Looking through an old journal just now for some notes I took on a book about memory (and I found them!) I also found a couple of entries written in May 1994, when Penelope and I visited Kalami with our husbands, staying in the White House. I did not read this when I wrote the chapter in Amateurs, but my memory for once seems to have been fairly accurate. None of us had ever been to Corfu. A few bits:
“I had not realised how strange this whole thing would be … Trying to unpick the odd bits: now, after so long – 40 years since I first started to hear about it – I have come to the place Mum used to talk about so much, the place I had heard about so much that it began to seem a mythical place. And of course in some ways it is a mythical place still because the Corfu and the Kalami that L described in Prospero’s Cell was always a myth, an idyll but a blighted one because they fought so much.
“It feels like a kind of homecoming, returning to a place I have never visited, but which was part of the landscape of my childhood, … and which is still a kind of paradise.
“Four o’clock in the afternoon. A breeze is blowing off the sea, there is some wispy cloud inland. Skin feels sun-warmed and salty. I am on the little boat harbour; about 14 little boats are gently turning about their anchor ropes, water lapping by my feet, sound of the breeze in the olives and the cypresses … so many magical things we have seen already.”