Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Naked before God

Our sailing over, we are now at Nestor's base in Gouvia Marina. Mr Grigg has just come back from the showers and is part way through regaling us with one of his long and involved stories when he suddenly looks quite ill.

He tells us he was relieving himself, naked, enjoying the luxury of sitting on a real lavatory when there was a knock at the door. After finishing his business, he said:'Yes?'

A German accent asked: 'Did I leave my passport and wallet in there?'

Mr Grigg glanced around. 'No,' he said.

'Do you mind if I come in and have a look?'

So Mr Grigg opened the door. There was a pensioner standing there, stark b*ll*ck naked apart from a pair of spectacles. As Mr Grigg tells the tale, his brother puts on a fake aghast look and, trying to suppress the sniggers, says: 'You didn't fall for the old homosexual rape trick did you?'

Mr Grigg shakes his head but goes very pale. The moment passes but as we are eating our breakfast in the saloon, we hear a foreign man's voice calling from outside. Mr Grigg bristles and clenches his fists as he thinks of his lucky escape.

'Hello there, how are ya?' Thankfully it is an American accent and not German.

Mr Grigg goes up to the cockpit.

'Yes?' he says. Aggression, at this point, is his middle name.

'It's a great day today, isn't it?' says the cheery American, who is accompanied by a male friend carrying a briefcase.

'Yes,' agrees Mr Grigg impatiently. 'But what do you want?'

'I have some information for you.'

'Like what?' Mr Grigg says.

'I've come to tell you about God and the Bible.'

Speechless, Mr Grigg is helped out by his brother who says: 'Not today thank you. But there's a chap up in the showers who might be interested.'

That's about it from the Ionian. Until next year.

Love Maddie x

England versus Germany

In Petriti, a small fishing village in the south of Corfu, the fishing boats are coming in from their nightly operations. There are about eight of them in front of Vasilli's taverna on the quayside. Three years ago, he was full of bile for the crew, insisting they were Albanians who blocked his view and lived aboard to avoid tax.

This year, he tells a different story, unaware that he has met us before.

'The boats? Three of them are my family's. I am married to the daughter,' he says, chest puffing out with pride.

We are moored stern-to at the quayside, sandwiched between two yachts full of Germans. This is almost a fate worse than death for Mr Grigg's brother. It is not very nice, I know, but British memories go back a long way, even to a time when they weren't born, when uncles perished at the hands of the enemy in World War II. He is not a football fan but nevertheless would watch England versus Germany with Mr Grigg at the drop of a hat.

My iPod is playing Jupiter from Holst's Planet Suite and it reaches the part where it turns into the tune for I Vow To Thee My Country. Mr Grigg's brother turns it up, this song that is the epitome of being British. But, hang on a minute, wasn't Holst of Swedish extraction?

My thoughts are disrupted as a wasp comes along and kisses Mr Grigg on the nipple.

It's a hard life.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Monday, 21 September 2009

Mr Grigg and the Octopus

It is Mr Grigg's brother who spots it first. The beast from the deep, forty thousand leagues under the sea.

'It's just lying there, its arm around a clam. It won't let me have it,' he says, through a pout-mouth and snorkel.

Mr Grigg and Number One Son are dispatched from the back of the boat to find it.

'I hope he doesn't kill it,' Mr Grigg's brother says to me. 'You know what he's like. I quite admired it, you know, with its tentacles wrapped around its prize.'

Ever since Mr Grigg saw a man wading patiently in the shallows around Keloura two years ago, it's been his ambition to catch an octopus and serve it up for supper.

Armed with a harpoon made from a broom handle, he edges forward in the water while Number One Son creates a diversion. Down below, the octopus seductively wraps her tentacles around his stick. Mr Grigg is smitten. A lover of natural beauty, he comes back empty-handed but full of admiration. He brushes it off by making smutty jokes about tentacles and poles. But his brother and I are pleased he has met his match in the shallows of Lakka.

That night, I cannot resist re-enacting a scene from the dreadful film Alien Versus Predator. As Mr Grigg and I snuggle down in the forward cabin, my arm goes up and I clamp my hand firmly around his head like a face-hugger alien.

'Do that again,' he says. 'I quite like it.'

A sucker for punishment, obviously.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Sh*t happens

'This is Olympia Raad-yo, Olympia Raad-yo, to all sheeps to all sheeps...' And so my odyssey begins again - at least for the next week as we take an end-of-season trip on our boat in the Ionian.

She will soon be completely ours, as readers of this occasional blog know, and it's a strange feeling. In theory, next year we could be here all the time, sunning ourselves, sailing, cooking simple suppers on the tiny galley stove. But Mr Grigg has a couple of years to go yet before retiring and I need to devise a way of earning a living in Greece when he does. I speak no Greek but my command of English is pretty good, and those of you who have stopped by here before know my plan is to do a TEFL course and teach out here for at least a year.

I am never going to be the next J K Rowling or Zadie Smith. It is true the more you read the better a writer you become, but it does make you realise your limitations. It's like the amateur footballer who reaches 30 and it slowly dawns on him he will never do any better than playing for the pub team.

On the boat with Mr Grigg, his brother and Number One Son, the four of us look like rotund little Buddhas, the Grigg siblings more than anyone. We sit in a bar and a wild man with long grey hair and an even longer beard, drives by in a red Massey Ferguson, smoke billowing out from the back. An Englishman strolls by talking to his daughter's boyfriend, who has the words SEX WAX emblazoned across the back of his T-shirt. He bores his future son-in-law with a tale about a tractor he once owned that had a bench for a seat. The Greek Orthodox priest saunters by, in his long black dress. He hitches up his skirt and sits down with the men in the kafenion as they play backgammon.

Back on the boat the toilet is blocked. We can't pump it out and it is in danger of spilling over and flooding us all with smelly effluent. A phone call to the base manager and he comes out the next morning to pump out the blockage with the dinghy pump. Whoosh, a long ribbon of watery poo gurgles out, floats past and stretches 100 metres or more.

'It's like a bloody oil slick,' says Mr Grigg, disgusted, but watching closely because he might have to do this himself next year. And then a large blob of lavatory paper floats by, the legacy of previous occupants who know no better. I find the nearest aftershave I come across and, appropriately, spray Mr Grigg's Intimately Beckham around the loo while the base manager clears the air. It's a sh*t job but someone's got to do it.

'I used to be a jeweller,' he confides. Now the only carats he handles are the vegetable type digested by clients through their lower intestines.

As Mr Grigg spies the loo paper, he says: "Thank God for that, I thought it was the bloody square pasty.'

Because this, dear reader, was the vehicle parked outside our house on the morning we left.

Just watch out for those spinach pies.

That's about it

Love Maddie x