"Prologue" from Kostas Zouraris' "MESA STO SAMALI I ACHEIROPOIITOS" (as translated by N. Nicholas)

Once upon a time, there was this town. Sometimes it was small, and sometimes it was big. And when it had gotten big, hey presto! it was all small again; and it got all big again when it left off wolfing down steaks, and started loafing about. In this town, a strong wind kept blowing, and people had given it some name or other. But the wind just made fun of them and told them "You guys are so clueless, giving winds and breezes any old name you can think up. Can't you hear how much fairer my sound is than my name? You lot should just mind your own business, and watch how much better I make your town look, when I blast my way through it."

The strong wind was right, because this town was soft, and a bit slack, and hazy all the time because it got damp; it got all plump down in the city centre, and it was full of mud, Sunday schools, and stoolies. It was nothing like Crete, shining through its grapes and deep-shaded carob trees, with its boastful leaping men and laughing women dancing.

This windy city only got a bit pretty towards the waterfront. Down there, in the imposing high-rise buildings with the silent rich girls with bodies like tall golden candles, who'd never set foot in Sunday school. And it'd also become pretty up towards the Fortress, where a gang of ne'er-do-wells, a throng of kids would bum around, with nothing but enormous eyes of near-starvation and legs like skinny reeds. And from all around the shacks you'd hear slow-turning sounds, a rigid and stern song, which the proud girls down at the waterfront could never sing on their pianos.

The strong wind was right to make fun of the lot of them. Because their town got a bit of backbone into it, and stood up as tall and playful as its small tiled churches, only when he, mighty as he was, blew.

Then the mud would set; the stoolies would draw back; and the gendarmes with their moustaches, their twisted bodies and their black-and-yellow nails would rivet their eyeballs straight up at the roof of the Transfers Department, Poland Street. No, Crete was one thing this windy town would never turn into, this town of mud and stoolies doing their rounds with their yellowing nails, by its playful terracotta churches, in its cafes and outside its houses.

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