Mary Irvine – more Greek memoirs
Am back – if only briefly. After writing, editing, selecting, editing, proofreading, waiting for the printing The Alexandria Writers’ Group have finally got round to launching their latest collection ‘A Miscellany’. It’s dedicated to our oldest member, 95 year old Margaret Harrison whose life story I am presently researching. There was a ‘spare’ page in the booklet and a piece I’d read at one of our meetings was edited to fit. The version below is the unedited one. The picture of the dog is Crosby, well known on the island! Esther with poppies was taken at the Sanctuary of Hippolytus, Troezenia, on one of my research jaunts for the story of Theseus!
Cowbells and Swiss Chalets
Esther – an extract from a memoir of Greece
One morning we woke to the sound of singing. A sort of tra laa-ing, usually associated with snow-capped mountains and goat-herds, a cross between ‘Heidi’ and ‘The Sound of Music’. Love the book of the former. Will pass on the film of the latter.
The singing conjured up melodious cowbells and cuckoo clock chalets, which was close to the truth for through the window, we espied Esther, originally from Switzerland.
Dressed in a long, white, cotton night dress, buttoned to the neck, she was giving quite a good audition for the role of Mrs Rochester – although an obviously much happier one and certainly much saner. That later opinion is purely subjective.
Balanced on one hip and held in place by an outstretched arm was a basket full of the washing generated by the two adults and three daughters of Esther’s household. They were our only all-year neighbours.
Having returned from his morning ablutions, Crosby, his undocked tail wagging furiously, followed her as she made her way through the relatively tidy side garden to the large straggling rear one to hang out said washing. Why Esther did not hang out washing in her own garden?
Ah! She had had an ideal place, adjacent to her garden, which
caught both sun and wind but this place had recently become ‘unavailable! The land in question here –really quite a small piece in the great scheme of land ownership – was subject to a dispute between Esther’s landlord, who only took up residence on the first floor during the summer months, and ‘The Church’!
Some background information. On this island, as in the rest of the country, land is often subject to disputed ownership. Families are torn asunder and generations continue not speaking to close family members because of disputes that began many years ago. This particular dispute had climaxed a few weeks previously when we heard a commotion the other side of our ‘road’ wall, opposite the disputed land. Two Albanian workmen were in the process of demolishing a wall – recently built, though not personally, by Christos, ‘to protect his land’. ‘The Church’, in the shape of aforementioned workmen, was now asserting its ownership. Christos, in pristine combat gear and waving a shotgun around menacingly – having just returned from a ‘hunting’ expedition – was in full voice. The workmen were not intimidated at all. The screaming continued. The two sides appeared to be discussing each other’s parentage. We settled down with cups of tea to enjoy the show.
Eventually the police arrived and joined in the screaming match. A temporary truce ensued but the grumbles linger on.
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