Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Bliss

The house in Corfu was owned by the daughter of Mama Katerina. The daughter lived and worked in Athens and Mama Katerina looked after the house on her behalf. She’d come wandering along with Vasilio her husband; they’d try out the figs growing on the trees in the garden. But if a particular fruit was not up to scratch in Mama Katerina’s opinion, she’d chuck it into the sea without a moment’s hesitation. Then offer us some she approved of.

Needless to say, the place was bliss, near enough to the little town of Benitses for us to be able easily to get there on our rented scooter to purchase food, far enough away to make us feel like we were lucky castaways.

The sea gurgled away at the bottom of the garden. There was a small stretch of sand where we could sunbathe listening to the soft movements of what you could hardly call waves. Altogether it really was bliss.

Bliss was increased by the visitations of a handsome dog who appeared to be a stray and whom we took under our wing insofar as he didn’t take us under his. We called him Filoskoulos and when we went into town on our rented scooter, we’d ask the butcher for some good bones for him.

After we got back to London at the end of our holiday, we sent a package to Mama Katerina. By this time – for it was many years ago – I have no real recollection of what it contained. Maybe some snaps and perhaps a scarf for Vasilio who often complained about chilly breezes. We’d become very fond of them both. I didn’t especially mind when we didn’t hear back. It would have felt like a miracle if we had.

Such are the memories of long ago and a blissful holiday which, in feeling at least, I’ll never forget. Although no lasting relationship was formed with Mama Katerina and Vasilio, the closeness of how we felt at the time does not dissipate and in this sense the relationship persists.

I suppose that’s how holiday experiences often are. Paul and I were lucky to have had the kind of week – or was it a fortnight? – which will forever stay in the mind, a wonderful experience in itself but also an example of the kind of closeness which can build up in so short a space of time, in one sense at least never to be dissipated.

But don’t ask me why, on this particular Saturday morning in November, Mama Katerina, Vasilio and Filoskoulos the dog have returned to my mind. It’s not the first time. The must actually linger there in perpetuum.  And in truth, it always cheers me to think about them even though, by now, they’ve probably been long gone from this actual earth.

So be it. Perhaps Saturday mornings are a time for the mind (in my case) to wander. It’s one of the fascinating things about writing a blog. If you allow your mind to drift a bit, you never know – or perhaps I should say I never know – what’s going to turn up there. It’s especially nice thinking about Corfu this morning when the Brixton sky is so uniformly gray. Or does the recollection make the sky here seem greyer? I can’t be sure.

PS: Pictures today are Paul’s sandals on a Corfu beach and not Filoskoulos but Ruby – beloved hound of our lifelong friend Michael Rosen – on the beach at Lake Kasshabog, Ontario.

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