Posted by: sibyllemeder | February 4, 2010

Travels with Hitch

“Often, from its inception, one is able to predict the whole course of a village conversation, […]. Old jokes are best and even at their hundredth repetition the laughter that salutes them is gay and unjaded. The patina on these chestnuts is the result of aeons of fondling. Many an hour of hilarity is really a long game of conkers and there is a strange pleasure for the experienced in observing the punctilio of stroke and counterstroke. But, in spite of this loyalty, new jokes […] are welcomed and, after a moment’s hesitation aroused by unfamiliarity […], are hailed with an almost exaggerated acclaim. Late arrivals are initiated to this novelty and for hours and years after the original detonation, long, long after the new joke’s acceptance into the canon, it will be greeted with unflagging laughter and a chuckle at the memory of its risky and unorthodox origins. A stranger bringing a new joke to an isolated mountain community is at once a benefactor and an object of love; and, returning a decade later to one of these lonely thorpes, he will be greeted with affection and his innovation, now a household word, joyously recalled.”

This is a passage from Patrick Leigh Fermor: Mani. Travels in the Southern Peloponnese. And – like many other observations in this excellent book – will ring true with anyone who’s ever been to a Greek kafenion.

I am happy to report that finally I have done my share and contributed a new joke to the Tilos canon, too. It is simple and so far only an insider between Pavlos and me – but extendable.

When shooting material for The Island Bus trailer in early January, I travelled with Pavlos on his daily routes, but also made stops at kafenion, pastry shop and kindergarten, town hall, museum and… you name it. Funny enough – or actually not so surprising, since this is the topic of the documentary to come – almost everywhere Pavlos turned up, too. I only had to point my camera long enough at a certain location and was sure to have him walk through the picture at least once or sit somewhere in the background.

When I rode home with him on the bus, I asked him: “Do you know, how Hitchcock always turns up in his own pictures?”
He grinned and nodded.
“You’re the same”, I said, actually bending the comparison a bit. “Wherever I shoot, you’re in the picture.” And when we parted, I waved: “Goodbye, Hitchcock!”
“Goodbye, Hitchcock!”, Pavlos retorted. “You’re the director, so you’re Hitchcock, too.” I couldn’t argue with that.

Next time we ran into each other on the plateia, we both burst out: “Yeia sou, Hitchcock!” It was repeated at Seva’s shop, at the supermarket in Megalo Chorio, at the harbour and in front of my house when he drove past and I happened to step out of the door.

So, when you come next to Tilos and find the local bus driver shouting: “Ela, Hitchcock!” at some tall, blond girl, you know it’s me. Although by then, we might call each other Scorsese or Bergman… who knows?

Don’t scratch your head now, but simply remember: we are carrying on a good old Greek tradition.

See you, Hitchcock!



  1. Good one Keep on posting new ones. . . .

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