#15 A Load of Bowls
There are undoubtedly two prerequisites for being a beach bum; the first is access to a beach and the second, according to the memsahib, is an inherent quality that I possess in large quantity.
The first requirement, access to a beach, is proving to be slightly problematic. As I have mentioned previously we live on a peninsula sticking out into the Libyan Sea with mountains immediately to the north of the village. This means we have an unusual climate or climates since, depending on the wind direction, more or less anything can, and does, go. There being two long sides to the peninsula we have, in theory the choice of two beaches; the sandy beach and the pebble beach. The latter is rather uncomfortable to stroll on without walking boots and the former has gone on holiday to Libya – apparently. I should explain at this point that the sandy beach, 700 metres long and 20 metres wide has been the pride of the village and a major tourist attraction for years. Unfortunately this year the north westerly winds, which have been the prevailing winds throughout the winter, have stripped the beach of a significant amount of its sand leaving a three or four metre band of rock between the remaining sand and the water along nearly the whole of its length. In the past this problem has been resolved by the judicious use of a bulldozer to shift the sand from the back of the beach to the water’s edge but this year there is none to spare at the back. So if anyone out there is thinking of taking the opportunity of going to Libya this summer, please bring a suitcase of sand back with you; there’s a village in Crete that’s crying out for it.
As to the second requirement, you cannot, or at least I cannot, spend your time doing absolutely nothing: for a start the said memsahib tends to make pointed comments if I stay in bed too much beyond noon.
Accordingly I’ve been passing some of my time doing copy editing; checking tixts for the proper using of the English! and punctuaations: and spilling. This is usually fun since you get to read all sort of stuff you wouldn’t normally read, (a thesis on Ottoman balconies in the Balkans anybody?) and, if you’re lucky, you get paid for it as well. However, I recently had an assignment which stretched my patience to its limits.
Now the one thing you must remember when copy editing is that your job is simply to check/improve the English, it’s not to edit the content of the text, no matter how much you would like to. My most recent job involved checking some advertising material for a new online guide to our village which had been translated from its mother tongue into English. My issues were not with the English, which was very good, but with the content, which was, to put it politely, absolute rubbish! Now one thing you need to know about the village we live in is that in the summer it attracts not only tourists, but those who prey on the tourists; in particular practitioners of various forms of esoteric woo-woo. By the machinations of the non-existing gods, I had ended up having to check and improve the English on an article advocating what I can only call, extreme, high level woo-woo. It was trying to convince people here on holiday to give their hard earned cash to someone who would come and give them a spiritual massage with holy oils and then place Tibetan singing bowls on them.
The outcome of all this, the reader is assured, will be that the molecular structure of their body would be brought into tune with the vibrational* frequency produced by the singing bowls resulting in relaxation, spiritual enlightenment and, no doubt, an emptier wallet. (Unfortunately it didn’t mention whether or not you could request the bowls to sing any particular song though I suspect they only do the one made famous by the Beach Boys….a free Chuck Norris calendar to the first one to get it right!)
In spite of my fear and loathing I managed to get through the job and the client seemed to be satisfied. The next evening I was sat in the taverna with Spiros and mentioned this to him. He didn’t seem at all surprised and told me the tale of the chef in one of the restaurants in a nearby village who had been convinced that the application of ‘silver water’, apparently water that has been in contact with silver, to meat that was past its sell by date would render the meat fit for human consumption again. This chef was also apparently convinced that this silver water would do away with the need to refrigerate vegetables and fish; a rather a bold assertion given that the summer temperatures can get up to 40 degrees C. (Now you may think I’m making this up…but such loonies do exist. See: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Colloidal_silver) Needless to say I was rather horrified at this, but Spiros assured me that it was now perfectly safe to eat out there now; the chef had left the village several years ago…shortly after a German tourist ended up in hospital with salmonella poisoning. He also remarked that he was not particularly surprised at these events occurring where they did; that particular village is apparently known amongst the locals as ‘the mad village’ because of the large number of woo-woo artists that seem to be attracted there in the summer- even more than our village. Apparently they have a resident shaman, two reiki therapy practitioners, an aura massage specialist and someone who does ‘family constellation’ workshops…and that’s just in the winter: not bad for a village of 25 people.
Anyway the winter appears now to be over, the first (German) tourist has been spotted swimming in the sea, the first swallow has appeared –inside my favourite taverna, perched on a light fitting, the memsahib is off on another island with every possibility of being marooned there if the wind changes direction and so, leaving my singing balls behind, I’m off to seek an elusive Ottoman Fort in the mountains.
*My spellchecker offers the word ‘irrational’ as an alternative……..