St. Catherine's is probably the bulk of my memory and structure of integration into Greek society. It's where I learned how to speak Greek fluently (everyone says I'm not as bad as I think I am but please don't think I am more useful than conversational things with my family) and where a lot of my ambition was secured as well as my fire. I kept it a secret largely from my family, and I honestly didn't stray much from being a good student/daughter. With my GCSEs and IBOs, I was up at 2 am every day and I would study until 7 am, go to school, then come back and do more. It felt a bit militaristic at times though I did rebel now and them. Not as much as I think - in retrospect - I should've as I dealt with a lot of mental health issues at the time as well, but I have mostly fond memories of my school. Granted, I don't have a lot of relationships that've survived this time of my life for this purpose; in fact, a lot of my relationship of Greece period has been through the eyes of my father and my grandmother, something I'm looking to change this year and as I grow older.
As for my school, it was the best integration experience I could've ever had. My father used to work alongside them up until earlier this year due to illness, though when he sent me this when it was first written, I kind of freaked out. The great part about my school is it was one of the few... I think, maybe the only English language institution in that area at the time so the makeup is Greek, some English, some American, some Eastern European, people from various Asian countries and Latin America - my only regret is I haven't maintained stronger ties with these people. It was such an inclusive community though I felt very estranged from it due to my upbringing. I loved it though, and often times I very much miss it. What I learned here supplemented so much of who I am today and how I view Greece.
Κηφισιά and Athens feel like the only home I'm ultimately destined to settle in. I don't love anywhere in the world as much as I do this hub, including my beloved London. The people are infectious and passionate despite the circumstances of how difficult it is to thrive there given the economic differences. Socialising there is a huge difference. You go out at 10 PM, have a coffee, get dinner, and then you start drinking at about 1 AM. It's a huge difference to my twenties where I was pretty much trying to survive British life in the late naughties; it's just much more relaxed and natural. It's nice to be able to drink with dinner whereas in the UK, I always started off by taking shots on an empty stomach. My ideal is to end here with my two children, Calliope and Aliki, having a business of some sort. I feel very passionate about my future with Greece, something that's inspired me to put this together.
My family is my biggest connection to Greece and my strongest. I don't want to post photos of my grandmother in her memory, but she was truly the biggest rock of my life. She's the only person I told about my secret to be a singer, and she taught me a Greek song that I had her sing to put on my second album. My mother would visit Athens often, and still does, to help me film my first few videos and photoshoots. I think family is the most important thing in life; it's the only thing that has saved me from bouts of depression and mildness. My drive to create more with Greece is guarded by their guidance, and I miss them all every day. Below are the lyris to the song she sang on "Fear and Loathing":
I was born in Wales, but near immediately, my father moved my mum, myself, and my sister out to what would be my home fifteen years later in Κηφισιά. I didn't know it at the time - I honestly really didn't realise it until ten years later - but this was due to my parents' divorce therefore when we moved back to Pandy, things were much more solitary and poor, for lack of a better word. I don't remember it too much though, just our bungalow. We ended up moving house about 18 times within those 15 years so we went about all over. My father is quite a conservative person and would tell me all about Greece and tried to instill in me to be questioning of the world that sold rather than told. I think it worked for him in reverse, though a lot of my childhood was with our old Greek records, some religious rites, and a cleansing of football lest I become a tomboy (I think he near regrets it now). I don't remember much from this time - most of my relationship with Greece was rebuilt when I came over as a teenager - but there's still that simple sweetness about those times and my memories of my parents together (which, they've never remarried or dated others since) that really at least convinced me to not think twice about moving back to Κηφισιά and completing my education there at such an odd age.
Back in 2008, I just signed my record deal with 679/Atlantic, and I had to do a lot of prep for the lead up. I spent that summer in Athens with my cousins and my mum and shot a lot of flimsy things, including my video for "Seventeen" - which this is the only place you will find me discuss it. No more questions past this point. I reminisce on this summer because this is where a lot of my demos for what would become my first album surfaced and where I really began to grow an identity from Marina Diamond (we don't talk about those years either) into Marina + the Diamonds. Josie and Kiera, my cousins, were featured on a lot of these demos as girl gang vocals and I even learned how to play a bloody bouzouki. Κηφισιά and Athens are such odd places to me with such entrenched history that honestly, it makes me feel like it's too sacred to live in streets yet you look at what's present today, and it's like times forgotten. I dunno; it's a bit humanity-bending for me - what we prioritise to worship. Greece is everything to me.