The working title of this new Greek story is Kiki and Despina and as you may gather isn’t actually a new story at all. It is my memories of all the snippets and tales threaded together from my mother’s own memories while she was alive. Since childhood, I gathered these tales and images like beads of all shapes and sizes, put them in my mind’s drawer and left them there. They were a part of my own life, my own story in some osmotic fashion. I had lived and breathed and absorbed her pain, her happiness, her adventures and knew of her wasted talents. She had become a singer just before WW2 in Athens, acted in young romantic or comedic roles on stage and was well on the way to films when the war broke out. Perhaps in fear she hastily married my English father, an airforceman, and escaped from the horrors that overcame Greece during the Nazi occupation. I don’t blame her at all. I’d have done the same. But it was very much a case of ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ as the old saying goes.
She died in an old people’s home in December 2010. While sorting through her things, I found a few old sheets of music that had been written for her, beautiful tangos and a waltz. The sheet music of one of her songs, Poso s’agapo (I love you so much), is kept in the Music Library of Greece. She had a deep rich mezze-contralto voice and often sang around the house in her young days. Sadly, she never sang any more when she was older; the songbird was silenced in her heart.
According to my mother, a famous song called ‘Dio Prassina Matia‘ had been written for her as she did indeed have Two Green Eyes…beautiful ones too. But on research, her claim is unlikely to be true as it was written in 1945 by which time she was safely in Egypt, acting on tour there. Apparently the composer, Mimi Katrivanou, wrote it on the back of a cigarette packet one day in Athens and dedicated it to another lady. It became famous in England as ‘The Story of Tina’ But all the same, the song is hers as far as I’m concerned and who knows if her own beautiful eyes hadn’t been a memory in the composer’s mind. She had many men madly in love with her in her day!