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Today's quote:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Always on Sunday

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A collection of Piraeus scenes accompanied by the theme music of NEVER ON SUNDAY
As the videoclip bar moves over the 'o' in the word 'accompanied', you can see my office behind the sailing-ship and to the left of the Greek Orthodox church Agios Nikolaos

At this late stage in my life, everything is loaded with memories. When I listen to Peter, Paul & Mary, I am reminded of my early days in Australia in the mid-60s; Neil Diamond makes me think of Bougainville Island in the early 70s; when I listen to LOBO, my thoughts return to Rangoon in 1975.

And so it is with books! Just now I had reason to be reminded of W. Somerset Maugham's short story "The Door of Opportunity" and, to refresh my mind, I opened Volume Two of his Collected Short Stories. As I turned the book over, I detected on its backcover a price-sticker of 625.-- Drachmas.

Immediately I was taken back to Piraeus in Greece where I had bought the four volumes in 1983. In Greece, and in my previous assignment in Jeddah, I had had my first longer-term employment after having been "condemned by nature and fortune to an active and restless life" for many years. It gave me time to think about things other than work. And so I spent many rained-out Sundays sitting in small kafenions by the harbour, with a drink and mezze by my elbow, reading voraciously - Greene, Conrad, Kipling, Maugham - while at a table next to me they were playing a game of tavli.

Think of the opening scene in "Zorba the Greek" where, just before dawn on a gusty autumn morning, the rain-soaked Dionysian Zorba seeks refuge in a Piraeus pub and meets the bookish Basil and you've got the atmosphere in one!

Bring me a fresh beaker of retzina while I have another λουκούμι !