Still recycling my lost and found of meanderings about Greece…
I live in Greece, I am an ex-pat, something that conjurers up an image of someone whose best clothes are his bermudas sporting a David Hasselhoff perma-tan; I wish. The truth is that I live in a city of 1½ million people, a badly plastered Legoland inspired by the brave new world vision of 60’s slum-clearance architects’ high-rise hope for a future city. In Britain they had the good sense to raze them, where they didn’t fall down of their own accord. Here they allowed them to proliferate to the point where it’s only the double-parked cars that force the builders to leave gaps between them.
Greece is a country that tolerates other cultures as long as they do it the Greek way, where “excuse me” is a taboo and pointing out the absence of “please” and “thank-you” is countered by pointing out that I am no longer in England. The greatest compliment handed out to foreigners is that they have become Greek. While being far from perfect the Greeks are unapologetically Greek.
Britain has been reassessing it’s own Britishness lately, and not before time. Britain is a tolerant nation of tolerant people, a polite people with respect and consideration for others and a sense of fair play. A strong nation that has not only built empires but has been pretty honourable about letting them go. A rich heritage, maybe not as old as Greece, maybe not as old as many, but every bit as relevant (except maybe for morris dancers).
I miss three-bedroom semis with gardens, green parks, pavements without cars on them, professionals in suits, civil servants who smile, real ale, a thriving diverse music scene and the BBC. I miss things that you would miss if they were gone and these are the things we have to offer to those who choose to live in our country. Not utopia, but nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it’s time we learned to stop being apologetic for being British and putting everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. We have a lot to offer and a lot that is emulated by other countries. By becoming unapologetically British those who decide to live in our country will become proud of them too.
So, do I think about repatriating myself, are you mad, I’m saving a fortune on my heating bills.
note: I now live in a little mountain village overlooking a badly plastered Legoland. Looks so much better from up here but I am saving less on the heating bills.