High life

Greece is calling – three more years and then I move south

The beaches of my childhood have a fresh attraction, for all the lousy politics that comes with them

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

Porto Cheli

I have been thinking about my children and my own strange boyhood as I gaze up at the clear blue skies of summer. Summers lasted an eternity back then, and by the time one got back to school there were new friends, new loves and new discoveries of things unknown the previous May. For example, I had seen my father kiss a very pretty woman whose name, Raimonde, was French. She was a blonde beauty who was engaged to dad’s closest friend, Paris. It gave one a strange feeling, knowing something no one else did — certainly not my mother or Paris.

Paris Kyriakopoulos was the son of the governor of the Bank of Greece, an extremely powerful position. But Paris also had something else going for him. He was by far the best-looking man in Athens, so handsome that a German general lost his head over him and had him arrested and brought to his quarters until sanity prevailed. He apologised, bowed and sent Paris home in his Mercedes. The general’s name was Rosenberg, and 30 years later, when I was dating Paris’s daughter, Paris and his wife came on board my boat and we spent an evening talking about old times. Rosenberg lost his life in Russia and Paris had lost all his silken hair by then, but he was still among the most attractive men ever.

Paris did not marry Raimonde and I think she was dad’s close friend for a while but then I lost track of her. Paris and my father stayed friends until the end. It was during a bombing raid by the Allies when the lights went out that I saw Daddy kissing her and it has stayed in my mind for ever. The war years were interminable, as were the summers that followed, in America. There were more discoveries, things like country clubs full of young women and men wearing Bermuda shorts. This was bliss, even better than Greece: three months of looking at beautiful girls, some of them even smiling and saying hello to a 12-year-old. But then came tennis and summers turned into a grind. Swimming was a no-no, as was everything else that was fun in life. It was non-stop travel and going from the hotel to the tennis club and then back to the hotel. After ten years exactly — ten whole summers down the tube — I went back to my childhood haunts on the French Riviera, Vouliagmeni beach, and even the Hamptons.

Now, one week before my birthday, it is hard not to feel a certain pang on a summer day. When my little girl was tiny, I used to take her to meet one of the 40 French immortals, Michel Déon, the great novelist back then living on the isle of Spetsai. I have pictures of Michel cuddling Lolly, who had no idea that the arms that enfolded her had written some 50-odd wonderful novels. (Michel Déon is now 95 and lives and works in Ireland, and we even correspond.) All this week I’ve been struggling to find the young person within the old body as I look at my son’s children, Taki and Maria, eight and six, and try to imagine what it would be like for them if they saw their father kissing a blonde beauty who belonged to someone else. Probably it wouldn’t even register. No one can shock children any more.

Something strange happened the day after I arrived on the Peloponnese. I woke up with no pain in either hip, or either ankle. As if someone had shot me full of cortisone while I was asleep. I began gingerly, kicking waist-high, then ‘Jodan’, up high. No pain. Low kicks don’t impress an audience, high ones do, but the latter is a sucker’s move on the street. Even the left shoulder, arthritic as hell as I fight lefty in judo, felt good. What is going on here, I asked myself. Well, I’ll tell you what. I’m getting bloody old and living up high in the mountains makes the old body creak and hurt. I give it three more years and then I’ll move south. I’ll quit judo competition at 80 because there is no category after that age, and keep training in both judo and karate as long as the pain doesn’t get too much. In the meantime, Greece during the summer is a marvel. The soft, rose-tinted light of the Aegean, the cool breeze that starts promptly at four in the afternoon, such things block out the horrors of modern life.

Greeks are basically a good people, but the corrupt civil service and the kleptocrats who have enriched themselves these past 40 years by stealing the country blind and who are still in power make it very hard to live here. The very rich are immune, the middle class has been wiped out — 6,000 doctors have left to work elsewhere — and nine democratically elected members of parliament have been jailed by the crooks of the ruling centre-left coalition in an illegal step that undermines the rule of law and increases the power of the executive. The third most popular party in Greece, Golden Dawn, has been declared a neo-Nazi party by the very crooks that have brought the country to its knees, and with only a majority vote in parliament a ukase was issued bypassing the judiciary and imprisoning democratically elected members on trumped-up charges. If this is democracy, I am General Rosenberg reincarnated and in love with Paris.

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  • GenJackRipper

    I wish you all the best and am glad to hear you return to your native land. People should always stay in their home country and bring their children up as their ancestors did.

    Hope you do some good in greek politics. Taki, member of Hellenic Parlament? 🙂

  • Baron

    Why wait another three years, Taki, stop the weekly waffle, go save the good burghers of Greece, now.

  • Greece is an incivil nation with
    kangaroo justice, overcriminalization, brutal police, huge political
    corruption, and persecution of dissident bloggers. Graecokleptocrats suffer from the Xenogiannakopoulou Syndrome, using the kangaroo justice
    as a political tool to gag political opponents. The Xenogiannakopoulou Syndrome is psoriasis of democracy. Democracy becomes a marilizard kleptocracy.

    Your government is your #1
    enemy. Brutal police and kangaroo courts
    are tools to enslave you to your government.
    But badges and benches do not
    grant extra rights. It’s your duty as a citizen to become a
    popopaparazzo, recording police misconduct. Use your smartphone to unmask cops,
    kangaroos, marilizards, godzillas, and other bastards of kleptocracy. Keynote Speaker Basil Venitis, venitis@gmail.com, http://venitism.blogspot.com


    EU practices double standards on civil rights. It’s freakish for EU to interfere in the
    civil rights of foreigners, but condone the abuse of my civil rights, a citizen
    of EU! EU should get its own house in
    order before lecturing others. EU should rein in Greece, the most corrupt country of Europe with prisoners of conscience,
    testilying police, malevolent prosecutors, perjurers, and stupidest jurists.


    The political philosopher Edmund Burke
    once remarked that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good
    folks to do nothing. A glaring example is my persecution by the government of
    Greece, which grossly violates my civil rights.


    Martin Niemöller said: First
    they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a
    Socialist. Then they came for the Trade
    Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not
    speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one
    left to speak for me!


    It’s been now four
    years since the Pasok government of Greece stole my life, my computer, and my
    files. Nobody cares, nobody gives a
    damn! I have done absolutely nothing,
    and I am being persecuted by the Greek government without any real reason. My ordeal is against all rules of civil
    society and treaties that Greece has signed.
    a country without a functioning justice system, has gone bananas. Graecokleptocrats suffer from the Xenogiannakopoulou Syndrome,
    using the kangaroo justice as a political tool to gag political opponents. Graecokleptocrats think the
    laws exist to give them whatever they want!






    On October 18, 2010, a gang of six brutal cops of the violent Greek
    Cybercrime Unit (CCU), a real godzilla, supervised
    by a dishonest prosecutor, a disgusting liar, raided my home in Athens and stole my computer,
    software, files, documents, and personal data.


    The policemen locked me in jail for a night, they
    humiliated me with handcuffs, fingerprints, mug shots, and lies, leaked false
    information to the media parrots, and the Greek government initiated sham
    ex-officio court proceedings for a stack of freakish trumped-up charges!


    There was neither pillow nor toilet
    facility in my jail cell. I had to urinate in a bottle! I, a 69-years-old man with high blood
    pressure, was not allowed to keep my hypertension pills with me. There was
    neither toilet paper nor soap in the whole CCU jail.



    Greece, a
    country of infinite political corruption, perjury, injustice, and brutal
    police, must be revamped. Ex-officio
    law suit, αυτεπαγγελτος, the
    most dreadful word in justice, means the state sues somebody without
    involvement of the accuser. This
    terrible scheme has been used by the freakish Greek government to persecute me.



    Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, Alternate
    Minister of Foreign Affairs, sued me, and she wouldn’t show up in court,
    because the state took over her position!



    At the ex-officio law
    suit, the accuser just hits and runs!
    This hit-and-run justice is the most disgusting kangaroo justice on
    Earth. The accused must be in a position
    to face his accuser eyeball to eyeball. The right to confront and cross-examine
    one’s accuser is a sign of civility. The malicious accuser slings false
    accusations against you, the state takes over, the accuser disappears from the
    court, and the trial is postponed infinite times! This is penalty of the presumed innocent. This is penalty without trial. This is kangaroo justice of Third World
    countries! This is barbarity and
    brutality, pure and simple. Shame, shame, shame on Greece.


  • English Majority

    Taki, please do anything you can to aid Golden Dawn (if you get the time etc).

  • Guest

    Taki’s father was a shipowner who profited from his extremely close relationship with the Colonels’ 1967-74 regime. In the eighties Theodoracopulos Snr provided material support to the Greek far right with the Caravel Hotel, which he owned, hosting all manner of fascist conference and conventions a few of which Taki’s father addressed.

    Taki himself penned a piece last year entitled “A fascist takeover in Greece? We should be so lucky” in which he called Golden Dawn supporters as “good old-fashioned patriots”. ( The article itself is still there on the Spectator’s website but the title was removed after the murder of left wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas last autumn.)

    The one group that Golden Dawn has been extremely supportive of in parliament is the shipowner community and the party has even set up a strike breaking union in the port of Pireaus to entice the shipowners back by facilitating the imposition of poverty wages and poor working conditions.

    Taki himself has openly said that he’d vote for Golden Dawn although he denies funding them. (For Greek speakers here: http://www.fimes.gr/2013/10/takis-theodorakopoulos-chrysi-augi/)
    Taki must be the first wealthy person who does not materially support a party that he has openly declared support for.