The revelations…

… of Fauxhunter simply serve to demonstrate that I am indeed in Greece and am indeed somewhat difficult to trace.

Meanwhile, I think I should take the time to mention something that should be of concern to all swimmers in the Mediterranean. While my tiny bay on the west coast is ideal, I see many bays that are not. The telltale ribbon of foam you may see floating past your beach is unlikely to be the result of the waves crashing against the rocks. It is more likely to be a wisp of detergent foam, harmless enough, this froth from someone’s dish washing activities. But where there is the visible slick of friendly Eureka (the local answer to Fairy Liquid) there is likely to be a less visible trace of raw sewage, because much of the island’s waste is just piped out to a point a little offshore. There used to be a joke about Edinburgh’s seaside resort, Portobello. “You can’t swim at Portobello – you just go through the motions”. Think about it.

Meanwhile, a piccy of the limpid waters of my rather inaccessible bay:
Limpid Waters

Speaking of Portobello, an incongruous name for a district of grey, austere, Edinburgh, I remember spending a happy afternoon there in the mid-1960s, visiting the “arcade”. There were, of course, no arches in this arcade. It was a high-ceilinged room opening straight off the icy promenade with a creaking wooden floor under worn linoleum, and filled with slot machines that were mostly pre 1950. I remember particularly the unhealthy warmth of the place, generated, no doubt, by the thousands of light bulbs. But what hit you as you walked in was a strong smell of disinfectant underlaid with the odour of horse manure. The origin of the latter is still a mystery to me. Perhaps they kept the beach donkeys in there overnight when it was cold.

The machines themselves were grotesque. There was one containing a plaster gypsy head. You had to place your hand on a worn perforated brass plate, and, as you dropped your penny in, a series of little probes gently rippled over your hand, to the accompaniment of a scratchy voice track so old it was incomprehensible, while the gypsy’s jaw wobbled up and down and electric light bulbs illuminated her eyes. When she had stopped, slack-jawed with exhaustion, and the lights in her eyes had gone out, there was a thump from the bowels of the machine and a pre-printed card dropped into a semi-circular cup. Your Fortune! Usually slightly less rewarding than a cracker motto. Also present was the classic mechanical claw machine which dropped a gleaming chrome-plated grab into a pile of prizes and managed to butter-finger them all, emerging to deliver triumphantly …. NOTHING to the prize slot. But the most horrendous of the exhibits was a glass case containing a model jail, in which the public execution by hanging of a six inch puppet was enacted in the company of judge, warden, executioner and clergyman puppets, to the sound of a clock tolling the hour. For some reason, this outrage was very popular and seemed in constant use. So different from the extra-judicial carnage delivered by today’s arcade machines!

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