Mad­die’s World

In this week’s col­umn, Mad­die Grigg swaps ru­ral Dorset for sunny Corfu . . .

The People's Friend - - News -

WE’RE back in our Corfu vil­lage, although just for a fort­night. Arty is in ken­nels (she never wants to leave, as they let her jump up and frolic to her heart’s con­tent) and we’re stay­ing with our Cor­fiot neigh­bour, Spiros, in his daugh­ter Mar­i­anna’s room.

Her win­dow and bal­cony over­looks the house in which we spent a year. Now, the prop­erty is up for sale and is be­ing rented by an English cou­ple, who are plan­ning re­tire­ment in the Io­nian sun.

It’s a strange feel­ing, be­ing within touch­ing dis­tance of the place but not in­side it. But things change and time moves on.

The wel­come we receive as we walk up into the vil­lage plateia is as warm as ever. There are toots on car and scooter horns, great smiles from peo­ple and a spe­cial hug from white­haired Maria.

There is a big hug from Kiki in the kafe­nion who says both of us look younger than we did when she saw us briefly last year.

“Many peo­ple come af­ter read­ing your book,” she says. “Many, many.”

“Well,” I tell her, “when it’s made into a film you will be played by Renée Zell­weger.”

Kiki’s laugh tin­kles like fairy bells in the still af­ter­noon across the plateia.

There is a screech of brakes as Betty rides by on her scooter.

She’s busy these days, what with chil­dren and her work clean­ing and man­ag­ing hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion in the vil­lage, but there is al­ways time for a quick chat.

She alights from her bike to give us a hug. To­day she has some spe­cial news for us. Her daugh­ter, MarieAn­gela, who is eight years old, has suc­cess­fully au­di­tioned for a part in the third se­ries of the ITV se­ries, “The Dur­rells”, much to the dis­dain of her older brother, who also wanted to be in it.

Marie-an­gela plays the young sis­ter of a new char­ac­ter who ap­pears in the next se­ries. We are very ex­cited, and look for­ward to see­ing her on our tele­vi­sion screen when­ever it’s shown.

Just like the Dur­rells, when we lived on Corfu we were en­veloped by the warmth of the cli­mate and the is­land’s peo­ple.

It’s the same all across Greece – that gen­uine hos­pi­tal­ity and kind­ness to strangers which has ex­isted since an­cient times.

On our way into Corfu Town, we stop the car at the side of a busy road and make our way along the shin­gle beach. There, pok­ing above the sea wall, is the house where “The Dur­rells” is be­ing filmed.

We get quite close to it be­fore en­coun­ter­ing se­cu­rity peo­ple who ges­ture po­litely for us to move back.

It’s in­ter­est­ing for me, hav­ing feet both in Corfu and west Dorset, that the two places I love the most have been the back­drops to two suc­cess­ful tele­vi­sion se­ries.

Only a few months ago, we had the fi­nal episode of “Broad­church”, which is set mostly in West Bay, with those dra­matic cliffs play­ing a cen­tral role.

Spiros has now just told us that “The Dur­rells” team will be film­ing in our own Greek vil­lage next month, up at the pre­car­i­ously placed moun­tain-top church which be­longs to Betty’s mother-in-law.

Still dream­ing of lit­er­ary suc­cess at the ripe old age of fifty-five, I think about who will play Mr Grigg and me when (not if, ob­vi­ously) my book is turned into a movie.

He set­tles for Ray Win­stone for him­self. I would have had Kee­ley Hawes if she had not been al­ready taken for “The Dur­rells”, so I choose Joely Richard­son.

Well, I can dream, can’t I? n

The house where “The Dur­rells” is filmed.

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