An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Yesterday's story - as told by me to you - as told to me by Gill - as told to Gill by Annie reminded me of another story told to us by the people who live next door.

When first we encountered these people, we were introduced by somebody who was then a mutual friend, they took great comfort from telling this story to as many ex-pats as they could find to listen.

Three years after they had moved lock stock and barrel to Crete they were contacted out of the blue by a vague acquaintance of the wife's from work. This woman, one C, was, she said, thinking of moving to Crete and wondered whether they knew of anywhere that she and her husband could rent. Luckily for her they did indeed know of just such a place - the apartment next to the one they were themselves about to move into was currently free. Inside a week this C and her husband, whom neither had ever met flew over to look at the apartment, pronounced it ideal for their purposes and, following an introduction to the landlord that they arranged took a lease on the place there and then.

Imagine their amazement when only 2 short months later C rang them to say that her husband had died suddenly and that she didn't know what to do for the best. They encouraged her to carry on with her plans, there was, they said, nothing to keep her in England now and it would be good to have neighbours. Even her inability to drive did not matter, they said for they could ferry her about at least until she learned to drive. And so C became their neighbour in a remote mountain village.

Almost as soon as she moved in however, C began to take liberties. Borrowing electrical equipment until her own arrived. Asking to be taken to town for shopping trips. Moaning when they smoked in her apartment. Complaining about their cats. Moreover she, C, was not taking driving lessons yet, preferring instead to make friends with the locals. Relations became tense and to cut a long story short they soon felt put upon - mightily.

The crunch came when C had had to return to England for a week ostensibly to see about her disability pension (although neither of them actually believed she was in any way disabled). She left he key to her apartment with them and asked them to air the place out every other day - it was winter and the damp had set in. The wife would take up the story at this point and tell in hushed tones how ashamed she was of herself for what she had done but ... And what she had done was to read C's diary and mail. C had said rather unflattering things about them in her diary. Within weeks of arriving. C had written to friends in England and had mentioned that they seemed a little grudging.

Without revealing what she had done the wife had a scene with C and announced that they could not be friends any longer. C had worn out her welcome! And so, without too much animosity they had slipped into simply being what they described as civil - avoiding her when they could and having nothing to do with her friends. Their own friends who visited often remarked on the "witch" next door and soon it became a standing joke amongst their coterie. Finally C had moved out one day when they were out shopping and they had never seen her again. Much to their relief.

L&R, for it was they who told us this story, latched onto us like limpets and some time later when the lease was up on their apartment we helped to find them somewhere to new to live. They moved in next to us on condition that they helped to look after the land and the olives and we explained to them how this farm - this life - was our dream. They said that they would like to share that dream and make it come true. All was well for a month perhaps. Not much help around the farm was forthcoming though and soon we noticed that despite living next door they seemed to be avoiding us - avoiding even eye contact - unless they were coming to eat. I shall leave to your imaginations what happened. Suffice to recall that we now refer to them as the people who live next door and not as neighbours. And remember that we did not hear Annie's story until this week-end.

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