My summer working in the family business on Corfu

Whose shoes have you walked in?

on July 20, 2012

Forgive me from the outset for the sombre nature of this blog – I will say from the beginning that it is not my normal tome or of my normal tone for that matter. Read on, only if you want, at that note. Be warned.

Something terrible happened down here at our place on the beach of Corfu the other day, and I am almost reticent to tell you about it, but I feel I must, as this is part of the history to be of this summer of mine in the mini market with my Greek family. Sometimes perhaps, things happen almost to slap you with a sense of perspective, just when you are feeling the lack of that.

I write about my life here, the trials and tribulations, the struggles and the absurdity. I try to laugh as much as I can to get through, and to find commonality with others to recognize how exactly I got to this point, find the joy in it, and an expression of the frustrating, to an extent. There is so much more to go, so please don’t think all blogs will be like this one.

First I feel I must re-establish the scene.

At our place there is the mini market, with me and stressed Emilia. The restaurant next to us is run by my somewhat mad OCD mother in law Maria, with oppressed, gruff, but very bright and witty Magda as cook (she’s not allowed to cook what she wants), and extremely compliant Nicky as the smiling, put upon general dogs body (yes, Mrs Maria, I will sweep the road, yes). There is also now Costas, the waiter in the restaurant (somewhat opinionated, but very good at his job). The bar down on the beach is run by my too much hard working partner Jimmy (that’s almost a criticism) and his brother Prokopis (lovely chap, more easy going) and staff Anna on tables (tells it like it is), Crisanthi on sandwiches (highly efficient, occasional tantrums), and now Dimby on drinks (friendly, been there for years, apparently bit lazy, I don’t see it). Ooh I forgot, my father in law, Yannis, sweet man, (read previous blogs for up date).

But people, we also have three small rooms for people to stay in. They are simple and clean, overlooking the beach. They have balconies. I am extremely fond of them. The first winter Jimmy and I were together five years ago, we made them a small house and stayed there. Our son Angelo was conceived in the middle one (too much information, I know, but sentimentality must….).

The other day Jimmy and I arrived at work to see police cars in the car park. That morning I had said to Jimmy,

“Please not today, there’s something about today, every day is hard, but today, not today, there’s something bad and I can’t go.” I have no idea why I said this, or what reflection it has on what I will tell you now.

A man had committed suicide from one of the rooms, the middle one in fact, and had hanged himself from the balcony. As we arrived, the police everywhere, his body was still there hanging, and had been all night. I didn’t see it, didn’t want to, but many did and had, and were around, and there was much commotion and shock. No-one had noticed til the early hours.

The facts are still minimal. He had arrived the night before, asked for a room later in the evening, just for the night, and that’s it. We found out he was English, about 45, possible family. Of course some minor details emerged, but I won’t tell them here out of respect, suffice to say it’s all still very much a mystery.

We don’t know why, or how, or why here, what was the history, or the effect it might have. I can only speak for us. It was a dramatic death, and visually too. And that perhaps, is all I can say about it factually.

We are in shock. We are not a big place, we are a small establishment with a family history going back decades of memory, but small. For me, there are so many questions. But no judgment without knowledge.

I would like to add at this point, that when I told someone very close to me on the phone (who has stayed here) that this had happened, and was clearly in shock, he replied after a great pause….

“But Maria’s cooking is not that bad.”

And, as per any tragic but questionable situation, after a couple of days, I’ve started to join in….

“He was a perfectly happy chap, then came down to the beach, had a meal in the restaurant, a chat with Yannis about life, saw the furniture and …. “.


I am thinking about putting some flowers in the room tomorrow, and on that balcony. At the risk of sounding like an old hippy, I think it can only be cleaned by love.

At this point I will leave with only this….

“Never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”.


4 responses to “Whose shoes have you walked in?

  1. kate martin says:

    How very very sad for you all. I think the flowers would be a nice gesture.

  2. Natalie says:

    Your experience this week has coencided with a similar experience within my extended family only yesterday. In addition, my sister was a little too close for comfort to another on her way to work this morning.
    Thanks for your words, I needed to hear them to help me understand. I love hippy sentiments, flowers, love and conception are wonderful sources of healing.
    Thank you again, sending you warm thoughts.

  3. anna says:

    Very very sad indeed – we do not know what is behind smiles of strangers. May he rest in peace, and give those flowers as a beautiful memory.

  4. We put flowers, my mother in law and I – a lot of them. I stood on the balcony where he was and breathed him in and out, deeply. And one day soon, I will sleep in that room for a siesta, and promise him that no matter what took him to that point, that there is love in the world. Hippy me XX

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