a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


The true story behind Lindmann


Setting up home on Ios
Frederic Raphael Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

So we went down to the Piraeus and so there was a boat called Despina which was an old British channel ferry – very old. Made in Glasgow, I think. Would it be Glasgow? Yes. Fourteen hours from Piraeus to Ios. We left Piraeus at whatever time it was, which led us to arrive at Ios at 3 o'clock in the morning. There were two boats a week, each of them arrived at three in the morning at Ios which was an island, as you can imagine, which not many people went to. Therefore, it didn't matter when you got there, it went on to Santorini which, even then, was a fairly desirable destination. So, we got first class tickets on the Vespinar. We got on the boat and Greek ladies with cardboard boxes were sick into the cardboard boxes before the boat had even set sail for the Piraeus. It was pretty rough, actually. Beetle and Sarah, Beetle and … no, it was pretty rough actually and Beetle and Paul were just fine and Sarah and I felt very seedy. Sarah was then a baby, I mean, a very small baby. Beetle was incredibly practical, able and uncomplaining, toting these small children around. And I have to say that, we've always been together. I don't mean that I've changed a lot of nappies, though I've changed a good many, I mean I don't have any shame about cooking. One of the things that DH Lawrence taught us – if he did – was there's nothing shameful about domestic work. I've always thought it perfectly ludicrous to suppose it's unmasculine to help washing up. So, I'm pretty good with all that... I hope.

So, we set off and we arrived at Ios in the middle of the night. We heard this voice saying, 'Ios, Ios!' Into the darkness, nothing. And, then you'd see a little, tiny, red light waxing and waning and it's the man rowing out, several men sometimes, with cigarettes – the Greeks smoked a lot, they still do – rowing out from the harbour because there was no jetty in those days. The ship dropped its anchor in the harbour and the people swarmed up the ladder, rope ladder, to the thing and started taking the bags as well as the things of course which had been sent from Athens to Ios. There we were with the two small children. Not many other people got off at Ios at all, no foreigners, and Beetle climbed down with the baby and one of the Ios people took the child in the way that islanders, who're used to these sorts of things, do. We all got into the boat and we arrived on Ios, March 1962. Beetle's birthday, March 20th. We stayed at a little hotel and thought… tried to find somewhere to live. I mean, you cannot imagine just how primitive the Cyclades were in 1962. They weren't as primitive as they were when the Athenians sailed into Milos, but it probably wasn't much better, actually. And there was a Romanian guy – there's always a Romanian guy – who said, 'I find you, I find you'. I wasn't quite sure whether he was going to do it or not, but actually he did! People who say, 'I find you', sometimes find you. And, we found a little cottage owned by a man called Nikos which was just up from the beach onto the harbour. And, that was, I think… I think he may have really screwed us. I think it was £2 a week, I think. It had a bed with planks on it, and a straw mattress. But we had brought a bed for Sarah who was 5 months old, and another for Paul, I think. Oh, perhaps Sarah was in a cot of some kind, I think, and a cot for Paul, that's right, which went in one room. There was a little bedroom with this brass bedstead. There was a kitchen and there was a terrace outside with a grapevine which would flower when it did, but it wasn't yet out, of course, in March. And that's where I sat and finished Lindmann.

But, the islanders had never seen a typewriter before, so, every now and again, somebody would come… the owner of the cottage, actually, Nikos, and he would just stand there watching me typing. His father used to wear Turkish trousers in the way that they did in those days, in the 60s, and he used to bring sheep's milk for the children which he left there. And it was really very primitive. We had an earth closet on the other side of the field and a well for the water. And it was fantastic. The cottage had a roof of earth, so in March, when it rained, all the flowers grew on the roof. When it rained very hard, rain came through the bamboo support of the earth on the top of the roof and straight down into the room where the children slept, but it missed them. There was one deck chair that was the only comfort in the house - a deck chair, which reminded me of Wittgenstein's rooms in Whewell's Court because he had a deck chair there because he didn't approve of stuffing. And we listened to the news in special English on a radio we'd bought on the way down, and it was all about people being killed in Algeria. And, it was broadcast in special English from Akrotiri air base on the island of Crete. So you heard, 'Three men broke into the hospital in Oran yesterday and shot eight French soldiers who were lying wounded'. Something very macabre about the special English which I wrote a little story about, and rather a good one, too, actually. And, I wrote Lindmann.

Born in America in 1931, Frederic Raphael is a writer who moved to England as a boy. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was a Major Scholar in Classics at St John's College, Cambridge. His articles and book reviews appear in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sunday Times. He has published more than twenty novels, the best-known being the semi-autobiographical The Glittering Prizes (1976). In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie Darling, and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Two for the Road. In 1999, he published Eyes Wide Open, a memoir of his collaboration with the director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final movie. Raphael lives in France and England and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Ios

Duration: 6 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 10 September 2014