Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Everything does actually work in Greece

Though perhaps not in the way that, as a foreigner, one might expect.

Of the wines available in our local shops, there is just one that I find both consistently drinkable and reasonably priced — the 2011 or 2012  Rapsani red distributed by Tsantali. Only one shop keeps it, so I’ve been in the habit of buying a bottle a day; not, as I explained to the possibly scandalised check-out girl, because I drink a whole bottle every day, but in order to build up a stock — ‘One never knows, do one’, as Fats Waller so wisely said, and of course that applies in spades here in Greece just now.

It occurred to me it might be a good idea to buy a whole case of the stuff, so I told the check-out lady to get me one, and, because of the current restrictions on cash withdrawals, I would pay by debit card. ‘By what?’ ‘You know; the little plastic card from the bank.’ ‘Oh. Oh, no… we don’t take those… but we always have it in stock; you can carry on buying a bottle a day.’ (Actually they keep running out; all the shops here have super computer programmes for stock control, but none of them have ever bothered to work out how to use them.)

‘Sod that’, I told her, (in Greek of course), and bought my daily bottle and took it down to my favourite supermarket, owned by Mrs Papina (‘Little Duck’), which has found out about debit cards and accepts them. ‘Could you get me a whole crate of this, and I’ll pay with my plastic card?’ ‘Yes, no problem Simon,’ and they copied down the label details into the exercise book they keep for such things. Then it was just a matter of waiting. Today, two weeks later, I asked if the wine had come. ‘Well,’ I was told, ‘I think it’s the wrong one,’ and she showed me some other wine entirely. Not their fault; the wholesalers do seem to have a special gift for bringing the wrong thing. ‘But look, the wholesaler will be coming this afternoon in person to take a new order; bring an empty bottle down after five and we can show it to him.’

But at home I found I’d thrown out all the empty bottles. (We’re supposed to put them in special blue recycling bins, but someone followed the bin-emptying truck and everything goes in the same tip, so now I just give the empty bottles to the man with the mule who comes every morning to collect the rubbish — a better service than you get in England or Germany.) Would I have to take a full bottle down? How about soaking off the label from the bottle I was currently drinking? Well I tried, but evidently they now use epoxy resin or perhaps cyanoacrylate; no go.

Brainwave! I used my little digital camera to take a picture of the bottle, printed it, and took that down to the shop. ‘I suppose you’ll think I’m crazy,’ (of course they have thought so for some years), ‘But give this picture to the supplier, and we’ll see what he brings us.’ It’ll be another three weeks or so of course; we shall see.

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