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…
Say you were born during the mid-eighties in Athens (or most of Greece for that matter). Say that like most of the kids of the same age, growing up you probably had not only one but two television sets in the house – those bulky TVs that took up almost as much space as a small piece of furniture (I remember ours had gum stuck on the door of the compartment where the control buttons were). The chances are that anything you watched that wasn’t Greek was most probably American. The chances also are that almost all of it was either filmed or set in New York.
The news spread today that Dogtooth has been nominated for an Academy Award and that has filled me with joy for two reasons: first of all, because the film is Greek. And secondly, because my first ever Sticky Note (if you don’t count the introduction) was written about it.
You can read the post here. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, you should definitely give it a go although you should be warned that the themes can be disturbing at times.
I love the fact that this particular film is nominated as it’s certainly a very different cultural product to be exported from our troubled little country. It’s time to show that despite everything, there is talent and potential in Greece and it’s not simply Eurovision singers and long-haired football players. Let’s hope that the publicity that this nomination has brought is going to be positive for Lanthimos but also for a young generation of film makers that might want to follow in his footsteps. Maybe this will be the opportunity for the country to develop a film industry of its own instead of providing only a backdrop for Hollywood’s ‘escape-in-the-sun’ extravaganzas. No, I didn’t like Mamma Mia.
As I read about the election results in my troubled hometown, my feelings are mixed. I struggle to remember who I voted for the last time round but this memory eludes me at this moment. Perhaps it’s been suppressed by the feeling of disappointment I was experiencing a bit before I left. My once beloved Athens was beginning to feel like a place I didn’t long to be in. It was time to go.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m not one of those Greeks who goes on complaining about English weather all the time. I actually don’t mind not having to bear the heatwaves when you get to work and you’re dripping with sweat and your boss (who is a cheap bastard) doesn’t turn the air-con on because he says it affects the electrical circuit (?! – what he really means is that he doesn’t want to pay the bill).
I do miss the food though. I can be found describing several dishes to my friends and I feel that I can almost taste the tastes in my mouth. Stuffed peppers and tomatoes with bulgur wheat that my mum makes with a huge chunk of nice salty feta. And bread. Bread that comes from the baker where they bake it in the morning from a batch they made there and didn’t just get out of the freezer. Bread that doesn’t crumble into a thousand pieces when you try to cut it with the knife and has a nice thick crust and a good solid centre.
When people usually ask me if I miss home (they tend to ask that especially on a crappy, rainy day), I usually say not that much. And I am honest. There’s many things I don’t miss about home. And I’m pretty content where I am and I don’t mind carrying an umbrella with me because, yes, England IS the only place in the world where you can experience all 4 seasons in one day.
But yesterday night, after a day out with beloved Greek friends who make me laugh even when the skies are grey, I came home shivering and I wrapped myself in my pink blanket. I turned on the TV and My Big Fat Greek Wedding was playing. My face lit up inexplicably. I had just missed my favourite scene where the groom’s family brings over a bundt cake which causes great confusion to the Greek mothers and grandmothers. (You can watch the scene here.)
I wrote this piece a while ago to go on the Talking Drugs website and the Methadone Facebook Page. You can read it here: http://www.talkingdrugs.org/methadone-treatment-in-greece
The time I spent volunteering for the drug charity Release was absolutely brilliant as I met so many people from allover the world and I started learning more about drugs and drug use. I believe that Release’s campaign ‘Nice People Take Drugs’ is remarkable for the way it emphasises how quick we are to judge and label drug users into all sorts of categories with the aim of excluding and washing our hands clean of them.