I don’t know what they’re like in battle, but if the way they ride their mopeds is any guide, the Greeks must be the bravest people on Earth.
I got used to the near-total absence of helmets worn. (I saw just enough to realise that they do know what helmets are, they just see little need to wear them). I also got used to seeing fathers and mothers zooming along with a child perched behind, or in front of them. I even got used to seeing mothers and fathers, with a child squeezed between them.
But when I saw a mother and father heading off from the beach on a moped, along a pot-holed road, with – I swear – a baby squeezed between them…
* * * * *
The Greeks are a warm and generous people with a rich and wonderful history, and there are many, many things about their country of which they can be truly proud. Alas, their sewage system is not one of them.
I’ve always mistrusted people who suggest that our (British) sewage system is superior to other countries, a claim usually accompanied by an exhortation of: “Don’t drink the water!” I’ve always treated this as the typical middle-English desire to believe that we are in some way superior to other countries, and have always dismissed it as prejudice and propaganda.
Then I went to Greece and found signs in every toilet telling me not to put toilet paper down the toilet, complete with signs of toilet rolls superimposed with red “circle and bar” symbols. Apparently, the Greek sewage system can’t cope with toilet paper, and so – after wiping your arse with a piece of toilet paper – you’re supposed to put the now shit-encrusted piece of toilet paper into a little flip-top lid bin that stands beside the toilet, where it will then be taken away with the domestic refuse.
It’s actually quite difficult to do: firstly difficult to remember, and then secondly difficult to force yourself to do even when you do remember. Toilet training is perhaps the first thing we learn, before language even. Trying to remember to not put used toilet paper down the toilet is like taking your dog to a foreign country and then trying to explain to it that you now want it to piss indoors, on the carpet.
I didn’t drink the water.