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Lindos, Rhodes: Epiphanic (©Saffon Blaze via www.mackenzie.co. CC BY 3.0)


The house looked perfect on the website. A Lindian villa built in 1929 with a vine trellis over the grey and white-pebbled courtyard, steep wooden staircases, a scattering of artful antiques. It seemed worth taking the 5 a.m. “vomit comet” (so named because the Faliraki crowd spend all night drinking at Wetherspoon’s at Gatwick before flying) to Rhodes for. My friend was coming from her home at Korinthos via the Athens boat; we arranged to meet at a bar overlooking the village. The atmosphere had everything you’d want in a Greek restaurant — HP sauce, Sky telly and a lovely lady called Brenda from Preston who made me a fried-egg sandwich. After that, Spiti X had a lot to live up to.

There was, indeed, a vine trellis, though the owners told us immediately that the grapes were on no account ready. And there were indeed steep staircases, though we were warned not to use them as they were perilous, often the case with staircases which are rotten and falling out of the wall. We pointed out that this might make it rather difficult to go to bed. We also pointed out that there was no bathroom, despite the two advertised, no bedsheets, no pillows, and no stove. At least, there was a cooker, but it was disconnected. There was, however, an embarrassment of slut’s wool draped over the antique furniture like Miss Havisham’s hairpieces and a vibrant colony of cockroaches.

“There is an electrical device,” announced the owner gravely. He brandished a small travel kettle. “No one in Greece uses a stove in summer.”

My friend asked why the house was filthy.

“It’s the 15th of August. It’s impossible to get a cleaning lady.”

“But we booked the house in June.”

I tried to appeal to the owner’s wife, who was placidly enjoying her 15th fag since our arrival.

“Smoking is not permitted,” she observed.

The owner banged the door of the pebbled courtyard. Some time later he came back and waved a handwritten contract, which he required us to sign forthwith. The contract bound us to leave the premises immediately on the grounds of our unreasonable demands. My friend desperately Googled nearby hotels, while I asked the owner if we could have our money back.

“Certainly not,” he said. “Sign here.”

His wife lit fag number 20.

We retired for a conference to the perilously-accessed bedroom, where a small miracle awaited us. On the bare mattress, conveniently located next to the lavatory which stood in the middle of the floor, was a bottle of aftershave, a used tealight, an unopened Durex and half a packet of Marlboro Lights. Mrs Owner smoked Mayfair.

“Aye aye,” said my friend.

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