Teeth and Fillings.

I’ve always been more interested in how people arrive at certain decisions than the decision they decide to make.

Christopher Hitchens writes about this in God Is Not Great which I recommend everyone read so I can talk to you about it like, for a really long time. It’s good. He’s good.

And it is for this reason I was delighted to learn of Cohen’s motivation to relocate from London to Hydra all those years ago. 40 in fact.

It was on a wet March afternoon in 1960 that an unknown 25-year-old Canadian poet was wandering the streets of London having just had a filling in one of his teeth. Wet, miserable and depressed he spotted a Bank of Greece sign on a building he was passing. On a whim he stepped inside and saw that the teller was not only sporting a deep tan but was wearing sunglasses. Within a few days Leonard Cohen was boarding a steamer in Piraeus for the five-hour trip to Hydra. Just like that.
Having fallen in to a deep funk since arriving in London some three months prior, Cohen says it was time to find somewhere warm to relax, drink and meet women. And Somewhere cheap.

I was again speaking with my old man the other night about Hydra and my desire to find a similar location to live on the cheap, meet some inspired folk and write and write and write. He made an interesting comment about having no idea that Hydra was such a Bohemian mecca. He just found it cheap enough to get to from London and perhaps as simply as Cohen and his sore tooth inspired decision, there he went.

I’ll write about George Johnson, an inspired Australian ex-pat Cohen met upon arrival in Hydra tomorrow. I’m on my lunch break and have an entire three minutes to upload this thing and have a quick re-read.

In the interim, however, here is something I found written by Leonard Cohen on Hydra in 1985, some 25 years after his first foray to the island.

Days of Kindness:

Greece is a good place
To look at the moon, isn’t it
You can read by moonlight
You can read on the terrace
You can see a face
As you saw it when you were young
There was good light then
Oil lamps and candles
And those little flames that floated on a cork in olive oil
What I loved in my old life
If haven’t forgotten
It lives in my spine
Marianne and the child
Then days of kindness
It rises in my spine
And it manifests as tears
I pray that a loving memory
Exists for them too
The precious ones I overthrew
For an education in the world.


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