Eleni is very frail now. I visited our old neighbour on her trip to stay with her son. At 102 she is no longer mobile and can barely sit upright. But mentally she is a sharp as can be, refuses to take any medicines and can still roar with laughter, especially when I make up for my deficient Greek with mime. My donkey impersonation was especially impressive, if ineffective. This game of charades started with a guess at a rabbit and I gave up when we got to horse, much closer in size. It had to do. I have blogged about her before obliquely here, as well as here and here.
As I left, I pointed out to Eleni's daughter-in-law how her husband must have inherited the same genes for longevity. She looked to the skies and crossed herself in horror – 'Ach! Panagia mou!'
One of the problems with novels can sometimes be the awkward contrivance of the plot as it bends and twists to create a convenient and conclusive ending. There are ways to avoid this, but there are also genres that celebrate contrivance and make it integral to the art form. One such genre is farce and Michael Frayn has written a gem of one set in Greece, though not about it. Skios is a delight and has been long listed for the Booker prize. It is lovely to see something light hearted get some recognition. There is a profile of Frayn and the book here.
How about this for the plot of a farce?
An extradition request from Sweden for a man accused of sexual offences, including one count of rape, is finally granted after an exhaustive process of appeals. The wanted man then skips bail and claims political asylum to protect his right to free speech in the embassy of a country with a lousy reputation on free speech, because of the danger that he could be extradited to the USA from Sweden to face the death penalty, despite there being no extradition request and the fact that Swedish law will not permit the extradition of anyone who may be subject to the death penalty. In the meantime he gathers a range of celebrity supporters who either ignore the charges or excuse them ('bad sexual etiquette') and repeat all sorts of strange claims (including it being illegal not to wear a condom in Sweden, which makes me wonder how long it will be before the Swedish population dies out). Transformed into a celebrity victim of the new world order, he gives a balcony speech. Let's call it a drama of self-righteousness, self-pity and self-preservation.
No. Too far fetched.
There are some positives to come out of the affair. It has given an opportunity for an unpleasant individual to be ridiculed, confirms suspicions that there is not an excess of sanity out there and has given the Guardian the opportunity to once again provide a platform for more lunacy.
Meanwhile – here are some facts.
And all the while I get a visit from a stray cat that looks like Hitler.