My friend Sprios has a son Girogos, who at 17 is in the final year of high school; in fact he’s the Chair/Treasurer of his sixth form committee, the sole purpose of which committee being to extort raise money for extra -curricular activities. This sort of activity is universal amongst all the years at the local schools and a common weapon of choice is the sale of calendars to parents and unsuspecting friends. Giorgos is also a Chuck Norris fan. Now for those enlightened people (i.e. all readers of this missive other than Doris Bonkers) who don’t know who Chuck Norris is, he’s very right wing American actor who used to specialise in martial arts roles…think John Wayne with added evangelical Christianity. He’s also apparently and for reasons totally beyond my comprehension, an iconic/ ironic idol for many young Cretan males. This goes some way to explain why, back in October, I was coerced into buying persuaded by Giorgos and several of his friends to buy one of the limited edition, of apparently several thousand, Chuck Norris calendars that Giorgos had had printed and was selling in aid of the school trip to Prague. (A trip to be carried out for strictly educational purposes only; when I suggested that they use the money and the opportunity to pursue sex and drugs and rock and roll, they were most offended and denied that they would ever do such things… perhaps because Giorgos’ mother was there at the time)
A week or so later I was approached by one of the infant school teachers and a small group of her monsters children offering me a calendar of the kids crayon drawings; the worthy cause this time being more text books for the infants library. OK, in spite of my life membership of the King Herod and King Dipendra of Nepal Appreciation Society,* I succumbed under societal pressure and now had two different calendars. However, five minutes later the teacher came back with a sad story…it appeared that the calendar I had bought was the last one of the batch and when they had gone down the street after selling it to me, they had met the teacher who had taught the little brats children last year and she really wanted a memento of their work…would I mind swapping the calendar for another one? Being the kind hearted person I am, (pause for nods of agreement from those reading) I agreed and was duly presented with a Chuck Norris calendar.
Two days before Christmas and there was a knock on our apartment door. Standing outside was our landlady’s nine year old daughter Maria and several of her friends, singing Christmas carols that were all more or less out of tune to a musical accompaniment consisting of two triangles. Society, in the guise of the memsahib, kicked in again and, rather than allowing me to turn the hosepipe on them, dictated that I give them a few Euros to bugger off reward their efforts and so, clutching their ill gotten gains they disappeared. Two minutes later there was another knock on the door and there was Maria again, this time holding a large envelope which she thrust into my hands with a muttered ‘Xronia Polla’.
‘What a nice thought’ said the memsahib, opening the envelope to reveal a Chuck Norris calendar.
At this point, bearing in mind the continuing turmoil surrounding the Greek economy and the Euro, with my detailed and encyclopaedic knowledge of macro-economics, I realised I was beginning to discern a pattern; if Greece bailed out or was thrown out of the Euro, the new currency was not going to be the Drachma but rather Chuck Norris calendars…at least in and around our part of Crete.
All was quiet on the calendar front, other than me receiving a Christmas present of a calendar featuring ‘Goats in Trees’, and then last weekend we attended a party in the village community centre organised by Giorgos and his committee. As usual we were embarrassed by the hospitality of the people with whom we went and they refused point blank to let us pay for any food or drink. However, in order to reciprocate for their hospitality, I felt that the least I could do was to buy a load of raffle tickets and give them to the kids who shared our table.
The draw duly took place. One of the children won a torch, one a mobile phone; several won boxes of sweets or chocolates and the memsahib won a Chuck Norris calendar.
I won two prizes, the first being a bottle of perfume which had an aroma, or rather a smell, which fell somewhere between Chanel No.4 and Sweet Essence of Giraffe, an odour that was, to my mind, overwhelmingly reminiscent of rotting strawberries. You will appreciate that this was not particularly to my taste but it did appear to attract nine year old Maria, so I presented her with the bottle with my complements. In return she presented me with her unwanted prize; a Chuck Norris calendar.
It will come as no great surprise to learn that my second prize was.
*The only two monarchs I have any time for: Herod‘s attitude to children is well known and matches my own, Dipendra,in spite of being a king for a short while, treated the institution of monarchy in the manner it deserves… see:
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Please send me my free Chuck Norris Calendar; I enclose a 55 Euro note to cover post and packaging.