At first sight and sound Greek didn’t seem to me to be a pretty language. It doesn’t sound gentle but that’s partly because much of the time Greeks are shouting. I don’t think they know they’re shouting, they just think they’re talking but all the other people they’re with are talking too so they need to speak more loudly. Surely, they think, that’s obvious. During our trip to find an apartment I became so frustrated with the inability of the rental agents to answer any of my questions that I shouted at them and then later apologised profusely for having shouted. They looked puzzled: ‘But you didn’t shout,’ one said, so I reminded them of my moment of yelling and they laughed and assured me that that wasn’t shouting by any stretch of the imagination.
The written language, particularly the capital letters, can look sharp and angular. Sort of all elbows and pointing: Δ Γ Π Λ ΞΣ. But then once I became more used to the different script I could see the rounder forms: Φ θ ω ς. One of my favourite streets is very close to me – Στροφιλιου – Strofiliou. I like how it’s written and how it sounds but it’s also a remarkably beautiful street with old villas and shady trees. It runs all the way from Kifissia to the next suburb, Nea Erythrea, meandering around various ways and cutting across Χαριλου Τρικουπι, the main road which divides the two suburbs. Sadly, the beautiful old street sign has been vandalised.