“…how to fill in the long gap between now and the grave…”

Dia na perasome tin ora… to pass the time…’ How often this phrase crops up in Greece! It is the password to hours of enchantment like this morning or to long doldrums of tedium; it poses the whole problem of how to fill in the long gap between now and the grave.


“Often, from its inception, one is able to predict the whole course of a village conversation, what topic will unleash another, where the sighs and the laughter will come, the signs of the cross and the right hand displayed palm outwards and fingers extended in anathema; where heads will be shaken or the edge of the table struck in indignation with an index-finger doubled up. They unfold with the inevitability of ritual.

“Old jokes are best and even at their hundredth repetition the laughter than salutes them is gay and unjaded.”

From “Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese” by Patrick Leigh Fermor