August 16, 2014

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Porto Cheli—Nothing is moving, not a twig nor a leaf, and I find myself missing the cows, the mountains, and the bad weather. The sun has become the enemy, a merciless foe who can only be tolerated when swimming, something I do daily and for close to an hour. Nothing very strenuous, mind you, except for an all-out 50-stroke crawl toward the end. For someone who has swum every year since 1940, I’m a lousy swimmer. Not as bad as Tim Hanbury, who swims vertically rather than flat on the water, and who resembles a periscope, but I’m no Johnny Weissmuller, the late great Tarzan of the 40s.

“The pain of others makes for good copy. Amazingly, those responsible for the slaughter still hold their heads up and continue to voice their opinions.”

From the veranda of my house I look down on a beautiful bay and a private beach, which is no longer private. I don’t mind that at all, but I do mind that some crooks like the Qataris can be allowed to buy the beaches where I played as a child, fill them up with rich scum of the Gulf persuasion, and make it verboten for any poor Greek to refresh himself in our own sea. This is what the EU scum have done to us. Forced us to sell the few assets nature gave us instead of oil and gas, and the oily ones were the first to grab them. The ultimate touchy-feely accolade of our times—a big sloppy bear hug à la Clinton or Blair—almost made me sick last week, as practiced by the Greek prime minister hugging the grotesque Jean-Claude Juncker. What is it with these phonies? Can’t anyone shake hands anymore?

And while I’m on the subject, Antonis Samaras, the PM, I met only once, around 35 to 40 years ago. He had just returned from Amherst or Harvard and had entered the Greek nationals in tennis. I played him in the first round, saw that he could more or less hit the ball, and beat him 6-0, 6-0. There were no refs in the early rounds. While shaking hands he asked me if he could change the score to something more respectable. I said sure, I never liked giving anyone two bagels. But it shows the kind of shifty character that he is, and he’s known for having bitten every helping hand.

While these two sons of bitches were hugging each other for a photo opportunity, the straitjacket of the euro continued to do its stuff. Unemployment is still at a record 27 percent, and for those under 25, around a staggering 55 percent. Our debt is about 170 percent of our GDP, a gap bigger than Italy’s and topped only by Japan’s, which goes to show we are good at something after all. At bullshitting the people, that’s for sure. Samaras and that fat slob who has given fatties a truly bad name, his foreign minister and successor to the Papandreou gang, Evangelos Venizelos—he was born Turkoglou and took one of our most revered names as his own, which is par for the course—keep telling the people we’ve turned the corner. Some corner. They have not fired the civil servants whose excesses brought this country to its knees, have not done away with a statute of limitations law for official bribe taking, but have followed Brussels to the letter when squeezing taxes out of people who no longer have any income. Around here the garbage has been piling up for weeks, so why should a citizen pay the state for not performing? The Greek state has never given quid pro quo. That’s why so many Greeks made it big in places more attuned to the law.


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