Many of my Greek posts have been littered with stories of my mad, moussaka-eating, lamb-roasting, all singing, all dancing, Greek family.
Seeing as the majority of the time I delight in taking the mickey out of them, it seems only fair to tell their side of the story.
This week I shall start with the Head of the Household, the King of the Red Apes, the DIY Master, the Greatest of all Greeks: MY BABA aka Dimitrios Botzios.
My father is the youngest of two sons, born in ancient Greek times on the 9th February BC in Igoumenitsa, to my grandmother Ekaterina, and my grandfather Vasillios.
At the age of six, he moved with the family to Germany where they lived for the next twelve years before returning to Greece and starting a new chapter in Athens.
My father trained and worked as a car mechanic before taking over a jewellery shop owned by an uncle, in the heart of Monastiraki. It was there that he met my mother a few years later, swooping down on her like a bird of prey when she happened to look through the window of his shop.
Less than a year later they were married and then moved to England where my father started up his own business importing Greek goods (I used to tell people he imported Greek slaves), and not long after came the pitter patter of my feet and then my sister’s feet, and a few years later my brother’s hooves.
And here we are.
Charming, multi-lingual, well read, cultured, good with numbers, bad-tempered, hairy, belligerent and very Greek, my father is one of those people who you meet and never forget.
He often regales us with tales of his childhood and how he grew up with no toilet paper. I find this admission very hard to believe. For a man who is so accustomed to apparently using leaves, he is ridiculously fussy about the quality of our bog roll.
His other stories invariably involve snowy mountains and/or wolves. My father is a big fan of snow, unless he is driving in it, in which case he curses the Gods for tormenting him so.
In fact, his love of snow is so great, that he will actually watch a film just because it has snow in it. When the movie The Grey came out, which featured snow AND wolves, he was beside himself with excitement.
An accomplished and talented singer, my father recorded several Greek and English tracks in his heyday, and at one point was likened to the great Demis Roussos (in voice, not in size).
He has even appeared in a few films after chaperoning me to a film set and being asked on the spot if he wouldn’t mind filling in for one of the roles. The bow master on the set of Ridley Scott‘s Robin Hood was so impressed by my father’s archery skills that apparently he considered using him as Russell Crowe’s archer-double.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Dimitrios Botzios landed a starring role in a Hollywood movie very soon.
As well as acting and singing, he also excels in the art of Greek dancing, often entertaining audiences in traditional Greek dress, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
It seems that everybody knows my father. I have even received messages on my blog and twitter page from people who have been blessed with the pleasure of meeting him and who want to pass on their regards.
A true Spartan through and through, my father was surely a great warrior in his past life (or an angry ape) and will protect his family no matter what. But beneath the hard Grecian armour lies a sensitive soul who cried at the opening scenes of Pixar’s Up and when tennis wildcard Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon.
Stubborn, headstrong and a little bit mad, in many ways, I am quite similar to my father (aside from the gappy teeth) but there is only one Dimitrios Botzios, and he is coming to a cinema near you.