In the village platia, the postman arrives in his white van. He takes a large parcel and a briefcase full of mail to the kafenion.
A dog I would like to adopt but Mr Grigg forbids it (collective boo and hiss, please) pads up to us, as we sit outside the kafenion, and poses for a photo.
But he blows his chances of a foster home by scratching for fleas on his hindquarters.
Bug-eyed cat stares as we drink our coffee.
The old man at the next table is devoid of teeth but his walking stick looks capable of giving a nasty bite. He lashes out at the dog, which takes a shine to anyone who slides a glance his way. The animal is too young to distinguish between friend and foe and gives everyone a chance. The old man's stick fails to make contact, as he knew it wouldn't, and the dog jogs on.
We have a ringside seat as the postman ambles out of the kafenion towards the mailboxes in the wall of the building opposite.
He posts the envelopes in the various slots and then goes to fetch the letters from the village's outgoing box: Christmas cards for nephews and nieces and grandchildren destined for mantelpieces all over the world.
A middle-aged man in work boots opens mailbox number 6503, tears open his one white envelope and then rips the letter up in an instant, putting the tiny pieces in the rubbish bin.
Another final demand.
The cost of electricity in Greece is going up by more than thirty per cent.
Up gets the old man with the stick. He has been walking along this street for the last week. Once again, his mailbox is empty.
The card he is expecting from the son in Australia he will never see again has still not arrived.
He has waited in vain.
Coffee finished, we walk back along the village road, barked at by dogs in gardens while the mongrel I shall call Hector, because I want to be his protector, stays sensibly a few feet away from Mr Grigg's left foot.
Then I remember I have forgotten my beret on the table outside the kafenion.
So I turn around and there is the old man in the platia, waving my hat and smiling with a toothless mouth.
‘Mera,’ he says.
I nod an acknowledgement and, just for a moment, his eyes light up.
‘Happy Christmas,’ he says in English.
That’s about it.
Love Maddie x
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