Well, you don’t see that every day! Vidos, of course, the little environmental island just off Corfu port and this time it wasn’t the sealions, but a group of six Serbian blokes, unfurling that red, white and blue flag on the boat over, with the double eagle that is also the crest of the Greek Orthodox Church on Mount Athos. The white haired Captain pumped out semi military music straight from the Second War and sunbathers stood up, startled as we docked. They were taking a Cross to the island and in two days the Serbian Prime Minster will visit too, for a little ceremony and blessing, once a year. It must be the Serbian hospital links from WWI and mixing Balkans sensibilities. But since an ex was Serbian American, not that she ever knew anything of her own history, or anyone else’s, will the haunting of Phoenix Ark never stop?!
Since we are supposed to love animals, and actually do, more about the wildlife on the little isle. We forgot to mention the tame rabbits, that have clearly bred with hares, by the size of their springy back legs, hopping around the restaurant regardless, among the tame and strutting pheasants, as if no one ever had any idea of eating them at all. Vicious evolution appears to have stopped on Vidos, with the beautiful views back to the island, until the boat missed its first five o’clock stop and then was half an hour late for the last bus home. Phone calls were made. Joan, from Lincolnshire, who came nine years back and fell in love with vanishing or hopeless Greek men, twice, began to talk the evil eye, but despite that tourist’s dream just to relax and take in the pointlessly beautiful light, still humans had to hurry on, as we do. As we sat there waiting, a man talked half a Kilo of plutonium, somewhere in Albania, if you only had the will, and the escaping sealions too, two years back, lured home to their enclosure by free fish. The boat got back at last and suddenly new meetings were broken by disappearing mopeds, hurrying home.People’s real lives.
So to AM Holmes and “This Book Will Save Your Life”, the last ten pages consumed over a half kilo of white and a little meze. If you want to fall in love with a writer, god forbid, read that very American but hugely touching book. Then look at the Pub photo in the back, so beautiful, so brave, though age changes everything. Such a work about human loneliness, but the vital attempt to connect, could only produce a desire to swim or drown. Splosh! How snorkels change the landscape, suddenly embedded with reeds and fish, breathing deeply, in an alien element. You drift back, pathetic in your vulnerability, escaping the sea, goggle-eyed, as if the encounter with the furriness of a rock on the shelving shore had changed anything. Perhaps it had, seeing in, because suddenly the bus back home was filled with real people. The manly, bald headed driver with a chip about driving a bus, the girl, suddenly challenged by the important ticket man, the sunset over the airport, where planes suggest anywhere else but this. AM Holmes makes you cry at the pain, and the pleasure of everything.