deride our southern (Essex) indifference to the dish. Henceforth I’ll inform them that ‘down South’ we eat fresh peas, whilst ‘up North’ they’ve grown accustomed to sloppy seconds.
A noticeable effect of the feeling of alienation some expats get is how they often become less cosmopolitan, more nationalistic and also more parochial in attitude about a place they left behind. Ah, drinking pink gins on the veranda to dull the pain, crying about the lack of chip shops, Heinz Beans and a Tesco’s down the road. I tell you even the old home country accents seem to get stronger.
‘Siga-siga’ is an expression frequently used here. It doesn’t mean ‘you smoke too much’ or ‘do you want a cigar?’ but ‘slowly-slowly, take it easy, stop your rushing about’. It’s one I often encounter when struggling to say something in Greek, or when sweating to get a job done, or hurrying somewhere. It’s also an attitude that results in that common occupation here of ‘waiting for the Greek worker to turn up’: the carpenter to measure up for furniture, the guy coming to lay tiles, the one coming to repair the roof, and now the one to measure up our ruin for windows and doors. You get it in some restaurants and bars as you wait interminably for a drink or a meal, gritting your teeth and telling yourself it’s just the easier slower lifestyle of the Greeks. And its an expression that now pisses me off.
Hey guys, if you want your mobile phones, your 4x4s, your flat screen TVs and your laptops then I suggest you take your ‘siga-siga’ and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Yes, I know you think that the English, the Germans, the ‘xenos’ here have money trees in their gardens, and so you charge accordingly, but that’s just not the case. The money is the result of a basic incomprehension of the ‘siga-siga’ ethos. You make money out of constant effort, not from the rip-off.
Why is Greece bankrupt? Because the corrupt government either trousers money it hasn’t got, or pisses it up the wall on ‘projects’. It’s not really much different from Britain or any other country in the EU, or America for that matter. It’s just a lot closer to the cliff edge.