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Pole to Pole

Day 47: Marmaris to Rhodes

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleA fellow Yorkshireman - the astrologer Patric Walker - has invited us for tea at his house in Lindos, some fifteen miles away. Lindos is a compact little town with the neat, clean, sharp lines of its whitewashed buildings gleaming in the sunlight, which, this afternoon, is hot and hard and destructive. The thistles by the roadside are bleached yellow, and the wild flowers which apparently enjoy only two and a half weeks' glory have long since shrivelled. In the pebble-floored courtyard of an attractive corner house beside orange and lemon and tangerine trees, Patric Walker serves us a grand English tea (he's even had a cake decorated with a map of our journey) and warns us about Mercury being in retrograde. 'It's when the planet Mercury appears to be travelling backwards in the heavens - it isn't, but it appears to be . . . and it's a time when all forms of communication and travel plans tend to be disrupted.' Apparently it happens about three times a year, and it doesn't surprise me that it's in retrograde at the moment, and will be for the next week. As the last days of any period 'tend to be the trickiest', we should expect mounting problems between here and Egypt. He consults his book of planetary movements and offers us the cheerful news that it will happen again at the end of November - when we hope to be setting off from South Africa for the South Pole.

I don't think Patric likes to be the harbinger of bad news and seeing our glum faces he seeks to reassure us. Astrology, as he says, is an art, not a science.

'Everybody expects the astrologer to be infallible - you're not, you know. I can be as wrong as anybody else, particularly about . . . you know, my own life.'

His own life looks very nice to me. Especially over the top of the glass of champagne he offers us, looking out to sea beyond the rooftops of houses built by the Crusaders, as the sun begins to set. For the second time today I feel the insidious pull of the sedentary life.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 47
  • Country/sea: Greece
  • Place: Lindos
  • Book page no: 104

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