Okay, I’m back on track after seeing the inside of far too many shops in Agios Nicholas and drinking far too much Metaxa. Yesterday, when we got back to the house, the wind had ceased and the temperature had ramped up. Now it’s bloody windy again, and hot: 28C inside and outside the house. I’ve just caught up in my journal, replied to some emails, done an interview for a site called We Love This Book and will soon delve into that Tuppence short story.
So what did I think of Agios Nicholas? It was a nice place as you’ll see from the pictures here, but my goodness the Greeks are silly with their prices. They remind me of the restaurant owners Gordon Ramsey often tried to put back on track: noting a drop in custom their response was always to put the prices up, then get pissed off when potential customers gave them the finger and walked on by. In the centre of Ag Nik, by the harbour, we wanted to find somewhere to sit down and enjoy a half litre of white wine which, in Makrigialos, ranges from €3 to €5, but the prices there ranged from €8 upwards. I told this to one of the waiters – outside one place trying to drag people inside – and he told us we’d never find wine in Agios Nicholas below €8. Lying prick. We wandered five minutes away from the harbour and found it for €5 and the owner of that place consequently got our custom for a large meal the following night.
Other things to note: made me laugh to see the look on some Greeks’ faces when I spoke to them in their own language. Some weren’t sure how to respond, one gave us immediate discounts, which goes some way to counter the woman in a jewellery shop who tried to short-change me by €40. Maybe she made a mistake and maybe I’m just a bit too cynical. Maybe.
The hotel we stayed in was nice and, as some will have noted on Tuesday night, it had WiFi, which I used quite a bit after the Metaxa. We also found flowers in the room and a note offering us a couple of free drinks at the bar when one of the staff spotted Caroline’s birthday cards. All in all an enjoyable trip, but we’re glad to be back home and on familiar territory.
Friday 13th July
Another broiling day today. It was over 28C outside this morning at 9.00AM, there was no wind and the cicadas were shrieking. Now, at 9.50, the temperature is just a spit away from 30C. A swim will definitely be required later, meanwhile, I must get back to work on the story. I just have a few bits to tidy up and must decide between three alternative titles: The Client, Tuppence and The Client, or The Other Gun. I’m leaning towards the last one at the moment.
Saturday 14th July
Okay, in so far as I can ever say that I’ve finished a story (they always get extra tweaks every time I look at them) I’ve finished one that I am calling The Other Gun. I’ve now moved on to one with the provisional title Dr Whip and, once I’ve polished that off, will get on with the next book.
It’s very hot today with the 9.00AM temperature being 29.4C and now at 11.30 it being 32C, but I guess any of you around London at the moment don’t want to be reading this. Yesterday, down in Makrigialos it hit 38C, so over 100F, and today is certain to be even hotter. It’s quite enervating, and the round of watering with the house’s grey water leaves me dripping sweat, but I have to keep on top of this if I want my plants to survive. The first of these below is a shrub grown from seeds gathered outside our favourite restaurant. Anyone know what it’s called (the shrub I mean)? After that are some of the numerous chilli plants I have growing, then a couple of Agnus Castus or ‘Monk’s Pepper’ plants which I hope no one mistakes for something they look quite similar to!
I’ve just been watching a program about this weird thing called The Orbit in London on the Olympic site. It’s that red thing that looks like a helter-skelter – looks as if someone is setting up a funfair there. Anyway, don’t the BBC arts correspondents talk a load of bollocks? And don’t the artists, designers or architects feed them plenty of bollocks to wax lyrical about? Apparently The Orbit is representative of our new multicultural age, or something. Certainly it could represent our age, since it’s a useless object on which money has been pissed away, looks like it’s incomplete and wrapped in sagging scaffolding, and appears to be technology and design tied in a ridiculous knot. I do wonder when the twits spending public money on follies like this will realize that when they want art they really need to avoid dicks practised in the art of bullshit.
Shame on you Boris Johnson.
Sunday 15th July
I’ve just planted load of statice plants in the back garden. These produce flowers that can last in a vase in the house until you need to wipe cobwebs off them. In fact, they don’t really need water because as they dry out they retain their colour and shape. We first spotted them being sold in bunches in Sitia market and only then realized we’d brought along seeds of the same. I had two plants surviving from last year – pink and white – and now I’ve also planted blue and yellow.
Monday 16th July
Well, I continued working over the weekend on the latest short story, making a large number of alterations to the text I had and adding about 2,000 words. Here I usually do stuff around the house and garden on the weekends but this last one it’s just been too hot. Half an hour outside has to be followed by half an hour recovering inside. After I planted those statice, for example, I left a trail of sweat across the tiles as I headed inside, then had to wash the salt out of my eyes, drink cold water and just sit until the sweat stopped pouring down my back. This was a good time, therefore, to turn on the laptop and do something less physical.
Yesterday the daytime temperature up here hit about 34C (in the shade), while down in Makrigialos it reached 39C. Today we’re told is going to be hotter with a temperature down there on the low 40s, but then in ensuing days it will drop to the mere mid-30s.
Tuesday 17th July
I picked up some cheap mega collections of SF stories to go on my Kindle and have been steadily working my way through them. They are funny. Venus is always a jungle planet and every story about Mars usually has to make some mention of a canal. In one story a future Earth was under threat and its whole population of 3 billion might be destroyed. Vehicle control panels, whether they are flying cars or spaceships, are always scattered with dials and gauges like something out of Jules Verne, and I laughed out loud when a spaceship’s lifeboat went way off course because it blew a transistor.
But of course, people will be laughing at my stories, and not so far in the future. At least these stories were not written in a time when technological development is heading towards the point when a story might go out of date just in the time it takes to write it. Perhaps one for the future: electronic fiction that perpetually adjusts itself to stay contemporary – some kind of software that quietly deletes transistor and replaces it with integrated circuit, then quantum processor…
Sixteen days to go until the release of Zero Point. Don’t forget to get your order in!
The billions of Zero Asset citizens of Earth are free from their sectors, free from the prospect of extermination from orbit, for Alan Saul has all but annihilated the Committee by dropping the Argus satellite laser network on it. The shepherds, spiderguns and razorbirds are somnolent, govnet is down and Inspectorate HQs are smoking craters. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the ruins, comes Serene Galahad. She must act before the remnants of Committee power are overrun by the masses. And she has the means.
Var Delex knows that Earth will eventually reach out to Antares Base and, because of her position under Chairman Messina, knows that the warship the Alexander is still available. An even more immediate problem is Argus Station hurtling towards the red planet, with whomever, or whatever trashed Earth still aboard. Var must maintain her grip on power and find a way for them all to survive.
As he firmly establishes his rule, Alan Saul delves into the secrets of Argus Station: the results of ghastly experiments in Humanoid Unit Development, a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight and research that might unlock eternity. But the agents of Earth are still determined to exact their vengeance, and they are closer to him than he knows…