February 14, 2008

“Let me put it in, just a little bit” was known as the second biggest lie after “the check is in the mail,” and it comes to mind when the Archbishop of Canterbury asks for just a little bit of Sharia law. Enough said. People far more qualified than myself have already commented on the man’s folly, but it is par for the course. We in the West seem to be bent on committing suicide. Sarkozy asks for more mosques in France, some moron wants to sack cops in Britain in order to save money, there’s a brouhaha about the bugging of a radical Muslim MP visiting a suspected terrorist in jail—if you don’t bug those two, whom should they be bugging, Sir (to be) David Tang?—and those nice guys who run Premier League football want English clubs to play their games in far away places like Peking, Los Angeles, and Sydney. Anything goes as far as moola is concerned, and that includes Andy Murray, the Scot who said “anyone but England” where the European Championships were concerned in 2006, the same chap who is on the receiving end of hundreds of thousands of pounds from the British Tennis Federation and who has just refused to go to Buenos Aires to play for his country.

Even worse is the issue of Kosovo. With a few prominent exceptions, NATO, the EU, the USA, and the UN all favor speedy recognition of a rogue state led by drug dealers and terrorists and militant Muslims. What the hell is going one here? Why must we have a second Muslim state in our midst? Isn’t Albania enough? But I digress. It isn’t all gloom, after all, here in Gstaad we haven’t seen a cloud in two weeks, the snow is good and my liver is like Muslims, growing by the minute. And in order to amuse you, here is a uniquely Greek political scandal, one which has not been reported outside Greece for reasons I do not comprehend. Inside my country, there has been nothing else in the newspapers and television programs but that, and as far as the cafeneion is concerned, fuggedaboutit.

It began very long ago, up in the north of Greece, where two men forged a friendship. Constantine Karamanlis followed his famous uncle’s example and became prime minister in 2004. He is a centrist, married to a woman called Natasha who is a doctor, and it was he who named his old friend, who is also married, to be the general secretary of the Ministry of Culture. Mr. Zachopoulos was a high school teacher when suddenly he was promoted to being secretary general in one of the most important ministries of Greece for obvious reasons. Not having done too well these last two thousand years, we try and keep our glorious long ago past as alive as possible. Zachopoulos, a fatty and rather short even for a Greek, was married but began an affair with his secretary once ensconced in his powerful role. The secretary, too, was a fatty, so it was a natural, as they say in Hollywood. But then something happened and the secretary decided to videotape their assignations. Some newspapers insist it was done in order to be reviewed later in case his ardor flagged. Others say she had blackmail in mind.

In any case, the tapes landed on the desk of Proto Thema, a scandal sheet published every Sunday in order to spoil the week for those who are mentioned in its pages. It sure spoiled poor Zachopoulos’s week, because after reading about his escapades—the scandal sheet showed parts of the tape—he threw himself out of a fourth floor window. More trouble followed. As I said, he was a fatty and rather squat, and although he hit the pavement in full force, his fatty parts saved his life. Although broken up and looking like a man interviewed rather vigorously by the Gestapo, he managed to survive, although he remained in a coma for weeks. 

Now here comes the bad stuff. Athens is a city that thrives on rumors, and no one spreads rumors faster than a Greek. After all, it is probably the only thing we have in common with our ancestors—along with envy and jealousy. The rumors which have dominated the political landscape have to do with the friendship of Karamanlis, the PM, and Zachopoulos. Why did Mr. Z get such a plum job at a very elevated salary? Did it have something to do with Mr. Z being a close friend of Natasha Karamanlis? Or was it—as it is alleged to have appeared on the videotape—that Mr Z told his paramour while on the saddle, “I am doing to you what I used to do to the PM”?

Dear oh dear! Leave it to the Greeks to repeat such things. Mind you, there have always been rumors about Karamanlis’s sexuality, as there used to be about his famous uncle. (Karamanlis senior, dead for decades, was known to have been the lover of another long ago dead MP, Lambros Eutaxias, a rarity in Greek politics because he was not only a great gentleman, but also a very nice man and a friend of yours truly, who left his fortune to the country.)

Be that as it may, the scandal has managed to amuse the Greek populace during the depressing winter months when it is deprived from going to the beach twice daily. I wish Mr Z a speedy recovery and to all you fatties out there, rejoice: your blubber may one day save your life.


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