It is the summer of 1969 and it is hot, very hot! The scent of rare orchids and sweet honeysuckle permeate the air, colliding deliciously with the comforting aroma of bread baking in the courtyard ovens. And, I must not forget (God forbid) the dried olive leaves used as sacred incense by the church priest – guaranteed to bless you, smoke drama and the devil OUT.
‘Uranya’ a beautiful and wordly woman (if you believe the village murmurs) lives alone. Set on a beach overlooking the brilliant blue Mediterranean, her home is humble on the outside but the village boys are more interested by the man affirming experiences they have heard goes on inside. So, they start to save their drachmas in a rusty old tin to pay for a ‘visit’ with ‘Uranya’ and discover the mysteries of agapi.
The five boys in this story take an oath on this but there is another potential life-changing event about to take place – the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on July 20th. Now, there was a problem – no one in the village owned a TV on which to watch this historic event on. Achilleas, one of the boys and central to this story is now faced with a dilemma and decision to make that could lead to the breaking of the oath of this randy band of young brothers – spend their savings visiting ‘Uranya’ or buy a TV set – Model 19″ America make URANYA!!
I cried a little and belly laughed a lot watching this 2006 movie. Films like ‘Uranya’ make me think of my nephews and the antics boys get up to in the name of experience and exploration when they are young. It’s a coming of age story and one that impacts the families of the village as well as friendships in ways that change out of date beliefs and perceptions of ones neighbours.
For Achilleas and his friends, this was a time in their simple rural lives when nothing was in reach, yet everything was. When seeing stars and reaching for the moon was a dream, a dream made true with the heavenly love of Greek Muse of Astronomy ‘Urania’ and her village namesake.
In Greek mythology, there were nine muses: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomeni, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Urania and Calliope. Urania was the guardian of celestial objects and the heavens. Known to have founded astrology, she wore a cloak embroidered with stars and held a sphere and a bow compass.
It’s not a life I would go back to, growing up as a Greek Cypriot teenager, but I would go there one last time just to look at the magazine cuttings of George Michael on my bedroom wall. My life back then was a stifling existence without any clear window to the freedom I craved or to open so I could escape.
For many of the girls in my strict situation, there were pop stars and those pop stars meant we could escape in our minds when our feet were too paralyzed with fear to move. In fact, the only defiant and rebellious thing I ever did was to leave marks on my very on trend at the time pink and grey wallpaper after re-applying sticky tape which would lose its grip eventually and cause George to fall and hide behind my bed post!
I just wish I could have gone to the Wham! Farewell Concert, which of course, I wasn’t allowed to go to, but, I followed my gut instinct and with endeavour I can now listen to him whenever I want and wherever I want. I unbolted that double glazed window, installed cheaply by the council to find my FAITH, FREEDOM and I am in no doubt that George ‘The Singing Greek’ found his heaven.
So you think you’re ugly? Most of us do at some point in our lives and it seems age doesn’t really matter when you feel this way which is why I was guided to this video. A video which reminded me how I felt as a girl and adolescent. I could never take a compliment, could never look someone in the eye when they paid me one, didn’t believe them when they told me I was pretty and would always reply by saying, “No I’m not”.
The struggles of a Greek girl were real though! The mono-brow I wasn’t allowed to pluck and a hairy top lip, ginger in appearance after my cousins introduced me to bleaching; what a stunner!
The struggle still goes on but it is a little different. When a medical problem challenges you by changing the way you look even slightly, you have to find once more, the confidence to say ‘thank you’ after a compliment which you know deep inside to be honest and true.
I recently became the proud owner of a wonky eye, this is what I call it because I have to turn every hurdle into a joke and find that self-deprecation is my only medicine. It’s a coping mechanism which my friends and family know all too well. Luckily, I know my worth, wonky eye or no wonky eye I can still see out of it which is all that really matters and I am well past worrying about what others see when they look at me. What other people think of me is their business, not mine.