Saturday, 29 May 2010


And another week bites the dust. It's been hot. Thursday afternoon heralded the official Viviane Brentanos First Swim of the Season. It was wonderful. My daughter and I crossed the island to my favourite beach, Ag Gordis {much of the inspiration for both Dreamweek and Fragile Dreams}. That first plunge into the as yet cool water was shocking but after a few strokes so exhilarating. Floating on my back, staring across the beautiful back-drop of cypress and olive clad mountains, I understood why I chose to live here. Greece may be in financial dire straits, we are all having to tighten our belts but there is no where else I would rather be.
It's 25 years since I left Britain and came to this island. I may be British born but my heart and mind is now Greek. Greece is more than a country. It's a state of mind. It becomes one's soul - a passion.
So, as a red-gold sun shone down from a Cerulean sky, dusting my pale winter skin with its tender warmth, I looked out across the glittering azure sea and my love for this island re-kindled.
Which leads me in nicely to my ramble of the week. The underdog. Ever since I can remember, I have always routed for the underdog in movies and novels. I cried when King Kong died.{ok big underdog but he was so mistreated} I even wept for the shark in Jaws. Hey, it's the sea. Sharks swim in it. And who amongst you saw through Darth Vader's scary mask to the tortured soul beneath? I did. Oh God - she's on happy pills, I hear you all sigh. I wish: gotta be cheaper than Gin. I digress.
Ah yes - the underdog. People ask {usually my family back in UK who cannot understand my loyalty} why is it I am so passionate in my defense of Greece? It's simple. Greece, in population, is a little country but its heart, soul, culture, intelligence is huge.
I don't think people mean to be ignorant. I blame the lack of proper education. I remember, when I first came to Corfu, I truly believed that Britain was the greatest country on this planet. I realize all believe this of their own country and, don't misunderstand me, it is good to be patriotic but not by maligning others.
What I hate is this inherent aura of superiority that most Brits wear - again, I add, through ignorance. We are taught that Britannia still rules the waves. There is still a vast cultural divide between Old Albion and the European mainland - especially with the Southern countries. It's the scoffing, the tittering into hands, the sarcastic supposedly witty barbs that really offend me.
Greece has given the world so much; democracy, culture, literature, a wealth of history. Yes, that was a long time ago but the spirit that was Ancient and Classical Greece, I believe, still lives on in the hearts of the modern day Hellenes. They are a proud race. They have suffered a great deal in this past century; two world wars in which they fought hard and valiantly on the side of the allies , civil war in from which scars are still healing, oppression under the thumb of a dictator and now fighting to recover after too many long years of government corruption but they will pull through. Forgive them if the odds have been stacked against them. Greeks can be their own worst enemy. Greeks may argue amongst themselves but God help any outsider who attacks them. They will close ranks so fast you will be left reeling.
Their spirit is second to none. Who can forget their amazing sporting successes? The 2004 Euro soccer championship which, against all odds, they won. And not because they were technically the best team but through sheer guts and will-power. Greeks are also stoic. They know such a victory may never happen again. Were the Gods on their side that year? Who knows but they did it. That's all that matters to them and no one can take that away from them.
2004 was also the year Athens hosted the Olympic Games. Once again, the foreign press seemed hell bent on maligning Greece. They would never be ready, the games would be a shambles, and security was lax blah blah. The negativity was unbelievable. To say it made my blood boil would be an understatement. All I can say is...he who laughs last... Athens showed the world. The games were a spectacular success and the press was left with egg all over their faces but they are at it again.
Irresponsible journalism apparently is now the accepted norm. According to the dear old BBC and CNN, Athens is a war-zone; Greece is not safe for tourists. Oh my goodness - how daft is that? The recent protests in the capital took place within one square. Live in the city carried on as normal. Greece depends heavily on its tourist industry for its survival. All I ask is that the so-called journalists out there get there facts straight. How about a little research?
So have I finished my ramble? I think so. I am sure I could site many other examples of ‘bullying’ tactics but I think I have made my point. All I ask is for a little respect and understanding for Greece - the underdog with the heart and soul of a lion. See you all next week and I leave you with this link. The heart of a nation