Friday Chris drove me into Kalyves for a visit to the Biological Lab for a blood test. The girl who did it was so adept and gentle I didn’t even know she had done it until I saw her remove the syringe. Then, as we had two hours to kill before the results were ready, Chris went to the bank. I don’t know why our banking seems to be so complicated. This time he was at the counter for a good forty five minutes while the occupants of the chairs grew in number. If I had been an impatient Greek I would have been yelling blue murder. Fortunately this time they seemed to be a good-natured crowd, and this time part of the problem was the bank having produced new books for old (yes, Greek banks still use old-fashioned bank books, regard cheques with great suspicion and the amount of paperwork involved in running a bank is truly amazing). As we have four or five accounts, each book had to be changed and this took a great deal of time. Don’t ask me why we have so many accounts (Douglas is treasurer and looks after the finances) but you would think we were a multi-national globalised company. Our banking dealings are pretty miniscule really. I see in the paper a photograph of that lying hypocritical leech and multi-millionaire property dealer, Tony Blair enjoying yet another freebie this time on a friend’s magnificent yacht. The friend, I read, is the fourth richest man in the world worth about three and a half billion or more. A sum of money this huge simply boggles the mind. If our pathetic four or five accounts add up to a thousand pounds in total at any one time we consider ourselves to be well and truly solvent though that doesn’t leave much room for emergencies. Money comes in, money goes out. I have just been interrupted by Chris who tells me, although it seems to be a common mistake, that it is not the “Marie Celeste” but the “Mary Celeste”. I stand corrected. Now where was I? Oh yes, talking high and low finance. To digress once more, I wonder what it must be like to know that your (in)famous father, a figure on the world stage, a colossus with feet of soggy clay, is one of the most despised humans on planet earth. Or is it water off the proverbial duck’s back and do they really care?
Our friend Diane who is holidaying with us at the moment brought half a dozen DVDs with her for our enjoyment and the other evening we watched SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, a much over-hyped movie. How it managed to win eight academy awards is beyond me. Political Correctness? Apart from some stunning photography and opening one’s eyes very wide to the terrible terrifying conditions in India’s slums, and terrific performances from the kids, it didn’t really grab us. You knew what the ending was going to be and by the time he/she got together you couldn’t really give a toss. As for the dancing on the station platform to accompany the end credits, what a wank! The only reason I mention it now is because I want to think of the comparison between Tony’ Blair’s friend and his three and half billion and those terrible terrifying conditions in the slums of the world. Think of Monster Mugabe building his hideous palace while the people of Zimbabwe starve. Think of the oil rich sheiks, the footballers who earn more in weeks than I have earned in my entire life, the eighteen year old film stars who are worth twenty million or more and then think of those slums. In the words of the song, what’s it all about, Alfie? Life really is so unfair. In Brad Meltzer’s book I learn that Jerry Siegel of Michigan who, as a kid, created “Superman” spent most of the rest of his life in penury while his creation made millions for others. How many artists have metaphorically starved in garrets? Modigliani springs to mind. Having hardly sold a painting in his lifetime, after his death they couldn’t go fast enough. Mozart died a pauper. Wagner was forever on the cadge. Today some minor celeb will write a cheap piece of chic-lit that will have publishers salivating, housewives and beach bunnies will buy in droves and make her a millionaire. Am I jealous? Of course I am. I can’t write that sort of shit. I wish I could. I tried some years ago to write a Mills & Boon. It was called “Wendy’s House” and the setting was our Yorkshire farmhouse. It was immediately rejected of course. Evidently I didn’t stick to the formula as I didn’t introduce a blue eyed, lantern jawed hero early enough. So all I have at the moment for a lifetime’s work is three published plays and three published books lost in the three and half million on offer. But I have something no amount of money can buy – the love of good friends and a deep satisfaction and sense of gratitude for a long and on the whole a joyful life.