Wednesday, 1 October 2014

hablas español ? ελληνικά?

Apart from all the construction works, the barking and coming and going of people, there’s a weird notion going on in my house. Both JJ and I are in the process of studying a new foreign language! JJ decided to study Greek and I decided to study Spanish! Between the two of us, we speak 5 languages! Fine, we have English in common, but I don’t think we’re doing badly. After the courses, we’ll be able to communicate in (alphabetic order) Afrikaans, English, Greek, French and Spanish.




JJ wanted to learn to speak Greek for some time now. At first he started a Rosetta Stone course some years ago. But he had some issues with his laptop and the whole we-need-to-buy-a-house malarkey happened and he stopped it. This time around he found a course in the London Hellenic centre. Most of his colleagues are people who are in relationship with a Greek and want to meet the family!

Unfortunately for him, Greek is not an easy language. The alphabet and the phonemes are different and can be complicated. The only good thing is that after you’ve learnt them, you can read any given word. In Greek what you see, is what you can read. A bit like Italian, although a bit more complicated. The bad thing is that even if you can read a word, it doesn’t mean you can easily find its meaning. I can help him though (duh).

For me the decision to learn Spanish was a bit out of the blue. A very good friend of mine found some discount vouchers for foreign languages courses. It could have been Italian, French, German or Spanish. She knows German and I know French, so the logical option was Spanish. I don’t have anything against Italian, but between the two, Spanish sounds to me a little bit nicer and more useful.

Since there are discount vouchers included in the deal, to be honest, I don’t have tremendous high expectations for the quality of the course. My only hope is that they’d like to do a good job, so that we stay for the next level and pay the full price then. But in any case, I’ll try to enjoy the experience. The last time I studied a foreign language in a classroom was the year before my university graduation, more than a decade ago, for my DALF (iplôme approfondi de langue française) which I enjoyed tremendously.

Do you think Penny will be even more confused if we spoke to her in 5 languages?

She's bored already... 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Blood and even more blood...

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I know. I've generally been very busy with work, the house, my social life. I’m not complaining though. It’s been fun. In an even weirder note, I've even enjoyed having to work over the weekend. It’s nice to be productive and creative on something that you don’t mind doing…


Anyway, starting with the most major news of the last weeks, I met the doctor of my heart! I can’t really remember his name but he’s a nice gentleman from the NHS that acted as my medical and cardiac consultant! He’s the kind of doctor of that age that took notes with an ink pen and my blood pressure with an old style manual monitor. It was adorable. And what made it even better where the wonderful news he brought me.


Apparently the diet worked! Shedding a bit more than 10% of my body weight and watching my diet decreased my cholesterol levels. They’re still higher than normal, but fell quite a lot. So, the bottom line is that I’m under surveillance and will go back in 2 and again in 4 months, but at the same time I won’t start any medications or other treatments. Hoorah! That's the first part of my news associated to my own blood.



In a way to celebrate these news, I took JJ to his ever first Ancient Greek tragedy called ‘Medea’ by Euripides in the National Theater, produced for the first time in 431 BC! The adaptation had somewhat brought Medea to contemporary times. I can’t say I was entirely thrilled with that (being a Greek snob) but I’m glad to say that JJ liked it. I quite enjoyed it too.


The actress playing the main role was simply amazing though. It’s not an easy role to play. She wants to plot her revenge over the husband that abandoned her, but at the same time to portray an inner conflict and struggle over her hatred and whether it’s the right thing to do. For such an ancient play the subjects analysed are quite modern; foreigners versus natives, men versus women, power abuse and the subjective sense of rightfulness. In all fairness however, the Ancient Greeks really knew how to put curses on one another.

Yes, as promised, more blood at the end...

Monday, 4 August 2014

Groundbreaking Developments

I have mentioned in the past that my family is not very accepting of the fact that I’m gay, living with ‘JJ’. It’s been 5 years this month that I came out to them as mentioned here. Since then, I tried to reconcile things with the most recent incident last spring. When I visited Athens with JJ in June I had invited my parents to meet JJ over a coffee and they declined. I know that the main reason they both keep their distance is my father and my mother doesn’t want to confront him. They generally never argue and try hard to maintain the same attitude over family matters. So, while my father never talks to me about personal stuff, he concentrates more on professional matters, my mother will ask about Jeff, my life, the new house, the dog etc.


Last winter when we rebuilt the roof in the house, my mother had mentioned coming to help out during the works. To be honest however, there was no need for any extra help. The builders came, finished their work, packed their mess and left. But I realised that she might need an excuse to come over and visit us. She worries about my wellbeing and an excuse like that we could work against my father or even herself.

So, now that we’re planning the next step major step on refurbishing the house, installing central gas heating, I asked for her help. Again, I don’t think that we’ll really need it. We’re planning already on how to remove the flooring where the pipes will go and how to cover, protect, the furniture. On the contrary having an extra person in the house with all the builders might be an obstacle. I believe that it will be easier for the builders for us to be out of their way, but the benefits outmatch the negatives. And the most surprising thing is that she agreed!



During mid-September, for a whole week, my mother will visit us! I’m extremely excited and terrified of the event. I don’t really need my mother’s approval for the life I've setup in London. I have the confidence that I've made the right decisions and created something that makes me so happy that I shouldn't really care. But that doesn't mean that I don’t want that approval. I want her to get along with JJ, like the house and fall in love with Penny.


Generally, for Greek standards this next step we're taking is unbelievable. The vast majority of Greek gay friends I have are deep locked in the closet. They're in hiding of their personal preferences and life, which is very sad. I have mentioned in the past that the Greek community is in general very short sighted and conservative. Forget about Mykonos and what was happening in Ancient Greece. Nowadays, the number of openly gay public figures and good role models is very limited and the common general opinion is very negative and organised religion plays a huge part in that. In a way, I'm proud of my parents and the things we've achieved, even if it has taken us some time to reach this point.

For the week that she’ll be here, I've taken the days off work. We’re not planning any holidays with JJ anyway. With all our money spent on the house, we can’t really afford them. So, I have so many extra days of holidays I really need to book, otherwise I’ll lose them. I've also booked a special Sunday brunch and ticket to a musical. I know she likes them and hoping to be thrilled when she finds out. JJ’s equally excited. He’s created a list of things we need to do to prepare the house for her arrival. He’s also trying to learn everyday Greek expressions to talk to her, even though she speaks English fluently, even if we a heavy Greek accent.

Deep down I know that it will be all fine, but at the same time I can’t help but worry a little bit.