Like all Plakias adventures I went into this one with a clear knowledge of the abject brutality my liver would have to suffer during 4 weeks of fried red meat, shots of raki and more lager drunk in one day than I'd normally have in a week back home. I'd tried to condition myself by not going to the gym for 2 weeks before the hols began and trying to have at least 3 pints every other night down the ever reliable Murphy's bar where the Guinness is a good way to lay cement foundations in my stomach.
Got to Gatwick at 2am to find that the lightning storm I'd thought of as so very pretty and cool on the way down, was in fact a right bastard as a wayward bolt had hit South terminal and shorted out the power to the luggage conveyor belts. We stood in a long, snaking line of boredom until I realised that the “SB” on my boarding pass meant I had the right to bypass anyone else except people before me who also had “SB”. These magic letters mean Speedy Boarding and effectively puts value air flight into two categories: Pauper Class and Economy Class with Pretensions Class. Not only did we get to get on the flight before the Great Unwashed but we also got to join a MUCH smaller queue in order to check in our bags.
The reason that this is Economy Class with Pretensions Class is that the seats on an Easyjet flight are so fucking small that you almost feel it's like having a pre-birthing experience. Crammed in next to two old folk I didn't know, it was as close to the foetal position as I ever want to come.
An hour before the flight was to land in Crete the pilot cheerily announced over the intercom that, due to the lightning storm that had wiped out the luggage handling, only 60% of the hold bags had actually made it onto the flight. He then added that it was for our own good because if we'd waited for it then it would have taken about 3 hours for the flight to get airborne. He then just as cheerfully told us that our bags (if we were in the unlucky 4/10) would be sent via courier to our hotel or a destination of our choice. Old woman next to me then decided to be decidedly English with the stewardess and had a good old moan (albeit in a decidedly polite manner) about how it was just not on that we'd only been told just now about the luggage lottery. The second time she politely pointed out the dashed unfairness of this unsatisfactory piece of information being relayed at an unsatisfactory moment, I interrupted to ask her what it would have achieved if we'd been told BEFORE we took off, when it would have achieved nothing except major squabbling and people wanting a stand up argument with staff who had no power to solve the situation. She conceded the point but tutted something about how it really wasn't on.
Miserable old bitch
Got to Crete and my mate was bang on time to pick me up. Stopped off after the 2 hour journey to Plakias to get a load of beer. I'd promised my Dad that I'd take him and my brother out for dinner when I got there but both needed to remain sober so this could happen. True to form Dad was spark out on his bed snoring loudly and my brother about to turn in for a siesta when we rocked up with the carrier bags clinking full of ice cold Mythos lager. I decided to let them sleep off the afternoon's vodka tonics and raki shots and got the key for my bit of the house.
My old man lives in an apartment in a big house owned by his landlord. The flat he inhabits is one large bedroom, 2 bathrooms and a big kitchen and lounge. The landlord has a slightly smaller apartment round the front and next to that is a studio flat with a bathroom. He generously allowed me to stay there rent free for about 10 days until his son came over from the USA. His only request was that I get him a large packet of Golden Virginia rolling tobacco as a gift. Problem had been that when I walked up with a big smile to the cashier at the duty free shop, it turned out that Europeans travelling within Europe can't buy tobacco due to the tax. I offered to actually pay the tax but it turns out it's completely off limits unless you go beyond range of the Euro dollar. I had instead purchased a very expensive bottle of whiskey as a subsitute but the landlord said brightly:
“I don't drink. Why didn't you just pay the tax?”
After my explanation he said it didn't matter and with a £40 bottle of malt still in my bag, I sank a few cold ones on the balcony while I waited for my family to wake up again.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a hot country is something that requires either the stamina of a special forces soldier, patience or a fuck of a lot of practice. I had 4 bottles of rather mundane lager and next thing I knew woke up face down on dad's balcony to find my brother stood over me, giggling and poking me with his foot, going “wake up poof! Dearie me, what a lightweight!”
We headed back to Joe's Bar and my fairy-esque blackout was then wiped away after a lot more beer and a lot more shots.
Hangover next morning was straight from Satan's bum hole. Stayed in till about 2pm swearing at the sunlight and only getting up to piss or drink water. This was the first of about 4 days in the month I was there where I wasted most of a day lying in bed and wishing I would dissolve into the mattress. Latest wake up was 7.30pm. I long ago gave up trying to emulate my father's drinking ability. He's lived in Plakias for about 18 years and not only sinks about 4 vodka tonics and 4 shots every lunch time but also goes back and has about 5 vodka tonics and about 6 shots every evening. He has one session on Saturday off and doesn't go out at all on Sundays, to allow his liver a breather. Only explanation we have been able to come up with to explain this phenomenon of alcohol endurance in a 78 year old man is that he became a kind of Raki Hulk after his tenure in the RAF in the 1950s.
He was in the RAF and was present on Christmas Island during the testing of the H-bombs. He tells some vivid stories of sitting in a boat facing AWAY from ground zero with his helmet over his face and his hands over his helmet and STILL being able to see the blast turn the world orange. After about 20 minutes an officer said “you may now turn to look at the blast” and the iconic mushroom was there in all its lethal beauty. A plane had then flown through the stalk of the mushroom to take photos. Both the pilot and the photographer died of cancer within 2 years.
Dad has never suffered any ill effects from all this and while colleagues and acquaintaces have died over the years, he just seems to get stronger with no sign of slowing down. He never gets hangovers and knows when he's had enough, paying the barmaid, having one last shot of raki or Tequila and then going home to bed. Only theory I can reasonably come up with to explain this immunity to the effects of what is basically enough alcohol to put me in hospital for a couple of days...is that he was the inspiration for Bruce Banner.
So I do my own thing now when it comes to heavy drinking in Plakias. A few drinks in Joe's, ponse a few cigarettes (if I've forgotten to buy my own, preferably menthol) and then make my way to Ostraco or Smirna for a late bevvy. Problem with Smirna is that the inside of the bar is dark and you can quite easily be supping till about 7am and only realise that God is hunting you with his flashlight when you turn around to find the sun has come up and some people are heading off to work.