Sunday, 21 June 2015

Dear Greece

Today my hopes and wishes are all with the people of Greece. Not innocents, but more sinned against than sinning. Something of the reality of those inflated Greek pensions is the example of a 64 year old grandfather getting 750€ a month, and supporting a wife, workless married children and grandchildren from it. For sure there is barter, work in the black economy and the network of semi-legal mutual support structures but some things - utilities, rent - must be paid in real cash. Would you take it from him? I don't think I could. 

This weekend let's read Kavafy and hope for the future;
He was out of work that year,
so he lived off card games,
backgammon, and borrowed money.

He was offered a job at three pounds a month
in a small stationery store,
but he turned it down without the slightest hesitation.
It wasn’t suitable. It wasn’t the right pay for him,
a reasonably educated young man, twenty-five years old.

He won two, maybe three dollars a day—sometimes.
How much could he expect to make out of cards and backgammon
in the caf├ęs of his social level, working-class places,
however cleverly he played, however stupid the opponents he chose?
His borrowing—that was even worse.
He rarely picked up a dollar, usually no more than half that,
and sometimes he had to come down to even less.

For a week or so, sometimes longer,
when he managed to escape those horrible late nights,
he’d cool himself at the baths, and with a morning swim.

His clothes were a terrible mess.
He always wore the same suit,
a very faded cinnamon-brown suit.

O summer days of nineteen hundred and eight,
from your perspective
the cinnamon-brown suit was tastefully excluded.

Your perspective has preserved him
as he was when he took off, threw off,
those unworthy clothes, that mended underwear,
and stood stark naked, impeccably handsome, a miracle—
his hair uncombed, swept back,
his limbs a little tanned
from his morning nakedness at the baths and on th
e beach.


Anonymous said...

Another dimension to it all is that the Euro lends an apparent strength to the Greek economy that , and deters some holidaymakers, i.e. the exchange rate which is not £ to Drachma, but is £ to DM, so the holidays there aren't so cheap and attractive as they once seemed.

Budgie said...

Effectively the Troika has enforced a severe internal devaluation, substantially depressing wages and prices, by the expedient of mass unemployment (25+% general; 50+% youth). By the way, so much for our homegrown anti-austerity idiots.

The Greeks still want to keep the euro, and the EU/EZ still want to keep Greece in the euro, crazy though all this seems to British ears. So I can see Greece defaulting, but I think they will still be in the euro in 6 month's time.

Cascadian said...

Yet the Ukraine gets extensions on its defaulted loans, pourquoi? Must be the right kind of socialists.

It will be interesting to see how many insolvent European banks require emergency funding next week, and what Spain, Ireland and Portugal decide to do.

meltemian said...

Thank you for your good wishes Raedwald, we are all waiting and hoping for the best.
In case anyone's interested here's our finance ministers last speech, made on Friday.

Don't know what today's proposals are yet.

Burgers said...

Dear Meltemian - I think we all wish the Greeks well in their struggle against the malevolently incompetent behemoth that is the EU (and against your own internal demons to some extent it must be said).

It is sad and strange that there is not a strong movement to leave the Euro. It is so self evidently the right course of action.

I have no love for Tsipras but at least he is cleaving to his mandate, in the face of huge pressure from the EU.

meltemian said...

Sadly the Greeks are 'holding on to nurse' but more and more people I speak to are beginning to see that a Grexit may be the only answer long term.
I have no confidence in any socialist government, but everyone else has tried and failed to sort the situation so I'm rooting for Tsipras and Varofakis until they fail as well. Just hope they don't.
It's time to stop Greek-bashing and find a way out.

Anonymous said...

Constantin Cavafy (as opposed to Kavafy) I thought?

Anyway, it seems too late to strike a deal. Lets see who blinks first.

Coney Island