Here is Radio 4's Today presenter and national treasure John Humphrys' funny memoir of building his home in Greece with his son, Christopher.
It was a moment of mad impulse when John Humphrys decided to buy a semi-derelict cottage and a building site on a plot of land overlooking the Aegean. A few minutes gazing out over the most glorious bay he had ever seen was all it took to persuade him. After all, his son Christopher was already raising his family there so he would help build the beautiful villa that would soon take shape. What could possibly go wrong?
Everything. John was to spend the next three years regretting his moment of madness.
Some of it had its comic side. He learned to cope with a drunken peacock falling out of his favourite tree and even a colony of rats invading his bedroom. Some of the humans proved trickier: the old man demanding payment for olive trees in the middle of John's own land; the neighbour who dragged his lovely old fishing boat onto the beach and set fire to it after a row with his wife. And, of course, the builders. Was the plumber who electrocuted him in the shower vengeful or merely incompetent?
John learned a lot about Greece in a short time. He grew to love it and loathe it in almost equal measures, but was never for a moment bored by it. And Christopher learned a bit more about John. Their shared experience revived keen memories for him of growing up with a father for whom patience was never the strongest virtue.
Here father and son capture the idyll and the odyssey as paradise is found, lost, and regained.
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