Athens with the clowns: The arrival

The trip to the airport, an uneventful affair, pre-empted by my persistent habit of leaving my packing to the last minute, but with the joy on my wife and dog beside me, half an hour in the car and we arrived at Terminal 5.

My first time there, my maiden voyage out of the terminal if you would. So I was overjoyed when, with ice on the ground outside, the music in the airport was from the film Titanic and gate announcer’s accent was clearly from Belfast. I bid farewell to friends over Facebook…

An easy enough journey, the only item lost overboard was my tablet; it disappeared into that pocket of kneeheight literature, forgotten for some future passenger, taking advantage of turbulence to return their overpriced M&S airline sandwich to a provided paper recepticle, to instead find and marvel at the ancient technology of 2015.

Our apartment is comfortable, fairly central Athens, warm enough against the Greek winter, and with the essentials of being unfindable by the taxi driver. And then to supper, a short walk toward the Acrópolis, the first place we could find with people, food, and indoor cigarette smoke. One forgets what a wonderful condiment to food is that taste of other people’s barbecued tobacco…

That was Saturday. Sunday, we spent the day creating and rehearsing our show. A day of silliness and laughter amongst each other. A day to be children ourselves and laugh at things that make no sense or sense only in the most oblique ways. And faces masked by noses of red.

I was chuffed with my outfit, a bright yellow, PVC, scaffolder’s boilersuit. PVC. That most breathable of materials. I mean, it says it’s breathable. But, unless you count the zip or holes for my hands feet and head as breathable, that is a lie. I am sure I resemble an unsafe safety kettle, easy to avoid on a dark night, and with steam emerging from all extremities.

The pink, flowery scarf around my middle adds no further heat, but my conical, multicoloured, Morocan hat of thick felt makes this an outfit perfect for very specific weather only. And what that weather might be is anyone’s guess. (I inherited the hat from my mother when she discovered the moths had chosen it as their first assault on the house. The holes are good for sticking flowers in I am discovering.)

Ten hours later (with a break for an outdoor lunch – the sun was shining, we can handle the cold), and our show looked shapely. We are getting there.

Yesterday was then our first day, our first shows, and my own first experience of a refugee camp. The first camp we went to was still in relatively central Athens, but before we even reached it, it felt like we were in a down and out area, with warehouses filled with scrap metal, dirt roads, and even more grafitti than you see in the nicer parts of the city…

We parked up, went into the camp, got the lie of the land.

To be continued…

Clowns Without Borders’ website

and if you want to join in too, the CWB Virgin Money Giving page, click here


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