My Favorite Passage From Fermor

Some public holiday was in progress – could it have been the feast of St. John the Baptist which marks the summer solstice — and the waterfront was crowded with celebrating citizens in liquefaction. The excitement of a holiday and the madness of a heat wave hung in the air. The stone flags of the water edge, where Joan and Xan Fielding and I sat down to dinner, flung back the heat like a casserole with the lid off. On a sudden, silent, decision we step down fully dressed into the sea carrying iron table a few yards out and then our three chairs, on which, up to our waists in cool water, we sat around the neatly laid tabletop, which now seemed by magic to be levitated three inches above the water. The waiter, arriving a moment later, gazed with surprise at the empty space on the quay; then, observing us with a quickly masked flicker of pleasure, he stepped unhesitatingly into the sea, advanced waist deep with a butler’s gravity, and, saying nothing more than “Dinner-time,” placed our meal before us — three beautifully grilled kephali, piping hot, and with their golden brown scales sparkling.

via p. 42, Fermor, Patrick Leigh (1958). Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese. New York: New York Review of Books.

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