The World According to Yorgus Nuttpud

Location: Cumbria, United Kingdom

Retired gentleman of this parish

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Lizard Men of Crete

This is something I wrote some time ago in a forum where there was a discussion about the war in Crete. War has many repercussion but this is a strange one, particularly as I experienced it myself

With regard to the war on Crete, my son and I vacationed on the south coast of Crete in 1995 in a village called Lautro. The coastline is extremely rugged there with mountains descending almost directly into the sea. About 5 km east of Lautro, as I remember, there was a narrow strip of stony beach at the foot of some cliffs. As is the case for many locations on that coast, there were no roads, and the only access was by boat (in our case, by canoe) or treacherous footpaths along the mountainsides.As my son and I approached this beach in our canoes I initially thought it was deserted, but then I became aware that there were, in places, men lying on the rocks. There were, in total, about half a dozen of them, each weathered to a dark brown colour and sinewy slender in build. Although muscular, they were all obviously elderly. Some were entirely naked and those that weren't, wore only the briefest of loin cloths. There was no form of shelter evident. These men made no acknowledgement of our arrival but merely continued basking on the rocks. There was no conversation, and somewhat unnerved, my son and I cast off once again in short order.We obviously made enquiries off the locals on our return to the village and were told that these were "The Lizard Men", and that they were Germans who had come to Crete during the war and had remained . They lived on that beach without shelter and with very meagre food supplies contracted from locals, We subsequently learned that, in fact, they did not remain on that shore during the winter months but disappeared off somewhere, some said to a hostel of some kind in Athens.They did not encourage visitors to their beach and kept contact with the locals to a minimum. Initially there had been a greater number of them but natural wastage had taken their toll.Some days later I was once again canoeing along the shoreline, this time alone, and put into the Lizard Mens' beach to gain some shelter from the midday sun. I sat beside my canoe for more than hour without any contact being made but, eventually, one of these chaps emerged from the sea close to me. He was having difficulty walking across the stones of the beach which were like hotplates under the sun. I remember droplets of water cascading from him and hissing as they hit the stony ground. (I am not widely travelled but have experienced various parts of India and North Africa -- I have never known heat like it was that June in Crete).Having noticed his sandals some distance away along the beach I ran to retrieve them and placed them at his feet, receiving a grunt of acknowledgment. I returned to the shelter of my partially upturned canoe where this chap subsequently came and squatted beside me.Conversation was laborious. My German is non existant and his English was poor, but, mainly, it seemed he was unused to the act of speech. He mistook me initially for a German and was surprised on learning otherwise. For some reason he is not alone in this misconception. I am always being takenfor a German on my travels - a blonde wife and children aided me in this deception for many years - particularly when in Greece.Despite these problems, I managed to glean something of the nature of the Lizard Men over the next half hour. They had all been Luftwaffe, and I assume from his story, all pilots, who had come to Crete with the invasion. Most had a very happy time on the island and formed very happy relationships with the locals. When I expressed surprise at this version of things, my informant was at pains to point out that, while terrible things happened in war, they happened to a minority of participants (particularly to surviving participants, I suppose, when you think about it). For these men, their stay on Crete during the war was a happy one and, perhaps for some, represented the happiest months of their lives.After the war, these men were all recruited by an airline - and my memory has it as being QUANTAS. They served as airline pilots for two decades but then, sometime in the sixties, were all dismissed. I did not learn why but I wonder if this was a time of changeover from prop to jet power. These men had taken up their existance on that beach at that time and had pursued it since. Initially there were about twenty to thirty of them and what I saw were the survivors. I did not gain an explanation as to what drove them to such a Spartan lifestyle. I suppose it's possible that, in those days, they received no financial consideration from the airline. Their skills were outmoded and their ages against them.Despite my Lizard Man's age, lack of clothing, and the bizarre circumstance of our meeting, I was left with a lasting impression of great personal dignity and an inner peace or, perhaps, that was just some kind of resignation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Right Knee

My right knee has disintegrated again! Three days ago. I wasn't doing very much; just attaching the canopy to the sun-lounger while chatting to my friend Jim who was standing at the garden gate. If it had happened the previous day I would have been less surprised. I had been cutting grass and strimming for several hours, clearing the little footbridge near the house which gets so overgrown. But, no, it just happened as I was shuffling sideways around the lawn, laughing and joking with Jim. A sudden pain on the inside of the joint and a sensation of something exploding up into the muscles in the front of my right thigh.
Ah, dear reader, (are there any?) I sense your surprise. How can this be, you ask (well, you might not ask, I suppose, but I'm going to tell you anyway - that's the price you pay for reading these things!) You see, I have had the inside compartment of my right knee replaced twice now. The first time being just over two years ago and, the second, almost exactly one year later. It exploded then, and, I suppose because it was the first time anything had exploded inside my right leg, it was very much more painful on that first occasion.
Ok, I see I'm going to have explain this in more depth. There are three components to the device my friendly orthopaedic surgeon first implanted into me knee two years ago. One upper metal component which is attached to the bottom surface of my right humerus, another metal component attached to the upper surface of my tibia, and between them, a free floating plastic bearing. What has gone wrong, on two occasions now, is that the upper component becomes loose, things get out of alignment, and the plastic bearing is popped out of the joint like a tiddly-wink. It has nowhere to go except up into the muscles on the front of my thigh, at a rapid rate of knots!
The result ------ pain (tho' far less on this second occasion) and an inability to put weight on that leg. Now I have to wait until my consultant friend can operate once again. and that might be some time as he is presently incapacitated through injury. This time he will replace the whole joint and there will be far less risk of subsequent failure.
Thus I am left, for the time being, just able to hobble a few steps at a time with the help of a stick. Rather frustrating, as I was enjoying this beautiful summer, the first of my retirement, but there it is!

The First

For my first entry I copy something I wrote last week , the day after terrible bombings in London. The tone will lighten after that, I hope.

We were expecting yesterday. We have been expecting it for several years now. We suspect it is not over and there is more to come.That expectation does not make it any easier to know that there are so many lives devastated by injury and loss this morning. That expectation did mean that our police and emergency services were ready for the moment. Lives have been saved that would have been lost, and injuries made less because of their actions. However, the fact remains. That expectation has not helped to make today any easier to bear, as we count the cost.

What does make it easier, and gives us strength, are the expressions of sympathy and support received from our friends abroad, Thank you all, it means more than we can express.

Personally, I feel no hatred against the actual perpetrators. Men, probably young, who have been misled by manipulative leaders to behave in this way, and led to believe that this was an answer to the deprivations of their people. It is the manipulative old men, who use religion to their own ends, and who send their young to their deaths so callously for whom I reserve my hatred and scorn.

We cannot pretend we are not wounded and suffering, but it is a suffering that will only strengthen our fortitude to defeat this evil which stalks us. In some ways, it is an evil we have brought upon ourselves, but that makes it no less evil. It will not prevail.