High life

Athens today makes me long for an EU bigwig to strangle

12 March 2016

9:00 AM

12 March 2016

9:00 AM

 

 Athens

I am walking around downtown Athens watching as thousands of migrants field pitches from smugglers offering alternative routes to Germany and Austria. I ask a friendly policeman 50 years younger than me why he doesn’t arrest the smugglers and throw away the key. ‘Others will take their place quicker than we put the handcuffs on them,’ he tells me. ‘And they pretend to be migrants the moment we approach.’


Smuggling people is big business, and most of the bad guys are Afghans, as far as I can tell. It is grim stuff, especially where children are concerned. Victoria Square is a tree-lined park where long ago my grandfather owned a large family house. The area is no longer chic, hence the influx of migrants and smugglers. Yet there are good Samaritans handing out food despite the fact that Greece herself is the poorest country in the EU and being squeezed daily by the hated troika.

I chat with a man called Vangelis who is handing out sweets and bread to migrants. I tell him that I’m Golden Dawn and what he’s doing is commendable. ‘Golden Dawn was good at keeping criminals in line in the past,’ he says. ‘But these people here are victims, and that’s why I’m here.’ What about the people smugglers, I ask him. ‘They should be shot on the spot,’ he tells me with a smile. The ones I feel very sorry for are the poor Greeks whose shops and fast-food joints are totally empty because of the migrants lining the streets in front of them.

The next day I’m back near the square but to the east of it, where migrant creep is taking place. What I notice is the relative wealth of many of them, who pay shops in order to charge their mobiles and buy food and drink. From what I can tell, they are not Syrians but Afghans, Moroccans and Pakistanis. The latter are mostly with wives and children, and are law-abiding. The former look aggressive, are mostly young, and seem demanding. The port of Piraeus is where most of these non-refugees are concentrated, and I predict forced round-ups sooner rather than later as they smell weakness on the part of the Greek government to crack down.

What strikes me is the dignity of poor Greeks. One of them, an old man, is selling postcards for €1, but has no takers. Another is pitching some silk to three obese Cypriot women tourists, who speak to him in guttural English. No sale. It is heartbreaking to watch, and I wish some EU biggie would appear so I could strangle him. Merkel would do fine. Greek Prime Minister Tsipras would also fit the bill, but he’s busy meeting his kind behind the marble walls of his office next to the royal palace. In order to remain in power, he has overseen the sacrifice of the country to EU incompetence, and to hell with the consequences. He could have prevented the catastrophe by dispatching three PT boats to patrol the straits that separate Greece and Turkey, but instead he bowed to the EU ukase by doing nothing and playing nice. Elected twice by the Greeks because he pledged to stand up to Brussels, he has now become the enabler of this mess, appearing nightly on the news talking bullshit.

I flew to Athens with some friends for Aleko Goulandris’s 89th birthday, and after cruising the capital I went to dinner with four friends, one of them our ex-ambassador to Berlin, the other the curator of the Athens museum of Cycladic art. After the afternoon’s depressing peregrinations, I got hog-whimpering drunk, as a member of the Soames clan once described the condition. The next day saw more research under a blazing sun, then Aleko’s party. The Greek royal family was there in full force, and I sat between our queen and Spain’s queen mother. Then the premier violinist of our time, Leonidas Kavakos, appeared. He played happy birthday to our host, then a brilliant sonata by Brahms, both sentimental and gay (in the old-fashioned meaning of the word), in three movements. Everyone was transfixed by his virtuosity and the near-sanctity of the moment.

There we were, twenty-odd close friends, celebrating my oldest friend’s birthday with a great artist who had volunteered to come and play because of my host’s past generosity to the arts, especially classical music. Well into my cups, I was driven home by a Greek member of parliament who asked me why I drank as much as I do. I blamed it all on the migrant crisis and the way-to-the-left ruling gang. He laughed out loud. They are a very bad bunch, he said, but they’re not responsible for your drinking. I told him he was a pedant, thanked him, and bade him good night.

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free


Show comments
  • davidshort10

    Taki gets drunk. What a surprise.

  • Frank

    No, of course none of Greece’s problems have anything to do with all the rich and well off Greeks avoiding tax for the last 50 years. I am surprised you have the brazenness to return to Greece.

    • #toryscum

      My favourite statistic, from about 10 years ago, is that there are more Porsche Cayennes in Athens than top rate tax payers.

    • #toryscum

      My favourite statistic, from about 10 years ago, is that there are more Porsche Cayennes in Athens than top rate tax payers.

      • Frank

        Was watching Simon Reeves do a tv presentation on Greece and he had some chap fly a little drone over a posh hillside above Athens. Officially there were supposed to be circa 10 swimming-pools (you had to pay extra tax) in fact, virtually every house had a pool, some camouflaged!

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Greeks are a culture of liars.

          • Tamerlane

            There’s that weird, irrational hatred of the Orthodox again.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            You see everything as hatred. I do not hate the Orthodox culture. I have merely learned to distrust it and to understand that dishonesty lies at its core. You have several elements of their culture yourself. You lie about yourself and you lie about others. You are a charlatan and a cheat, like them.

          • Tamerlane

            No way. There’s more to this than you’re willing to admit. You have a completely bizarre, irrational reaction to the mention of any Orthodox nation or people. If I went down that road with Muslims there wouldn’t be enough wild horses to stop you jumping on that high horse of yours to make one of your pompous attempts at validating yourself. This is some sort of weird thing that I can only assume is associated with your being a Respect Party activist and the Orthodox countries have no time for your agenda whatsoever, or Mrs Yvonne/Barry had a tryst with a Ruskie hunk once upon a time and you’ve never got over it.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            No. It is a shame you choose to make these unfounded allegations. For the avoidance of doubt I will repeat again.
            All countries with a tradition pertaining to the Orthodox Christian faith suffer from a culture of dishonesty,cheating and lies. They are cultures of revenge, not co-operation.
            This is based on years of study, not some trivial prejudice. It is a sad but true fact. I have no idea how to counter it. But in terms of dealing with Orthodox cultures it is a stark warning to the naive.
            I know you have many Russian friends and employers, but you are in bed with liars and cheats. This should inform anyone reading your posts. You are working for liars, you are a cheat.

          • Tamerlane

            This is in your opinion. Again fact v opinion. Two different things. You’re still on that learning curve. You are remedial I fear.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Liar.

      • Father Todd Unctious

        The stat was wrong.

        • #toryscum

          read what i said again

          • Father Todd Unctious

            But that statistic was proven to be wrong.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      That *was* the problem.

      After austerity, there’s now fundermental economic issues.

      • Tamerlane

        Yeah, economic growth is such an issue.

  • Fritz123

    There are hard decisions in the life of people and it the life of states. If we look closer to the dear and noble migrants Italy and Greece did it best by ignoring Brussels. Refugees are not an EU business anyway. The EU just wants to make it its business. Life v. burocracy.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Ah yes, those pesky rules like H&S…workers rights… as you try and redefine the EU…

      • Fritz123

        Thanks for the feedback. I am brainstorming. I grew up as a teenager in London and I wish everybody the same experience. And the dynamics and reasons or not of the idea of the Brexit makes me sad. The ideas and complaints behind are ok and should be the center of any EU activity that looks like fog or not. If we look closer not all is bad and there are only some ideological crazy things happening. We would need a Marx to coin something like opium for the masses. Geneva and the EU is a good example. Who is responsible for refugees? This is where the friends of the Brexit should not let their continental friends alone. In the times of fog we need more clear thinking. And this may include systematic legal thinking.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          Totalitarianism is about the only way, yes…

      • goodsoldier

        We can legislate our own worker’s rights democratically. Perhaps you don’t like that part of it.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So you reject conventional existing democracy, and want “democratic” destruction of worker rights, dictated by your personalities. Right.

          • goodsoldier

            So you want to dictatorially impose legislation upon people because it is something you want and believe is right. I see.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I support modern democracy.

            You see what you want to, in your opposition to Britain.

  • Anna Bananahammok

    Taki is getting tired and tiring.

    • GenJackRipper

      I want to eat a banana in a hammock

      • Anna Bananahammok

        best way to eat it

    • Father Todd Unctious

      You forgot tiresome. Tedious and pointless.

  • Malcolm Stevas

    “[Tsipras] could have prevented the catastrophe by dispatching three PT boats to patrol the straits that separate Greece and Turkey”
    Greece has a quite well equipped navy, with up to 40 or so gunboats, minesweepers, missile-carrying fast attack craft, etc. Not to mention one of the largest armies in Europe, and an air force with modern jets. Its incapacity in preventing the arrival of vast hordes of alien migrants is on a par with the economic incompetence that has led to its being “squeezed daily by the hated troika”.
    No sympathy from me for Greece, which seems clearly to have brought its troubles on itself. But Taki is rich: he and his fellow wealthy expats could chip in quite a few million….

    • GenJackRipper

      “Chip in quite a few millions”
      To do what? Give to the government? Lol.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Clearly, they’d have to do it themselves:
        “Well, fancy giving money to the Government! Might as well have put it down the drain. Fancy giving money to the Government! Nobody will see the stuff again…” (A.P.Herbert)

    • Ingmar Blessing

      At the beginning of the Greek financial meltdown there was a conference of rich exile Greek somewhere in Switzerland. I have seen a TV report about it.

      They all felt pity for the country and missed living there and they were willing to do something for the their countrymen by investing. On the question if they also would invest into Greek bonds and bail them out they all agreed that they would do it – but that it was pointless. The government is so filthy corrupt and incompetent, it wouldn’t make a difference.

      Now, almost 10 years and several (explicit and implicit) hundred billions in bail outs later they were proven right. The only thing that keeps the Greek government to fully drowning is phony statistics and the inclusion of estimations about illegal drug dealing into the official GDP calculation.

      Greece as a fiscal entity is pointless. Greece as a country with a very rich culture and history is something different.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Spot on. Rather like subsidising agriculture because farmers are guardians of the countryside, it’s possible to make a case for subsidising Greece to some degree since it’s the home of European democracy and all that. But there really are limits, and Greece does seem as you suggest terminally incapable of governing its economy.

      • Leon Wolfeson

        So you don’t bother to notice the government changed? And the current problem is external capitalists destroying value?

        • Ingmar Blessing

          Well, it turned out that there was not much to change in the government. The country was run like a banana republic. Most institutions only existed on paper, or as Potemkin villages that had a nice building and a boss but no procedures to handle its affairs.

          That was one of the reasons why they had to send external bureaucrats: to get the thing running in the first place.

          Or did you already forget the statistics forgery, the fraud, the corruption, the gambling while standing at the verge of the abyss?

          That mentality was and still is deeply embedded in the political and administrative system of Greece. If you replace the government and get one, that really wants to change things it usually takes a decade to get the job done. Now take a new government that is only interested in getting its relatives into public jobs as happened and you end up losing you money from day one.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, you turn out fantasies at an amazing rate.

            As you make excuses for austerity, check.

          • Ingmar Blessing

            No! Where do you read that?

            I said the government was EXTREMELY CORRUPT

            That has nothing to do with austerity. Even if Greece had been/ was a perfectly balanced peoples republic with peace and harmony for everyone and oil like Norway – with the degree of corruption that is normal there, they would have ended at the very same spot as they did.

            Just look at Transparency Internationals ranking. In 2007 Greece started somewhere at rank 50 of ~180 and now they are somewhere near rank 80.

            China is better than that! And you can’t watch a Chinese ping pong match without the corruption there being mentioned.

            Austerity or not: Greece still is a structurally fraudulent place. I wouldn’t invest a single penny there if I had the choice.

            Those private exile Greek investors had the choice and so they didn’t.

            And if I was Greek (and for that case: Italian) I wouldn’t pay my taxes. I’d rather spend time in prison than feeding the monster.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, you’re mad your gravy train ended, as you deny the current situation.

            As you hate the Greeks, check. And as you admit you oppose paying tax, that “monster” called society…you’re part of the problem!

          • Ingmar Blessing

            Troll

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “Troll”

            So you are, Capitalist (and hence leech), and?

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Plus Gideon encouraging Corporate debt , held overseas, to transfer wealth and avoid tax.

  • Jacobi

    Your account of the suffering of the Greeks is heart rending.
    Merkel and her obsessed guilt ridden post-WWII conscience have created this disastrous crisis. Not the first time in history the Germans have done managed it.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Yea, blame the Germans for everything. Hmm!

      • Sanctimony

        Given your name, you’d probably get away with it ….

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So you think based on a pseudonym…as I don’t in fact to as you do, Mr. Bear…

  • Sanctimony

    When the Germans goosestepped, uninvited, into Athens in 1941 they stole Greece’s entire gold reserves.

    By some estimates, at today’s rates Germany owes Greece a total of 162 billion euros without interest. If you add 3 percent interest, it’s more than a trillion euros.

    From the Kaiser to Merkel, via Hitler, Germany has been a blight on the West and it is time we severed all links with these people.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      “These people”

      Oh, your far right. Fine.

      Your collectivist hate of all Germans, now…

      • Sanctimony

        Could I have that in English, please… not gibberish …

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So you can’t read English, says it all.

          • Sanctimony

            Have you ever considered sticking your head up a dead bear’s bum ?

          • Sanctimony

            Have you ever considered sticking your head up a dead bear’s bum ?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I don’t share your fetishes.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Greeks are Orthodox like Russians. Greek culture is riddled with distrust, dishonesty and cheating.

          • Sanctimony

            Are you one and the same as Todd Unctious… or perhaps a clone… or even related.

            I remember you as a sidekick of the Woman in White, aka JabbaPappa… the biggest know all and N*zi in the blogsphere…

            Either way, should your moniker not be Unctuous… the correct spelling for the literate.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            No. But then as you work for the Barclays you would know that.

      • #toryscum

        that’s a poor rebuttal of sanctimony’s (reasonable) points…

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So you think pointing at Germans and saying “u bad” is reasonable.

          • #toryscum

            ja ich weiß , Sie hamfool

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Thanks Mr. hamfool, but this is a British paper.

          • Lawrence James.

            It is in the light of European history after 1870. As colonists the Germans were as vicious and grasping as the Belgians.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So in the light of your trying to use history as an excuse for bigotry.

            Never mind the British Empire either, eh?

          • Lawrence James.

            I look forward to reading your vindication of the German and Belgian empires and examples of their humanity.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you look at your fantasies… and demand free work…

          • Lawrence James.

            Something missing here.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Yes, your payment.

      • #toryscum

        that’s a poor rebuttal of sanctimony’s (reasonable) points…

    • Lawrence James.

      No: stay in the EU to keep an eye on these mischief-makers.

      • Sanctimony

        France deserves everything that is coming to her because of her servility to the Squareheads who have twice invaded her in the last 100 years….

  • Tickertapeguy

    Time the EU collapse or drastically change her laws when it comes to asylum seekers. No member of the EU should be held to meet some magical quota of refugees from another world. That “world” of the Middle East is the responsibility of 50 odd Muslim nations, not (Christian) Europe.

    Either change the laws to stop the invasion of Muslim and African refugees into the European “Union”
    or
    Dissolve this “Union” and save the sovereignty of each European nation.

    If this was reversed and millions of Christian European refugees fled to Muslim nations not one single Christian would be admitted and the UN Human Rights Council (which admonishes the EU for not taking in more Muslim refugees) would uphold the protests of these Muslim nations.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Ah yes, “save” those borders and barriers, as you want to send Asylum Seekers back to face people like you…

      • Tickertapeguy

        Protecting a nation’s border is similar to protecting your home
        you support anyone to enter your nation is about the same as removing the hinges of the doors of your home and allowing anyone to squat in it and do what they please with your loved ones.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          Ah, so you should be removed, you say. I see.

          Your intent to harm the British…

          • Tickertapeguy

            Speak for yourself refugee.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I’m talking about your post, and your intent to do harm if allowed to remain, foreigner.

            And then you say I’m not British, trying to project eh?

          • Tickertapeguy

            You just admitted you are a Jew. that tells me everything.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Yes, it says everything you need to know in your blind Jewhate, foreigner.

          • Tickertapeguy

            the more you comment it is becoming clear you are
            a
            Christian hater.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I have a problem with a Jewhating foreigner – you, personally. I’m not your sort of collectivist and your fantasies I hate Christians are in your head, Satanist.

          • Tickertapeguy

            You have a litany of problems. the best way to make the point is for you to remove your hat.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You want to cause me problems, yes, Jewhating foreigner, I hear you.

            As you spew eugenics (or maybe phrenology) at me, check.

          • Tickertapeguy

            come on little jew boy
            your yamaka is crooked
            sing
            “hama Nagila, hama Nagila, Hama Nagila”

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Nitwit.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Shame on you to call Leon a nitwit

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Are you mental or illiterate?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Not now. Insanity is an *excuse*.

            He’s just a raging bigot.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Hey
            Jew boy
            it is much easier for you Jews to hate Christians since Jews do not acknowledge Christ as a God
            but Christians acknowledge Yahweh as “God the father”
            Jews do not acknowledge the new testament as anything but fiction
            while
            Christians fully accept the old testament as Holy.
            Guess you Jews are still angry when Christ turned over the tables of the Jews doing usury in the Temple. How ironic it is that now Jews own some of the most powerful banks in the world.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Appalling bigot.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, see, I don’t hate Christians.
            There are even nice Satanists, but you’re not among them.

            Your Jewhate fantasies roll on.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Who are you? and who asked you to enter this chat? but off.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Oh,quite simple. I am your enemy.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Have you ever thought of becoming a Matador? you are so good at slinging the bull.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            No. I prefer pig sticking.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Fits. Role around with pigs you would begin to sound and smell like one. bye.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Pig sticking is undertaken on horseback.

          • Tickertapeguy

            do not get your jew boy’s mathsa balls all in a bind while under your frock

          • Tickertapeguy

            see you got your jew boy under your frock

          • Tickertapeguy

            Check to see if your Jew boy’s circumcision needs updating.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Twit.

          • Tamerlane

            You’re about three years old by the looks of things.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            …..and you have an IQ close to 70. Moron.

          • Lawrence James.

            Generous in the extreme

          • Tamerlane

            He is Leon Wolfeson and Leon Wolfeson is him. He is a Respect Party activist. You’re talking to the same person, he switches identity to back himself up. He’s a twit.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Thanks Does he have ponytail?
            anyway I like my line to him that we all love Jews and we should all own one. lol

          • Tamerlane

            I don’t know if he has a ponytail but I can tell you he is a Taunton mortgage broker which makes his left wing posturing even more hysterical.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Well I do not know why he got so defensive with my first comment. After a while I tried to have some levity with him but he got too serious. Whoever he is the regular policing of any comments that could possibly criticize the Jews is then labeled Anti Semitic is getting really old.
            Remember about 2 days ago telling yet another of the Madoff scandal and how one my friends who was married to a German (who died and left her a fortune that was basically invested with Madoff . She is a Jewish lady and her estate was wiped off.) I gave that example that Jews are hurt by other Jews especially the established Jews with a lot of power including the Lehman Brothers bank which went bankrupt and is one of the banks of the Federal Reserve that had to be bailed out in 2008.
            did not matter. Cannot make remarks that concern the Jewish population without running the risk of being accused. I will not buy that anymore.

          • Tamerlane

            Leon Wolfeson is no more Jewish than my left shoe, it’s an act to give him some sort of a fall back when he’s lost an argument.

          • Tickertapeguy

            If what you say is true then I am dealing with the worst kind. the apologist. They are some of the most fiercest defenders of whatever they believe
            Since they generally do not have a personal stake in the issue and their opinion of what they are defending is generally warped, they fight even harder.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            What rubbish. Do you make up everything you post?

          • Tamerlane

            Are you talking to me now or yourself Leon, Yvonne, Barry etc?

          • Father Todd Unctious

            You disgusting Pratt. Shame on the Speccie for allowing you a platform

          • Tickertapeguy

            You impertinent monkey. you are an embarrassment to everything civil and decent.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Leon and I are separate people. Only obsessive nonentities like you see a conspiracy.
            It is quite normal for more than one reasonable person to oppose an idiot.

          • Tamerlane

            You would know.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Indeed I do.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Who are you? You nonentity.

          • Tickertapeguy

            That is the nature of the internet. None of us are more important than the other. By calling me a nonentity that also reflects on you.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            What?

          • Tickertapeguy

            Now you are befuddled.
            “what”. “where am I”. “who are you”. “where is my jello?”, “can you take me home?”. “I wet my underpants”.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            As I suspected, a dribbling numpty.

          • Tickertapeguy

            In your eyes I am a ‘nonentity” a “dribbling numpty” and yet you waste a lot of time you do not consider anything. Are you insane perhaps? maybe you left your brains at home.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Indeed. Yes.

          • Tickertapeguy

            You are an impertinent monkey and I deeply dislike the established Jews. I am glad they have a homeland for they mess it up everywhere else.

          • Tickertapeguy

            You are an impertinent monkey and I deeply dislike the established Jews. I am glad they have a homeland for they mess it up everywhere else.

          • Tickertapeguy

            come to think of it this makes it even worse for you since you are losing your cool over a commenter you consider a nonentity.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            More blind Jewhate from you…right.

          • Tickertapeguy

            Oh yes
            Give Merkel the German Jew a big kiss from me.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah yes, more Jewhate from you, foreigner, I hear you.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Why am I not surprised your thought here is of violence.

Close