Room for six scotches more.
Antony and Cleopatra IV. 7
|P.K. looking Henrician.|
(*For transatlantic readers, I should explain that 'johnny' is British demotic for 'condom'.)
'You shouldn't sunbathe so much!' Peter told her jovially as they were introduced. 'Makes you look old!'
A friend of mine who knew him much better than I did described him as monokómmatos, 'one piece', by which she meant unyielding, wooden, blunt - just what you might expect from looking at his photo. Few can tolerate silence in a social situation as long as he could. When I first had dealings with him around 1996, after a fifty second hiatus I would struggle to say something, anything, to keep the lines of communication open but when I managed to spit something out, he would frequently ignore it or change the subject. Thus in those early days he often made me feel like some prattling halfwit interrupting the cerebrations of a deeply serious scholar. It was a relief later to hear that he had the same effect on most people, and much later, comical to learn that he had thought I was the one who was hard work. Even after I understood him better, some of his thought processes remained baffling. One summer, we needed to advertise for new teachers. Peter wrote an ad for the local rag and asked me to cast an eye over it. I pointed out that although it provided a contact number, it didn’t give the name of the school.
|Kalamata central square|
‘No, no! I like girls!’ he gasped, horrified. What sort of question was that, for God’s sake? I wonder if he went home and reported this impertinence to his father, who no doubt execrated poufters even more than he did Pakis: we were in a deeply conservative part of a very conservative country. Later in the course, I invited back a couple of graduates from the previous year to regale the rookies with their experiences of British universities. One of these was Peter’s nephew, Argyris, who had returned from Edinburgh with a faceful of studs and metal rings and a t-shirt held together with safety pins. Had he been present, I suspect Vangelis’s father would have put a stop to his son’s university career before it started, and got him a job as a waiter on the sea front. Argyris informed the kids about Freshers’ Week:
Ten days or so before I left Kalamata for good, Peter's brother-in-law died suddenly and horrifyingly of anaphylactic shock, and I didn't see PK after that. I did not contact him again after leaving Greece in 2005, which is a pity, as he seems to have become somewhat isolated over the years. His funeral was well-attended, and grief was genuine, as he had helped a great many people in his unobtrusive, behind-the-scenes manner. I owe him an apology for not recognising this ages ago, and am sorry it’s such a belated one.
|Photo: Ifigeneia Poulopoulou|