Tuesday, 8 December 2009
This week, I've been watching some episodes of a TV programme called "4". The four in question are brothers living in Athens. Each was born in a different season, and each has a very different life. The series starts with a rare family reunion in aid of their mother's 60th birthday. At the end of the evening (and the first episode) their father goes off to his study and blows his brains out with a pistol. The four brothers find themselves drawn closer together, as their lives start to change radically.
One of the brothers stays at home looking after his two children whilst his wife devotes all her time and energy to her career. "Do you know how long it is since we last made love?", he asks her one night. "One month and 20 days". "You mean you're counting?", she asks. Women!
Another is (almost) happily married to a woman who wants the same things as he does. Except that he's beginning to wonder whether they have a problem since they can't come up with the baby that they both want. And he's met someone who appears to be even more compatible. After medical tests he finds out that he's firing blanks, but before he can tell his wife, she announces that she's two months pregnant. Oops.
The third brother is a musician who prefers one night stands to a serious relationship. Though that seems about to change.
The fourth (a chef) has a gorgeous girlfriend called "Tonia". Except that he hasn't. He just dreams about her. So much so that he's begun to believe that she really exists.
Now, I don't think I'm exactly grounded in reality. I love reading escapist fiction and watching entertaining films. Not the kind that agonise about mothers dying of cancer, or children getting gassed in concentration camps. I'm fairly withdrawn as a person, and I don't let the real world get me down as much as some people seem to.
On the other hand, I've never been like the chef. I don't live in a fantasy world. That's why I could never be a Trekkie, or one of those soap opera fans who believe that it's all real. I never had an invisible friend or a fantasy girlfriend.
On the other hand, I do live in this strange virtual Greek world where I know all about the weather and events in Cyprus and Greece, but haven't a clue whether I should wear a coat to work. In this virtual but very real world over the last few days, they've been marking the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of the teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos by police. A year ago this became a pretext for violence and destruction in the centre of Athens (and, to a lesser extent, other cities). This year the authorities, forewarned, seem to have been able to limit this, despite the anti-authoritarian thugs getting reinforcements in from all around Europe. Nevertheless, police have been injured by stones and molotov cocktails, and some cars have been burnt.
To make matters worse, the bin men have been on strike, so the city is literally full of rubbish. Piles of bags are strewn all about the streets, and the authorities have been worried the refuse might fuel fires started by the "demonstrators" and cause real damage.
Watching these pictures, I've been overwhelmed by a particular wish. In addition to wishing that people wouldn't perpetrate acts of sensless violence, and that there weren't bags of rubbish all over the place. I wish I was back in Athens...
Maybe I'm becoming a dreamer after all.
Photo by caperboy at Webshots website (click on the picture to visit the site)