Friday, April 2, 2010

After two more visits to the police station,last Friday under the watchful eye of Jesus and a couple of saints we finally got our residents’ permits. Strictly speaking under EU regulations they are not necessary but not to have them means carting bulky passports around wherever you go, just in case the police stop you for some reason or other. That hasn’t actually happened – yet. All Greeks carry identification cards known as taftotita and appear to be quite happy about it so our cards take the taftotita’s place and we like having them. Why are the Brits so up in arms about having an identity card? Admittedly the amount the government are thinking of charging for them is a bit steep but otherwise, what’s the problem?
The Greeks love their rubber stamps and on two carousels in the station I counted sixteen of them. Others were produced from drawers or satchels when necessary. The office is quite small, three desks taking up most of the floor space, and the walls are lined with bulky files. The other thing it would appear that Greeks enjoy is filling in a thousand forms. The British police complain about their paperwork. Come to Greece, mates and you will know what paperwork is. Anyway, these permits are for life so we won’t, as before with five year ones, have to go through it all again.
I had gone through in my mind beforehand a whole dramatic scenario should there still have been a problem. It sort of ended with “English writer jailed for sit down protest in Vamos police station.” Well, I was robbed of that opportunity. Our young policeman simply could not have been more charming so I won’t follow in the footsteps of Wilde, Genet, Orton or any other writer who has been in prison.
Saturday saw a further memorial service to Maria. These services really do cost a great deal of money, going first of all to the church and then the caterers. In this instance there were two going on at the same time. The Orthodox Church, like so many religious institutions, is fabulously wealthy and the hierarchy are kicking up one hell of a fuss at the moment because the new socialist government in one of its attempts to get Greece out of the financial mess is threatening it with a 20% tax on gross income. At the same time for the same reason it would seem virtually everyone else is holding a strike. The Greeks have always been pretty adept at avoiding tax and a clamp down is not, as far as they’re concerned, in their best interest. I am afraid Kennedy’s, ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country, goes right against the grain.
When Kristos deserted us more than a year ago to take over a restaurant in Kalyves he left behind a business in the dark which was sad but I am delighted to say someone else has taken it over, the lights are on again and we are back to three restaurants in Vamos, restaurants as opposed to eateries. We went for dinner Sunday evening about seven thirty and found that there about twenty people dining, all Brits! Come nine o’clock the first Greeks appeared. They really do love eating late, even into the early hours. Of all the Brits only one face did we recognize.

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