Monday, March 7, 2011

Lewis has taken me to task for not including Truman Capote in my list of southern writers and, yes, I admit the omission. I thought about it for quite a while and decided I am not familiar enough with his work. I have read “Other Rooms” and “In Cold Blood” but nothing else. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” I only know as a movie and I haven’t read his short stories. As for Gore Vidal, who I met in London many years ago, who I have always admired and for whom I cooked a curry, can one really consider him a southerner? He was born in West Point and, although he spent much time on his grandfather’s estate in Virginia I still don’t think of him as being a southerner unless one takes into account a southern heritage. Washington DC was (is?) his stomping ground and like many Americans he is particularly fond of Italy but that’s by the by.
Rosa Angela – When we first arrived in Crete we were obliged (actually as EU citizens we weren’t obliged at all but the Greeks took a different point of view and still do) to be issued with resident’s permits so, complete with passport and the usual four photographs, up the hill to the old police station we went. Now for those of you who have never had dealings with Greek bureaucracy I need to point out that, apart from any number of official rubber stamps, it is necessary on any kind of form to have both father’s and mother’s names so, when it came to my father’s name, the policeman behind the desk was totally baffled by Llewellyn. It was the double L’s that got him. I explained that it was a Welsh name but I don’t think that cleared up the matter, nevertheless Llewellyn was duly written down with some humphing and muttering. So now it came to my mother’s name – Rosa Angela. He looked up from his form and there was a long silence. Oh, dear, I thought, what now? He took a deep breath and said “Rosa Angela”…pause, different inflection, almost dreamily… “Rosa Angela”… pause, and now almost singing it, “Rosa Angela” and made out my permit for five years instead of the normal one. We still carry a resident’s permit even after fourteen years and recently had them renewed; a business that took forever as the young policeman in the new police station was not really interested and kept putting it off, especially as foreigners are now to be found in abundance and it was an awful lot of form filling. The village of Gavalohori some time ago was renamed by the Cretans Anglohori. It was a bit like a comedy sketch in a way the number of times we appeared in his office and he was suffering a bad cold at the time so the sniffles never stopped. These new permits don’t have a time limit so, unless we lose one, don’t ever have to be renewed.
All Greeks carry an identity card and I don’t know why the English are so up in arms on the subject, apart from the possible cost of course. God, a British passport these days costs as much as a flight to some exotic place. I suppose in a way it’s the same syndrome as the Americans who are anti-healthcare. The permit of course doesn’t turn you into a naturalised Greek – that will never happen – but it does somehow make you feel more a part of the community and lost without it. When I had the previous one stolen in Athens I felt quite denuded until the new one was issued.

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