19 October 2009


Wonderfully funny, preening piece by John Humphries in the Expat section of the October Oldie.

As we recall, JH is famed for that Peloponnese property pratfall.

Anyway, this month's strutting is all about how he bawled out a camper-van-driving Kraut for filming a local funeral.

Humphreys writes unclearly so I'm not sure who did what or when or wherever, but there's a pivotal sentence about,

"The liturgy droned on, the day grew hotter and eventually I wandered back to the house feeling more than ever that the village was home."

  • Do you hear that familiar alarm bell?
  • The one that sounds when foreigners start mouthing off about feeling more than a lowly speck on the landscape or mote in the eye of the locals?
  • Loipon, red alert for the punchline and Humph doesn't disappoint.

    He's strolling around the village expecting to be praised for sending Jerry packing.

    Neighbour Petros comes up and tells him he should have "stayed and followed old Michaelis to his grave with the rest of us - it's the custom."

    Wait for it ... to Petros is ascribed the hackneyed bogus money line:

    "Try to learn our ways, my friend, or people will say you're a foreigner."

    B'boum! How we love to trot that one out.

    Can't you see the faux modest smile as the locals wink and giggle to each other with patronising mirth.

    I showed the article to Γνήσιο το άρθρο and much derision was there for the 'Try to Learn our Ways' claptrap:

  • Having clasped Humphreys to their collective bosom to the extent of actually recognising his foreign ass as a foreign body in the landscape, why would they then waste further time wildgoosing him with impossible fantasies of aping their ways?
  • Dept of Try to learn you'se a for'ner: Only a non-Grik imagining how a Greek might speak could cobble up such a tin-eared phrase.
  • As for the bit about being mistaken for a foreigner - gasp! Surely not?
  • Totally blank looks and bafflement. Only a foreigner would entertain the laughable idea of being anything BUT a clunky foreigner.
  • Do try to track down the piece - page 70 - and read it in full. It's like a clever parody of every Wannabe Expat-craves-Native article.

    That it's set in Greece makes it even more amusing and poignanter.


  • Cool Sinbadian link leading to this
  • Branestawm Time: Sinbers indulging his 'complicated passion' full fathom five here and here.
  • Somebody chip in and tell him wot any fule kno.



    Sibadd said...

    I'd swear you near invented a new word - poingnanter.
    That aside

    Busker said...

    I am *always* inventing. When it's a case of my word or an existing one, i go for mine. they often sound better and convey their meaning better.

    Simon Baddeley said...

    Why so hard then on grocer's possessives? Je doit savoir. You have to know the rules to break them...like talented magicians making 'mistakes'? By the way I enjoy your take on the Humphrey. I like the man as a broadcaster but - by the knickers of Ctesiphon (how's that for a start?)- there's something not quite right about their duo on the Pelopogîte.

    Busker said...

    Good questions. Reliable rule of thumb: if it can provoke or sound pompous or old farty; if it can lean to incorrectitude or be small-minded and abusive about ... oh whatever catches my mind at the time ... that's the one for me. Otherwise the time is better spent smoking and drinking.

    Sibadd said...

    I'm always trying to fathom my complicated passions on this.



    Your writing is an antidote to my seriousness - even when your doing your GOM stuff about contemporary idiocies.

    Simon Baddeley said...

    Desperate? 'rare excitement' 'marvellous journey' would be more like it. S