By John Lucas
Greece has constantly had its admirers, although none turns out to have adored the Athenian tavernas, the murderous site visitors and the jaded prostitutes, the petty bureaucratic tyrannies, the road noise and the heroic individualists with the irony and detachment of John Lucas. ninety two Acharnon road is a gritty portrait of a filthy urban and a wayward kingdom. but Lucas's love for the realities of Greece triumphs – for the Homeric kindness of her humans in the direction of strangers, for the pleasures of her tavernas and for the proximity of islands in transparent blue water as a safe haven from the noise and pollutants of her capital urban. this can be Greece because the Greeks might realize it, noticeable during the eyes of a poet.
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Additional resources for 92 Acharnon Street. A Year in Athens
Then we could take stock, and if either felt uneasy with the other, we could agree to part company before getting too deeply involved. Agreed? Agreed. Over the following months work began to arrive, written out in painstaking longhand, and each new piece made me the more certain that this was a man who meant business. Then came the letter from the University of Athens. Naturally I discussed it with George, who naturally thought it a good idea for me to take up the offer. After all, that way he’d have his supervisor at hand – for by then I had agreed to take him on – and he would undertake to find me accommodation.
Yet the streets were so mazily planned that we spent some time wandering about them without coming across any one street twice. No wonder the labyrinth is a Greek invention. All Greek island towns are similarly labyrinthine. Necessarily so. The confusion of streets was intended to bewilder and frustrate successive boatloads of pirates who over the centuries came to plunder, rape and kill. All that beauty, and what did men want? To destroy. From the town we climbed down to a tiny horseshoe bay where I swam in waters so clear I could see fish thirty or so feet below me flicker in and out of black rock, and afterwards, looking out at flawless blue, we ate a late lunch of salad and cheese pies at a beach taverna we more or less had to ourselves.
The details of how this came about and its consequences I leave until later. Here, I want to say only that the twelve months I spent living in Athens, while they may not radically have changed me, uncovered possibilities which, but for that year, might have remained hidden. This is by no means to say that I approved of everything I found there. Bureaucracy, of which I encountered all too much, was, as it remains, a nightmare. Nothing was ever done as and when it should have been. Half the time you couldn’t even locate the official who was supposed to deal with whatever case you were required to present to him.