Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Home: Much more than walls and a roof

Home is where the heart is. It’s where I hang my hat. It’s the people I love, not bricks and mortar.

All true…. BUT

When you are facing the very real possibility that the place you’ve scrimped, saved and sacrificed for may be wrenched from you, you can get seriously materialistic.

Our home is nice, but modest. It’s a two-bed flat with a spare room in a middle class suburb of Athens. It’s pleasant and airy and its décor reflects our characters and interests. And as a couple of educated professionals (though perhaps not quite Yuppies), we never thought that buying it 13 years ago was stretching beyond our means.

To get onto the Greek property ladder, we lived with my In-Laws for three years so we could save up the deposit (no 100% mortgages from Greek banks). So, when we finally moved in, it was with a feeling of excitement, satisfaction and belonging that we gradually furnished, painted and primped it to our taste.

We didn’t go for excesses. The house still has just one TV. Most of the furniture is from our friendly neighbourhood IKEA store. And most of the jobs in the place have been given the DIY treatment. Fancy brand-name clothes have been scorned, holidays not taken and left-overs have become a regular feature on our weekly family menu.

And yet, there is a real possibility that we might lose our home.

The Ovver Arf lost his job in February 2010, just as the Greek Economy was falling into a maelstrom leading to a black hole. Jobs are being cut, not created. My man swallowed his not inconsiderable Mediterranean male pride and tried to reconcile himself to swapping his Sales Director persona for an existence as a reluctant house husband – at least until he found another job.

At least I was still working, we told ourselves. Something will come up.

So far, it hasn’t. And as the Ovver Arf is now out of work for more than a year, he gets no welfare benefits from the State.

Meanwhile, our few savings and some help from generous family members helped us keep up with our mortgage payments for a while. But when your family income is slashed by more than half at a time when prices are rising and the Government imposes new taxes every day in a bid to appease the IMF and European Finance Ministers, the gap between ‘have’ and ‘need’ soon becomes a gaping chasm.

And now we face yet more ‘emergency taxes’ on my income and our home. The unemployed are not exempt, though the Church is.

With news of the Greek economy getting grimmer every day, we are facing the real possibility that we might lose our humble home. And that makes me want to sit tight, stroking the walls and hugging the furniture.

I’ve always been a home bunny, preferring to have friends round for a meal accompanied by a bottle of plonk and few laughs to a fancy night out at a swank nightclub. But now, I just want to stay snuggled up on our (slightly worn) sofa.

If the worst does come to the worse, we WILL manage somehow – even if it means moving back in with the In-Laws.
Our family will stay together.
Our heart will find a home with each other.

Our home has always been full of love and laughter, food and friends, and it’s become a regular haunt for our teenage son’s army of friends. It can be noisy and is often messy. But I’m proud of it. I love it. I don’t want to lose it.

So, if there is someone or something out there that can talk the Universe into giving us a break just big enough to keep it, I would really REALLY appreciate it.

[This post was inspired by The Gallery - for more home-inspired blogs, click below]


  1. oh hun that's awful *massive hugs* I wish I could do something

  2. OH, hell and damn........even shit, piss, fuck.

    My heart breaks for you ad I am helpless to help.

    Could you take in a roomer, walk dogs, bake cakes or cookies and sell them at the Market? (I was once driven by poverty to become Ms.Cynthia, the Homemade Cake Lady)(hardly profitable).

    I will say a special prayer to the
    Driver of the Universe. Good luck, darling.

  3. Livi & Lo, my darlings. Thanks SO much for the moral support.

    Who knows? Maybe things WILL all work out in the end. Unfortunately, this week's Gallery theme ("Home") just set me off - and not in a good way.

    Anyway, until the hammer falls, we will not be defeated, we shall do everything in our power to fight off the darkness and we may even have a laugh or two.

    I promise to focus on less misery and moaning in coming posts.
    After all, just have such awesome cyber-soul sistahs rooting for me (even though we've never met, and probably never will) makes a huge difference!

  4. Oh no. I really hope you can hang on to your lovely home. Fingers crossed and people prayed to.

  5. oh my goodness... a sad, gut-wrenching post... you work so hard to create a home within a house and that house can be taken away through no fault of your own... your home will always be with you, in your family and in your heart... but that is easier said than done... i pray that you win euromillions or a lucky break comes your way. take care of yourself x

  6. I simply had to add a few words to my remarks....Have been meaning to tell you that we are indeed soul sistahs....I have been madly in love with Corfu since about 1956 when I first discovered Gerald Durrell and his wonderful books about the island.
    It took me about 40 years to finally get there to see it for myself and I do wish I could live there. What a heavenly place.

    Please tell me you will not have to leave Corfu........

  7. For the record, I'm in Athens, not Corfu (more's the pity).
    However, the islands and Greece's beautiful countryside are just a short hop from here when we need to recharge our batteries and remind ourselves of what's still great about this country.

  8. I'll just echo everything Lo said in her first comment. I really hope something good turns up soon.

  9. Sending a wish that you will not lose your home.
    Something will happen for the good.