Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Walking Dead (Athens edition - late January 2015)

This week, spare a thought for the lost, the lonely, the displaced of Greece.

You may have seen them already, shuffling aimlessly through the streets of Athens in dust-smudged designer suits and expensive silk ties. 

They’re the ones mumbling defunct campaign promises, trying to shake the hands of random strangers, and approaching small children to plant a slobbering kiss on their cheek.

You’ll know them from the dazed look in their clouded eyes and their repeated demands for directions to Syntagma Square. You might even spot them trying to climb up onto any elevated surface to deliver a rousing speech no-one will listen to, or evoke the name of some long-dead relative to stir up brand loyalty (few have the heart to tell them that – in the immortal words of Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch – such loyalty has “ceased to be”).

Be kind to them, for they are ill-prepared for the harsh chill wind of reality that most Greeks have adjusted to in the past few years. They’ve spent most of their working lives in the cosseted corridors of power, stroked daily by admirers and buoyed up by well-connected supporters with the means and the influence to ease their route from their luxury homes through the grit and grime of the city.

They’ve never had to search their pockets for a ticket for the Metro (even if they used public transport – something most considered below their station – they were entitled to ride for free, unlike the country’s army of unemployed).

They’ve never had to hustle for the last empty seat on the bus. 

They struggle with the concept of paying for a meal or a coffee, having been treated as non-paying guests by honoured proprietors keen to make the most the VIP patronage of their premises.

Little wonder, then, that they feel lost and utterly abandoned now that the Parliamentary rug has been pulled out from beneath them. 

Quiet tears course down their smooth but grimy cheeks as they contemplate the TV screens on which they were holding court to a captive audience not so long ago, but which now show a slightly chubby-faced 40-year-old – with no tie! – walking up the steps of the Prime Ministerial mansion to take his oath.

They shake their heads in disbelief at the sight of back-packs being carried into the corridors of power by what look like overgrown college students.

They cover their ears in horror to the sound  of “Rock The Casbah” and “People Have The Power” at rallies instead of the sonorous, serious tones of Hatzidakis, Orff or Theodorakis.

Be kind to them. Point them gently in the direction of the nearest coffee shop (explaining that they must pay for what they consume) and let them sit there sipping the thick bitter beverage of defeat until they come to terms with the fact that they are no longer Members of Parliament.

Just don’t turn your back on them. For all their forlorn looks, they’re survivors, prepared to do pretty much anything and form the strangest of alliances to assure their survival. By the time they’ve drained their last drop of coffee, they’ll already be plotting their return.

You have been warned.


  1. About time too, I say. It's time all these vested interests were aired and put out with the cat. But as you so wisely say... they'll be back...

  2. Well, even if I was in Greece these days I would have never voted for the 40yo for many many reasons. BUT I totally am with you and anyone else about the silk-tied sick-looking 50+ 60+ 70+ yos. Even if it is not the change I would personally greet, I love the very fact that there is a kind of change in Greece, for a change... :)

  3. I couldn't agree more...Very well seen Mandi :-)

  4. I think you hit the nail in the head with this one Mandi, great piece!