THE day dawns, as you expect it will, shall, and can.
You wake up with a smile on your face, a mood swing if ever there was one.
You’re happy. Yes. You jump out of bed and stretch away outside. You breathe and move in time to the erratic cock-a-doodle-dos; even your feathered friends are late risers. Nothing much happens here, not before 9am, at least.
But today you move to the edge of the village, to your refuge and sanctuary, your work house, on the mountain of Eressos.
It’s not far from the centre of the village.
It’s wilderness where you are, at the foot of this big berg, and the road leads to …. you don’t know where.
You’re going to have to walk it, to find out. The thought of it makes your heart race.
It’s as if your life is in acute focus. Your raison d’etre has come into view.
You’re doing what you came here to do: work!
You want to leave with a product; a coherent package of writing you trust people will buy.
Three little piggies went to market, but this one’s going to Amazon, an appropriate publisher for Afrodykie, if ever there was one.
In the meantime, you’ll wander around the mountain, your finger contemplatively stroking your chin.
Perhaps Sappho stubbed her toe on a rock here? She was born in the village, they say.
She walked from there, to jump to her death from the rock at the end of the beach at Skala, four kilometres away.
That’s what dating a Mytiline boatman makes you do.
The rock throws back its face, and screams, even today; loudest at sunset.
That hetero-normative narrative belies the one you like to perpetuate: something like, oh she sidled up to a BC chick to sigh and lean against a volcanic boulder.
She cuddled her wonderful, her winsome one.
Maybe they stared at the sky. An eagle flew by. It’s eye glints, a diamond in the sky.
Maybe she whispered homo-erotic stanzas into an elegant ear that quivered in rapture and awe; an ear that blushed, that shivered to receive these lascivious tunes.
Maybe a heart made a bumpity-bumpity, under a sheer tunic. There was a kiss. Or two. Or…?
You’ll never know.
All you know is experience, and sometimes it makes you laugh, even if it’s made you cry.
Take last night.
You’re still not used to the fact that in Greece, when people amble their way to a deal, you wait. And wait. For an answer.
It’s of no consequence to them that you’re keen to get packed, sorted, and to know what time to get the cab to Eressos.
You don’t know if they can imagine a sense of urgency.
You think not.
For, to secure a rental, it takes more than three days, and nearly three hours, until 1am today — between three women each hellbent on hearing themselves speak — to quieten and agree.
The landlord, Miss I Did It My Way, chimes in at full volume from London.
Her voice is dominant in the finalisation of the on-off, on again rental agreement.
One minute the house is yours, the next minute it isn’t. Then it is again.
Three telephones, three women talking, shouting, accusing, laughing, agreeing — all at once!
If you’re a foreigner it’s drama, if you’re Greek, well, it’s life!
Whatever, it worked. And Miss I Did It My Way phones you directly, not once, but three times.
Thank God. Thank anybody, anything who facilitates these things.
Then she drops a bombshell.
There are lots of scorpions in Eressos, she says, in her deep smokey voice.
They’re like cockroaches there, she says. Cocroaches (laughs nervously).
You are told to buy a spray bottle and to fill it with the scorpion killer muthi and well, then, you must spray wherever a scorpion will dare to tread.
Another thing, you may not light candles taller than 1cm, and while she’s about it, she informs you that she cooked an egg in January, just before she left Eressos, to return to London.
You have to clean the stove, she says, where it congealed.
You look at your tired face in the mirror of your hotel room.
That’s Elbow Greece, you guess.
A smile can’t help itself. It tickles your face into a bunch of wry creases.
Oh, and also, buy some cat food, and feed the (stray) cats. There are a lot around there, she says.
Madame X retires to her boudoir, but she phones. Don’t get any ideas, she says. I’m not your lover.
Yeah. So what?
You must go now, and pack. And call the cab. By lunchtime you will be in the house.
I Did It My Way will phone when she gets back from a medical check-up.
She will walk you through the switch-ons, where the scorpions lurk.
She will hold your hand through the gas and water instructions.
But it’s Madame X who holds the key to the broken front door.