As dysfunctional families go, the hippo household is not unusual in producing bizarre shopping lists. In addition to the usual bread, milk, coffee, oven chips, Glenmorangie and RotoSound pink guitar strings, we now add a live rabbit and a villa in Corfu.
Dispatching best friend, lover and lady wife over the hill to the farm shop to purchase bacon, sausages, beef, eggs, gammon and an assortment of fresh root vegetables might be regarded as a normal behaviour for a nuclear family on a Saturday morning. The mistake was to allow a teenage daughter to accompany the oppressed suffragette hunter-gatherer in performing her womanly duties. They returned with a live rabbit and tickets for a Greek holiday. Confusion arose as the chief cook and bottle washer, in the considerable form of your humble correspondent, assumed that the rabbit was destined for the pot and the Greek holiday was some sort of elaborate practical joke. Resorting to the shed to fetch the meat cleaver and with arms outstretched in the manner of Anthony Quinn performing Zorba`s dance, the horrible realisation dawned that Reggie, as the rabbit had been named, was now part of the family and not dinner. The only good news was that Reggie cost considerably less than the Corfu villa.
It is impossible not to be in love with Mrs Hippo. Her beauty is beyond compare and she has an intellect that would intimidate Simone de Beauvoir. Her ability to deflate the pomposity of this humble author is breathtaking and her spontaneity has led to some unforgettable experiences. Taking the children walking in the high Sierra Nevada above Grenada and, a year or two later, staying in an hotel next door to the birthplace of Vlad Dracul in Transylvania would not have been possible without her adventurous free spirit. The news that we are bound for Corfu prompted the eldest to say that it would be warmer than New York and the youngest to suggests that it would not be as good as Cyprus. For him, Cyprus was good because the locals spoke English, unlike the natives in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Prague. Spontaneous trips abroad seem to be breeding like rabbits.
So now, Corfu, birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh and one time home to Laurence and Gerald Durrell. Odysseus is said to have had relations with Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous and the “burner of ships” on Corfu and Hercules allegedly had it off with Naiad Melite. The Argonauts hid on Corfu after they had nicked the Golden Fleece and it seems that the culture owes more to Venice than to Athens. It could be fun if the air conditioning works.
One problem, however, remains. Forgetting the state of the Greek economy, who the hell is going to feed Reggie the rabbit when we are away?