It occurred to me that some women who reach the apex of political power bring down upon themselves either distrust, ridicule, or downright hatred. There are a great many women leaders, presidents or prime ministers one never, or hardly ever, hears of; but here I am thinking in particular of the giants, Mrs Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, Benazir Bhutto, What got me thinking on these lines was Lewis rushing to the defence of Gauleiter Merkel who, as head of the troika, has certainly earned for herself the distrust if not the hatred of the Greeks. Whatever her true feelings are towards Greece she gives, and has in turn always given the distinct impression that she hates Greece and the Greek people. Of course I don’t personally know the woman and I can only go by the news I receive via the media. If I do her a disservice I can only apologise. Her quick visit to Greece was not received quietly.
Maybe she’s a wee bit worried that Germany will at last be called upon to make just reparations for the horrors of the occupation in WW2, Greece being the only occupied country that has never received compensation.
But let us try and get rid of some of the fallacies about Greece that seem to circulate in the outlook of people and the media of Germany, the UK, and others further afield. Having lived here for sixteen years and loving the country I am sometimes totally gobsmacked at the stories that circulate in the international press.
1) Greece is a third world country. Wrong. Greece might be bankrupt but it is far too cultured to ever be considered a third world country, not in any sense.
2) Greece, Athens in particular, is dangerous. When Athens hosted the Olympic Games (hardly the effort of a third world country) I am led to believe Australian newspapers advised their readers not to go because of the danger they would face as though Greece was some sort of Afghanistan. They thus robbed the event of many a potential visitor. Athens, until fairly recently, was a city in which one never felt threatened (except for pickpockets, the bane of any large city) and we have never felt threatened there in any way. I have felt threatened in London, in Glasgow, in Leeds, in Manchester, in Liverpool, in Bradford, but never in Athens. Unfortunately times have changed with the advent of so much hardship which has led to an increase in crime but that was inevitable and the city is still possibly one of the safest on earth.
3) Greek food is oily and the choice is limited. Nonsense. The Mediterranean diet has been proved to be the healthiest and, as for variety, I have tasted some of the most delicious lip-smacking tongue-tingling food in restaurants here. Agreed tourist restaurants all do seem to have the same menu but not all restaurants are tourist orientated.
4) Greeks demonstrate and riot at the drop of a hat. Well, didn’t I hear about some pretty hefty rioting in the UK recently? And countries like France also seem prone to this phenomenon. Rioting has been going on for centuries and the Greeks are no better or worse than anyone else. Think of the most recent rioting in Bangladesh. Also, although the news gives a completely different impression, when rioting does take place it is confined to a very small area and except for the wanton damage caused to buildings and businesses in that area, no one in their right senses has to be involved or affected by it.
5) This one is the humdinger. Greeks are the laziest people on earth. This just couldn’t be further from the truth. Greeks are the hardest working. In order to make ends meet many have two or more jobs and work hours that British workman would riot over if expected to do the same. And, talking of hard work, try joining in the olive harvest. I tried it for one day and it nearly killed me.
It is highly unfortunate and uncalled for that UK banks and newspapers put out these stories: don’t holiday in Greece, you won’t be able to get your money out of the bank, there is a food shortage, etcetera, all if it total nonsense but it has meant that Greece, relying as it does to some extent on tourism, has seen the figures this year down by something like 20%. That’s a great help in bad times. Everyone suffers as a result. Thanks a lot.
Okay, so okay, what is the downside? Next time.v