Corfu is a beautiful island. Well, some of it is. It is beautiful in that battered kind of island way. Corfu right now isn’t so much sun kissed as sun humped roughly from behind by a couple of swarthy fisherman. The beaches and the heat are all fine but you wouldn’t need more than a few minutes to start seeing the cracks. Mediterranean islands seem to me to be pretty much interchangeable. The reps suck you in and give you the slick patter and then you get there and it feels much the same as the last one. Perhaps I’m being cynical; it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m certainly not complaining about the holiday – we’re having a nice time, but it wouldn’t seem right not to find something to moan about.
And I’m sad to report that there is something deeply rubbish about Corfu. Very rubbish. Just rubbish. Piles of rubbish. Everywhere. I’ve been reading about it and apparently it’s not new. A lot of these islands, all Greek islands, all hot holiday islands, have this problem. Everyone is so busy trying to coax as much money from tourists as possible that they turn a blind eye to all the waste that’s building up, hoping that they can just employ a shrug, an extravagant hand gesture and a ‘not in my back yard’ attitude and it will all go away. Sadly when you live on a small island everywhere is your back yard. I bet they hadn’t thought about that.
Our friend C reckons that the Corfunians (is that right or should it be Corfooners or Corfish?) were given a big chunk of change by the EU a while ago so that the island could sort out its festering problems but that the money somehow got misdirected. Shock, horror. Personally if someone had given me money to dig a huge hole and bury my shit in it I would struggle to find a fault in the deal. I’ve not yet found any evidence to support his claim (because he’s as full of shit as the imaginary hole I’ve just filled in) but I’m still happy to believe C because the story seems so plausible in a kind of a Mediterranean way. Don’t be alarmed, I’m not stereotyping, it’s just that I’ve noticed that important jobs tend to take a little longer when the sun’s out.
Yesterday we hired a quad bike and bombed around northern Corfu and to be honest it got a bit tedious having to hold our noses every time we passed a massive pile of garbage dumped at the side of the road, rotting away gently under a merciless sun. By now gently isn’t really the word – we’re talking about tonnes of the stuff, bag after bag after bag, bacteria fuelled stench pouring out of each one. This is the waste of every nappy and unflushed arsewipe on the island. This is the uneaten hummus and long-past-their-best sardines. This is almost every other mile on every single road. Even high up in the mountains you could see it. And each time we would clench our lungs and struggle through the thick theatre curtain of medieval stink until we were sure it was safe to breathe again.
I’d like to say it wouldn’t happen at home but I seem to remember just that happening in Birmingham last year. At least in that instance the locals chipped in and started clearing it themselves. Here no-one seems to be bothering with anything; they just fill up the bags and turn that blind eye. Sadly they, and more importantly I, cannot turn a blind nose. The solution is quite simple – dig a fucking hole and if that doesn’t happen then tourism to all of Greece should be banned until every last scrap is swished off the street. And then we’ll see how much a little house keeping means to this proud, philosophical, once mighty but now ever so slightly crap nation and their pretty little islands.
I won’t be harsh though because while we may boast a moderately better infrastructure there’s plenty for us to mull over while we sing Rule Britannia at the last night of the bastard Proms. For a start I would insist that the entire paying audience of that event be locked in a cave forever so we don’t have to endure their smug, ineffective flag waving. Then I would ban all seagulls because I can’t remember ever having a good word to say about them and they are, like Corfu’s bin bags, being left to multiply unchecked. I would insist that all ‘travellers’ become permanently housed or be sent to the Isle of Man and I would suggest that at no point should you need to present your boarding pass to buy a bottle of water in an airport.
I’m not happy with this post. It hasn’t really gone anywhere and it doesn’t seem very funny, something that C pointed out is what makes my writing so cherishably consistent. I think deep down that I’m starting to get increasingly pissed off with all the waste in general. I’m never going to bugger off and join Greenpeace, they’re underachieving wankers, but it is sad seeing the way we’re wiping our collective arse on this rather lovely planet. I don’t think we might be too late to save it. I know we’re too late, because we don’t just need to change our recycling habits a bit – we need to radically alter the way our brains work and sadly we are just too fantastically stupid and arrogant to do this and what’s more we always will be. And that really is rubbish.
G B Hewitt. 31.07.2018