Archive for December, 2005

I gave Alfredo…

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

… the run of my website, for fear of him perishing from boredom, provided he didn’t tamper with my blog. And look what he’s turned up!

It’s actually much bigger than this – about 600px across. And I’ve deliberately somewhat obscured the code until I find out what it all means.

I can only imagine Ginger left it there. I’ve left Alfredo trying to find out when it was uploaded. I haven’t heard from Ginger since October, when he disappeared on his “mercy mission”. The mysterious letters and numbers may be a message for me.

For some reason, the file is in a subdirectory with a “no robots” property, so that search engines like Google and Yahoo won’t index it. Weird. I didn’t realise Ginger knew enough about technology to do that, and I had no idea he’d hacked my domain password, though of course I’d typed it in in his presence often enough. He was always fiddling with his digital camera – he could easily have taken a movie of me keying it in. It makes me wonder about him and his motives.

Anyway, it’s late, and we’ve got a party to go to! Happy New Year in anticipation!

What can I say…

Friday, December 30th, 2005

… about Alfredo? Especially since I know he’s going to be reading this. Seventeen years old, lean, dark, wears the uniform – old torn jeans, shapeless jogging suit top and baseball cap with the Arsenal insignia, though he says he really supports Aldershot, poor devil. He talks in rapid bursts that I have to make him replay so I can understand them. He makes me feel like a pensioner.

I can design and write software in two major and several minor computer languages. I do assembler, which you don’t see much these days. I do web sites. I have a thorough knowledge of Unix, Windows, and, for my sins, VAX VMS, and, before my misdemeanours, was always in demand for my skills. Yet Alfredo, self-taught, in one afternoon, has shown me half a dozen things about my own subject that I never knew. And he’s so quick. And the questions! They never stop. Five minutes with the registry and the services and my laptop has never run so fast.

The only thing is … here he is, in lovely weather, in a foreign country, and he spends all his time in a darkened room with my laptop. He can’t half drink, though. He’s cleaned all the beer out of my fridge already.

This is my second Christmas…

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

… on the island. The last one was rather miserable and fraught with anxiety over my rather new fugitive status. I viewed all the Greek Orthodox ceremonies around the streets of the town from afar, and found them extremely alien. I’m not much of a Believer myself, not having darkened the doormat of a church since I was expelled from Sunday School for operating a lending library of comic books during the superintendent’s mini-sermon. It was a rather severe punishment, I felt. The comics weren’t even pornographic.

Last year, on Christmas Day, I sat in my rented “apartment” – a hotel room without hotel services – reading a John Grisham book from the mini-market. Being Christmas Day, only the big hotels were open and I didn’t fancy Christmas dinner Saga style. So it was biscuits, wine and brandy. And brandy, too, washed down with brandy. I don’t remember Boxing Day.

This year, by contrast, I was adopted by Eleni’s family, which is, of course, the local Pope’s family, and bemusedly participated in all the celebrations, religious and secular. It was a lot of fun, though I find Eleni’s murderous brothers a little hard to see as jolly party animals. More seriously, I think the family still visualise me as a credible future husband for Eleni. For a start, I never shopped the brothers for beating me up. And she still makes these eyes in my direction.

Greek Christmas stamp

Back home now, I’m off to Athens to collect Fauxhunter, whom I must learn to call Alfredo. There weren’t any cheap flights to closer airports.

Good heavens…

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

… Fauxhunter seems delighted to come after Boxing Day. We had flurry of emails and then a telephone call in which I spoke to his mother and reassured her that I was a substantial citizen. He’s organised his ticket and everything! I got a running commentary by email on his transaction with Expedia.

So he’s coming. I’m astonished on reflection and rather pleased. What next?

In a rare mad moment…

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

… I emailed my now-familiar pal – Fauxhunter – to ask if he would like to visit me during the Christmas holidays. Why did I do that? I can only imagine that though I have a lot of friends here I need someone kind of British. And when I experienced the ghastly weather in my trip to London last month, it occurred to me to rescue another poor devil from the clutches of Jack Frost.

No reply yet.

Doughnuts, cats and babies

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

It was a lot warmer today. Still fresh, but very bright with a stunningly blue sky. And clear – often the brightest days round here are characterised by a haze that obscures the view, but today you could see right to the horizon. I took the opportunity to ride out over the spine of the island, through olive groves, raw-looking vineyards and tiny hamlets. Having skipped breakfast, a sweet aroma brought me to a halt outside a tiny taverna, hardly more than a private house with three tables and a huge chest fridge outside. At one table the family were lounging in the dubious comfort of a set of ill-assorted chairs, three of them arrayed round a rickety table, the other an old leatherette armchair.

When the woman in the armchair, who was dandling a baby on her lap, caught sight of me, she called out to me to join them. I wandered across and asked for coffee. A chair was vacated for me – the least contorted of the ones available. The delicious smell turned out to be freshly made doughnuts, prepared by an old lady with seemingly heatproof fingers, as she dropped the dough in the hot fat and extracted the cooked doughnuts with her bare hands.

They gave me a plateful of misshapen but delicious doughnuts with my coffee and were delighted at my expressions of appreciation. They were further delighted by my attempts at speaking Greek – a novelty for “tourists”.

All the while, the cats were becoming more and more familiar, getting between me and my doughnuts, and when I admired the baby I was given that too. Shortly thereafter, I felt a warm, damp sensation in the knees of my trousers. I took pains not to make my discomfort obvious. At the time, I thought it was the baby, but, judging from the smell, it may well have been one of the kittens. I left amid mutual expressions of regard, and I was not permitted to pay. Which is probably just as well, because the doughnuts gave me terrible indigestion and I may have to put the trousers in the garbage.

We’ve been having…

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

… some cool and damp weather – a rarity in these parts, as I think I’ve mentioned. Most of the time, it’s perfectly comfortable for me in a short-sleeved shirt. The islanders are going around in jumpers and overcoats. I’ve even seen a couple of fur hats. Alexis keeps asking me to wrap up warmer as I am making him feel cold. But I don’t believe how cold it is this week. It was actually just 4 degrees here, and the wind and rain!

Of course, I stand accused of bringing it with me from London. How often is this amusing? 340 times this week already. Apparently.
apocalyptic sky

While in London…

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

… I visited lots of tourist attractions. You know, all the places you never go to when you live there. I had never been to most of them, despite spending a big chunk of my life living and working in and around London.

So, it was The Tower, the London Eye, lots of Art Galleries, the British Museum, the British Library, the Royal Observatory and Burlington Arcade, the latter just to laugh at the prices.

I think the sightseeing was indicative of two things:

  • o I don’t intend to go back to the UK ever again
  • o There was nothing and nobody there for me once I’d sorted out bank and insurance business I had left dangling when I ran, but I still had about 10 days of a two week return ticket!

God, it was cold and miserable.