Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Spent the weekend in Athens (proving that occasionally I do live one of those "beautiful people" Wallpaper existences that the media like to pretend everyone but you is living). Did a tour of three Greek islands, Porous, Hydra and another one that I can't remember or pronounce. It all sounded quite glam, but in theory it involved sitting for most of the day on white plastic garden furniture on a noisy boat as it ferried us from one island to the next. And as we only had a small amount of time in each, there wasn't much to do but buy tourist tat (which I refuse), sit in a seafront cafe laughing at the fashion choices of the other people on the cruise or assiduously put on more sun-tan lotion.

Judging from the number of bored, attractive young men in tight t-shirts hanging around by the road opposite my hotel, I decided that we were staying in Athens' Gay Red Light District, although there was no real evidence to support this. Still, Athens seems to have a lot of men in tight t-shirts hanging around, where-ever you go, so maybe the whole place is a Gay Red Light District. Other notable differences - nobody bothered to queue at the airport in the "queue for a taxi" line. There were no seatbelts in the back of the taxi and the driver was a maniac who lit a cigarette in the taxi and smelled of alcohol. It was like the 1970s all over again. There was a lot of building work going on - Athens is in a permanent state of make-over, like a Trisha show that lasts forever! Chips are freely available in all restaurants. Which gets my vote. Scrawny cats are also available in restaurants - not to eat, but slinking around, begging. The first time it happened it was cute and I enjoyed feeding bits of food to it. But by the fourth time it was just annoying, especially as none of them were neutered.

At the airport, there were signs everywhere telling you what to do if you were displaying signs of SARS. As I was in the midst of hayfever, I was terrified that people would think I had SARS, so I spent a lot of time trying to sneak-sneeze while no-one was looking. However, I seemed to be the only one who bothered. Everyone else was hacking up phlegm all over the place like it was a contest. There were also signs at the airport telling you to claim asylym NOW or else face the consequences at a later date.

I also like European holidays because of all the Euro Pop that you hear. Unfortunately, British pop is making in-roads, and I kept hearing Girls Aloud on every street corner. Not their latest song, but the old one. Just as well, as the latest Girls Aloud single sums up every single thing about teenagers that makes you want to go "Bless!" (a word I use here for the first and last time). "I don't need no good advice," the girls trill as one. Well, apart from needing advice about when it's appropriate to use double negatives.

As for the mocking line "Daddy told me look into the future / Sit at your computer, be a good girl" - I'm not even going to try and deconstruct it. They might as well sing "Be a pop star, be famous, don't take your GCSEs. Clever isn't cool. Hard working sucks. Transient fame is the only thing that matters." If there's anyone who really could do with good advice, it's teenagers. However, the irony of advice is that it is frequently pointless - those who listen to it rarely need it, and those who need it rarely listen. So I celebrate Girls ALoud and their silliness while their star shines.

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