I was due to go to Greece on Tuesday the sixth of April. I booked the flight back in January. Over the last three weeks my enthusiasm for the trip has been waning and by last weekend it had evaporated completely. There had been the threat of hassle from the train and BA cabin crew strikes, now averted, but that was not the issue: it is the malady of not being arsed that I am troubled withal. I just cannot summon the will to get myself there. I was going to do a little bit of work in Athens but I have decided I don’t want to go back to Greece unless work is the only reason for my stay. It was the prospect of too much free time that put me off, especially while away from Athens. I can’t handle leisure away from home. I get bored stiff.
‘Αμάν πιά! You come in the Greece and you are feel boring? If it is possible!’
Well, sorry, it’s my fault no doubt, but there are some Greek pleasures that leave me cold, just as the British enthusiasm for cricket, pork pies, warm beer and Happy Slapping mystify foreign visitors to our own shores. Provincial Greeks especially have a knack for the enjoyment of doing nothing, and it’s a talent I have never developed. An hour on a beach, for example, and I am weeping with boredom. Beaches are such sweaty, gritty, salty uncomfortable places, I can’t be doing with them. Neither can I sit in a café shooting the breeze with friends for ninety minutes over half an inch of lukewarm ‘cappuccino’ with two inches of squirty cream on top. I finish my alleged ‘cappuccino’ in ten seconds flat and spend the remaining eighty-nine minutes and fifty seconds itching to get moving whilst knowing there’s nowhere to get to. I cannot take a siesta. If I sleep in the afternoon, I wake up feeling sick and groggy and stay sick and groggy until bedtime. In sum, I’m a total klutz at leisure unless it’s in the evening after a day’s work and I feel I have earned the right to it. The old, cold protestant work ethic never quite got knocked out of me, despite fifteen years in Greece
So I have rearranged things. I’m going at the end of November, when a week’s work in Athens will be a welcome change from the treadmill of the university. In the coming two weeks I will make some inroad into my pile of unread books and, as it were, stock up on solitude before the new term begins.