Archive for April, 2005

I have taken…

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

… the opportunity, while in Athens, of buying some more books, including a few replacements for my abandoned library in Glasgow and a “Teach Yourself Modern Greek” course.

I also got a new IR folding(!) keyboard for my laptop, because I hate a tiny keyboard, and a nice fat 1 Gig USB thumb drive. I looked at some digital cameras, but couldn’t make up my mind, especially since they are very expensive here, and I left a perfectly good one behind in my previous life. The photos I’ve shown you so far were scanned from ordinary photographs by a friendly computer user on the island. I’m not ready yet to set up Amazon and Ebay accounts. The paranoia of not wanting to be too free with my email address is behind that.

Nowhere in this journal is there a real name or an identifiable place that could help track me down. In a way, I feel more secure rather than less after the incident yesterday, as it made me review my vulnerability.

The Acropolis
Above is Athens as it appears in the tourist brochures.

Athens - the city
The true picture is a smoggy, grid-locked maze of streets and alleys, greatly congested with buses, cars and motor bikes, yet there are many truly nice places to eat and sit in the sunshine, and I’ve always liked the place. The American Express office is a particular haven, sporting, as it does, air-conditioning and real clean toilets.

I’m back…

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

… on line after all, as you probably all guessed I would be. This morning, I packed a few things and my laptop, and turned up at the ferry just as it arrived. I can see it coming miles away, so I was able to time it perfectly.

The Town

I was hoping to scuttle below to the canteen and nurse a cup of coffee in obscurity. To no avail. The Police, in the person of a very dangerous-looking uniformed fellow, armed to the teeth, stopped me, instructed the ferry master to wait (I had visions of being shipped off to Athens in manacles) and marched me, courteously enough, the few yards to the police station, where a senior clerical type confiscated my passport, which, of necessity, I was carrying, and disappeared into the back shop. I looked around for an escape route, but my captor smiled benignly from the doorway. Five tense minutes later, the clerk returned and displayed my passport with a new stamp in it and a scribble overlaying the stamp. Then I was escorted back to the ferry, and allowed to board.

By the time I had my cup of coffee, the ferry was under way, and I’d realised what was going on. The new stamp in my passport was the temporary residence permit I’d applied for in December, on the advice of my lawyer. The wheels of bureaucracy had finally yielded it up, long after I’d forgotten it.

Needless to say, I was constrained to travel to Athens. There was no point in getting off at the next stop and waiting for the next ferry home, as that would not be today or tomorrow. I decided to make the best of it, so here I am, feeling a bit of an idiot.

You see, it doesn’t really matter how easy it is to find ‘Carfilhiot’ on Google. No-one’s looking for Carfilhiot, unless they have Vance’s Lyonesse in mind. And how likely is it that the British police could put out an APB in Greece? And how likely is it that Greece would spring into action on every single island? After all, the trial will come and go, probably be cancelled by the CPS for lack of evidence from me. No one will blame me for going missing after what happened to Melancthe. Eventually, if I care to, I’ll be able to go back to England, without threat from Shimrod and his cohorts, as I’ll have done exactly as he hoped. It’s just a question of staying unfindable until after July.

Anyway, I signed some papers today and had a nice meeting with my lawyer, so the trip isn’t entirely wasted.

At the time…

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

… when Kostandis told me about the message from the police, I thanked him and said the fishermen had already told me. I kind of implied I’d already been to the cop shop. Kostandis was burning with curiosity to know what is was about, but he didn’t ask straight out, and I didn’t tell him.

I spent today writing little notes. One to Alexis, suggesting he stop work for the time being and send a bill to my Athens company. I left an envelope for the Pope with a generous week’s wages for Eleni, but would she please just wait for further instructions before carrying on.

To tell the truth, I have been paralysed all day with anticipation of problems, though none transpired today so far. I’ve been mooning around the little house saying goodbye, and I left a small pile of ham pieces and a dish of water for the lizard, though it disappeared with such dispatch that I suspect that big black cat got it!

More from me when I know what happens next! I hope.

I was still…

Monday, April 4th, 2005

… puzzled by the fisherman’s gestures yesterday. When I rode down to Nikos’ this morning, Kostandis, a retired lawyer and one of the more sedate Club members, told me that the police inspector had suggested I call in at the police station “very soon”. Apparently, the word is out in the entire village. I was not exactly terrified, but my stomach hit my boots and I could feel the blood hiccupping in my vitals. In that moment, I knew I’d been rumbled. There’s no way I’m going to hand myself in, and I’m not sure whether I could actually be extradited, but I’ve decided to move on and try to hide better next time. I can only imagine some smartass has discovered this Carfilhiot blog, and has somehow tracked me down, which is a mystery, because it’s just another site among millions, a lodger in the neglected upload directory of a friend’s site (Well, at the time of writing it was, but we have moved on). I helped him move his website from an unsuitable ISP, and he said I could use any space I wanted within reason. If Google knows about it, I didn’t tell them… {O God, I just Googled Carfilhiot, and up we came – top of the list – how did that happen?}

Once alerted, no doubt the British police put out a call to all Greek islands, in the hope of locating me.

Unfortunately, there’s no ferry until Wednesday. I’ll catch that, and go to Athens while I sort out my next move. I don’t imagine my company has been compromised yet, but it’s only a matter of time, so it’s back to “brass plate” business again.

Now I know why I subconsciously wanted a boat. I could just have vanished into the Mediterranean.

As long as they don’t send the Black Maria for me, I should be OK here at home. I bought some provisions at the microscopic “supermarket”, and I’ll just lie low till Wednesday morning.

The day was …

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

… rather unproductive. Another Eleni onslaught was due today, and she and Mother arrived on time. I could see she was about to clean up to an unnecessary length, so I offered them both a lemonade to keep them occupied while I made my escape. Mother actually cracked a dry smile while tilting her chin back in refusal. Eleni accepted, but didn’t touch her drink while I was there. I left on the bike and went looking for Alexis. The boat was there, looking very shiny and smelling very plasticky, but Alexis was absent. One of the fisherman indicated the ferry pier and waved distantly over the waves, which I took to mean that Alexis had left the island for some reason. The fisherman also made strange motions over his head, pointed into town, and pointed at me. I couldn’t figure out what he meant, but decided to wait until Alexis’ return.

The men…

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

… of the village, mostly middle aged to old, form a sort of Club, based on the untidy tables and chairs outside Nikos’ taverna. The members of the Club have a number of habits that are strange to my eye. For hours on end, they occupy the uncomfortable wooden chairs that characterise every taverna in the world, and which grace Nikos’ in abundance.

These chairs are famously constructed with no rake whatsoever and very small seats, so that the occupant is forced either to sit very upright or to use them unconventionally. The members of the Club perch on these chairs in a number of poses which defy the Kama Sutra for variety. For example, the sitter’s legs may be stretched and the chair tilted back on two legs to an alarming degree. There are various crouch positions in which the croucher only touches the chair with the corner of one buttock. There is the cowboy pose, straddling the reversed chair and leaning on the back. There are a variety of sideways postures, with or without tilt on two, or even one, leg.

The Club members arrive, conventionally insult one another, if the growls and shouts are anything to go by, then call a tiny order to Nikos. Nikos will ignore the order for half an hour or more, unless pressed, as bringing the coffee, gazoza or ouzo too quickly might imply a request to drink up and leave. Fierce arguments often break out, which flare rapidly into shouting. A combatant may also slam the salt cellar down on the metal table for emphasis, shake a huge fist under another’s nose, or stand up in feigned horror at the adversary’s impudence, capsizing the chair loudly. Two huge members, truck drivers, I think, often tear chunks of chest hair from each other, accompanied by the conventional insult “Turk!” or “Bulgar!”, as they blow the tuft of hair to the breeze. Conventionally, the victim remains impassive at these junctures, pretending nothing has happened, for to show pain would be to lose. Then all may sit for a while chuckling or tossing their worry beads.

This morning, there was a particularly loud set-to over the partial re-instatement of the two Greek athletes who were banned from the Olympics for drug test dodging and staging a fake motor cycle accident (go figure). The newspaper carrying the story was repeatedly cuffed, snatched, and thrashed in the course of the discussion, though Nikos assured me they were all of a mind on the matter. Apparently, there is an American, or, perhaps, Swiss, plot to do Greece down. Partings after a two-hour glass of water may consist of anything from fraternal hugs to bellowed imprecations, all in great good humour, as I now perceive.