July 30, 2008
At my work there are many rooms, 28 in fact. Some big, some small and some which are only used in the most difficult situations. Often a lot of the rooms are being used at the same time.
Today it was my job to be keeper of the unit and wander up and down the corridors peering into all the rooms every 15 minutes ensuring that all inside were safe and behaving themselves. Doing this particular job means that you are aware of all the different events occuring in the rooms but not involved. It can sometimes feel a bit lonely but can also make you feel free to float and observe.
Jim, currently a troubled soul who spends most of his time abusing people and then apologising was sitting in the garden having a cigarette shouting to the pigeons that they should mind their own business. Into the bedrooms, Nick was wandering around having a conversation with his invisible guests who visit from time to time.
In the pool room, a game had just started and I watched the first two balls get potted.
Meanwhile in the office, Larry had one foot in the door obstructing its closure and one arm trying to get the phone to make a call. After some convincing he removed his foot and arm and settled for a later time. The buzzer has just gone and I must go and answer it. I can see a man on the camera and i am hoping it is the man with the chocolate and teabag stock as we have run out of Jaffa cakes.
I am indebted to keen blog reader Louise, who has rung me with more handy hints about going to sleep in Rhodes. She was staying in Lindos, which is really very hot indeed, the hottest place in Rhodes -and crowded.(Beware the fake gold and the donkey track up to the acropolis.) But here's how she slept at night:
'In the morning, I'd soak my sheet in cold water, and then leave it in the fridge all day. Just before going to bed, I'd have a cold shower, and then rush to the fridge, remove the damp and chill sheet, wrap it around me, and was usually asleep before things warmed up.'
Obviously, this approach to sleep can affect your sex life, so do consult with your partner; and if your sheet's in the fridge all day, where do you keep your olives and feta? Surely not with the sheet???! Urrgghh! But then again, a good night's sleep is a wonderful thing, so I for one am all over Louise with gratitude.
July 28, 2008
Rhodes to the unconscious - expect delays
It takes time to go to bed in Rhodes.
In England you just clean your teeth and jump between the sheets. In Rhodes, however, it's not that straightforward. Obviously you do clean your teeth, but there are then one or two other tasks to perform. First, you'll need to shower off all the greasy sun tan lotion you've spent the day rubbing in. Then, apply the post-burn lotion you got from the chemist, because you failed to apply the sun tan lotion evenly enough. This will save you much pain tomorrow.
But don't stop there, whatever you do. Next is the obligatory mosquito repellant. After full body coverage - and I mean full body coverage - remember also to take your daily anti-histomine tablet, to keep the itching to a minimum. With the tablet swallowed, you will then need to rub antiseptic cream on your existing bites. It feels lovely, and is one of the best bits of the holiday.
You then put some more anti-burn lotion on. I know you've already done this, but you now fear that the mosquito repellant will have washed it all off. You may then put on some more repellant for the same reason. This can go on forever, and in the end you must decide - which do you fear more: burn or bite?
You also clean your teeth again, because it was so long ago, you've forgotten you've done it. By this time, dawn is breaking.
July 26, 2008
There is a simple rule
'If the obstruction is on your side,
You give way'
I think the world would be a healthier place
If we could see the obstructions
We all carry inside
And apply the same rule!
July 23, 2008
It is up in the mountains on the West coast, that we discover a drink so illegal, and so hideously dangerous that it is sold in unmarked bottles. It is 'Souma' and distilled from grape pips. If you drink it neat you go blind, and that's if you're lucky, so the Rhodians tend to dilute it with honey. We are given instructions before we try our free sample:
'Breathe in, then drink in one go - no sipping - then exhale through you nose for the best post-taste experience.'
It's very pleasant, and as I still have sight, I buy one of the unmarked bottles. It looks just like water, so this is an act of faith.
We are high in the Rhodian hills looking out across the blue, blue Aegean, in a village called 'Monolithos' (One Stone). I glance at the church clock for the time. It is an unreliable time keeper, however, because it is painted on the wall of the church - and forever set at 6.50. Why 6.50? Apparently, it's to fool the devil. The church service is in fact at 9.00am - so Satan keeps missing it, turning up at 6.50! Clever, eh?
Whether any people turn up, we didn't stay long enough to find out.
July 22, 2008
All shining faces and bright array in the Village.
The much heralded St Swithun's Fair filled the village with folk from as far away as the next village. Such fun was had by all and there weren't never a spot of rain though clouds scuttled by and the bunting danced as if Miss Sourdough from Grimly Hall was behind it with a stick. There was an exciting thatching event and Old Master Bedstraw and his team of lads should be finishing the Legge Cottage later this month. The bearded ladies danced to the tune of Tom Fiddler, the piper's son,outside the Chough and Spittle and then sat down to a kilderkin of fair Gascon wine. Mister Kipling displayed his bric a brac, more brac than bric but even Drab Eileen came away smiling. Barry Manilow items are much prized in this county.The Bishop was uncommonly decent and spent the morning in the stocks while ill mannered urchins threw sodden turfs at him. Fortunately he was positioned way beyond their range in the Rectory field with a mug of ale and the Church Times and therefore passed a pleasant enough morning.As usual the Jousting was the biggest attraction and in spite of the accidental overun into the art display by Sir Lightly Erratic, the crowd clapped and cheered till they were quite hoarse. I saw the old schoolmaster,bravely walking around the jousting green shovelling valuable horse products into a sack before wandering home smiling and nodding, dog patiently at his heels. His midden is the envy of the village.
The next fair won't be until Michaelmas. We must take our pleasures as they come.It's now time for the harvest to begin and we must slaughter our mutton. I haven't forgotten that I have promised to seek out some beeswax for the Knights' Round Table. However it entails a journey through the dark woods and I'm always nervous. You'll remember what befell Noddy all those years ago. However, while the days are still long enough I'll persuade Aunt Betsy to accompany me and we'll get to the beekeeper at World of Heather.
July 20, 2008
Today for a change
I think I will try to watch my words for true meanings,
I will try to spot my own coded messages,
My own manipulation of others,
I want to see if I am kinder to those I like,
If I give more leeway to those who can be of use to me.
I want to decipher and be honest
About the messages I send myself.
When and what do I praise myself for?
What words and actions do I use to punish myself?
Who's voice am I hearing?
What happens when I am angry inside?
How do I channel my feelings and do they damage others?
It is important I know these things
Because I can not change what I do not acknowledge.
Without a driver who is in control
This muddle whom I call myself,
A weapon of mass destruction let loose in the world,
Lord have mercy.
July 17, 2008
Pefkos is a busy, busy resort, providing everything the tourist could ever need. We hope you like our little village and have a lovely time in the sun! And for many, it's like a second home.
'We come back here every year,' say one couple, and others do the same.
Of course, Pefkos only exists for six months of the year. For the other six months, it doesn't. Come the end of October, everyone packs up and goes. restaurants close, shops close, boat trips stop, pools are emptied, hotel cleaners paid off - and everyone leaves for home, miles away.
Pefkos is a place for tourists to come - but not a place in itself. It has no secret life to invite people into. Rather, it exists so long as tourists exist - but no longer. In fact the tourists are the locals in Rhodes, for the locals only come here to earn. Come October, it is a ghost town and silent streets.
A sense of self that is not dependent on others; a secret life which bubbles over with joy and hidden invention - that's worth a journey. Pefkos is great - but not a role model.
July 15, 2008
Knights of the Rhodes
Just to say that my Rhodes memoirs are not another tedious attack on revolting tourists. Because the fact is, we are sometimes a civilsing influence in these foriegn climes. Particularly the English. Oh yes. And as you pick yourself up from the floor in shock, amazement and derisive disbelief - let me tell you that it was a Greek tour guide who said that.
Let me set the scene:
We have travelled by air conditioned coach to the wonderfully ancient city of Zamiros - around 2500 years old. Now we walking in the baking heat of the ruins, (Water - I need water,) and he is gathering us around him for a talk. He is impressed: 'The English are the only nation to form a semi-circle when I stop to talk somewhere. It is nice. Social courtesy is important.'
There'll always be an England, while there's a country lane - and a semi-circle, somewhere in Rhodes...
July 14, 2008
Who rules in Rhodes?
Who rules in Rhodes?
You may well ask, because down the years, alot of people have had a shot at it - and all left reluctantly. In the last millenium, the Knights Templars were kicked out by the Turks; the Turks were kicked out by the Italians; the Italians were kicked out by the Germans, the Germans by the British, who then gave it back to the Greeks. So you can understand why you see so much of the Greek flag around. It's like a security blanket, after a childhood spent in foster homes. (And of course, the Turks still think it's theirs.) The true owners of Rhodes are none of these, however, but the large European tour operators who fly so many people into the island that during the tourist season, there is one tourist for every Rhodian.Now that's what I call an invasion - and quite the most comprehensive of the last 1000 years.
'I think we might have sold our soul,' said one gift shop owner to me, as I purchased my inevitable Greek vase.
July 13, 2008
Taking expert advice
Having recently come back from warmer climates, I was interested to notice that at number 16 on the Dalai Lama's 'Good Karma' advice is 'Once a year go somewhere you haven't been before'.
Was this good advice? Well i can only speak for myself, but what I did notice was that my senses felt more alive and I was more aware of new sights, sounds and smells.
I noticed the birds singing but they were different birds with new and unfamiliar songs, the insects were scuttling and buzzing, they kept catching my eye because they were different from the insects I am used to seeing, bigger, bolder colours with enormous stingers, I found myself watching feeling scared and yet somewhat fascinated at the same time.
Walking along I noticed new smells and took the time to investigate and find the plants that were sharing their scent with me.
The sea was so clear I found myself watching how the little fish moved in the water, some content to be alone whilst others swam in a group dance moving in and out which made large ripples across the top of the water, infact these movements scared me out of the water the first time I swam, as somehow I convinced myself I was about to be eaten by something huge. But when I took time to watch I realised that not for the first time I had allowed myself to be scared by something that in reality was not at all scary, but it did make me realise that I spend a huge amount of my life fearing things I need not fear.
Having the opportunity of being somewhere new in some ways made me feel like I was looking though the eyes of a child, seeing things for the first time, not always knowing their names, not taking anything for granted.
I felt an eagerness to stand and stare, to breath it all in and to allow life to unfold before my eyes, keen to find out more but not wanting to to control or rush anything.
I was content just to be and felt connected to the Heartbeat of this most amazing world.
Good advice? For me, yes I'ld say it was.
July 11, 2008
A Rhodes less travelled
I've recently been to Rhodes. I went there because it's old and hot; like me.
Two weeks of entirely cloudless skies, however, came to a damp end on arriving around midnight at Gatwick. It was pouring with rain, and clearly had been for some time - possibly forever. We may already have been travelling for about eight hours - but in truth, our journey home had only just begun, with trains overground and underground reassuringly dysfunctional. By the time I staggered through my front door, wet and weary, all memories of things blue and cloudless were gone. Rhodes. Did it exist? It could have been a dream - I seemed to have lost my sun tan somewhere near East Croydon. While my will to live lasted up until Blackfriars station...
So for the next few weeks, I'd like to indulge myself on the blog. I'd like to get back to the sun, and tell you all about it. It's now a Greek island of course - though most other countries have invaded it at some time or other. It's a tale of sun, sea, sex, San Gria - and history!( I knew you wouldn't want to miss the history.) And news of an entirely illegal drink made in the hills, which I have had to bring back in an unmarked bottle.
So sit back an enjoy an expensive holiday entirely free of charge. But remember, my friends - apply sun tan lotion before reading.
Singing for the soul
I have become a lapsed church goer lately instead finding solitary meditation and reading more helpful. But how I miss the singing. I was privileged to hear a colleague yesterday sing as part of a choir. They performed some wonderful choral numbers. The concert took place in a church and so the words of Rejoice, rejoice though not necessarily sung by all in the choir to the worship of God, spoke to my soul. Music and song seem to bring one closer to God. Singing the hymns of Wesley and Watts even today can lift the spirits. But it is not just the words, you can read a hymn and be left cold. It is not just the music, you can listen to the radio and not be moved. But the joining in one voice with others in celebration of God, of love, of life is the magic ingredient of soul singing.
July 07, 2008
May my zeal no respite know.
Some of the scratches on the Round Table are, I fear, beyond repair. I was helping Cook spit and polish. We had to hurry Sir Jekyll Appliance through his kippers and toast. He's dairy intolerant so Cook has to do something clever with badger lactose, I'm not going to ask about it again. The rubbing was therapeutic but I must remember, when dining with respectable folk,to refuse the late night raspberry vodka inevitable made by the young master of the house.My head aches and I look forward to stepping out again down the lime avenue.
Anyway, we had some effect on the spillage residue with a vigorous coating of 'sunkissed celeb', its mahogany overtones disguise most stains, and if the Knights can refrain from stabbing with cutlery between courses the table will live to fight a good few mealtimes yet.
The old folk of the village gathered in the Moot Hall today for a little music and movement and the farrier, Josiah Hoofwarmer came to deal with toenails. So we shook bells and swayed to tunes from yesteryear. Tom the fiddler always gets a party going. He's also the piper's son so
learned to play when he was young. We have, however taught him to play something other than 'Over the hills and far away'. How bored were we of that? The Grim Reaper, who runs this monthly event, was indisposed but there was a good turn out and although there was an altercation at home time between the threshing machine and Mr Kipling's grain cart in the main street as they were leaving, I've heard that all are now safely in their own homesteads.
I have a mind to try the first beans of the season tonight. The heavy rains have done a good turn in the potager.
July 02, 2008
I am in my last week of being on the temporary ward (whilst the refurb is occuring). It overall has been a positive experience. I have seen another side to mental health and feel good about what I accomplished there also. There was an unfortunate incident yesterday involving me getting attacked. The event was brief however left me feeling quite shaken afterward. I initially felt incredibly angry and wanterd to lash out at anyone who was near me. Professionalism stopped me however and so I had a 1:1 in the toilet alone for 15 mins to compose myself. Once out I knew I had to face the attacker. In the same way after I was once mugged, I had to revisit the scene afterward to move on.
She didn't apologise (I was not expecting her to) but simply seeing her allowed me again to move on from that painful moment and continue.
After the kind staff let me slip away a bit early, I went then and sat in a beer garden with a friend and enjoyed the afternoon sun. Free.