Sunday, 30 March 2014

The plastic ball (Το τόπι)

Tonight's vote in Parliament on the multi-bill was procedurally postponed by SYRIZA's censure motion, which was rejected.

A long long time ago, when there were not so many cars on the road but there were far more children on it, Mimi was born. By the time Mimi's sister Anna was born a few years later, the cars on the street had increased. So had the children, but they continued to play on the road. The parents did express concern abotu this new situation, and they often warned their chidlren to be careful on the road, fully aware that accidents do happen, but they also knew that they could not always be on the lookout for their children all the time, only some of the time.

clip_image002[25]On Mimi's birthday, his godparents gave him a brightly coloured ball. It was the newest ball in the neighbourhood, so all the chidlren wanted to play with him. Mimi liked his new ball very much, mainly because of the special status it gave him ("it's my ball, and I will choose who I will let play with it," he was often heard saying). Some children didn't like the way he spoke to them, but they continued to play with him because they were in essence polite children, and also because they secretly hoped that their chance would come one day to play with that ball too (even if they had to have Mimi in their παρέα).

Anna didn't like her brother's bossy nature. She thought he was making a big fuss over nothing. "It's just a ball," she'd tell him. When their mother was also within hearing, she'd remind Mimi that he should be fair and let all the children play with the ball without barriers. "But it's new, and no one else has a new ball like mine," Mimi would always answer. "Until it gets old, Mimi," Anna would then say to him. And Mimi would say "It's my ball, and I make the rules. And if his father happened to be within hearing, he'd agree with Mimi. "Good boy, sonnie, you're protecting your ball that way, so it won't get old too quickly."

The children of the neighbourhood often played together in the afternoon, after school, when there was not much happening. They all lived in apartments and the street was their playground. Mimi loved to throw the ball really high in the air. It often fell or rolled into the dangerous traffic. "Mimi, be careful!" his sister would say. She saw him as a little reckless. He saw himself as daring. When the ball rolled into the traffic, he'd tell the children he had chosen to play with him to go and fetch it. Whoever didn't do as he was asked by Mimi would then be thrown out of the game. It was only natural that not many children wanted to play with him when he did that.

clip_image002[8]One day, Mimi threw the ball really high, and it landed in the middle of the road. Since no one would play with him any longer because they were worried about getting hit by a car, Mimi had to fetch his ball by himself. Without looking left, right and left again (such rules were never really taught to Greek children at any period in time... except perhaps since the crisis, when the novelty of obeying rules is now being seen as obligatory), he ran into the road just as three cars were  approaching, one from each side of the T-junction.

The cars all managed to stop in time without hitting Mimi, but the green car crashed into the blue car, while the red car was left unscathed. The drivers of the cars all got out to survey the damage. The driver of the red car checked out his car, and left. The driver of the blue car, while upset about the damage to his car, knew that it wasn't the green car's fault, but he knew that the driver's insurance company would pay for the damage. The driver of the green car had suffered damage, and while he knew that his insurance company would pay for the damage to the blue car, no one would pay for the damage to his own car, because, like most Greeks, he had only third party insurance (thankfully, he had taken out insurance to begin with).

As soon as the tyres began to screech, people got out of their houses and looked out onto the street to see what was happening. Some people saw a number of children, and wondered where their mothers were, to look out for them. Others saw only the drivers, and wondered how badly they were driving to cause such an accident. A few saw the ball and connected it with the children. After checking that the chidlren weren't their own, they left the scene. Some of the neighbourhood's children saw Mimi on the road, and told their mothers: "Mimi was on the road." The driver of the red car noticed the ball on the road, and he looked at Mimi, who was now on the footpath, but he was too busy checking on the other drivers to worry about Mimi, who seemed to be safe and sound where he was. The other drivers were too concerned with the damage to their cars to realise the root cause of the problem.

clip_image002Anna was livid: "I told you to be careful!" she said to Mimi. Their mother was visibly upset. "You are never to play with that ball again!" she said to him and she took the ball away. Mimi's father was out, so he missed the whole episode. As for Mimi, he just put his palms to his ears.

Mimi's grandmother made the sign of the cross. She was glad to hear that her grandson was not hurt. She nodded her head in agreement when Anna scolded Mimi, but no one ever listened to her. She was very glad to hear that the ball had now been disposed of by her daughter-in-law. And she was very glad that her own son was not there to see what had happened because he would have heard the wrath of his wife's tongue.

Yiayia knew that right now, Mimi needed a good spanking, but there was no one to do it. She wondered what the future would bring for a child that hadn't been spanked when the occasion arose, before it was too late, because there does come a moment when you are too old to be spanked. And by then, it really will be too late.

The vote will take place on Tuesday instead: we are in for great ado, about absolutely nothing in particular.

Right now, you won't find much in the English press about this issue (it's all Greek to them):
Τέλος στα «μικρά καρτέλ» αγαθών και υπηρεσιών
You can use these links as a guide:

UPDATE: The multibill went through, despite the spoilt brats' walkout and the dissenters' no's. The coalition government lost some support, but this was inevitable. One thing that this shows is that Greek politicians who are voting in 'nasty' bills are now working for the good of the country, not for personal interests, and not for customer relations with their voters. We're all in it together.

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