Monday, 26 January 2009
Suffled how it Gush by Katerin Xhonson
I know I'm lucky being a writer. Apart from the hours - John Dougherty mentioned this the other day - and the working conditions and the joy when you get a story or even a sentence just right, I am so lucky because right now, while you're reading this, I am in Athens. Thank you lovely British Council. I am writing this before I go so I hope it goes well, and since I don't have any Greek anecdotes yet I will share some from my previous British Council trip four years ago, to Tirana, Albania.
It was fabulous. I was leading sparky and scarily fluent in English Albanian school students in a week of writing workshops. They were all brilliant of course, and inspiring and Tirana was amazing. Post Communist craziness, car drivers who had never had to take driving tests, fantastic soviet era state museums, huge and empty of people, filled with beautiful, breathtaking artefacts, but with wild dogs living in burrows in the grounds.
The Albanian mineral water was fabulous too - the English translation on the bottle read
'Suffled how it gush from the woods of Tepelene...'
The best thing though was being on Albanian national breakfast time TV.
The studio was in quite an up market part of town, near the embassies. Upstairs, the TV studios were frozen in time - I recognised the edit suites as ones I'd used in the early 80s. There was the breakfast TV set up familiar to all, a brightly coloured sofa and an orange skinned presenter. I sat on the sofa, ready to nod and smile - the British Council Librarian Aida, would do all the talking.
Out of shot on the over side of the studio in a mess of duct and cables two very young girls in leopard and tiger print jeans and tight t shirts sat on tall stools chewing gum the embodiment of bored teenager. I wondered what they were doing there.
I was introduced, I had my name in Albanian across the screen Katerin Xhonson, and I nodded and smiled. I didn't knock anything over or make a fool of myself. When my piece was over the camera swung round to the two chewing girls who had suddenly produced violins and began playing completely beautifully. The credits rolled.
They did the music.