On the 9th June I went to a book signing at Eklektos Bookshop in Elounda, Crete. It wasn’t to sign my book Discrete Reversal, which is currently only available as an e-book. It was Kritsotopoula by Yvonne Payne, so it was her day anyway. It was great to chat with her, not least because both Harry volumes, the Louse and the Spouse should be available in paperback this year and I look forward to my own book-signing in the same bookshop, because Elounda is where Harry casts his spell.
Anyway, this blog is following on from The Ferryman theme and after Yvonne’s book-signing I went, for the first time, to see some of the film’s settings.
The Ferryman Tavern is now fronted by a waterside gallery, so the original character is lost, but as I went to climb the steps to look at the apartment that ‘Leandros’ (Jack Hedley) borrowed from Babis, his wartime friend, a voice rang out and I paused. I knew what was coming because no Cretan business can afford to let custom pass by, especially in these dire times. The man spoke to me in broken English, working his way up to inviting me to one of his tables. I listened to him politely then replied in my broken Greek, which was not quite so spasmena as his English, evidently, because we continued in his language.
I was no longer a potential customer, at least not with any overriding immediacy, I was a friend because I was speaking to him in something approximating to Cretan Greek.
I discovered that ‘Akis’, is the proprietor of The Ferryman Tavern and before long my new friend had discreetly edged me to a table where we sat over a karafaki raki and very excellent raki it was. I was late for an appointment, but I was confident that the Cretan I was meeting would be late as well, so I dwelt there talking about the film and the settings.
I have written somewhere else that I was saddened by the ending of the film, where Leandros’ newly discovered daughter, her husband and Leandros’ grandson, die in a vengeful car accident. I have been told that a Greek producer is hoping to film a new version and I mentioned the tragic ending and hope that the boy might be spared to be brought up by his grandfather and aunt who will marry.
Akis told me that little Alexis, though ‘killed’ in the film, is alive and well and not so little, living in Agios Nikolaos. My sentimentalism evaporated, as did that raki in the heat of the sun, or was it the warmth of the company? I am hoping Akis will locate the fifty year-old one-time film star and I will have the pleasure of entertaining him and his family (immediate that is, not extended or I will be bankrupt) at The Ferryman one evening.
You see, Akis is a wise restaurateur, there may have been no immediacy but the reward will far outweigh the lunch he hoped I would take when he first saw me. As always in Crete, it is not what you eat, it is whom you eat it with that counts.
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