By John Lucas
Greece has constantly had its admirers, although none turns out to have loved the Athenian tavernas, the murderous site visitors and the jaded prostitutes, the petty bureaucratic tyrannies, the road noise and the heroic individualists with the irony and detachment of John Lucas. ninety two Acharnon road is a gritty portrait of a grimy urban and a wayward kingdom. but Lucas's love for the realities of Greece triumphs – for the Homeric kindness of her humans in the direction of strangers, for the pleasures of her tavernas and for the proximity of islands in transparent blue water as a safe haven from the noise and toxins of her capital urban. this is often Greece because the Greeks might understand it, noticeable throughout the eyes of a poet.
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Additional info for 92 Acharnon Street. A Year in Athens
Without wind to disperse the poisonous mist, the nefos was bloody awful. m. And that afternoon, for the first time, we sailed out into the Aegean. Our boat, an old, creaking bucket of a ship, was crowded with backpackers, besides others like ourselves travelling more modestly; and then there were Greeks going home or visiting relatives on various of the islands – Tinos, Syros, Paros, Naxos – at which we stopped. Each time we came into port a scene of pure pandemonium would repeat itself. Those waiting to disembark would be herded together behind a rope stretched across the ship’s bow, over which a seaman stood guard, watching the great steel plate lower to allow the exit and then entry of vehicles and foot passengers.
He could speak no English and beyond the merest handful of words I could speak no Greek, but it was plain that the requirements of hospitality drew him to sit in silent companionship with me. And so, for half an hour, during which he smoked two cigarettes and once nudged me to point to a constellation of stars to which I could put no name, we sat there, and, when at length I got up and raised a hand to signify farewell, he insisted on accompanying me to my door. I held out my hand and he took it, looked into my eyes, shook my hand and then put an arm round my shoulder as though considering whether to embrace me.
And he will have gone to a brothel in the evening, of that you can be sure. Paying good money for what he could get free at home. ’ ‘So would I,’ I said. And at Babi’s the food was always excellent. That was the best thing about the flat on Acharnon Street. It was only two minutes’ walk from my favourite taverna. m. rooster’s on morning call, and here come hills shaping up for day. When I put my foot through water, small fish bicker round an inexplicable kouros. Midday sun stirs deep, sweet scents, though ‘ochia hide in fig trees’, friends warn, ‘they thirst after fig-milk’, ash-grey branches condominiums for small ash-grey snakes.
92 Acharnon Street. A Year in Athens by John Lucas