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The Lady from the British Council said sod the Greek peasants "what about the environment?"

Tom Winnifrith Sunday 4 December 2016

 

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It is too cold to stay up at the Greek Hovel so I am in my bolt hole of choice, the most excellent Pharae Palace hotel in Kalamata. It is far from packed but there is some activity as the British Council is organising exams for bubbles who have been learning English.

Over a healthy muesli breakfast, I chatted briefly to the two other people present, ladies a bit older than myself who were there to invigilate the exams. One complained that whenever the windows of her room opened she could smell olives and she did not like the smell. Hint Madam - don't come to Kalamata as you do know what it is famous for don't you?.

The obviously middle class lady, who struck me as one of life's utterly joyless Guardian readers, asked if it was an all year round smell and I assured that it was to do with the olive harvest and the processing of olives into oil which involves a lot of heat. I should say that, maybe it is because I am living the olive harvest, I cannot smell anything amiss in Kalamata. But she was insistent and suggested that it was all wrong.

I pointed out that olives were how many folks here earned enough to live. She said that that is all very well but surely they should think about the environment. Yeah peasants you go starve so that middle class ladies from Guardian la la land can open the windows of their seafront hotel rooms, thought I. But being a diplomat I said nothing..

Before she left she asked me what I was doing here? I cannot tell a lie and so with some pleasure I answered truthfully: "I am here to harvest my olives" I sense that we will not be chatting at breakfast tomorrow.

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About Tom Winnifrith
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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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