Barry and Gary

We once had a cat called Malcolm whose specialty was meeting and greeting. Whenever people came to the house, he would always greet them at the door saying “How lovely to see you again. Do come this way” and escort them into the house. He often sat on the pillars next to the garden gate and greeted people in the street. We were never surprised to see total strangers giving him a cuddle. He was a real people-cat. At our hotel in Greece, we have 2 cats to entertain us. Barry is a ginger tom with very large accoutrements and lies on the floor in a position I have never seen another cat adopt before.

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Barry is a little aloof but enjoys being fed at meal times. He circulates around the outdoor tables and graciously accepts scraps from us. He is definitely an alpha cat. One morning, he doesn’t appear and instead we are entertained by Gary, another ginger tom but much younger and kittenish. Gary is cheeky and likes to be cuddled. He appears desperate for food and also has a mad five minutes occasionally which see him scooting up the olive trees and then dangling precariously from its branches. He is adept at stealing food. A dropped sausage is like manna to him and he is there, quick as lightning, to pilfer it. He uses his cute looks to climb onto chairs so he will be at food height, always open to the lure of an unattended plate. At night, he can be heard sometimes shouting to be let in but nobody does. Hotel cats in Greece live a different life to house cats in the UK.

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On a Friday morning, we catch the bus to Rhodes Town. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and it is another beautiful day. The bus is packed with people who all have similar ideas to our own – to wander around the town and have lunch although we have an additional purpose. My mother died at the beginning of September and we had to decide whether to continue with our long-planned holiday or cancel. It’s a delicate decision but we decide, on balance, that we will continue with our holiday plans and so on this, the day of her funeral, we find somewhere nice to sit and reflect. Near the gate to the port are the ruins of a mediaeval church and at the same time the funeral is happening in England, I sit quietly in the sun. Afterwards, we take a walk through the gate to look at the ships and huge liners in the bay. We get another surprise. There is an elderly gentleman, naked but for a carrier bag belted to his waist, rolling about in the shallows at the edge of the sea. I have not seen such attire since our friend, LK, devised a pair of carrier bag pants for sitting on garden furniture after a shower of rain. But I digress. We sneak forward to investigate further on the pretext of looking at some of the ships. By the sea wall there is a bag with clothes in it and I realise he is probably just having a bath in the sea. Perhaps he is homeless and has no other option. We see a lot of young children begging which we haven’t noticed on previous trips to Greece.

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At our hotel, the receptionist tells us there is 30% unemployment in Greece at the present time and that seasonal workers can no longer claim any kind of benefit to help them once the season finishes. It sounds a very tough way to live and makes it more likely that the gentleman taking the alfresco bath was not doing so out of pleasure.

We arrive back at the hotel to see an impromptu juggling exhibition by Barry who has caught a mouse and is busy seeing how high he can throw it and still catch it. About 3 feet, Barry, about 3 feet. Well done.

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