Holiday Notes

Kalami Bay

Kalami is a small village in the north east corner of Corfu which sits beside one of the most beautiful bays in the Ionian Sea.

In the early evening we sat amongst the now sparsely occupied loungers enjoying the orange skied sunset, the gentle swish of the ebb tide and the sudden realisation that the pulsing sound of the cicadas in the trees behind us had left for the day. We enjoyed silent company at the start of our holiday.

The peace was interrupted by a couple, middle aged, like to ourselves, George and Brenda from Harrogate. I’d never met anyone from Harrogate before or since. Uninvited they deposited themselves on loungers either side of us. Our eyes spoke. However, it was much better than we expected they were keen to share what they’d found. The secret beach. Giving us directions and reassuring us we would enjoy it they left, off to pack for home tomorrow. We thanked them sincerely. The thought of a quiet beach interested us.

The following morning, we set off to search. It was on the road north towards Kassiopi. At the bottom at the start of the steep climb at the end of the village stood the White House. Once the home of the Durrell family and where Lawrence Durrell wrote his book Prospero’s Cell with the idea that Shakespeare may have had Corfu in mind when he wrote of the enchanted island in the Tempest. Durrell describes the building aptly in its text and I quote,

“White House set like a dice on a rock already venerable with the scars of wind and water.”

It was now a restaurant and where we sat later that evening on the boarded water front enjoying meals of freshly caught fish complimented with glasses of anise flavoured ouzo as the waves lapped below us.

Halfway up the hill on the left, as described, was an entrance little more than a tunnel, thick with the foliage of olive trees. As we walked, there was a sense of the surreal, the mix the heavy scent of olives, the call of the cicadas, the earth covered with black netting in preparation for forthcoming harvesting. Heads bowed low to get through the overhanging branches. Then we broke into the light and ahead a long rough rocky path bordering the allotments, plants laden with shiny aubergines, and yellow and red tomatoes. As instructed we took a left through a tree lined path which suddenly burst open onto a panoramic view of an isolated bay. The secret beach.

We’d smiled. It had been worth it. Not a soul to be seen. We found a comfy place on the edge of the bay where rocks lay like slabs warm and ready to accept towels. Settling with our books we were grateful to George and Brenda.

The heat rose as the morning moved towards noon we decided to find somewhere more sheltered. Suddenly the quiet of the bay erupted. The air was filled with laughing and screeching as a group of naked young men and women headed for the water. They frolicked and dived, petting and teasing oblivious or unconcerned about our presence.

Later as we left the we noticed the “private naturist beach “sign we’d missed on arriving, meaningless in Greek but not  in smaller writing in English below. Had George and Brenda known about this?

 

Don Russell 24/02/2018

SECOND CHANCE

 

He’d felt it was more often reported that they were found in the garage. He could understand despite the perceived position of desperation there was still a compassionate consideration by the victim for the victims. That by occurring in a less prominent place in the property it may help with any healing process for those left behind.

Personally, he’d never viewed it as a position of desperation. It was just something that happened. Started by the changing of a bulb at half time on a Saturday afternoon. Mary and April, mother and daughter, shopping. He was settled on the couch physically, emotionally work kept intruding on the football updates worrying him irrationally. Early January the light was fading, the bulb in the ceiling had blown earlier. He’d promised her he’d replace it. Using the break in play he nipped through the kitchen to the integral garage.

It began with a flicker of a thought, a fusion, garage roof girders and the old towing rope lying in the corner. He dismissed it, collected a bulb from the curver box under the bench. His hand refused to turn the switch of until he had another glance. Reminding him he’d had the thought.

Sleep evaded him, early on Sunday morning he was up, put on the percolator. Waiting he was drawn from the kitchen, the thought beginning to manifest as a deed.  In the corner of the garage handling the old tow rope, familiarising himself with the feel, the pattern of the thinner ropes which entwined to strengthen the whole. It felt comfortable, he returned it to its place reassured it was safe there in full view. His secret and his secret place when no one else was around. His mind felt abused, his brain battered, under the pressure of daily life. But all was not lost. He’d found somewhere he had control, where he could design an escape. Not that he would ever need it he strongly reminded himself, but the thought felt okay. Just handy to have around.

The process continued. The visits requiring greater input for sufficient gratification. Addiction came to mind with a little extra fix. He’d been lucky once, caught grasping the roof girders, he’d managed to deflect it as pull ups. The added excitement of deception. It became a game. He’d had the rope over the girder by now but there was no rush, the phrase “slowly slowly catchy monkey” seemed to offer comfort at this lethargic approach. The further he went the stronger he felt. He was defeating the things that were oppressing him. The total secrecy only enhanced his feeling of power. It also reduced the pressure.

 

He was insulating himself from the atrocity he was constructing by befriending it. The noose had been assembled and dismantled fearlessly on several occasions. He’d tried it for size. If you didn’t fear death, there was nothing greater to worry about. It felt okay round his neck.

Saturday afternoon, full time, Mary and April, mother and daughter, shopping. He rose from the couch. The equipment, girder, rope, noose and finally the upturned curver box. As he pulled the box from under the bench the bulb blew in the garage. Suddenly in the dark a feeling of loneliness mixed with the enormity of what he’d been about to do filled the moment.

Then joyful voices chorused, “ we’re home.”

His fear returned, and he quickly made for the kitchen.

 

Don Russell    29/01/2018