Do you remember your first...
1. Day of school. Vividly! The teacher asked us to practice writing the letter iota ("I"), presumably because it has a simple form. So first off I though this was a bit silly and we should have started properly by practicing the letter alpha ("A"). Never mind. Then I considered the colored pencils in my case, decided I really liked the yellow, and filled a page with carefully written yellow iotas. "What have you done?" says the teacher. I look puzzled. "These are for drawing, not writing, OBVIOUSLY. When we write we use the pencil!". So I get out the pencil, flip to a new page and draw lots of vertical lines from the top to the bottom of the page. I then take out my eraser and make horizontal gaps in the lines, separating them into crude but distinct vertical bars. "What are you doing?". I explain that I'm writing "I" efficiently. The teacher was not pleased. For the remainder of my school years I held the firm belief that school is a place where you are put through useless tasks by idiots.
2. Pay Check & job. My current job was my first and only full-time job. I only ever did one other paid job, tutoring in Edinburgh University for a few weeks. It was on an abstruse subject that I didn't understand myself. The professor spotted me in the cafeteria one day and said: "Ah, Pavlos, I would like you to tutor my course this year". "But I hardly understood your course myself, as you surely know". "That's the point, you may be able to figure out why the students don't understand the course". Academics work in mysterious ways.
3. Time driving a car. Yes! I was about nine. My dad was in chage of constructing an airport runway in Nigeria, so there was a strip of pristine tarmac 2500 metres long and 60 metres wide, surrounded by 100 metres of grass on all sides. I sat at my dad's lap and drove down it at great speed. Very enjoyable! At about the same time they let me drive a road roller by myself, figuring that it would really take me a long time to cause an accident at 2 kilometres per hour.
4. Kiss. Sadly, no. Cuddles, touching, and eventually sex very well, but kisses, no.
5. Crush. Sorry, can't tell you :-) The second one was about age ten, to a tall slim girl with long blond hair who later went on to become an army seargeant. It wasn't so much a romantic crush as straightforward, frustrating, sexual desire. I'd still like to meet her some day, if only to ask her "why?" (she became an army seargeant).
7. Record you owned. When I was little I liked the soundtrack of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and treated the record as mine. First group I bought as a teenager was the Pink Floyd, I think. All of it.
8. Time away from home alone. Probably Edinburgh at 18. I also spent a few weeks in London away from my parents at 14 or so, with my cousin Eleni, but we were staying with a friend of the family. At the time I liked video games, Burger King, museums, and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Only two of these interests survive, and at least one may have been due to the friend's influence. I was useless at going on holiday on my own as a teenager because my parents really didn't teach me how to do this cheaply.
9. Time flying. Athens to Paris, winter of 1974. We were travelling to Lagos, Nigeria and there wasn't (and isn't) a direct route. I was briefly alarmed when the plane banked and the gound loomed. Paris was very cold. I've since spent more time flying than cooking or reading fiction.
10. Time drinking alcohol. I was in Nigeria, probably the same year, so age four. My mum poured me a big pint-sized glass of some apple juice she had just bought. It came in a nice glass bottle with a picture of an apple on it. I drank it, said "mum, I feel dizzy, something's wrong", and nearly passed out. Apparently my mum hadn't realized that supermarkets sell cider. She was very apologetic, although I thought the experience was funny more than anything.
11. Cigarette. I've never smoked a cigarette. Equally, I never struck my own foot deliberately with a hammer or ate cow dung. I do have other, more enjoyable vices.
12. Time as a patient in a hospital. I always hated hospitals and therefore never been a patient in one, aside from short visits.
13. Surgery. Ummm, see above. I did have a large black mole removed from my chest. It was over my left collar-bone. I'm not missing it.
14. Time performing or public speaking. I recited some poem, but I don't remember it. I remember later playing a priest in a school play about the Greek independence war of 1821, and another year playing war hero Plapoutas of the same period, in a scene when he was old and falsely imprisoned. I was, like, nine or ten, and they gave me the parts of the seventy-year-old characters.
15. First funeral or viewing you attended. My grandad's (my mum's dad). It was a beautiful September day. We were in Milos, and I had just, coincidentally, come by and seen him. Most of the townsfolk were on the other side of the island at St. John's fete, so it was a small group. The warm sun shone on us, and the air was clear and calm. He picked a good day, and at 94 couldn't really complain.
16. Pet. A cat I named Nina for reasons I absolutely refuse to share. The cat went on to live with my mum, and behaved like a stroking pillow for most of her adult life.
17. Best friend. Tricky! At four or five I was good fiends with a girl who later went on to become Virgin Atlantic cabin crew (why, again...). I then had a cordial arch-enemy at primary school. It was the boy we sat on the same desk on, and we liked to organize play wars against each other with all the other kids participating. Then there was Markos, whom I met as follows: "Are you Pavlos?". "Yes, and you must be Markos". But I had my first proper friends from age twelve, when I went back to Athens. One I lost touch with, the other is on my friends list.
18. Phone number in your life. 616-865. They made me memorize this quite early. I didn't know how to make a telephone call, though, so the one time I had to call someone to pick me up early from primary school I just embarassed myself. Adults are so stupid!
19. Address you lived at. Zoodochou Pigis 61, in the centre of Athens. My grandmother still lives there.
Anyway, still in Japan, still in hotel.