Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year

The floor of the courtyard is littered with oranges fallen before their time and the tree is still laden, as is the tree in the lower garden, and a couple of days ago Douglas had a field day resulting in seventeen pounds of mandarin marmalade. I would have preferred less marmalade and some mandarins just to eat but he cleared the tree except for half a dozen he couldn’t reach. We’ve had so much rain recently I must remind them to take a look at the avocados.
Well, or lipon as the Greeks say, here we are into 2014. As usual we didn’t stay up to watch the festivities on television. The last time Douglas and I celebrated New Year was a few years back when we were in Athens and part of the milling throng shoulder to shoulder in Kotsia Square, bands playing and at the countdown the sky ablaze with exploding fireworks.  Pickpockets must have thought all their birthdays had come at once though fortunately we weren’t tagged. One might have been given a quick brush-by but having suffered from these buggers before we made sure there was nothing to pick – nothing easily accessible anyway. A case of once bitten twice shy, or more accurately twice bitten. It’s amazing though how careless some people can be. I was sitting one day on one of the stone benches at Ommonia outside my favourite restaurant, “Neon” and I noticed a young guy who turned out to be Australian with knapsack a couple of benches off and a big, fat, juicy wallet stuck invitingly out of his back trouser pocket so I took it on myself to warn him of the danger.  Five minutes later he left with that big fat juicy wallet still there but not for much longer I reckoned.
I wonder if there was much to celebrate in Athens this time around and when, if ever, this recession is going to come to an end. For many Greeks 2014 is not going to be a good year, for so many struggling to keep their heads above water a loss in their pensions will be the last straw. Perhaps the politicians would like to tell them what they will have to live on. Here on Crete a group of ex-pats have formed a charity called “Helping Hand” to distribute food to families in need. In Athens the fascist party Golden Dawn is also distributing food but only to those who can produce Greek ID.
A petition has been started requesting the Greek government do something about saving Crete’s ancient olive trees, some of them hundreds of years old and  being indiscriminately chopped down to provide firewood for those who simply can’t afford to heat their homes any other way. As the petitioner has it – “These trees helped our parents put clothes on our backs and send us to university. It is thanks to these trees that Crete is what it is. Its cultural development is thanks to them.
Yet no one cares for these olive trees that have fed millions of people for thousands of years that have been worshipped and adored. These trees are our legacy.” She could have added “our livelihood.” Unfortunately I doubt the government can or will do anything about it.
So what would I hope for in 2014? Apart from the obvious like religious contention resulting only too often in violence, I would like there to be more awareness of human cruelty to animals, perhaps starting off with a complete worldwide banning of vivisection, the closing of zoos not up to a certain standard of welfare and a blitz on those promoting dog-fights: for this disgusting phenomenon a lengthy prison sentence, a hefty fine and the prohibition of keeping an animal for life.
There are so many many things one could wish for to make this world a better place but as the old saying has it, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride,” and all the prayers and wishing in the end isn’t gong to change a damn thing. Happy new year anyway.

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