Lipon… that’s Greek for ‘Well’. You often hear a sentence or an order in a shop for example start with lipon so, lipon, let’s start with the Greek who shoots himself in the foot. A short while ago I wrote a new play titled “Marry Go Round” which is, you will gather from the title, a domestic comedy. It is set in Athens and I wrote it especially for our Greek friends, the actor Stelios Mainas and his wife Katia Sperelaki and in it I poke a little affectionate fun at the idiosyncrasies of the Greek character, unfortunately in real life not quite so funny. Firstly there is their predilection to demonstrate (with very large banners) at the drop of a hat, too often leading to confrontation and violence during which senseless vandalism runs amok. This can be put down to the few troublemakers who come prepared for a riot. Greece must be the last place on earth where anarchism still flourishes. Secondly the Greek’s willingness to strike before the hat’s even hit the floor and this is where the wounded foot comes in.
Next to smoking and overtaking at ninety miles an hour across a double white line and on a blind bend whilst talking on the phone (and probably smoking) Greeks like nothing better than to wine, dine and be jolly They are on the whole as friendly and hospitable a people as you are likely to find though occasionally xenophobia does raise its ugly head. Greece has, I wonder, how many thousand, restaurants, tavernas, obelisterios (fast food outlets), coffee bars etc. In the musical Les Miserables there is a song “Empty tables, empty chairs” and I was reminded of it looking at the news the other evening; empty tables, empty chairs in abundance as they wait for the people who will not be coming and restaurateurs, particularly on the islands that rely on the summer season for their livelihood, are being forced to throw away good food because there is no one coming to eat it, and the souvenir and beach equipment shops stand empty and forlorn. Why? Could it be because the world is in such a depressed state? Nope. It’s those blasted strikes again. Can the Greeks really be so stupid? The answer unfortunately seems to be yes. When are they going to realise the world has moved on in the last hundred years?
Ever since the Pasok government brought in austerity measures to get the Greek economy out of its direful mess and back on its feet there has been nothing but a succession of strikes and we are not talking about the ordinary working man here who will listen to the blandishments of the communist party (small in numbers and votes but seemingly quite influential behind the scenes) and his union bosses, we are talking of highly educated intelligent men and women in the professions; doctors, teachers, professors, bank staff. The doctors at our Health Centre have been on strike for months. What does this mean? They still have to be there to deal with emergencies so their strike consists of refusing to write out more than a set number of prescriptions per day. What does one make of that?
I believe twenty percent of Greece’s income comes from tourism and holiday makers and this year the holiday makers who were coming have cancelled their bookings in droves. Who wants to come to a country when there is the distinct possibility their holiday could run into trouble and be ruined?
The saga continues…