Saturday 27 February 2021

Live long live simple

Ικαρία Ikaria is an Aegean island quite close to, but half the size, Σάμος Samos which is real close to the Turkish mainland. Neither has seen the influx of displaced persons that, say, Κως Kos has had to deal with . . . because the rest of Europe balks.

In olden days Ikaria, along with Lesbos and Izmir/Smyrna on the mainland was famous for its Pramnian wine: rich, dark, red and intoxicating. They still produce enough good plonk to keep everyone happy. The island has attracted notice for the number of really old people who are out and about and needless to say the wine has been one of the factors responsible. But others say it's because Ikarians are really crap at time-keeping.
The other red connexion is that thousands of communists were exiled there during and after the Greek Civil War after WWII. But for the fact that so many British [and French] politicians had an expensive education, rudimentary Classical Greek and a romantic attachment to Themistocles and Xenophon, Greece could have slipped behind the Iron Curtain along with Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. A number of these Marxist refugees stayed forever and are still influencing local politics towards the left. 
Before that in July 1912, the Ikariots evicted the Ottoman garrison and declared Ελευθέρα Πολιτεία Ικαρίας, Elefthéra Politía Ikarías The Free State of Ikaria [Flag R]. Greece was kinda busy prepping up for the First Balkan War and then fighting it; and didn't get round to annexing Ikaria to The Kingdom until December of that year.
I'm down with the Ikariots because I'm reading a hippy dippy 1970s home-education with spliffs memoir called Escape to Ikaria by Nick Perry. Perry has lived a rather louche life on the edge, seemingly unable to settle down to ordinary suburban living holding down a job in TV. First he bought a Welsh farm with sheep, having only ever seen such beasts through a car window. It took him and his brother and his wife Ros seven years to go bust. During that time Ros had twins and then another chap and they learned how to milk sheep and goats and heave bales of hay about in the Winter. In the late 70s they upped-stakes and took the Magic Bus to Athens, then the first outgoing ferry from Piraeus . . . and landed at Ikaria in the middle of Winter. It thus has a similar beginning to   The Salt Road  by Ray Winn [prev] and a similar ending to  Driving Over Lemons by Chris "Genesis" Stewart [prev]. This is clearly a bit of a genre. I'm sure that having a year on a Greek Island before they turned 10 did the Perry kids no harm. Nick and Ros were able to keep their goat-milking hands in doing for an aged and arthritic Orthodox nun. Nick didn't drown while crewing for a fisherman and didn't injure himself too much working in the building trade for minimum wages without the whiff of health and safety. If you're renting a house for buttons and living in the mo on sunshine, fresh fish, yoghurt and bread, then 80 drachma an hour is enough. It's the car, the mortgage, the shoes, the stuff, which drives wage-slavery.

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