3 weeks. Where did they go? Never mind, I’m starting to relax a bit and soak up the sun in Corfu. Before I came here I don’t think I could have told you anything about Corfu, certainly nothing reliable. To be honest I wasn’t really sure where it was and if you know what I do for a living you’ll agree that that is a pretty poor show. It’s an island off Greece but almost as close to Albania. What options they have. Who cares? This week rather a lot of people have died in wild fires near Athens. Arson is suspected and a while ago I was going to suggest in an aborted post that arson should be punishable with the same severity as murder. In fact it might be sending more of a message if we just burned arsonists at the stake. Like I say, I’m beginning to relax.
So we’re here with our friends C and L and their something year old daughter O (I’ve forgotten my Mum’s birthday twice, it’s not deliberate). It is a testament to the strength of our friendship that the omnipresence of a small child is a bearable prospect. It also helps that she is very love-able little scamp and her parents seem to be doing a rather splendid job with her. Just don’t put a glass of orange juice within arms reach. Sunburn is nothing compared to a sticky lap on a hot day. And oh, is it hot. Dispatches tell me that the great British heat wave continues in it’s own, slightly unnerving way but here the heat is to be accepted and enjoyed rather than grudgingly tolerated. Besides, when you can jump into a pool at a moments notice the heat really doesn’t matter that much.
This holiday isn’t exactly what you would call a cultural tour. Tomorrow we’ll take a cruise along the coast and spend a few hours in Corfu town and then early next week ‘the wife’ and I will hire a vehicle of some description and bomb around for a bit, sweating away looking at churches and castles and endless abandoned houses and one baked olive grove after another and we can count the number of scrawny, gaunt cats that slip past us and get fed up when we can’t find somewhere we both want to eat. That’s our holiday speciality. ‘The wife’ also wants to go to Corfu town a second time, only in the evening because “it’s supposed to be lovely at night”. That’s one of her particular specialities.
But for the last four days we have done virtually nothing. Wake up. I might go for a modest run to wipe out the night before. We’ll have a little dip before breakfast and after breakfast we’ll head down to the pool and lie there for a while. At some point in between we’ll have to smother ourselves in bloody, fucking sun lotion; surely another very convincing piece of evidence in the case against God. We will chat and laugh and poke fun at each other and then slowly, cruelly and ever so quietly rip into every other poor bastard around. It is always best to assume they’re doing it to you, which means there is almost no guilt involved. So far it’s beer for lunch, cocktails as a mid afternoon snack and wine to finish the day and lubricate the rest of the evening. And that’s why the morning run is an unwelcome but necessary evil. I hope I don’t take a liking to Ouzo.
I love reading but I’m not a novel kind of person. Holidays are the exception. When I’ve finished writing this or given up on it altogether my principle aim for today is to finish Any Human Heart by William Boyd. It is a most impressive bit of writing, several thousand rungs up the ladder from this rubbish, and perhaps I will take the advice from a chum at work and head into A Good Man In Africa next. I didn’t read it first just to be awkward and to ensure I remained firmly in control of my own literary destiny. After that I have another David Foster Wallace book to sort out and then a book all about how octopi (I prefer octopuses but must kneel to the rules) are so very, very clever. ‘The wife’ read it in Australia and I suspect if I don’t follow suit pretty soon she’ll think I don’t love her anymore. And we wouldn’t want that.
In case, and I know you’re not, interested, the accommodation is fine. Our hastily booked room, sorry, studio apartment is basically a room with a jaundiced microwave, a two hobbed hob and a fridge. We shall probably only use one of these facilities for the duration of our stay and you probably guess which one. The beds are hard but comfy enough and the balcony is a balcony and not a lot much more. The bathroom would fit into a doll’s house and the the shower space is so small that once you’ve pulled the curtain round you can instantly imagine what it must be like to wash yourself within the confines of a large condom. The floor is subsequently always wet but at least there are plenty of helpful reminders (in very bad English, snobbish twat) that in no circumstances should you feel the need to slip and break your silly neck.
The pool is adequate except for peak hours when it is filled with giggling little pricks having far too much fun or grim looking adults. All shapes. All sizes. A range of poorly conceived and executed tattoos. The music is bad, but in a good kind of way, and in the same loop every day. The food is generally good, certainly edible and the staff pleasant in that kind of way that staff at holiday resorts have to be in case some stuffy arsehole complains and they get the boot. The drinks are cold but the umbrellas very inadequate for a man as translucent as I am. It is also, regrettably, one of those places where you have to put toilet paper in the bin and should NOT FLUSH AWAY! I will never find this a civilised option. No one in the equation leaves the experience with any dignity intact and if money was limitless I would tip the maid with infinity Euros.
So, Corfu. No doubt it is a sparkling jewel amongst Aegean jewels, a mythic land of contrasts where ancient history meets a modern paradise. Or some shit like that. We’ll just have to wait and see and if I can locate a reliable source of WiFi (we are in Greece, where the word reliable doesn’t appear in any dictionary) you’ll soon be happily reading away, your appetite sufficiently whetted for another instalment. What I will say is this: I feel more relaxed today than I have in several months. A small assortment of physical and mental issues seem to have melted away and no matter how the rest of Corfu turns out to be I say a hearty thank you for helping this happen. Onwards. Until the first cocktail. And then downwards.
G B Hewitt. 27.07.2018