This post began to write itself a few months ago after a visit to the fish counter at my local supermarket. There wasn’t any progress for months until yesterday’s crisp and sunny Monday morning. Walking to work with the latest episode of This American Life’s, my body found warmth through the sounds, memories and feelings evoked by these stories with the beach as their common denominator. It was time to go back and write on how I feel really about fish…
My dad, who speaks little English and that with a heavy Greek accent, is playing poker with an English-speaking family. Reading the letter ‘A’ as ‘ey’ is of course unbeknownst to him which leads to this inevitable scene:
An ace is on the table and when revealing the cards, someone is in possession of one more.
Dad: Ahhh, you have an ass. That is a pair of asses.
I’m afraid to ask if he usually plays poker with this deck of cards.
This year has been one of many firsts and it was bound to go out with a bang. In keeping with the theme of 2010, this was my first Christmas away from home. (the Greek home that is, I’m still very confused with the use of the particular noun).
Our office could have served as a poster for the City of Westminster ‘Some things you only do when you’re drunk‘ campaign yesterday as several people turned up wearing the same outfits as the day before. I had (sadly) missed out on all the fun (I was spared the hangover though) so I felt the need to share my bananas and the toiletries samples that were handed out on the tube the other day to boost the morale. Helena had also just returned from holidays in Greece bringing lots of sweet treats for the crowd (that was originally not that enthused – chocolate does not fare well in a stomach recovering from a hangover, bananas are not ideal either).
As one of the co-workers made references to mothers and our attempts to take care of people, he asked ‘Is it a Greek thing?’ To answer to that I would have to open the big book of concepts to the big, massive chapter that is called ‘Greek mums’. A chapter as complicated as organic chemistry and as simple as the alphabet’s A-Z. If Oxford University’s All Souls College had decided to make its historic and now axed one-word entrance essay about Greek mums (yes, I realise that that is two words but in Greek it would have simply been mums; it’s English that makes it all more complicated), my essay would be somewhat like this:
I watched Dogtooth today. I first read about it in October when it was playing during the London Film Festival. Unfortunately I couldn’t get tickets back then as it was sold out. Presumably because it was so hyped – the reviews were excellent and every critic was urging you to go watch it.
I do admit I’m a sucker for good reviews but the fact that it was a Greek movie made it impossible for me to resist seeing it. It was kind of weird when the film started and Greek words filled the dark room. It got even weirder when the subtitles appeared on screen – for a moment there I started reading them, unsure why.
Anyway, not because I’m Greek and all, but it’s really worth watching it. It’s not an easy film and it can be quite disturbing but it’s very smart and poignant at the same time. Re-reading the different reviews tonight, I do realise that it is indeed a film open to interpretations.
Does the house simply reflect the familial life in a close-d circle or is it a projection of society in general where power imposes the norms and everyone out of the circle is an outsider? Is it an allegory of the nanny state that consorts to violence to maintain the much treasured social order?
If you go watch it, you’ll probably have your own ideas about it.
For me (being Greek and all) certain things had a particular resonance. I think it’s the sort of cultural territory I’m so familiar with that I can tap into it in a different way than a non-Greek that might have been watching the movie at the same time as me.