This is a completely hilarious book, the only language book I’ve ever read and finished. In fact, it was entirely unputdownable, I became that irritating type who is reading bits out loud all the time. No wonder it went through a bunch of reissues.
The back cover continues the theme of the title promising:
Perfect Greek by 2029…Or your money back!*
*This offer doesn’t apply to people who bought the book.
Lesson headings include:
1 Welcome to Greek! You haven’t a chance.
2 Why does the ‘r’ look lik a ‘p’, mummy?
3 When your toilet overflows: Meeting neighbours for the first time
14 ‘If the firemen find a cigarette lighter…’
In his chapter on the Greek you need to play chess (I mean, you would have this in a 90 small- page language book, of course), he gives this slogan from the Greek chess magazine:
Όχι στα ναρκωτικά, ναι στο σκάκι (No to drugs, yes to chess)
Hmmm. Clearly few of my chess-playing friends speak Greek.
In his acknowledgements, Church, who wrote for the Athens News until its demise, says of a Greek colleague ‘If I ask him how to spell a 35-letter Greek word, he always responds: ‘As it sounds, Brian, as it sounds.’
The very best thing about this book is that whilst learning no Greek whatsoever, you do not at any instant feel guilty about that. He points out all the time how completely impossible it is, whilst giving all sorts of handy advice.
Unhappy with the route being taken by a taxi driver? Ask:
Πότε θα επανέλθει το δρόμο? (When will we rejoin the road?)
Invited to a wedding?
You can say this to the bride and groom:
Μπορεί να έχετε μια μεγάλη διάρκεια ζωής (May you live a long life)
Of course, that’s assuming you like them. If you don’t, try this:
Είθε να ζήσεις στην Ουαλία (May you live in Wales)
Hilarious. Not that there is no Greek in the book – you can see there is. The point is that learning it is far from the point. ‘Each lesson’, the back cover states, ‘ends with a helpful table of WORDS I REALLY MUST LEARN THOUGH I KNOW I WON’T.’
Now, if only he’d write one about French.
Disclaimer: I google-translated the English into Greek, any issues are not to be blamed on Brian Church’s undoubtedly fine grasp of the language.