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

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Myth of the Way

People often ask about how we ended up living on a lavender farm. People wonder why a lavender farm in Crete. Some people even question the fiscal viability of such a venture. All of which prompts me to respond - people are bloody nosey aren't they?

Today I want to tell you about not how we ended up living on a lavender farm but why we ended up having a lavender farm in the first place. The how follows the why: clearly once we had a lavender farm and given that our house was pretty much smack in the middle of it we would quite naturally end up living on a lavender farm.

Once upon a long long time ago two hard working but congenitally indolent devils threw the bath water out and kept the baby. Sick of working on a treadmill they planned and plotted for ten years so that they could exit stage left laughing and disappear to a beautiful island set in a wine dark sea of antiquity. Lucky them.

They arrived on their magical island and settled into their little house set in a sylvan olive grove. But trouble stalked the land in those days and trouble was looking for our pair. They had driven down through Europe you see and they already had one beautiful car locked away in the customs house of this windy little island. Luckily foe them they were not married and since each of them was theoretically allowed to import a car they thought, unwisely, that that is what they would do.

Sadly, their new found freedoms had gone to their heads and they had not reckoned on the inbuilt intransigence and meddlesomeness of all government departments. The customs house at Souda was run by a strange tribe of bureaucracy loving trolls. A loopy lair, in fact, of customs men intent on nothing more or less than stopping all car imports and their machinations would ensure that our beloved couple would spend several days of every week for the ensuing month deep in that lair. Interminable paperwork, letters to and from embassies in London and car manufacturing plants in France, began to flow. Calculations of import duties sky-rocketted to 365%. Revenue departments became involved. Vehicle registration departments. Engineering tests were posited. Matters were to become worse though. Soon after they had begun visiting the lair regularly for one of the customs men discovered that one of the cars that these two was trying to import was a pick-up truck! And this was the start of a new an grisly chapter that they came to believe might never end.

As if there were not enough hurdles and obstacles barring the way to normal car imports it soon became apparent that pick-ups were a very special class of problem. For a start only certain classes of people were allowed to own pick-ups at all - and retired professionals from England was not such a class. By now it was late January and these were destined to be the darkest of days.

As the problems started to mount on the import of the pick-up it seemed, purely by contrast I assure you, that light was beginning to glimmer at the end of the tunnel for the saloon car. And then something truly magical happened. As in all of the best fairy stories and as only occasionally happens in myth a prince appeared on the scene. A veritable prince of a man of Greek parents but of Russian birth. Our couple was introduced to the capo di tuttie i capi of the teloneion at Souda. Now it turned out that Petros Petrov, for that was his name, was a man of culture and sensitivity as well as being a customs ogre of some repute. And once the magic couple had explained their plight and their dreams to him he smiled upon them. He became their friend. The three of them would leave the trolls working away on papers, and bills of lading, and faxes from France, and retire to a nearby cafe to discuss poetry and theatre and to drink coffee and small spirits while looking out across the marina.

And, almost before they knew it the paperwork for the saloon car was ready. Monies changed hands between our couple and the revenue and visits to the vehicle registration centre began ... but little headway was being made on the pick-up front. Until, one day, sipping coffee and smoking, Petros Petrov mused, almost to himself, that " ... if only one of you were a farmer we could get you your pick-up imported ... and at a massive discount". Glances were exchanged swiftly between our heroes and G announced, firmly and definitively "If that's what it takes, then I shall become a farmer! And that is an end of it."

Later that evening, cuddled up together on their solitary sofa, the subject, as you might have suspected, turned to farming. "What," wondered G aloud, "shall I farm if I am to be a farmer?" and quick as a flash D came back with "Lavender, of course!". And so began a secong and parallel journey into another, deeper, morass of meaningless bureaucracy - A Long Night's Journey into Farming...

No comments:

Post a Comment