Kyriaki, the proprietor of the little bookshop cum café here in the village, recently had the idea of ‘Fairy Story Afternoons’: every Saturday at 5.30 in the afternoon, children could come to the shop with their parents and listen to fairy tales read by Kyriaki and others. Refreshments, as they say, provided, for both children and adults. She spoke to the school teachers about this, especially the teacher at the infants school, also to any parents she met. Many said ‘What a nice idea; of course we’ll come.’ She made posters and went round putting them up at the schools, the Post Office, the Town Hall, the supermarkets, the bakeries…
On Saturday afternoon she gave the shop a special clean and swapped the bar stools for lower child-friendly chairs; she put away all the ashtrays and when I turned up at 5.15 I found her outside having a crafty fag; she told me that this afternoon we must smoke (if we must smoke), outside for the children’s sake.
She had the first story prepared; she was going to tell one from the Arabian Nights. I had found — with the help of a friend in England — a good version of ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ (not the same as ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ but a specifically English — well Cornish —tale, so unlikely to be known by Greek children) and had worked out how to tell it in Greek.
Cigarettes finished we went inside for an ouzo, and waited for the first people to come. And waited. And waited. We gave up around 6.30. Not a single parent or child had bothered to turn up.