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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
ArticlesGreek Delights

Greek Delights

hercules for webAt school I often used to run out of my pocket money by the end of the week. The temptations of the school tuck shop and fizzy cherryade were strong and I operated a spend, spend, spend economy. Luckily it was no big deal as I just called my nice granny in Dorchester and she’d hopefully be good for another ten bob. By a mixture of bribery, sucking up and writing smarmy letters to friendly aunts, I managed to maintain a cash flow higher than my official income for several years. Exactly like Greece, really. Except that they’ve run up rather more debts than a few Mars bars, and they’ve also probably run out of generous grandmothers.
Some of us may be a bit fed up with it all. Throughout June and July, Greece was virtually our only headline news. ‘Will they leave the Euro?’, ‘Will the banks be open on Monday?’, ‘Would anyone care to donate a few billion euros?’. I don’t know… but somebody’s gonna have to. Maybe the IMF or the World Bank or that nice Mrs Merkel and the kindly Germans? I don’t think so. Perhaps the Man in the Moon or even the Lone Ranger will come riding in with saddlebags full of dosh to rescue them: ‘Hi-ho Silver!’ If only…
OK, so now there’s another temporary bail-out—another stay of execution for a month or so—but I’m afraid the problem won’t go away. However, it’s hardly the fault of today’s Greeks, especially the younger ones. It was their parents’ generation who spent it all leaving this generation to pick up the broken plates from the floor. But eventually someone will have to pay and it’ll probably be all the world’s banks at some stage (which of course ultimately means you and me and everyone else). I’ve certainly had enough of all this talk of ‘Standing on a Knife Edge’. It’s too painful. I feel like I’ve been standing on the edge of the knife for so long that my own feet are cut to ribbons and I’m sliced completely into two different bits. There’s the friendly bit and the angry bit.
Lets get rid of the jokey angry bit first: “Wretched Greeks… why I should pay for them? Why don’t some of the more well off ones—like journalist Arianna Huffington, tennis star Pete Sampras and the entire Onassis dynasty and their many yachts – all club together and pay it off! Too many sickly baklavas, dodgy moussakas and neon-pink taramasalatas if you ask me! Retsina? Yuk. And if I have to hear Zorba the Greek one more time, I’ll burn my entire Demis Roussos collection”… etcetera, etcetera, enough…
That’s not at all fair. Personally I’m now more converted to the friendly bit like this:
“Greeks? Doncha just love ‘em! Honest hard working people who just want a living wage. What’s wrong with that, Mrs Merkel? Why should they carry the can for ancient debts? So much culture over the years with (in no particular order) Nana Mouskouri, Archimedes running nude through the streets crying ‘Eureka’, Motley Crue’s rock drummer Tommy Lee, sexy ‘Celebrity Big Brother Star’ Georgia Salpa and the first ever Olympics Games. And what about famous former Fulham footballer Giorgos Karagounis? OK, so his Greek national team lost to the Faroe Islands (not once but twice—the biggest upset ever in Footballing History), but hey, what’s a goal or two between friends? It’s not as if the England football team is much of an improvement! And I nearly left out Telly ‘Kojak’ Savalas and his lollipops. ‘Who loves ya, Baby!’ – I do, we all do!”
And then there’s HRH Prince Philip of course—surely the UK’s most prominent Greek. A wonderful asset to any country and someone who’s never afraid to speak his mind—sometimes maybe a little too plainly, but it’s good to hear a Brit (OK, a Greek-Brit) expressing himself honestly without any politically correct eco-babble and ‘new speak’!”
So why does all of this matter? Well, summer holidays are here and many southern English families will be visiting nice places like Corfu, Kos or Mykonos. Lots of Kalamarakia and chips and litres of ouzo. And if your touristy gift shop trinkets (shot glasses engraved with naughty rude pictures and little porcelain fishing boats) cost a bit more, you should be gracious and generous. Smile and give a good tip after a delicious lamb kleftiko. Relax with your Greek coffee while your euros help their economy.
We’re also going to have Greek tourists on holiday over here, so if you’ve got a B&B near Lyme or a pub in Devon or a Somerset gift shop, be kind. Give them a hug or buy them a drink because they’re very nice people really. You may feel it sensible to point out near the beginning of your discussion that your establishment only takes cash, but they’ll be very used to that coming from Greece. Remember, it’s not their fault: it’s their stupid old bank that’s run out of cash—not them personally. And don’t forget useful welcoming phrases: “To hóverkráft mu íne gemáto hélia” is Greek for “My hovercraft is full of eels”.

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