Friday, 14 September 2007
Crete gives me the elbow
Banana Palm (A5 sketchbook, Pilot pigment ink drawing pen)
There was a cold wind blowing in from the sea. It flapped and cracked the folded umbrellas as I sat and sipped my ouzo in an otherwise deserted taverna on the harbour front at Chania. Suddenly, a Native American squaw walked by clutching a stuffed fox with a bird in its mouth. A group of inflatable Spongebob Squarepants drifted eerily after her.
Had I read the signs, I should have been prepared for Fate leading me inexorably to an examination table in a hospital in Heraklion, with doctors cutting and tugging at little bits of my elbow, shaking their heads and exchanging knowing glances.
"You shouldn't laugh," Patsy123 had said. I'd made some kind of facetious remark about "Einstein a Go Go" when I first saw the Red Indian Chief with the big feather head-dress, who was playing an electronic flute.
But I wouldn't listen to her. No, I just wouldn't listen.
Despite the six or seven stitches in my left elbow, I enjoyed the last few days in Crete. It was a time of political rallies. Pictures of New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis were everywhere evident and the New Democracy rally was an exciting and turbulent affair, with car horns , music and Greek flag waving supporters thronging the streets.
By direct contrast, the KKE put up a poor show. Patsy123 and I watched the rally from the comfort of a cafe table near the Morosini Fountain, eating bougatsa. The speeches seemed dull and perfunctory and the rock band lacklustre. We'd hummed a few choruses of the Red Flag and hoped we might get the chance to join in the Internationale - the Left really does have all the best tunes, you know - but it was not to be. After a while they rolled up their flags and shuffled off out of the square looking dejected.
On our last night in Heraklion (and Crete, for that matter), we'd planned to sip an ouzo at a taverna we'd found the night before, then go off for what we hoped would prove a memorable meal. Instead, we found the ouzos was being sipped in a square destined that night to be the site of a rock concert in support of PASOK. So we stayed.
After all the usual sound checks, lighting checks, roadie walk-ons, eviction of small children from the stage, some guy from PASOK -presumably the candidate - made a satisfyingly short speech and the band came on. They were terrific and I'm still desperately trying to find out who they were. It might be that they go by the name of the lead singer - whoever she might be - or they may have a band name; I simply don't know. But they put on a storming concert, still going strong at 11.45, when we decided we really must go to find something to eat.
Less of a tourist place, more of a working city, bars and restaurants don't stay open very late in Heraklion, so we had to settle on a souvlaki joint, complete with formica-topped tables and dogged-eared menus.. Four skewers of pork souvlaki between us, with some chips , tzatziki, and pita bread, washed down with cold draught beer. Great.
A free rock concert and a souvlaki meal. Never mind the fancy food in an expensive restaurant. That was a night to remember.
The banana palm? That was drawn from our balcony in Chania.