‘Back-to-school ads still make me sad’

Panos Christodoulou had his most recent book, «Trochonomos sta katsavracha» (Traffic Warden on the Rocks), published by Kedros in July. «I was never impatient for school to start in September. (In that, I resemble Alkis, the hero of my book «Navid Didn’t Come on Holidays,» also published by Kedros.) Although I used to spend three months on summer vacation in Mati, Attica, I couldn’t get enough of the sea, cycling and playing from morning to night. Unfortunately, all of that stopped at the end of August. As the days grew shorter, preparations began for the family’s return to our Athens apartment. And there were more advertisements for schoolbags and other items which I hated, because they reminded me of the approach of the school year and of my worries. Such as trying to remain unnoticed so I wouldn’t be asked to speak in class (especially in math, at which I was hopeless, like Alkis), and trying to dribble the basketball well enough to persuade the physical education teacher to put me on the school team. «In the end, I didn’t manage to do either. The teacher would pick me out from the pupils sitting in front of me and make me go to the blackboard to recite the lesson – always trembling and stammering – and my dribbles never succeeded. «Now, almost 30 years since I started school, advertisements for back-to-school things still make me feel sad, that the summer is over and I have to go back to school. «If I really did have to go back, I wouldn’t want blessings, television channels, notables and politicians who remember schools and swarm all over the premises on the first day back. I’d like to have just the head teacher, without any big speeches or fuss, welcome us to a school with better infrastructure and a people-centered approach, whose main aim is to teach us to coexist with and respect nature and our fellow humans – no matter which country they come from – a school that would be less Christian-oriented and antiquity-obsessed and instead of cramming us with dry, useless information to learn by heart, would help us to develop our judgment and skills and allow us some free time. «And yes, the sports teacher would put even kids who are not good at dribbling on the team.»