Thursday 3 September 2015

My Name is David and I am an Addict

My name is David and I'm an addict, it’s been almost no time at all since my last fix.

fugitiveMy habit began in the 90s when I first tried ‘Greece’ (check out the story of my arrival here). I had planned to stay for two weeks as many of you have but I was maybe more vulnerable than most. I stayed for seven months. The pressure at work was getting to me and Greece had all the answers, ‘life’s a beach’. I quickly met a commune of other addicts and we laughed at you. You work like ants all year, eating bake beans on toast in order to enjoy what we had for free. NO, we were getting paid for it. We all had jobs in the tourist industry, serving your souvlaki, thrilling you with jet-ski rides, taking you on tours of culture and ancient history, from the country that gave you civilisation. I was not a user, I had discovered the wisdom that eluded you all.

On my thankfully infrequent trips to sobriety, I was envied. I had taken the life less ordinary, I was mainlining sun and Britons crave sun. I wore shorts out of necessity and had a collection of sunglasses that I needed, daily. My mode of transport was a Vespa and if I owned a helmet, I couldn't tell you where it was. My diet was the fresh aromatic fare that Jamie Oliver thought was ‘pukka!’.

I later met the woman who became my wife and we decided that we should grow up and shoulder the life of reality. We decamped and moved to England to resume careers and begin a family business that would give us access to the comforts of modern life while still being able to afford an annual ticket to Europe’s theme park of hedonism. This lasted four years. A few short weeks in the summer were not enough and I, not my Greek wife decided to return to a life less pragmatic.

I now ‘own’ a house that is worth a half of what I borrowed to buy it and my euros are worth a fraction of the pounds I brought here. I fear that even this will be a small fortune compared to the Drachmas that may soon line my pockets.

I have taken a number of initiatives to maintain my habit but my Greek, while respectable for a foreigner is still only elementary school level and my children cringe when I use it with them. My options have shrunk but like boiling a frog I resist the discomfort preferring instead to cling to my life in the pages of national geographic on my mountain top home. And every day I hear of another Greek friend or friend’s friend who has gone. Most of my wedding guests are now in Sweden, Germany, the US or London to take my place.

This summer I took my family ‘cold-turkey’ in the UK for a month. We were greeted by rain and a wind that threatened to peel our tans. Cameras hung over every road and there were few to speak to after 10pm. The airfare was cheaper than a bus ride but our funds didn’t go far. The shops were throwing things out the door but after exchanging our diminished Euros we had enough to see a castle or two and restock our wardrobes from a charity shop and boot sales.

With my sun-tinted glasses off, I saw how far we had fallen.

Back home, back in the crack-house, we went to stay a few days at a friend’s summerhouse. We were once more in sympathetic company. After the midday heat we headed to the beach. From the balmy, crystalline sea we watched the sun set over a jagged horizon and I pondered...

sunset on Greek beach
Is this life?
Have I discovered true wisdom or am I just another crack head?

UPDATE 2016: Just got back from a Grand Tour of Europe to find that Greece is now facing a Malaria epidemic, one of the hospitals now refusing to take blood donations is just down the road from us in the area where my kids go to school. Christ! it don't get any easier, does it? 

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  1. That's very profound. I often worry about you and the half dozen other Greek friends that I have on the G.

    1. Mate, I'm OK standing tall but for how long...
      Just spoke with a German friend who felt the same. She compared it to her son's compulsion with LoL (a PC game). Crack addict is how I see it.

  2. So that is where you have been for a month. It was interesting to read how you became an 'asylum seeker in a sleepy Greek village'. I don't know how often you do, but it must have been very difficult spending so much time in the UK. As my village here in Crete is also very sleepy, I am afraid to say that I now find the UK very stressful. The traffic is chaotic, the shops are packed and it costs an arm and a leg to eat in a restaurant. As for the weather....well!

    1. Richard, mate! I dropped off the radar because I couldn't be sure what I'd say. Worked on my stories but had no clarity to publish.
      I don't find it stressful, I feel that here. I woke with the birds and rain, of course and got stuff done.
      I did find the CCTV society oppressive though.
      How's things down there?

  3. There was a little bit of worrying time when the banks were closed, but generally, nothing much changes. The Cretans appear to let pretty much everything go over their heads and life continues σιγά-σιγά.

    1. Hope it remains that way for you, mate. I feel like i'm living a Smith's song at the moment... just with the brightness turned up to 11.

  4. There are worse habits to have and the positives of living in Greece seem to outweigh the negatives. At least you don't need to put the heating on. In early September...


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