My summer working in the family business on Corfu

Who’s who in the Zoo

on June 3, 2012

Ok, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Who is exactly who in the Golden Beach bar/taverna/mini market/ car park Zoo…. Bear with me, this is gonna be a long blog, but it’ll be worth it to read through the cast of players for an idea of the whole world and future reference.


We’ll start with me.

Looby – An English Australian, born in UK but mostly raised in Canberra, made it back to the UK to train as an actor, kept coming on holiday to Corfu while “resting”. Five years ago was resting so much I came and stayed, after getting together with  Jimmy (Dimitris in Greek) on the second day of my holiday and was pregnant six months later (due to a lot of recreational resting at the time). We have a son Angelo who is nearly four. He’s gorgeous, bright and rather blonde (topic of much speculation for locals, as my status as a foreign wife includes much suspicion about my trustworthiness, blonde implying other father from dark Jimmy). So much for that goal of making my way to South America. I have worked as a teacher here (EFL), and managed to still do some acting. Just spent six months with partner and child in Australia, trying to convince Jimmy there is a bigger and brighter world out there beyond poverty, slave driving in laws and daily suffering. Well, that went well. We’re back. Apparently there are more levels of suffering not quite reached yet. (They love to suffer, the Greeks, don’t believe the news, they’re lapping it up). I’m loud, very forthcoming, not particularly domestic, and I dress mostly like a bag lady and always in flat unsparkly shoes (almost verbatim, not my words). I invite you to imagine how well I’ve gone down here then in a world catered for diamante press ons and a permanent broom to hand. More info regarding moi will unfold as we go on.

Jimmy – Other half. Mostly meek and gentle, very sweet and everyone pretty much likes him. Something to be said though for his stubbornness and revelling in being a martyr. Jimmy enjoys fast moving motor vehicles, trying to keep everyone happy, under valuing himself, working in all weather conditions, finding the long way round to problem solving, and crochet. Cut the crochet. Cannot sit down.  A total dag, and something of an old man, he is largely adorable. He works down at the bar, the best working part of the family business. Aquarius with scorpio rising.

Prokopis – His younger brother. A very likable chap, always friendly and accommodating. More outspoken than Jimmy especially to his parents. Has been running the mini market for many years and will train me up. We get on well. As I do with his wife, Sofia. They have a little boy, Makis. Neither of our sons are named after the father in law, (Jimmy and Prokopis’ Dad, Yannis), which is tradition. There are big reasons which I may get into later. This has bonded us well.

Maria – The mother, my mother in law. In a word, mental. Means well and seems to profess her best interests for her boys, her grandchildren, her daughters in law, the cat down the street. But not her husband, Yannis – “my life with him is a big black dog”. Runs the restaurant upstairs, a tired and not very busy place stuck in the eighties. Often can be very kind. Is, however, all over the shop. Literally, all over the shop. Where she starts about twenty five mini tasks and doesn’t quite finish one, you will ask where she is and for some reason unbeknownst to anyone she’s suddenly watering the plants when someone wants a bill. I’m not the only one to think she’s losing it. She’s stubborn like I’ve never known, really overpowering and set in her ways. She has had a hard life which makes me sympathise, but she revels in it in a way (that suffering thing). She repeats herself incessantly, “you look so pretty, this is your colour, oh this colour it is for you, so pretty ad nauseum”. Is never quite direct, doesn’t listen at all in any language – She has taken to heart her mantra about Yannis – “in one ear, out the other”. Cares a lot about what the neighbours think – once she told me that the way I could truly help the family in a difficult time was “please Looby, wear nice shoes”. Always looking for ways to smile at the same time as save a euro. Hey, it’s an economic crisis. I get it. Full of catchphrases. An ally sometimes, mostly completely contradictory, and, well, mental. Possible self lobotomy relating to marriage to-

Yannis – The father, father in law. The Don Corleone. The Overseer. (Overseeing requires less effort than work). A bazouki player from another village who met Maria, who as a single child had all of the land at the beach where the business is, and married her. Loves to either play bazouki, or play you CD’s of himself playing the bazouki. Has interesting affectation of sniffing a lot and rubbing his nose as per cocaine use, generally while smoking a cigarette, but I’m pretty sure it’s only a twitch. Mostly interested in the sound of his own voice (or bazouki), what the neighbours think of him, and thwarting logical conversation to justify his own laziness and arrogance- “No, it is no good to make new sign. People will want to come to the place”. Judgemental. Doesn’t listen, prefers to speak in monologue rather than dialogue.  Occasionally I feel sorry for him for finding himself as a frustrated musician in hospitality , until the next time we have a monstrous fight. We’re civil at the moment. It will not stay like this.

Marika – Yanni’s older sister.  Mental times ten. Appears about once a week down at the beach and brings a whole new world of crazy that makes Maria seem heavenly. DOES NOT STOP TALKING, mostly critical, not a word of English (which gives me licence to say things to her knowing they won’t be understood), slightly boss eyed.  We suspect she’s still a virgin at 65. Hyper possessive over Angelo and his well being, generally to criticise me, she once tried to get a guest spot on a Greek national TV blind date show. Feel sorry for her, but is absolutely unbearable. Small minded, mad, judgemental and thinks I’m a foreign cliché incapable wife without asking me anything ever about myself or my life (as per yannis and maria largely).

Ok, that’s the basic family. The other staff working and extras I will get to next time (part two of who’s who in the Zoo).

Started work in the mini market 2 days ago. So many stories to tell already which will be better set in context after you know the players. I will however leave you with this for now-

ME – “Maria, is this fridge working, or is it broken, or just switched off?”

MARIA (boss) – “Who knows? “


6 responses to “Who’s who in the Zoo

  1. Ha! Love that last bit of dialogue especially. What a promising start to your new job 🙂

    They do make birkenstocks with sparkles, you know. Perhaps there is room for compromise?

  2. Kate says:

    Amazing. I love it already.

  3. This is hilarious! Comedy gold & all the better for being true. Your blog promises to be the literary version of PROZAC for depressed Europe. Who needs the Euro zone when you’ve got the Looby zone? xxx

  4. Bean says:

    Ahh Summer at the Golden Beach. We are lapping it up.

  5. Sal says:

    Which minimarket is it? I can’t think of one on Glyfida with restaurant upstairs? Maybe I never noticed.

    • As you come round the corner from the hotel our place is the “Golden Beach Bar and restaurant”. From the road you can see a wee mini market, flashing goods. I am the girl sitting in the corner, if not inside, from 8 til 4 X

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