Tuesday 23 November 1993

(This is taken from the journal I kept when I was the English teacher on Symi aka ‘The Rock’. To afford privacy, I have removed people’s names).

Bright skies give way to thunder, hail and rainstorms. The street by the school becomes a river and the side stairs to my apartment a stream, as hail bounces then floats away. Just in time, I rescue a cassette of music left for me at the gate – miraculously, it is undamaged and I listen to it while waiting for the storm to abate. A phone call – do I like the music? Yes, I do. There’s a funeral for a fisherman’s mother and the dark, somber day, with threads of light and patches of sunshine, seems appropriate somehow. She died on his name day, yesterday. I choose not to go to the funeral and instead, in a brief dry spell after lunch, go for a thoughtful, quiet walk with a good friend and her dog. The Nissos Kalymnos made it in this morning and there’s almost a party atmosphere as people emerge from winter hiding into the sunshine, while it lasts. Over-confident, I outstay the sunshine and the heavens open while I’m out. I take refuge in the doorway of the Ionian Bank. There’s a group of us, sheltering in different doorways, all caught out by the rain – we shout to each other and laugh. Oddly, we’re able to shout things we wouldn’t normally even say to each other – careless of others and convention. It’s cathartic. We agree, loudly, that we’re mavericks, before one of the men shouts over that I look like a cowgirl and that’s why he and his wife entrusted their children into my care at the school. In the absence of an alternative, I take this as a compliment (being a cowgirl was, after all, my second choice of what-I-wanted-to-do-when-I-grew-up, after being a Lost Boy was ruled out by my kind, but insistent, father). I do make a mental note to watch his children more carefully in future, though. Back at school, teaching was OK, though early turnout was low because of the weather. During the afternoon, various people jump in through the door to dodge rain and hailstones. The children take it all in their stride and classes continue uninterrupted, though in a slightly giddy Noah’s Ark-type way. Various phone calls in the breaks between classes to check I’m OK – the weather reports having traveled beyond The Rock. After school, I walk to Elpida’s for company, a drink and something to eat. There’s a female Greek teacher on the island; tall, slim and pretty – she’s flavour of the year. She’s not at the cafe, a group of her admirers are. I become an agony aunt as they all clamour for advice on how to win her over. I give it my best shot, but this wears me out by 11pm, so I leave. On the way back, I stare into the now clear night sky and see a shooting star.

Weather report: sun, warm, torrential rain, hail, bright, rain, storm, (funeral), rainbow, clear, damp, dark. Good night.

Published on axrhodes on 23/11/2013

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