The wind is blowing any number of leaves round the streets and gardens. The trees are distressed, losing leaves and condition, bowing down in the face of the climate catastrophe. We had a torrential downpour on Tuesday night, but hardly any of it reached the ground. The plants look like they’ve been fried, stalks and leaves all crispy and overdone. And the wind is not a breeze, it’s a gale, created, no doubt, by the unnatural temperatures and the way they’re interacting miles up in the sky, and being forced down to earth. They’re not meant to be here. And no matter how much M and I might like heat, this heat is unnatural for this part of the world. Today, I’ve also realised I have many fewer places to hide from the sun than I did in Agios Nikolaos. Speaking of which, last night, during a directionless web search, I found a webcam that looks out over our beach in AN, showing, side on, George’s bar, and, full on, the balcony of the room we inhabited for those two blissful weeks – thank God we did nothing on that balcony we shouldn’t have been doing, not that I think any archive footage of the live webcam footage exists.
Over the last two days, I’ve spent well over an hour and a half in Greek lessons on my phone, and have reached “legendary level” (ha!) in two areas. I think it’s actually a relatively superficial way of trying to learn a language, but I can see the value in allowing myself to be flooded by the new alphabet and its various uses. I see it more of a familiarisation exercise than real learning at this point. I must admit, though, it is a wonderful way to spend some time, playing with linguistic puzzles.
For most of today, I have been transcribing all the handwritten writing I did in AN for The Mortality Code, which amounted to just over 3,500 words. Still astounding that it probably took me longer to transcribe than it probably took me to write in the first place, on my sun lounger by George’s bar, surrounded by the buzz of people, and with the Cretan mountains off in the distance, to which I would always raise my eyes in awe. I can now start working on progressing that novel, as well as Aggie, as well as the AN short story that’s sitting on this machine somewhere, and that I’ve not touched since we got back (almost four weeks ago!).
Thinking about moving there is, of course, tempered with the realisation that my Freedom of Movement has been stolen from me by Brexit, and that any such move will be fraught with difficulties, and will probably mean having to give up a lot of the things we have accumulated over the course of our life together. We will see – but at least we have visions of a different and new beginning.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 158
‘That’ll be never then,’ Aggie says. ‘This will never be over.’
‘Don’t be so pessimistic,’ Robert says. ‘And see, you’ve distracted me. You haven’t even guessed how we’re tracking Martin.’
‘It’s too tiresome,’ Aggie says. ‘But I suppose I’ll give it a go. Let me think. Not his shoes, not his teeth, not his jacket – all too predictable and easy to find. Somewhere else in his body? But he’d be able to tell if you’d injected him with something, wouldn’t he? A lump or a scar or something like that.’ She scratches her head. ‘Where’s Lilibet? I’m starting to get worried.’
‘She’s only been away for half an hour,’ Robert says, looking at the clock on the wall. ‘Still keeps good time, you know.’
‘You’re starting to sound just as veiled as Martin did,’ Aggie says. ‘Don’t tell me you’re going to turn out to be a baddie as well.’ She sighs. ‘Because that would really not be good for you. I might forget myself.’
‘Dear God,’ Robert says. ‘No. What do you think I am? I have principles, which he evidently didn’t. Or at least if he did, he had the wrong ones.’
‘That’s a whole different conversation, and one for philosophers, not normal people.’
‘You’re insulting a lot of people with that.’
‘But they can’t hear me, can they? So it doesn’t matter.’ She stares at him. ‘You did inject something, didn’t you? God, that was stupid.’
‘Not really,’ Robert says. ‘It wasn’t anywhere obvious, and needles nowadays fit into a pore, never mind leaving a scar.’
‘The only place you could have done it would either be his armpit or his scrotum,’ Aggie says. ‘And something tells me that your dreadful sense of humour and your need for revenge focused on his scrotum.’
‘They’d have burned you centuries ago for being a witch.’
‘There’s nothing to say they still won’t burn me,’ Aggie says. ‘Valentine would if he could.’
‘Then why didn’t he finish you off in Norwich?’
‘He knew I never slept, and he didn’t think I was what I have, apparently turned out to be.’
‘Is this what you’ve been trained for, do you think?’
‘No idea,’ Aggie says, and shrugs violently. ‘And I don’t really care. I just don’t like injustice. And whether or not this is something I’m meant to be involved it, it feels to me like I need to do this to find out who I am.’
Robert smiles at her, nods his head. ‘If it’s any comfort to you, my dear girl,’ he says. ‘I don’t think you need look any further than now to find out who you are. I think you’re a wonderful, brave, and clever human being whose kindness knows no limits, and I’m proud to have got to know you.’
‘You flatter me,’ Aggie says.
‘But that’s the thing, my dear,’ Robert says. ‘I’m not flattering you. I’m just telling you the truth. You should be proud of yourself.’
‘Pride being one of the seven deadly sins,’ she says.
‘Don’t be so damn literal.’ He sits forward in his chair. ‘Perhaps it would be better to say that you should love yourself instead of hating yourself. That’s all.’