My father, Panos Gratsos, was a respected bibliophile whose collection of antiquarian books on Greece, the Ottoman Empire and the Ionian was sold at Sotheby’s in 1991 with much fanfare, and the books from which were snapped up by other collectors. As children we found his passion for each new book, and excitement when he finally tracked down something missing from his collections embarrassingly eccentric, and a sign of how grown-ups were just strange. Now, to my amusement, I find myself displaying the same traits of an obsessive collector when we find a house on a new island, or are given a property that we have been missing from our collection – I do catch my children looking at me a bit pityingly sometimes.
Evi is excited as she has found a house on Naxos where we have never had a house before, and I am excited because we have found a 7 bedroom house with pool near the sea on Patmos. Better still, the owner is young, dynamic and says “No problem” when I tell her we need air conditioning, breakfast service, dinner included and deckchairs for 16 people.
Our collection is not open to public viewing or for sale at Sotheby’s but in the same way as my father would pounce on unsuspecting guests – or worse still, boyfriends my sisters and I had dared to invite home, and drag them off to look at his newest acquisitions on the bookshelf, I feel myself waiting like a spider for someone to ask me in an unsuspectingly Winnie the Pooh-ish casual way “What’s new?” so I can drag them off to see our shiny new prizes.
Sad really, as my children say.