‘Let me put it in, just a little bit’ was known as the second biggest lie after ‘the cheque is in the mail’ and it comes to mind when the Archbishop of Canterbury asks for just a little bit of sharia law. Enough said. People far more qualified than me have already commented on the man’s folly, but it is par for the course. We in the West seem to be bent on committing suicide. Sarkozy asks for more mosques in France, some moron wants to sack cops in Britain in order to save money, there’s a brouhaha about the bugging of a radical Muslim MP visiting a suspected terrorist in jail — if you don’t bug those two whom should you be bugging, Sir (to be) David Tang? — and those nice guys who run Premier League football want English clubs to play their games in faraway places like Peking, Los Angeles and Sydney. Anything goes as far as moola is concerned, and that includes Andy Murray, the Scot who said ‘Anyone but England’ where the European Championships were concerned in 2006, the same chap who is on the receiving end of hundreds of thousands of pounds from the British Tennis Federation.
Even worse is the issue of Kosovo. With a few prominent exceptions, Nato, the EU, the USA and the UN all favour speedy recognition of a rogue state led by drug dealers and terrorists and militant Muslims. What the hell is going on here? Why must we have a second Muslim state in our midst? Isn’t Albania enough? But I digress. It isn’t all gloom; after all, here in Gstaad we haven’t seen a cloud in two weeks, the snow is good and my liver is like Muslims, growing by the minute. And in order to amuse you, here is a uniquely Greek political scandal, one which has not been reported outside Greece for reasons I do not comprehend. Inside my country there has been nothing else in the newspapers and television programmes but that, and as far as the kafeneion is concerned, fuggedaboutit.
It began very long ago, up in the north of Greece, where two men forged a friendship. Constantine Karamanlis followed his famous uncle’s example and became prime minister in 2004. He is a centrist, married to a woman called Natasha, who is a doctor, and it was he who named his old friend, who is also married, as the general secretary of the Ministry of Culture. Mr Zachopoulos was a high-school teacher when he was suddenly promoted to being secretary general in one of the most important ministries of Greece, for obvious reasons. Not having done too well these past 2,000 years, we try to keep our glorious long-ago past as alive as possible. Zachopoulos, a fatty and rather short even for a Greek, was married but began an affair with his secretary once ensconced in his powerful role. The secretary, too, was a fatty, so it was a natural, as they say in Hollywood. But then something happened and the secretary decided to video their assignation. Some newspapers insist it was done in order to be reviewed later in case his ardour flagged. Others say she had blackmail in mind.
In any case, the tapes landed on the desk of Proto Thema, a scandal sheet published every Sunday in order to spoil the week for those who are mentioned in its pages. It sure spoiled poor Zachopoulos’s week, because after reading about his escapades — the scandal sheet showed parts of the tape — he threw himself out of a fourth-floor window. More trouble followed. As I said, he was a fatty and rather squat and, although he hit the pavement in full force, his fatty parts saved his life. Although broken up and looking like a man interviewed rather vigorously by the Gestapo, he managed to survive, although he remained in a coma for weeks.
Now here comes the bad stuff. Athens is a city that thrives on rumours, and no one spreads rumours faster than a Greek. After all, it is probably the only thing we have in common with our ancestors. Along with envy and jealousy. The rumours which have dominated the political landscape have to do with the friendship of Karamanlis, the PM, and Zachopoulos. Why did Mr Z. get such a plum job at a very elevated salary?
The scandal has managed to amuse the Greek populace during the depressing winter months when it is deprived of going to the beach twice daily. I wish Mr Z. a speedy recovery and, to all you fatties out there, rejoice. The fat on you may one day save your life.