A figure from the past

Recently I came upon an article about the ”pizzardone”, as traffic policemen in Rome are known (due to the shape of their helmets, nothing to do with pizza!) They elegantly direct traffic while perched on a pedestal in central spots, such as the Piazza Venezia.

This brought back amusing memories, since we also used to have traffic policemen in Greece, at most major crossroads in the cities. In the very beginning they stood in the road, which must have been terrifying, given Greek driving habits. Then they were put on a dais, which eventually evolved into the cylindrical so-called ‘Barrel’.

They were a respected presence in their area, in their white gloves and white diagonal sash; some even acquired a measure of fame, like Mr. Nikos Kostakis, who for many years was a cult figure on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue. He was known for his impeccable manners, stern but unfailingly polite approach and perfect control of the flow of traffic. Impervious to weather conditions, in later years he was offered a desk job, but declined, preferring the outdoors and his daily contact with the public.

Mr. Kostakis, known as ‘the man with the moustache’

Later came the tradition of gifts deposited around the barrels by an appreciative public at Christmas and Easter. This tradition was inadvertently started in 1936 by the king, King George II, who stopped his car in front of the palace to wish the traffic policeman a Happy Christmas and left a gift of wine. This was copied by the public and became a custom. People gave what they could, sometimes just sacks of potatoes and baskets of eggs.

 

Bad photo, but I couldn’t resist the live turkeys!

Along with wine there were seasonal sweets such as kourabiedes, and toys for the policeman’s kids. As the years went by and Greeks became more affluent, the gifts became more valuable. Local shops joined in and donated household goods such as mattresses, boilers, or even refrigerators! The gifts would be taken to the police station and balloted out to all.

Photo Dimitris Harisiadis (from the Benaki Museum Archives)

 

This is all history, but I remember well our own barrel, and my mother wrapping a crate of wine in red crepe paper with a big bow. Like everyone else, we’d stop the car right in the middle of the junction, and she’d get out to deposit the crate at the base of the barrel, and wish the man on duty a Happy Christmas or Easter.

 

Most hilarious, though, was that at Easter the police saw fit to turn the barrel into a giant Easter egg, from which the poor man would emerge like a newly hatched chick.

 

So sad all this has been replaced with mere traffic lights.

 

And the winner is…

While I was slightly underwhelmed by the response to my limerick challenge, some people did rise to the occasion so, true to my promise, I made some illustrations to go with their creations.

From Bruce Goodman at Weave a Web

This lady was convulsed in a rage:
There was not enough room on the page.
They asked her address,
She made a big mess,
And said, It’s not my fault I come from Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu.

(This is the name of a place in New Zealand).

 



From Tialys(Tialys)

There was an old lady of Dorset
Who struggled to put on her corset
She turned to her maid
Who was bold, not afraid,
‘Don’t worry’ she said ‘we’ll just force it.’



From Anna:

There once was a handsome young lad
Who hated the limerick fad
But he did send his own
A few words just randomly thrown 
To be told, oh so sad
That there wasn’t a prize to be had

 




Two from Eleni, who for some reason seems to be obsessed with hair!


Cat hair cat hair everywhere
‘It’s just too much’, I despair
I try to ignore it
But truly abhor it
It’s even on my underwear!




So here we all are, in quarantine
Thanks to this treacherous Covid -19
By the time this is all over
I’ll be a human pullover
Please don’t mistake me for Wolverine


From Goeff Le Pard at TanGental who couldn’t be bothered to write his own, but sent some by his father (who, by the way, has written some proper, lovely poems in his time)

(based on a sculpture of a writer in my garden)


A poet cast in concrete
Said, ‘I don’t wish to be indiscreet’
‘But it’s a bit of a sod,’
‘Stood here on my tod’
‘While your dog pees on my feet.’



(or his most tasteless)


Nose pickings’ said Mrs McGraw,
‘Have many uses, I’m sure’
‘For instance, by rolling
‘And folding and carefully molding’
‘You can make condoms, cheap, for the poor’.

(and then there is his non rhymer)

There was a young lady from Bude
Who went for a swim in the … lake
A man in a punt,
Stuck a pole in her… ear
And said, ‘You cant swim here, it’s private’.


Goeff apologises to readers who might think these a little tacky. I love the last one, but wasn’t about to make a drawing for the second one…

And one from me (continuing with my boot peeve theme)

There was a young man from Beirut
Who struggled to take off his boot
His sweetheart then said
Oh please, come to bed!
But he couldn’t untangle his foot



Heartfelt thanks to all contributors. 
All this was meant for a bit of fun, but do you think there is a winner? Up to you to decide!

Being Naomi Campbell

As we slowly emerge into the world, blinking behind our masks and washing our hands every 17 1/2 minutes, one aspect of life remains, and looks likely to remain, problematic: air travel.
Fantastic, I hear some of you say—it’s a chance to reduce people’s carbon footprints immeasurably and, as such, it can only be a good thing. Undoubtedly, but there still remains the small matter of needing to visit farflung family, wanting to see a little more of the world before we croak, and, dare I say it, having the occasional “vacation”. However, the dangers of recycled air, germs clinging nefariously to every surface, and the impossibility of observing the 2-meter distancing rule makes every flight an obstacle course.

But fear not, Naomi Campbell has already shown us the way. For those of you who’ve been on Mars or somewhere, Naomi Campbell is A Supermodel. A Germophobic Supermodel. She was already photographed years ago, clad in a mask and rubber gloves and thoroughly disinfecting every surface around her seat. Very prescient of her.



Nowadays she travels wearing a full hazmat suit, rendering her totally impervious to nefariously clinging germs of every kind. In case anyone’s wondering, she bought it from Amazon; but I looked, and they’re currently unavailable. However, I’m sure they can be sourced somewhere, making us safe from the above-mentioned germs—and incidentally also ready to assist forensics with any crime happening inflight, from suspicious deaths to thefts of passengers’ packed lunches.

Yes, it is true that no food will be served on flights anymore, perhaps another good thing all around, given the quality of the meals. However, being a dab hand at assembling the most delicious little sandwiches made of crustless, thinly sliced sourdough and delectable fillings (one of my multiple culinary skills, I might add), I can totally understand someone wanting to swap them with their own hastily assembled white-bread-and-processed-cheese+a bag of crisps. But I digress, because we are not to be allowed to use the toilets either (did I mention germs?), thus depriving our seat neighbors of theft opportunities. Anyway, how can one use an airplane toilet while wearing a hazmat suit?



And, while we’re still on the subject of the suits, what about going through security? We already had to almost get naked, having to discard jackets, cardigans, belts and boots. Taking off the whole suit? A nightmare!

To go back to the 2-meter rule, it is impossible to enforce in the air, because planes would have to fly with 6 passengers max per flight. So I foresee we will still be packed like sardines in economy, but in our own individual plexiglass compartment, breathing through those little orange dropdown oxygen masks.


All I can say is, Happy Landings!

 

Photos from Google