Monday, 6 July 2015


I was walking back from Waitrose festooned with bags of balsamic vinegar, olives, pretzels, hummus and wine - all those essentials in my life when a guy said “can you spare me some money?” I gestured at my hands trapped by the bags and he smiled and said “sure”. He was certainly civilised and on his uppers. At least I gave him eye contact, at least I tried but my failure to slip him a few quid has been  making me feel lousy ever since. Why are so many people down on those who are already down about as far as they can get?

I’ve heard people saying about the Syrian and Libyan refugees  that in their midst are terrorists using the cover of human misery to sneak to our shores and blow us up.  Most of the people fleeing are women and children with no credible other option than to make a risky and expensive sea crossing. Maybe surprisingly it was Jeremy Clarkson who compared the refugees with a neighbour whose house was on fire. Do you shrug and say “not my problem mate” or help put it out and put them up until things are sorted.

Which brings me to Greece.

The last time I took a view on Greece I was heavily criticised for being soft on debt and soft on the causes of debt. They must be punished. It’s the only thing they understand.

If the ”they” are the ordinary population of Greece and not the oligarchy I couldn’t disagree more. The sheer unkindness of the EU, IMF and ECB has made me uneasy about the whole ethos of the EU. Do we really want to remain part of such a beastly cadre? All my strict attitudes about good governance and prudence are blown out of the water by a swift study of the Greek situation. It’s the sort of thing that Dickens would have written brilliantly about. We need that sort of passion now.

The reality is the debt mountain was not built by the average Greek. It was created by the “generosity” of the EU and the banks and the smiling corrupt barons at the top of Greece.

The trouble now is, as some are saying, “we might just as well vote “no” and preserve a bit of dignity; we have nothing left to lose except that now.

I feel as though I need to fly to a Greek island and throw a party for them. I love the Greeks and I have done since 1964 when I first went there. They are generous, good humoured and mischievous. I love the scenery, climate and the food. I love their swagger and sense of pride. I love their appetite for life.

I loathe what the Troika has done and we as passive spectators are doing in letting this being quenched.
Whatever they vote on Sunday we have a collective responsibility to be a lot kinder to them than we have been so far.

UPDATE:  60% + saying ”no”….amazing. Wish Greece well

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