Apr 5, 2007

Today my paycheck arrived from writing the Thomas Cook Greek Phraseguide last autumn.

No, I don't speak that language with any nuance. But I can order ouzo and tiropita: vocab enough, apparently.

At £3.99, this slender-yet-elegant volume is about as cheap as a pint.

Beer goggles can't help you like Thomas Cook can...

  • Evil eye
    Don't praise anything excessively; some Greeks believe this could draw evil spirits. Superstitious types spit or say “ftou, ftou, ftou”. Cobalt charms, usually a flat staring eye, ward away the bad luck.

  • Greek blues
    Rembetika is a wildly popular mix of underworld ballads and Turkish orchestrations that developed in the 1920s hash dens of Piraeus. Stoa Athanaton hosts two performances daily in Athen's Central Market.

  • No bottoms up
    Draining your wine glass is gauche. A considerate host refills smoothly, long before you scrape bottom. Light drinkers should mix in water – or leave the glass over half full to show they're done.

  • Mob mentality
    Strikes and demonstrations frequently choke Athens' centre. Avoid getting swept up in these marches, which sometimes end with a rain of Molotov cocktails on the American Embassy.

Unfortunately, the Phraseguide doesn't reveal critical info, like how to survive an 8.5-year relationship tanking in Athens.

For top tips on Big Fat Greek divorce, turn to Greece, A Love Story (delicious irony, I know), forthcoming from Seal Press any freakin' day now.


  1. Congratulations on your long-awaited payday! Maybe the reason they haven't sent you any author copies is because it's selling so well, they don't have any left. Maybe.