21 November 2007

Kindle Garten

Ever since outing Jeff Bezos as a non-Greek after Odyssey mag's diary mention, I'm regarded south of Kassiopi as owning all things Amazonian.

Loipon! Here for my tome-toting pals is Forbes' take on Lord Bezosia's latest plaything, a booksier book even than a book.

20 November 2007

Unmarried Marias

Sounds like a Dylan song, but it's just me being lazy and wishing all my unmarried Maria pals, 'chronia pola' and happy name day for Nov 21.

18 November 2007

So far so good

Back me up, chaps. I've been asked to 'edit' some local wrinklie's rambling reminiscences of living death in the Ionian.

He's titling it "So far, so good".

No, I tell him, "no comma."

"Call yourself an editor?" he storms, "'f course there's a comma, you illiterate."

No, I tell him: 'so far so good' has the philosophical element of 'well, i've made it this far without totally blowing it".

With that comma it's like a triumphant, So far! So good!

"Bah!" he bahs, "and they told me you knew how to write."

I am right - ain't I?

The fleece in Greece grows mainly on your niece

Yonks back I bought myself one of those keyring recording gizmos.

You know the kind, that record a useless 20 seconds of shopping list that you can never hear in Safeway over the tannoy urgings to head on over to aisle 5.

Well, I've found a use at last: as I tootle around simpering to the locals, i try to add to my garbled grecque vocab.

Trouble was, I could never remember what they said the word was or how to pronounce it.

So I started to shove the mini mic in their gob and ask them to speaka into da machine.

Then I'd play it back and they'd nod and I'd whizz off and next time I was in the shop would show off my perfect accent.

So I'm in the lottery shop and Pericles uses a cool phrase that I need. He grunts it into the mic and I nod my thanks when Phaedra (pronounced 'Fethdra') comes over and listens and solemnly tells me that I do NOT want to go round sounding like a sap from Sidari.

OK, I say, "Say it" and press 'record'.

She enunciates it beautifully. I repeat it and she beams and hugs me.

"Now you go anywhere in Greece and they understand you with perfection."

"Say it again," growls Pericles which I do and he calls the boys over. Say it again, which I do in my perfect accent which will take me anywhere in Greece.

The boys nod solemnly. Very good, they agree. I grin delightedly and make to leave.

As I reach the door the old boy with the walrus tache says something, that I sound like a ... musta been slang, didn't catch it.

"Hey mister" He wiggles his hips and gives a moue, "just dont go near any sailor bars, endaxi?"

I find later that there is a huge difference between how women pronounce and even their vocab. Most of the comedy on TV that gets the biggest laffs is mincing blokettes speaking perfectly good Greek but a la femme.

Published and damn'd

  • Thrice a thousand curses on you, shoddy Hong Kong University Press, for using without permission that photo of my dad as the jacket photo for 'Steve' Tsang's pamphlet on "Governing Hong Kong: Administrative Officers from the Nineteenth Century to the Handover to China, 1862-1997".
  • And perdition to the lazy editor who couldn't be fagged to pick up a phone and make a courtesy call to local lensman Frank Fischbeck whose iconic - copyrighted -photo that is.

    That photo has memories. I was back in Honkers in 1995, working as a PR hack and spare pen. Some print-by-nite mag came on the scene and I was at the editorial meeting where the smartass design chief suggested going with a 'marvelous snap' he'd uncovered of some 'stiff upper lipped colonel blimp fogey'.

    He held the photo up for our guffaws and applause.

    "Your colonel blimp," I observed icily, "is Sir Ronald Holmes, my late father, and a better man than you.

    If you proceed with your lampoon, you will find some people in this town less than sympathetic to such mockery."

  • 17 November 2007

    enter the dragon

    This cheeky chappie entered my life back in May when I was cleaning round the pool and he'd fallen into one of the Chinese tubs and couldn't wriggle out.


    I did not lift him out. I tilted the barrel and let him slither away.

    cLast week maman was on the phone and called me over to admire the cute little fellah hibernating on OTE's modem. Her dangling left toe kept wanting to give him a fond nudge.

    "Darling, just get a tissue and lift him out and set him free outside."

    Summat told me that my thick garden glove might be better suited.

    He made not a move as I reached for him, but the moment I took him behind his neck he turned into a muscular writhing tube of killer reptile.

    His fangs went thru the glove like pins into my hand and when I looked him in the face, it was pure venom.

    I walked to the kitchen door with him writhing and pumping and even when I hurled him to the undergrowth, he took my glove with him and a chunk of my flesh, leaving a reddening gash that I took straight to the sawbones who drove a needle into me even as my lips started to go numb.

    01 November 2007

    Social engineering ~ Greek style

    I'm sure the Greeks have no word for 'social engineering', it being a skill embedded in their DNA and worked every day.

    But I have just pulled off a minor feat worthy of an Amazon rep of the old days

    • Aug 13: My flirtatious handsome bro' buys our mother a Sony CMT-EH10 stereo system to replace the 1963 Dansette record spinner
    • He comments how helpful (and hot) the sales lady was who guided him thru the models and help choose the exact right for maman.
    • Yours truly files receipt in tray where it sits until October 25 when he holds a major clean-up and chucks useless document in the bin.
    • Oct 26: Sony stereo announces 'No Disc' when it is v clear that there *is* one there.
    • Searches city dump for easily identifiable black sack containing assorted grunge incl receipt
    • Doom and gloom at prospect of not getting the machine repaired. Decide to throw self at mercy of staff at 'Expert' store.
    • Enter store and explain mega problem: via credit card, brother bought Sony for mother mid-Aug. Mother lost receipt (fib fib) and now it has broken down.
    • Roll of Greek eyes and twirl of Greek fingers in unmistakeable gesture of "Fat chancopoulou, dude"
    • I spot efficient lady hovering, raise voice: "My brother bought it here with a credit card and he was *much* helped by a lady colleague. She gave him very good advice on which model to buy for our mother."
    • Efficient lady takes the bait and approaches. Can she help? Is some problem?
    • I repeat: my brother bought a new stereo for our mother
    • Roll of Greek eyes, twirly Greek gesture: Ah! Such a good son. Surely there must be some Greek in him?
    • He was very much helped by a woman staff member who spent much time demonstrating models and asking precise questions about user and usage.
    • Loipon! Surely that is myself (asks efficient lady)? Who else has such customer service skills?
    • Alas - mother has lost the receipt
    • All parties roll eyes and twirl fingers: Mothers! They work their fingers to the bone - how can they be expected to think of trivia like receipts?
    • And so? The problem?
    • The man rolls his eyes and twirls: no receipt, no can do
    • The woman flashes Greek eyes and tells him to look up the date of purchase. The mere man bends to the keyboard and finds my bro's name and details.

      "But what can we do with this?"

      Look of contempt from the lady, who picks up a phone and issues instructiona to some Iron Mountain filing clerk in distant Perithia.

    • "I want a copy of the receipt in this office by Friday. Ah bah! What is this story about cannot send receipt? What policy allows a mother to be without her musiki only 2 months after her son has bought her a machina from 'Expert'? What message do we send to mothers and dutiful sons, that we cannot be trusted to fulfil our bargain? Bah!

      Is there a supervisor there with love for family who can see past 'policy'? Loipon, that is better.

    • Replaces phone and unsmilingly tells me that the receipt will be for collection at that desk on Monday.
    • "And I can use that to get the repair?" She gives me a withering look: Of course.
    • She starts to write her name and phone number - 'If you have problem, I give you my ...' - but her male colleague waves it aside as if to say, 'No need. Like *really* no need ... it'll be more than my peace of mind is worth for that receipt not to be here.'
    • I simper my thanks and she glares me down.
    • As I start to walk out she says - and she is smiling like a schoolgirl - "I remember your brother. He lives Italy. He drives big car - Mercedes"
    • I nod, That's Pete.
    Colbert for SC Democrat

    Colbert has such splendidly presidential features - that chin, those pinched nostrils, the faraway 'Man of Vision' look - that I'm praying his candidacy will rival some of the 'real' politicians and put them to some sort of shame.