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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Greek Islands: Garbage Collection, 1960; George Johnston, Hydra






They seem to have got their priorities right on the island of Hydra in the late 1950's and early 60's.

I've just read George Johnston's opening line of "Closer to the Sun":

"The most important man on the island of Silenos was Dionysios, the public garbage collector".

Johnston goes on: "The garbage man...was important every day of the year to one section of the town or another. For without his high-wheeled cart and his string of basket-burdened donkeys, and, most important of all, his goodwill, how was the rubbish of the town to be carted away in conformity with the proclaimed and printed order of Lieutenant Fotis, the police commandant, that streets, walls, and courtyards should be kept clean and all houses in a state of reputable whitewash?"

At the end of the novel, we discover where all the garbage went...into the sea:

"The Twelve Apostles made the last turn around the buoy, and its bow was lifting and falling now in a slow, graceful dance to the run of the clear gulf seas...the wake of the boat had come in and slapped quick waves around the base of the rock chute, where Dionysios had been emptying the garbage down from the high houses in the pannier-baskets of his donkeys."



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