I have always been a bit of a stickler for punctuality. It is one of the things I have inherited from my mother (nurture not nature; I don’t suppose there is a punctuality gene). She would always want to be at anything with a declared start time with plenty of time to spare, and would declare that she was quite happy to “sit and wait”. This has occasionally caused a slight strain in my relationship with Val, for she takes after her mother. I still remember the frantic rushing about in their family home on a Sunday morning, desperate to fit in one more chore before rushing to church. And Val is still the same, squeezing every second out of the time before leaving, while I stand by the door, tapping my foot and looking anxiously at my watch.
So, as you can imagine, I am not at all relaxed with what is called Greek time, a laid-back (to the point of horizontal) approach to time-keeping. The Psarantonis concert, advertised to start at 10.30, began at 11.30 (and needless to say I was there at 10.) The dance performance was half an hour late. And I have never yet attended a social event here that began even close to its announced start.
This affects even something as precise as a school timetable. My lesson supposedly runs from 2 till 4, but then I have to wait for the Safe Zone kids to arrive, and others roll in some time after them. So when I am asked what time my own lesson begins, I don’t know how to answer, which truth to tell. So I shrug my shoulders, and offer a range of times with a questioning tone of voice. Which means I too contribute to the idea that it doesn’t really matter.
I know, I know. I am just an uptight Englishman who wants the world to run to a timetable. And if I lived here long enough, I daresay I would become more relaxed about the whole thing, would know just how late to turn up so as not to miss the beginning, would automatically build in just the right amount of leeway. But still…!
Punctuality: the politeness of kings. Just not Greek kings, obviously.