Binoculars and Books

Wednesday 8th June

It was 21C at 6.00 this morning and kept on climbing. Before it got too hot I spent a little time removing a tap from a metal beer barrel and then inserting it in my wormery so I can drain off ‘worm wine’ with which to feed plants. When I took the wormery apart I found that many of the worms had made their way down into the fluid and looked like they had drowned. I tipped this lot out round some plants but then saw them on the move again. I emptied the contents of the wormery into another bucket, putting back the stray worms, then did some work on the wormery itself, adding mosquito netting to ensure no further escape attempts and adding the tap. Next I planted some chillies in the beer barrel … See how this high-tech mayhem and gratuitous violence SF writer spends his time?

The time is now 9.50AM and the temperature has climbed to 27.5C and is still climbing. Yesterday it hit 28C both up here and down in Makrigialos. The forecast for today is 34C and I rather suspect it’s not going to be far wrong. Now I must get on with Jupiter War – I want 2,000 words done before we head off for a swim…

Thursday 9th June
I polished off my 2,000 words quite easily yesterday since a plot thread (or rather sections involving one particular character) has found its direction and taken off. This is something that often happens with me: I’ll write in a new character following a separate thread from the main ones and later not know what to do with him or her. In The Voyage of the Sable Keech there were a couple like this I had to either cut out or blend with other characters. In this case the direction is perfect, almost like a moment of revelation and as if I’m not actually creating a story but unearthing one through some sort of esoteric mental exploration. Of course the reality of that feeling is due to my subconscious perpetually working on the story and elements like the above floating to the surface.

The temperature hovered at about 30 yesterday, probably kept down by it becoming cloudy and very muggy (later the air had that thunderstorm expectation but one never arrived). I took my swim to the harbour, lay in the sun for a while then had to find some shade where I was occasionally woken by my own explosive snores. After that, whilst sitting in Revans Bar, we got to watch a pod of dolphins passing by in the sea. In retrospect we realized that there have been more seagulls out on the sea than we’ve seen before, so maybe that’s a sign that there are more fish out there to attract the dolphins.

This morning, at 10.40, the temperature is already up to 30C with it predicted as being between 34 and 37. As usual there are those who are saying that because we had a bad and drawn out winter it’s going to be a hot summer going on late, which is apocryphal (or maybe just hopeful thinking). However, if the temperature keeps on climbing it’ll be interesting if it gets to where it went the year before we came here i.e. it hit 50C. The only solution then will be to sit in the sea, under an umbrella, calling for cold beers. I wonder if anyone makes a waterproof laptop?

Ah, and with the heat, after the damp period, comes the insects. Here’s a big cricket (locust?) of the kind that sounds like a dropped cutlery draw when it lands.

Friday 10th June
Felt like crap yesterday. Some sort of cold bug used as its approach vector my left ear hole, abseiled down my Eustachian tube to sink a few grapnels in the back of my throat, climbed the other Eustachian tube to balance the ear ache on that side, sent its cold sore allies out of both my lips (so I now look like a sink plunger) and then climbed up into my sinuses to stamp on some nerve nexuses so my face and teeth ached and my scalp actually hurt to touch. Large doses of Brufen and Depon, plus ear drops and Zovirex have helped alleviate things and this morning I’m feeling slightly better, though I have to drink through a straw. For all you believers in a creator God out there (who created viruses too) I have to state emphatically, right now, that he’s a total bastard. Thank you for your attention.

Monday 13th June
Our house here in Papagianades is approximately half of one large house. The other house has been empty for a long time, though frequently repainted before viewings by potential buyers and last year repointed and the roof tiled to match our house (though not such a good job done of either). This year a Belgian guy came up with Anesti (Albanian builder), was in and around the house for a while then upon his departure introduced himself to Caroline and told her that he’s our new neighbour. Our attitude to this was one of wait and see – we had seen and heard of these things falling through quite often. However, it turns out that the deal has gone through and Jean-Pierre is our new neighbour.

This year I brought out some of my foreign books. I get a number of copies of each translation and really only need one of each as a keepsake – it’s not as if I’m going to read Cowl in Portugese, Japanese or Romanian. Since suitcase space was limited I brought out a few of the German and French copies. The German ones I dropped in at the ‘Pub’ – an English bar where they run a book exchange. The French ones I was saving for a visit to the Gecko which has been taken over by some French. However, a couple of days ago we visited the Cabbiano for a meal and there was Jean-Pierre, sitting chatting and having a beer with Stelios and his brothers (Stelios sold us our house and sold Jean-Pierre his). We got to talking and, as expected, Stelios had told him what I do (house selling point or not?) and he asked if my books are in French. Perfect working of coincidence. Caroline got the three copies I had in the car and I signed them and handed them over as a house-warming gift.

Tuesday 14th June
Those of you that have read here before will know how I like repairing stuff, when really my time would be better spent writing. Yorgos, in Revans, showed me a pair of binoculars he had that had become all sticky and horrible – the plastic seemingly in the process of dissolving (I think it was being dissolved by silicon grease that had worked its way out from inside). I suggested white spirit but he used something a bit stronger. Some of this went inside to stain the lenses and prisms, so I took the binoculars away to clean internally. Okay, I’m getting there, but does anyone know how to align binocular prisms that have been taken out to be polished?

We have a possible explanation now for the dolphins and seagulls. According to Stelios the government here has banned inshore fishing with large fine nets that scoop out just about everything. This has resulted in a rise in fish stocks near shore (surprise surprise) hence the gulls and dolphins. Now this is the kind of ‘green’ action that makes sense – the stamping down on greed that’s destroying natural resources. But along with perfectly sane stuff like this comes the insanity. I hear now that Italians have voted against nuclear power (though only about 50% of the electorate turned out) and the anti-nuclear power wombats are dancing in the streets.

I wonder how these idealists will feel in later years when, in a hot summer, they are emptying spoiled food out of their fridges and freezers because again the power has gone off for too long, whilst remembering how granny died of hypothermia the previous winter; when walking, because the electric eco-friendly car with its flat battery has had to be abandoned, through the Tuscan countryside below endless bird-choppers and past mountainsides turned into acres of sterile solar panels; when gazing upon the smoke clouds from the coal-fired power stations hastily built as an ‘interim measure’ because renewables just aren’t up to the job; when studying a wage packet made meagre because the power has been off so often they haven’t been able to work a full week, and then comparing that wage packet to the power bill; when finding supermarket shelves empty; when their mobile phones work just as intermittently as their computers; when being able to catch an entire series on TV is a dream of the past; and when the water, with no power to pump it, stops coming out of their taps. I could go on, but the tossers deserve everything that’s coming, as do the rest of the supine electorate.

Ahem, enough of the ranting. Here’s some pretty pictures of flowers and stuff to unwind with…

Have a nice day!

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