16 November 2008

diana's choc pud

Author's Cut

I have a magazine column.

Not a very convincing one yet - too in-jokey, too in-crowdy, too slangy - but it'll get there if I hang on here long enough.

For the latest issue I consulted widely and gritted my teeth as pals slashed and sliced until they declared it fun and feisty.

Alas, I was over length so the final version was blue-pencilled further, the blued bits being the very sections that folks had giggled over and told their pals to expect.

Here, then, to silence 'popular demand' is the auteur's cut, the excised passages in monotype.

"I do believe I enjoy the close of a season more than its sunny start.

Price lists plummet and aestivating pals surface to throw tattle-tale parties to catch up on gossip and add coup-de-grace shredding of tattered reputations.

No more taciturn top-tipping tourists with their bumbling gait and bizarre belief in crossing the road on those faded stripey bits.

Vicar Valete - No more valiant vicar ‘Doc’ Owen, off to Oostende and lacy Brugge with the ebullient Avis. Rara, indeed.

I had counted on Clifford’s successor being an equally straight shooter but am depressingly informed that locums (locii?)are denied Double-Oh status from the off.

With Avis no longer riding shotgun, it’ll be the Wild West out there with those whacky Wednesday lunches turning into Bun Fight at the Eucharist Corral and some I could name making Lambeth Conference look like a vicarage tea party.

Oh, you know what I mean.

Sombre Novembre – I’m lighting candles that someone’s Thomas goose doesn’t get Cooked.

This is also the month scheduled for The State vs Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in re the deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning of babes Christi and Bobby Shepherd.

Joining them in the dock on a negligence rap are two UK reps who are no doubt kicking themselves for not acquiring such obvious basic qualifications as X-ray vision and a M.I.T degree in gas-fired water heater maintenance.

To more seasonal matters, I love Novembrios for being distant enough from Christmas to not yet loosen the purse strings, yet seasonal for Madam Editrice’s painstakingly researched gift suggestions: “Guten tag, Herr Tag, if you’d care to send us review copies of your latest high-end Heuer chronometers, we’ll think about including one or two as stocking-fillers.”

Plus, all those witty features on such vital skills as ‘How to Fend off Unwanted Guests’.

Dekembrios – and a whole new readership to dazzle and beguile.

What new readership, you cry? Why, those ‘Guests from Hell’ you failed to fob off by ignoring our tips in the November section. Do pay attention.

Worry not. I have a parlour game that never fails to bring a zip to the morning after.

Buy two extra copies and label them ‘Guest Suite’ and ‘Family’.

In the home side’s copy, annotate the heck out of the ‘Unwanted Guests’ article with quips like ‘Too funny – must use on the Bentley-Cooksons!’ or ‘If this doesn’t keep that bat of your mother at bay, nothing will.’

Then, placing the ‘Family’ copy in your boudoir and taking immense care not to … by the anklet of Anargiros! Ochi! Tell me you didn’t confuse the two … Marcus you buffoon! Mother will never visit us again. No, it’s not funny. Wipe that smirk off your face.

The atmosphere at breakfast next morning will make the buffeting winds outside feel like summer’s gentlest zephyrs.

Kal’a Kris’tougena - The month for wishes and blessings, so aren’t you glad you read, marked and inwardly digested last edition’s stellar guide to ‘Wishing in Greek’.

A late addition to win you friends: ‘Kali sy’nehia’ – ‘Good Continuation’, or ‘May the rest of your day go well.’

Example 1: I withdraw money from my First Business Bank, ensuring with my superior British queuing skills that I am served by the lovely Konstantina. Our business done, she wishes me good day and I in turn bowl her over by hoping the rest of her day continues well. She is dutifully anchored at the receipt of custom so I am wishing her hassle-free handling of those duties until the end of her shift.

Example 2: An interesting use, from one non-Greek to another. Me, in fact.

In the last issue I slavered over the statuesque charms of a certain Gouvia serveuse, as a result of which her lithe Hungarian bod became the most ogled chassis on the strip, setting tills tintinnabulating as the punters crammed into Muses restaurant and the Netcafé for a squint.

As reward, I was allowed to perch in a corner and gaze adoringly from afar, sometimes summoned to sit closer and pose as her sugar-dad boyfriend to discourage unsuitable suitors such as … well, like me.

Even blissful Corfu summers end and soon we were sipping plastic coffee in the Departure lounge and swapping the usual lies about keeping in touch.

She brushed my cheek: “So this time it’s me who go, and you stay in your nice home. How you say? Kali sy’nehia?”

With that she turned on those ridiculously impractical heels and sashayed through Security, her pert rump going tick-tock above the denim swish of those endless legs.

Akrivos, my dear. That is exactly how I say.

#$@! So much for pleasantries. What I need now is a winter vocab of ‘Scaring and Swearing’. I keep a cheat-sheet in the car of Greek car registrations but it lacks a certain je-ne-sais-quoi in my petulant Oxford bray: “Advance, villain! It gettest not any greener, thou whey-faced poltroon from Preveza!” I think I’ll wait for the real deal from the Professor.

Januario – Kronia Po’lla! A new year and a chance to dust down those tired old resolutions.

Would you believe that I have never ever made a single vow of improvement? (Ghosts of Januaries past rise before me with saintèd ex-wife and stern daughters nodding vigorously.)

Take Me to Your Nadir: Jan Morris is a fine writer and her visit was an honour to the island. All the more puzzling disappointment that for her assurance to Financial Times readers (Sept 13) that ‘Sweet Airs Still Abound’, she chose to visit the pits. She’d been told that ‘a lot of places in Corfu are very nasty, but the nastiest of all is Kavos … so I went there at once.’

Why, for heaven’s sake? What a waste of pink. A place doesn’t sink to the status of nadir for nothing. It’s branded ‘nasty’ for being … well, nothing. And nothing begets nothing, QED her article.

But full marks to the Kavos PR department: hot on the heels of Ms Morris’s wasted words, my favourite bi-monthly ran an hilariously brazen interview with our Police Commissioner.

With no space to waste, the interviewer asked the usual – “Is Corfu a safe destination?” “Are the Tourist Police operating successfully?” – and then cut to the chase:

Is the area of Kavos controlled by the Hellenic Police Department?

I beg your pardon?

By the handcuffs of St Gerasimos! If I were the editor, I’d ask my new best friend the Commissioner for extra protection … from the Mayor and constabulary of Kavos.

Foodie Fanfare to my favourite purveyors of perfect Christmas hampers, including the best spuds in town and – gasp! - Eggs That Do Not Run in The Pan.

Take a bow Kalliope and Fergal (‘Veggies ‘n’ Herbs to the Gentry’). Tel: 697 655 2345; Kellykerkyra@hotmail.com

Hot tip, lads: On arrival, feign puzzlement over Fergal’s dulcet South Efrikan eccent. (“Sorry, mate, can’t make out a bally word you’re saying. Your bird not about?”) That way, he will have to release the beauteous Kalliope from her gilded cage and you will achieve what we in the trade call Synergy of Purchase and Pulchritude. (You don’t get that from Waitrose. You know that).

advanced banterThat’s it from me.

Here’s a quote from my favourite Christmas reading to myself:

“Ever notice that ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?”

Marilyn Monroe, no less; not just a pretty face.

Have yourselves a Merry little Christmas and a riotous New Year knees-up.

And hey, tell that special person you love them."

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