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4 short stories of London

Απρίλιος 13, 2016


Quality timing with the son in London on a well-earned trip based on his school results. Impressed he is with the number of people speaking Greek, even the guy at the place with the top quality pizzas – and all that in less than 24 hours. The obligatory movie was the current blockbuster: Batman Vs Superman. I was never a fan of the superhero genre and their funny uniforms and I was rather curious to see the two of them fighting each other instead of the usual bad guys. Well, the story was -let us say – a bit complicated but in the end they did the usual stuff exterminating the big bad fatty with the help of a fresh female superhero. Her human name is Gal Gadot. I became an instant fan of her Jewish smartness. Oh, and it was my first experience in 3D IMAX – awesome.





«Remember how many coins I have?»  «Well it must be around Stg3.50», I said, remembering the small bets won and lost throughout the day. «It is now a pound less» he says wearing a sort of mousy but still sneaky face.

«Did you lose it then?»  «No», he says, «I gave it to the guy back there». He was a homeless young man lying on filthy cardboard sheets.

It was one of the few money actions that he ever took without bothering to get my permission first. Not a big deal really, but still a bit exceptional for a kid who constantly pushes us to *buy* him things, thinking that we have unlimited amount of space to store everything – and more importantly the money to buy it.






The dedicated airport looked relatively small and surely very busy. Written instructions were sparsely posted and so we had to resort to human support a couple of times. However not many humans were around. Even fewer people were at the spot where the drop off signs were prominent. We went through the straightforward process quite easily. The magnanimous Stelios let us go through even if we were 500 grams overweight.  We waived the bag goodbye, both of us acknowledging the fact that together we did it so well. «Technology is good» he says, «but people are losing their jobs if the machines can do everything». My neoliberal instincts were immediately awakened. «You are right, some people are indeed losing their jobs, some people find new jobs in the technology firms that design and manufacture these machines, but the wider issue is that this already very expensive country does not become even more so because of these technologies, and people like us can still find value in visiting it and spending lots of their money. This will in fact affect the whole economy, new businesses will start, jobs will be created and the country can prosper.»


«Well, it still isn’t nice when people lose their jobs», he repeated,   in a fairly convinced manner. He must have entered his communist period already.




Our last night in London. Not the last train though. Son puts forward some very reasonable thoughts. «How nice it would be to have trains in Strovolos». «Not very likely», is my emphatic response. He seems to understand the importance of the answer «it’s the numbers, stupid!” and soon his still immature and romantic mind comes back to reality. «This flat might be costing 1 million sterling, I tell him, but they don’t have a backyard, no place to ride their bicycles, no space to play football and target the neighbours’s cars». «Well, after all it is nice to live in a small place, he concedes. We can see our friends so easy and so often».

Three days later the smartphone application says we walked about 14 kms per day. Let alone the trains. The message is loud and clear: if you want to raise kids, do it early enough. I proud to describe myself as «fit», but apparently it has been a long time since I was a 12 year old indefatigable boy. In the Science Museum I was simply looking for isolated, dimly lit benches while he was sampling all available interactive applications.

Last dinner at an old favourite. A «traditional” Italian restaurant near the underground station. It must have been there for ever. I have been there at least 3 times in the last 30 years. Considering everything it was the place providing the best value for money of all eating places we visited.

All in all the big city is unbearably expensive. I guess all big cities are. However unlike the son, I do get the urge sometimes not to see our friends and «friends” so easy and so often, opting for the anonymity you enjoy as an insignificant part of an endless crowd.

And London can certainly oblige on this. The big, important song, coming out very loud through the stadium loudspeakers just before the match yesterday, was peculiarly enough that scream by

The Clash : London Calling.


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