(a book of) Fortune
Most times I meet someone, introduce myself as Tassos, they ask me a question: are you Greek?
There’s a shorter answer to the question. My mother’s father was Greek, called Yannis Fikaris, but mostly called John. He was a sailor, stationed in Cardiff during the war. But he left for good when my mum was only 7, she never saw him again. In 2004, I tracked down his second family, who didn’t know he’d been married before, and through them found his grave, in North London.
Through his second family, we were also reconnected to my grandfather’s nephew, Stylianos Menis, but mostly called Stelios. And I always get confused by the number of cousins times removed so I am coining uncle-cousin, my uncle-cousin Stelios.
He’s a retired Greek orthodox priest, living in a small town in Ohio. He’s also a keen historian, and the storyteller of the family.
And as the second stop on my quest, I drove to Ohio to meet him for the very first time, and indeed the very first Greek of my family. For a lot of eating and drinking — hey, we’re Greeks :) — and a lot of stories.
Families rhyme. And if there were an epic poem about my Greek family, it would be couplets of shipwrecks and storms, one-way journeys to the far side of the world, long-distance phone calls of heartbreak and intrigue, and a spinning coin of fortune. It still reverberates in me.
I made a show last year (with Nick Ryan) called Fortune. And perhaps now I can write A Book Of Fortune.
But after this time with my uncle-cousin Stelios, there’s now the shortest answer to the question.
This is the second stop of a quest, the first stop spending time with Bernie De Koven in Indianapolis, to exchange and make a game of legacy, for which we are also running a kickstarter — more -> www.bit.ly/agameoflegacy