"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Somewhere I would love to live or visit ........

I love where I live! New England is a beautiful part of the country - mountains & lakes in New Hampshire, great beaches in Maine, all four seasons. I just love it (well not so much in January & February)! So I do not think I would want to live anywhere else. I have, however, always dreamed of having a ton of money so that I could have several houses that I could visit whenever I wanted. And so today, this question makes me sad.

Being Greek I obviously would like to have a house in Greece. My family was originally from Kalamata. I search for photos like this one of the beaches in Greece and I melt! What a view to go to sleep and wake up to. I want to see the history and shop in the markets! I want to listen to the music and dance. I want to swim in that beautiful water and get the perfect tan my Yia-yia was always striving for. I want to pick olives from the trees and purchase an evil eye from a street vendor. I want to renew my marriage vows in a small church and hand down the crowns to my grandchildren. This is the image I have in my mind when I think of how I will spend the billions of dollars I will never have (I do still hope that some day I can visit).

But then I get sad because today, the real pictures of Greece do not match my imagination. With conversation turning to what Greece can sell to settle its debt the reality is that the classics I want to visit may not be there by the time I arrive. With the talk of austerity measures & riots my quiet, peaceful ocean paradise may be as unattainable as the money I would need to keep a second home there. As any good Greek will tell you, "There are two kinds of people - Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek." I am not sure if that is the case anymore. And that makes me sad.

I have spoken a lot about my Greek half of my family. My Nana is English. She loves tea and we refer to her as the Queen Mum. In another blog I will talk about how fabulous she is and why I am so proud to call myself her granddaughter. I have loved England since I was a little girl and I would watch Monty Python and Benny Hill with my Dad (I know, not children's television but this was the 1970s). I love British television, music, movies, actors and actresses: Spooks (aka MI5), Eric Clapton, Gosford Park, Ioan Gruffod, Dame Maggie Smith (just to name a few). England is the second place I would love to be able to visit any time I want. I did manage to land at Heathrow Airport twice - once on a trip to Portugal, once on a trip to Spain. On the way back from Spain I actually had a 12 hour layover. I got to ride the Tube, visit Trafalgar Square see the guards at Buckingham Palace, and eat lunch at a pub across from Victoria Station before I had to get on the plane and head home. England fascinates me. I love the way Parliament works, I love the majesty of the Royal Family. I want to visit Abbey Road, and take a ride on The London Eye and visit Big Ben. I would love to go to a soccer game (oh, sorry football) or watch my first game of cricket. I envision a cottage in an English village, walking through my garden, going to the shops for ingredients for dinner and riding my bike through the village; peaceful and calm.

But this too has been shattered. The riots in London have horrified me. You hear about riots in other places and somehow you can make sense of them: Greece, Egypt, even Los Angeles in 1992. But this makes no sense to me. While people keep talking about the killing of Mark Duggan as the catalyst for these riots. But I keep asking myself - what do groups of young people care about that? I think the Globe said it best: "Conditions have been perfect for the unrest: Britain’s economic outlook is bleak, youths are out of school and unemployed, police ranks have been depleted by summer vacations, and social media sites – coupled with dramatic video of the rioting – have bolstered a mob mentality and spread disobedience." 

How long do we think this can go on! It has been three years of slow, painful cuts to services, disregard for the regular worker bees and a complacency toward fixing the problems (I could be talking about the U.S., England, Ireland, Greece, Spain or Italy). How long did people think that the wealth for the few could just grow and grow and grow while the wealth of those pay the salary of the rich keeps getting less and less (yes, I feel like I pay their salary - without my purchasing their products, they would not get paid. I feel the same way about the politicians)? How long did people think they could just live off "the system" without contributing to it? I think at this point we need to move beyond blaming one political party, one politician, one industry or corporation, one group of people. Now we need to look in the mirror and decide what we are going to do about fixing the system (what those rioting do not understand is that they are destroying their own community and their actions are going to do nothing but make their situation worse - riots are not productive and don't change a thing).

I think we need to go back to 1961 when President Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." It appears to me that people don't want to do that anymore.


  1. Leann,
    You are so very right in all of your observations in regard to the riots in the UK. The mindless behaviour of these people is criminal, but at the same time it is in the context that we have created and we call "society". Our PM talks today of tough measures, prison and all sorts of things that are right and will make ordinary people feel better but they will not address the fundamental disparities and disaffections that appertain in our society. I would guess that the US is in a not dissimilar situation. Addressing those issues will need a whole appraisal of our society from the very top to the very bottom. Youths looting and burning is only another dimension of the same disrespect for values and integrity that goes with MPs cheating on their expenses, or Murdoch hacking into voicemail, or violence on the sport's field, or an employee helping themselves to the firm's peperclips and seeing it as a 'perk'!
    The last point especially that you make is not insignificant - in all our countries there is an issue of leadership and with people that everyone, whatever their affiliations, beliefs or prejudices can relate to, admire and aspire to. In my country there has been no one in over half a century that falls into this category. Many admired Thatcher but she was divisive and hated/loved in equal measure. I do despair of the quality of our leaders - on both sides of the Atlantic they have become, I believe, mere puppets of vested interest and simply 'mouthpieces'. There is a large body of opinion in the UK that makes this point very well. 'Where are the statesmen?' it asks and followed this question up by making the very valid point that a true statesman (or woman)makes things happen. They are not limited by the status quo or the common prejudice or the received wisdom of the age. They cut through all that and by their oratory, appeal and 'charisma' take people with them. I would guess that your Rooseveldt fell clearly into this category. We had Churchill and Kennedy was, without doubt, another. Sadly, I see no such people today and indeed it might be argued that the culture of our governments limits the chance of another one arising. I had great hopes (and still do) for Obama - but even he seems overwhelmed by the 'system' - but then I may be wrong seeing it form this side of the pond.
    Have a good day.......and if ever you make that trip call me, we'll show you some of those 'English things' that you dream of!

  2. I'm not Greek, but I also want to visit someday. The architecture! The history! The food!

  3. Love that last line...it's so true! Especially for our government. Such a sad thing!

  4. Interesting post Leann. Greece is a country I'd like to see as well especially the historical ruins on the islands. The island of Santorini looks beautiful too.

    Bored, sad, illiterate kids in ridiculous hooded sweatshirts running up and down a few streets and smashing windows ~ most of the UK is just going on as normal. Just watch the arrests that follow, CCTV photos of the kids' faces on television, the lifelong criminal records ... it's all in hand.

    The cricket is still being played on the village greens, we're still punting in Cambridge so it's all still here. I think New England is the place to be in the autumn or fall, very picturesque. I would like to see that some time.