Sundays are still Sundays here. Whoever it is that doesn’t drive in the household is obliged to take the pick-up truck out for a spin. Our mountain road is Death-Race 2000 on a Sunday.  In fairness, it’s fine. I’ve reached an elevated level of awareness and now expect everything, whether it happens or not.

I often venture out on a Sunday to complete some chores. Petrol stations remain full service here. Monday to Saturday lunch time, you pull into the forecourt and a liveried attendant will rush to your window, eager for instructions. They will return seeking payment. It’s terribly civilised. On a Sunday however, one is forced to self-serve. This involves negotiating with an unmanned central control unit, that accepts payment before allowing you to enter into negotiation with a pump. Some, like Mrs L, simply avoid refilling at this time, whereas I target it. The station I use has six pumps but one control unit. As I stood at the back of the queue, contention ruled. A Cypriot, at pump 5, was furious. His pump wouldn’t give him anything. He decided that I looked the most likely candidate, so he vented a full-throated rant at me. I let him get it all of his chest, before replying, “I’m terribly sorry, old fruit. I’m afraid I don’t speak Greek.” To his credit, with barely a pause, he repeated the whole thing in excellent English. Mischievously, I gave him my best Hellenic shrug. He drove off like a Formula One driver with a grid penalty. Assuming he didn’t wipe out on the highway, he’ll be back at the station tomorrow, giving the station-owner rocks. Overall, it was riotous scene, with dialogue in Greek, English and Russian. I chipped in unhelpfully where I could before getting my card authorised and tank full without incident. (I bet they hated me.)

Chore two was at the local supermarket. I’ve known this supermarket since some time in the 1980s. It was a ramshackle place serving the locals and the Brits from the adjacent military bases. Gradually, George has acquired the majority of buildings and land round and about. Now, it’s a sort of modular supermarket, different every time one visits it, with secret passages from one part to another. As it’s Sunday, the men come out to buy the meat for the Sunday souvla. More importantly, they come out to catch up with cousins, colleagues and friends. Traditionally, this done in several ways. First, find a narrow road, and stop your pick-up next to your cousin’s pick up which is coming the other way. Once stopped, have a good old chinwag. Move on when you’re ready, or when you can no longer hear your cousin over the angry cacophony of horns from both sides. Then park. Anywhere you like, except in a parking space. They’re for foreigners. As long as you’re not going to be longer an hour, then don’t worry about blocking access. People will just chat with their cousins while they wait.

Inside the supermarket, you should consider it a mini-version of the village, only with shopping trolleys rather than pick-ups. Here, you’ll find plenty of cousins and friends to stop and chat with. Pro-level players choose spots in front of doored fridges, causing multiple obstructions all at once.

Of course, wise old man that I am, I know all the internal ratruns, and can spot a souvla roadblock from a mile off, so I treat it all as a sort of Sunday workout for my problem-solving abilities.

I love it here.

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