International Women’s Day recorded in two diaries – the first, when I was teaching English in Symi, Greece; the second, when I was teaching English in Rhodes, Greece.
Tuesday 8 March 1994 – I start the day on painkillers, lack of sleep has left me with a blinding headache and work to do means there’s no chance of a lie-in. The sun is hot and the wind only light, so I spend as much time as I can outdoors. I walk to Nimborios and back for much-needed exercise; the experience is tranquil, breezy and restorative. Yet, once back in Gialos, for a reason I can’t fathom, everything seems to me to happen stupidly and in slow-motion until 6pm, when, out of the blue, V comes to school to give me wild crocuses – their beautiful scent permeates the classroom. I’d forgotten it was International Women’s Day – he reminded me. Other gifts include an octopus and the unsolicited loan of three books from a young man’s ‘philosophy’ (his definition may work with his mother, but is vastly different from mine. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?) collection. This last donation to the cause arrives in a battered supermarket bag with a large bar of chocolate, which I am told I can keep and eat. I do. I don’t touch the books. One student, who prides himself on rarely even attempting assignments, has decided his gift to me will be all work set since January finally completed and submitted. That’s my reading sorted for the next week, then. After school, I collect a cassette of music from M, take it back to my apartment, and cook, drink and sleep while listening to it.
Wednesday 8 March 1995 – Extremely strange dreams overnight, but still wake feeling rested. A soaking wet start to the day has meant that the screaming schoolchildren normally outside my window from early in the morning are all indoors. The rain soon stops and the day becomes sunnier, hotter and breezier. I head out to visit private students, before coming back for lunch, then going in to school. It’s a quiet day, the boss’s mother-in-law died yesterday, so he’s out. This delays being paid yet again. Feel fed up, am owed money by my private students, too. I resent having to ask for my earnings, as though they’re charitable donations. In a fit of pique, decide to spend my remaining drachmas on a movie ticket. At 21.15, meet up with three friends to go see ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’. The cinema is almost empty. Looking around, there are 11 other people in the auditorium – all of whom I realize I know. Six of the audience are my students, two are bar staff from the ‘in’ place round the corner, and the other three are a colleague and her sisters. We all sit together and chat through the less-than-inspiring show. I head home, broke, and spend 40 minutes on the phone to my sister having a moan. That done, I decide to read myself to sleep with a book I haven’t picked up in two months. Inside the back cover, tucked away for safe keeping, is 35,000 drachmas. I love a happy ending.