Election Talk in Lipsi

I visited Lipsi in 1998, after staying on Fourni. Fourni was then (and I hope still is) a town with few, if any, tourist pretensions. Lipsi is a village with tourist pretensions.

The Flying Dolphin times were adjusted between Fourni and Lipsi to allow politicians to travel in the run up to an election. Whilst I was waiting to leave Fourni about 100 politicians arrived. I hope they gave short speeches! In Lipsi I heard loud music and went out to investigate. The political road show had arrived. In the main square there were rows of chairs and lots of people gathered. The priest sat in the front row. Loudspeakers were at the front, balanced on heaps of beer crates. I asked a couple of tourists if they knew what was happening. Yes, one of them spoke Greek. Someone was about to make an election statement. The election is on Sunday. The speeches must have started at about 7.30 and ended at 9.30. All in Greek, of course. I caught bits - freedom, schools, tourists, sea, problems of Lipsi. Cynically I thought that the speaker would make the same speech in every island he visited - with the substitution of the name of the island, of course. At the end, about 12 people were called forward - the local candidates for the speaker's party, I assume. [Note from England: later I was to read in the Athens News that 1 Greek in about 60 was standing for election that Sunday…] Every so often the politician chap's voice rose (who was he?) and the audience cheered. I could tell from his tone that he expected a cheer. There were a few hecklers but only occasionally. The biggest cheer was at the end for the local people. At times he seemed to be reciting long lists and his tone reminded me of the monotonous way a priest talks.

I was in Lipsi just before an election. The Flying Dolphin out from Fourni was delayed, apparently so that politicians could board. Something major was about to take place in the square. There were seats. I got a seat in the middle of a row. It was an election rally. The speaker had the same speech pattern as many politicians, building up to a crescendo. But what was he speaking about? In the middle of a row it was not easy to escape.

I eventually escaped. But most tavernas and all shops were closed. I had the best kitchen in my room I had ever had in a Greek room. But I was travelling light and had no essentials in. I found one taverna open at the edge of the village. I remember a not particularly pleasant moussaka cooked in an individual pot. I made a mental note to avoid one portion moussakas in future.

Store cupboard. I stayed in Lipsi during the run up to an election. One evening there was an election rally in the village square. Everyone seemed to attend. The tavernas were shut. The shops were closed. I was staying in a studio with a well-equipped kitchen, but I had no food in. Since then I always try to keep a tin of something in, so that if there is another 'Lipsi' evening I can prepare some food. A typical standby would be a tin of gigantes, like broad beans in a tomato sauce. I know the tinned variety is cheating, and any self-respecting Greek cook would start with the dried beans but…………………….

Susan Watkin