92 Acharnon Street, By John Lucas

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The Independent Culture

You know you're in safe hands when the author details the defects of his Athenian flat for a lecturing stint in 1984: no light, no hot water, stench from the butcher's shop next door, frantic sexual activity in the flat above and traffic. Intriguingly given recent events, Lucas notes, "Nobody ever declared their full earnings.

They didn't tell their friends and they didn't tell officialdom." After protracted problems in getting paid, Lucas found that "a reasonable salary in Greece was a pittance elsewhere."

No wonder Greece is falling apart trying to keep up with the Germans. On the plus side, the people are delightful, the food is glorious and the culture is richly potent. This wry, evocative book is obligatory hand luggage for the Athens flight.