Monday, April 28, 2008

The relatives

The connoisseurs say the relatives are good in a very small doses otherwise they start to smell. The life itself taught me to avoid strong expression like the latter and to say the truth it wasn’t really exactly like that, but close to, at least for Johnny . The Greek Easter was looming the nostalgia was escalating towards the need to repeat the things you were doing when you were young and you always forget the details, because the selective memory always cheats by hiding the real facts. So the nostalgia had overwhelmed my small brain which is always wired with my heart. On Thursday before Easter the Greek custom is to paint the eggs and make cakes(tsourekia). I had an urgency to make it ‘comme il faut’ so I invited two Greek friends Eleni and Lylie to celebrate the day. For the occasion I bought a nice ‘meze’ from the Waitrose, peppers, anchovies, cheeses and champagne. It is nice to nibble and drink and at the same time making all the ceremonial ‘arts and crafts’. This was my first thought but I realised that it was the wrong one, because Lylie didn’t eat anything but the peppers because ‘the cheese is not allowed’ let alone the fish. The champagne was a sin only by referring the word. To my proposal to have some music, Eleni and Lylie respond like a choir «Penelope.. are you mad....!It is not allowed-den kani!’ I was so frustrated with this ‘den kani-not allowed» that I was on the edge to say ‘girls lets draw the curtains and don’t worry the Greek God is very busy with the Greek affairs in inland , He is not going to have a tour around inspecting the Greeks’ affairs in England’! But I didn’t dare to say anything because I suspected even the jokes are a sin these days for the Greeks! On Saturday night I followed them to the Church for the resurrection mass . The atmosphere in the church reminded me something between the James Oliver’s chat show-exchanging recipes- and Hello magazine, who is trading up, who is divorcing etc. Still my expectations were high for the big day. I had organised a nice party for all our Greek friends. Petros , Lyllie, Eleni and Giorgos joined us. Johnny was looking forward to share with them all the common things they have, like talking about Guardian’s columns, the lost Empire, the Labour Party and citing Benjamin’s poems. The food was exquisite, nothing better than Welsh Lamb from the local organic butcher and all the Greek meze in the Easter table , Pinot Noir, and Greek dancing music (cliché to make things easy). When Johnny started to talk about the forthcoming mayoral London election and make prognosis who is going to win-Ken or Boris-Petros and Giorgos tapped Johnny’s back and they were off to dance kalamatiano, Eleni followed after Lilly and of course a minute later I joined the chorus. After a while, we were feeling really at home in the Greeky Greek land , drinking, dancing and laughing and singing. Johnny tried to follow the spirit but he was like me trying to speak with his oxford accent... At the end of this ‘panigiri’ he said to me. «Penelope I don’t know.. but I have to say when the Greeks have a celebration they look like riots, they are out of their heads. I don’t recognise them, let alone you!» Darling Johnny these are the Greeks for you, don’t forget Dionysos was our ancestor ! After this Greek explosion my life is back to normal to the nirvana state of the English life.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Because I miss them!

Because the Greek Easter is looming and because the Greek Easter is a really quintessential Greek celebration and because these days I feel that I really miss my compatriots I dedicate to all of them a poem by George Seferis «Τhe Return of the exile»

«My old friend, what are you looking for?
after years abroad you’ve come back
with images you’ve nourished
under foreign skies
far from you own country.”

“I am looking for my old garden;
the trees come to my waist
and the hills resemble terraces
yet as a child
I used to play on the grass
under great shadows
and I would run for hours
breathless over the slopes.”

“My old friend, rest,
you’ll get used to it little by little;
together we will climb
the paths you once knew,
we will sit together
under the plane trees’ dome.
they’ll come back to you little by little,
your garden and your slopes.’’

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue jeans and word power

There are certain times in my life that names, words, people come front of me with a scary coincidence. This week I came across the word ‘blue Jeans’. I was obsessed with the ‘concept’ from the moment I saw Johnny with his new light blue jeans and his light blue check shirt peeping out from his blue jumper and unconsciously exclaimed ‘darling you are so techno! Techno in Greek language means ‘gorgeous young man’ in English means a kind of music which is pain in the ears for the above 30s.I am not going to explain here, Johnny’s reaction to the word ‘techno’, for the simple reason, the misunderstanding and the surreal conversation is a constant situation in our house and it’s a bore! The only thing I would say, I envied his blue jeans and I would love to have a pair for this spring. I mentioned spring because is the diet’s season for everybody, they confess or not, and so for me. Having all these in my mind, I was reading David Mamet’s answers in Proust questionnaire -a kind of publicity about his new film ‘Redbelt’. David Mamet is an American producer director and play writer whose plays somebody can see in the new age theatres in the region of Psyri in Athens and probably in London and New York, I am not sure for the latter, if they are aware of him but probably the Greeks spread the word!. I like David Mamet for his smart edge dialogues with a pinch of cynicism. His answers in the questionnaire were topped with the same style. Q «What it means happiness for you? » M. «healthy and happiness in the world and die all the critics» Q «who is the perfect woman? » M «the woman that looks good in the blue jeans!!!! » ‘Here we are, Penelope’ thought! The next minute I was heading to Gap for a pair of blue jeans. I was lucky; I found the perfect fit for me! Before buying it I asked the sale assistant if it is safe to wear it without covering my lower back with a jumper. And the answer came to my ears like a stroke ‘You must feel very proud for your curves’!!! A cloud of dizziness covered my brain, but I thought at least she didn’t add ‘fatty’ after the word ‘curves’!!!! I felt an urgent to ask her ‘what curves?’ but again I avoided the Proust questionnaire and I bought it. I don’t know about Mamet’s reaction but Johnny is in love again...!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Disconnected versus flexible

This is an old post but because I feel like this lately I posted it again....
"Where are you from"? I am asked. More my accent rather than my colour complexion triggers this question. For me, Greek-raised, the question becomes one of torn loyalties. Trying to belong here, belong there, belonging nowhere. For a time I felt I was constantly shifting allegiances, searching for connection in groups that inevitably excluded me for being different.I shuffled back and forth in identity the way I did in languages. If the right definition didn't come one way, it would come another. Always a minority back to my biological country and here to my adopted country. But there are bits and pieces of me that belong everywhere, and just as many that belong nowhere and sometimes I feel wonderfully flexible and sometimes I just feel disconnected.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Penelope's Magnolia

keep-up-with-the-Joneses syndrome
This picture is for Despina to see the size of my magnolia.... !!!!