Skip to main content
Read page text

not speak the language, is marked by the social grammar which lends priority to the first person. The Summerskills are dominated by the rich men and calculating women on whose beneficence their standing is based; there is no bread on Greek waters without strings, or hooks, attached. They must command financial support in order to merit the respect of the governors; to hold their heads up, they grovel for funds. John has no administrative assistant; he writes his letters like a student, with someone on hand to translate. The Summerskills have been in Greece for half a dozen years, but they have no facility with the language. I suspect that they are regularly misunderstood: we found no room reserved in the hotel in Rhodes where they promised us an obsequious reception; nor were their tickets waiting for them, as some armateur was said to have arranged, at the Flying Dolphin. They claim famous, well-heeled acquaintance in all parts of the world without enjoying any reliable favours. Melina Mercouri is the latest to seek to exert her influence on behalf of some friend’s child; and she is not used to rejection. John has to be absent at the weekend or he is forever answering the telephone. Since taking up the presidency, he has become a steady drinker.

As he drove us across town to Tourkolimani, where he had lunch before taking the boat to Hydra, he drank beer from a can stowed by the gear-shift. He had the dexterity that comes of long recourse to one-handed steering. The strain of his position has carved cracks in the corners of his mouth. There is no easy time in his day, no reliable laurels on which to repose. His dismissal by governor Reagan from the presidency of San Francisco State was anything but dishonourable; none whose opinions mattered to him failed to respect his endurance; but now his enemy is President of the United States. John wishes resources of moral and political strength on Mondale, whom he met on a recent tour. Do they hope for an ambassadorship if Mondale is elected? Mimi may be a La Follette (if repetition is any proof, she is certainly a La Follette), but she is too antique and insufficiently rich for diplomatic preferment. There is something warm and impressive about her, but her vanity is pretentious and absurd. She gave us a nice room in the presidential lodge, but she had to be pressed for something to eat, although we had flown a long way at their invitation and had no transport. In the restaurant El Pescador, on the Avenida Ortega y Gasset, a man sat waiting nervously, but with dignity. He looked at his watch and waited afresh. At last, a plain woman, a good deal younger than himself, came and sat down. She had a narrow face and a manly haircut. Something in


My Bookmarks

    Skip to main content