Harris, most people call him, Harry, is the manager of IL Forno, which means the oven, of a taverna in Kalyves, Crete. To say he is larger than life would be an understatement, for his route through life is covered in fun. I first met him ten years ago, and no matter what has happened over the years, his welcoming smile has never changed.
Being the inquisitive author that I am, I asked Theo whether he had any interesting stories to tell. Little did I know that I had turned on the tap. I took notes, and decided to use one of his memorable recollections in my Cretan stories.
Once, Chocolate Chunks From Crazy Crete had been published I gave him a signed copy. I wish that I had photographed the look on his face.
I subsequently discovered that Theo had been showing his paperback to everyone visiting his taverna. Not only that, he was urging them to buy the book as well.
Relaxing at my table with a glass of rakomelo - raki distilled with honey – after a good meal in IL Forno, I was replete. A big guy with a big fluffy moustache approached, pulled up a chair, and sat down.
“Are you Rick Haynes, the author?”
My mind whirled. Embarrassment and pride fought each other inside my head. I thought, is this real, or is someone taking the mickey?
He looked away, towards a lady on another table.
“I read Chocolate Chunks earlier, and couldn’t stop laughing. I was sitting on the sunbeds and those around me, including my wife, thought that I was mad as I was making so much noise.”
His name was Leigh. Theo had told him to go and buy it and tell everyone that his story was included. Here is a short excerpt from his tale which I’ve entitled…
Playing The Waiting Game
On reaching the Pizza Palace for his evening shift, a single candle in a chocolate cake greeted him. He laughed as he blew out the tiny flame before quickly devouring his present.
His regular customers greeted him as he moved around the tables. Theo felt good that his work was appreciated by so many, and especially on his name day. His smile grew ever wider by the minute.
But with his mind already wandering into the future - another all-night session with his mates - Theo made a rare mistake.
He apologised to the customer, took the unordered tuna salad back to the kitchen and hid the original order. Theo told the chef not to make any more errors as he smacked both his hands together as a warning.
As the chef reacted, Theo quickly moved towards the kitchen door, but alas, too late. Trying to wipe a fresh tomato from his red shirt proved pointless so he quickly changed it. He returned to the customer with the correct green salad in one hand, and a wicked grin on his face. Nothing was going to spoil his day.
Theo has done me proud, as they say in Yorkshire. Maybe I should make him my Cretan promotional officer?