Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Episode 18: In case of emergency, do nothing.

from under dark clouds
From Under Dark Clouds

From Under Dark Clouds

'From Under Dark Clouds...' is a Gonzo fictionalisation of current events in Greece as seen through the eyes of our unnamed hero as he fumbles from paranoia to public office, under the mentorage of the shady Socrates.

Each episode is based on real events. Readers are invited to share their experiences for the Under Dark Clouds treatment. Many have been included in cameo roles, can you spot them?




See link below for contributions


Fucked up, again!
Oops, fucked up, again! 
Once again, I was the kid in the corner of the class. Socrates hadn’t made me wear a hat or anything but he might as well. The lawyer's meter was ticking and so far the only value I could gather was that I was a fucking idiot and my wife had told me that for free. I thought Socrates had some leverage over the thieving bastard but since sloping off to Switzerland he had grown some balls and was levering back. Finally I asked him, in his two-hundred-Euros-an-hour opinion what could we do. He shrugged and said, "nothing." My dear blogees, when you pay good money for advice, take it.

I bade my leave and made for home to the wife in the hope that she would still be in a good mood before telling her about the latest developments, on second thoughts I would adhere to the costly advice of our brief and tell her nothing.

She was in good spirits and had cannelloni ready, it was a little al dente but two bottles of wine loosened it up nicely. I continued to follow the lawyer’s advice until bedtime when my dear lady wife took it instead.

The next morning, Socrates called me on the mobile. I was just about to set off for the town hall and he knew how I hated to speak while driving, well to be honest the speaking was the least of the problems, the hearing was the hard bit. I had once taken a hacksaw to my helmet to make it mobile friendly but it kept falling off. He had bought me a hands-free gizmo and had nearly killed myself finding out that it wasn’t compatible with 2-strokes.

Mike the IT guy brought me coffee, why did that man hate me so much? I tried to appeal to the well-assembled secretary but she was making busy with some papers. Mike asked me about the situation with the flats and I told him, in all confidence, that the police would come to evict them and that we could do nothing. He asked me if this was the official council lawyer or a personal brief, I replied the latter and he wafted off leaving a bad smell behind.

The phone rang, it was Socrates, the courts had issued a warrant and soon it would be in police hands. I asked what I could do and he reminded me of the lawyer’s bill and told me not to get in the way. Then he made me promise. I had to go down there, at least, and took Mike the IT guy and Tasos the janitor for support.

The Austerity Wars - on the front line in Greece
Grey Panthers? 2* 
A patrol car pulled up just as we arrived on foot and two officers got out. I asked them what their business was, the elder pulled out a piece of paper and apologised that he was just doing his job. I did nothing. He asked me to tell the residents to pack up and leave the building at once. I did some more nothing and said nothing for good measure. Just then a bus waddled up to the stop opposite and relieved itself of its contents on the pavement. The police entered the building to exercise the warrant. Another bus relieved itself at the stop from the other direction and about 4 tonnes of pensioners and waifs advanced on the town hall plaza. Mike the IT guy began waving and bouncing on his toes, I don’t recall ever seeing him quite so lively. I looked him in the eyes, which was not easy considering that they wouldn’t stay still, his face was all cheshire cat as he mouthed Facebook.

Soon the corridors and passage ways of the building were sardine-packed with all manner of derelict and dispossessed, some had found unoccupied apartments and had thrown down boxes and blankets to stake their claim.

The officers, failing to use authority to navigate the building found an open window and shouted down, “Mr. Mayor, you must do something about this, we are exercising a legal warrant to evacuate the premises.”

I asked him how much he earned. He huffed and told me that this was a very serious situation, I asked him again. He shrugged and told me around €800 a month. I asked him if he worked more than 4 hours a month. He huffed again, over 40 per week, “But please, Mr. Mayor this is no time—”

I did the maths, which wasn’t difficult and told him I could do nothing.

Through the open window I heard a walkie-talkie squalk and some unintelligible yelling. Mike the IT guy was tapping at the screen of his phone.

The officers arrived at the entrance in quite a state and proceeded to undertake a full audit of the equipment hanging from their uniforms.

It wasn’t long before a dark-blue coach equipped with meshed windows pulled up at the bus stop opposite and spewed out two dozen helmets and plastic shields. Socrates was going to be livid, fortunately not with me as I had done exactly as instructed but I knew he would be mighty pissed.

They were now ordering themselves into a rank on the pavement ready to take on 4 tonnes of waifs and strays. A Vespa pulled into the narrow street of the town hall plaza and a portly man alighted from a bare-foam saddle. He removed his helmet revealing a rather red face and smiled, not one of the locals, I presumed. Just behind him a herd of cars and mopeds were strewn and their occupants heading towards us. I looked to Mike the IT guy, he shrugged and shook his head, it was Tasos the janitor who answered my unasked query, Twitter, he said. The red-faced man pulled a gas mask and a camera from his bag and turned it on the now advancing heavy brigade snap snap, then disappeared into the building, “How do? Mr. Mayor,” as he passed me. I continued doing as I was told.

police vs pensioners
Police vs Pensioners 3*
One of the paramilitaries pulled a bull horn and addressed the building. The building answered with jeers and some domestic projectiles. The sergeant repeated his demands and was once more answered with jeers, a few domestic projectiles, supplies were obviously short, and a corn field of wrinkled, liver-spotted fists. A half-eaten bread-stick struck one of the helmets sending a spray of crumbs and sesame seeds over his confederates. At the opposite end of its arc was a giggling boy, Despina’s boy, things were taking a desperate turn.

It struck me that if there was any time for the black-shirts to show their solidarity with tha pippel this was it, but they remained conspicuous in their absence.

The ranks advanced and I continued to follow legal instructions, I had no idea then, how that would change.


Images 2* & 3* by kind permission of TeacherDude


previous
next



Don't forget to Follow and share with a friend, they'll love you a little more for it.

Click the social links or send me your experiences through comments or Mail

 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Episode 17: No Good Deed goes Unpunished


from under dark clouds

From Under Dark Clouds

From Under Dark Clouds

'From Under Dark Clouds...' is a Gonzo fictionalisation of current events in Greece as seen through the eyes of our unnamed hero as he fumbles from paranoia to public office, under the mentorage of the shady Socrates.

Each episode is based on real events. Readers are invited to share their experiences for the Under Dark Clouds treatment. Many have been included in cameo roles, can you spot them?

See link below for contributions


I don’t mind telling you, my dear Blogees, I was feeling fine. The fair lady Mayoress had been so overcome with pride by my selfless benevolence for the good people of this town that she bestowed great and glorious benediction upon my lowly being; twice. And once more before waking the kids for school. I was first into the town hall that morning and as I sat, almost looking forward to Mike the IT guy's coffee, I wore a smile that made my head numb, although that could well have been due to forgetting to remove my helmet.


I drew up an agenda and spent the rest of the day in a series of meetings with all the staff to tell them how fabulously I thought they were doing their jobs. Some had to explain exactly what job they did, which, strangely some were unable to do. But I told them one by one how marvellous I thought they were. None of them returned the compliment but I suppose it can be difficult to applaud your mayor. Don’t worry, they’ll vote.


media circus
Why aren't they taking us seriously
At the end of play, I was eager to get home for some home-cooked fayre and some quality time with the kids, who were, by the way, also awesome. I mounted my trusty Vespa, dismounted then went back into the office to retrieve my helmet; safety first!
What greeted me on the way home could only be described as a media circus. I know it was a circus because as I rolled closer the crowd opened and I felt like the act with the baggy trousers and the collapsing car. Some of the new residents were gathered around the entrance to the new Town hall plaza. Despina’s boy looked scared and was clutching a large club to his chest although on closer inspection it could have been a bread-stick. There were cheers and excitement and reporters. With a shudder, I remembered the last run-in with these vultures but felt resolute in the fact that I was the hero of the day and they were not going to steal my thunder. As the crowd opened I spotted the local priest, stealing my thunder.

Despina had invited him to bless their new home. He was waving bushels and books and each of the residents were receiving lots of symbolism. I parked up and tried to observe from a safe distance.
After the main blessing, he took the forum and began to tell the reporters and the gathered crowd about the extent of my christian charity, by that time he had pulled me close and was referring to me as a vessel of the Orthodox God’s grace. I was unaware that there was an unorthodox God, I always assumed that it was his game and he made the rules; go figure. He continued to praise the faith in God’s great plan for these Christian sons and daughters and that their prayers would always be answered, so long as they stayed true to the chosen path, a fate that could not be expected by those who had strayed from the flock of our lord. I began to feel a little uncomfortable, I don’t mind telling you, dear Bloggees. He began to describe some of the less desirable fates that could be expected by those who had weakness of will and sullied faith. Had he read my file?

dante laughed his head off
Dante laughed his head off
His speech was definitely rousing and caused some stir amongst the crowd, not least with some of the black shirts with the minimalist haircuts who had filtered into the crowd. He drew breath and smiled down at me, who he had released from his hug but continued to hold by the shirt sleeve. Christ! (sorry!), he had heavy hands; the work of the lord must be one hell (sorry, again!) of a workout. I readied myself for my turn, when I undoubtedly would be expected to talk about my most Christian service to the community.
His breath was exhaled with more words; I continued to smile and nod like some comical sidekick. Finally, the forum was mine; his holiness left and so did the crowd.
All that was left was the press but I puffed up my chest for an official address. Meetings, signing stuff and public addresses, it’s what mayors do best! I began to tell the gathered, such as they were, that this was the least that we could do in lieu of the great service provided by the good —. Yes, all the new residents were employees of the town council. Yes, they had all been made homeless, for a variety of reasons. No, they would not have the accommodation deducted from their salaries and I could give no substance to the rumour that they had not been paid by the council in nearly a year.
I made to continue my address— . Yes, I was aware that the property belonged to the previous mayor and yes, he would have to take the credit for this philanthropy.
The crowd dispersed along with my smile and I walked away with the priest, vessel of God’s will, eh? He looked at me with sagely eyes and patted my shoulder. “The lord works in mysterious ways, my son.” He repeated the words very mysterious with a gentle shake of his head and a sympathetic gaze.
I expressed my appreciation for his kind words and that I did feel rather good about what I’d achieved with this place, not pride or anything sinful, of course, just helpful and good, but not righteous, but all things considered that maybe he had been a little strong on the atheists and —.
“Were all those horrid things a metaphor or could I really expect…”
keep calm
Oxymoron?
“You, my son, have done well and have nothing to fear from the wrath of the lord.” I deflated with relief. “But, my child, you are in a world of shit if your predecessor discovers what you are doing with his building.” He smiled, took his heavy hand from my shoulder and left.

Just then my phone rang, it was Socrates. He was furious. He had spent the last two hours with our lawyer. I made a mental calculation of the cost, those bastards are expensive! Maybe he could give us a wholesale rate, considering the amount of work we had given him since my foray into the world of politics. He told me of the calls back and forth to Switzerland and the way our lawyer had physically soiled himself when he discovered who was representing the plaintiff. Then, I finally fell in….

…the ex-mayor had found out I had subleased his property. 






previous
next




Don't forget to Follow and share with a friend, they'll love you a little more for it.

Click the social links or send me your experiences through comments or Mail

 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Why Optimism Sucks


Optimism is the new dogma. You can’t turn these days without some cheesy-grinned motivator telling us all to turn that frown upside-down and look at the positives.


Keep calm and suck it up
Keep calm and suck it up!
 Pessimists, we are told, die young and lead less fulfilling lives. All your clouds must have silver linings and you glass must be half-full. If we are to believe some of the gurus, an optimistic outlook even brings success. They tell us that optimism makes us better leaders, cures cancer and makes us sexier. Rhonda Byrne, in her book The Secret tells us that just believing and wishing for good things will cause the whole Universe to realign toward their manifestation. And God help you if you don’t. Let me tell you now, ladies and gentlemen, optimism is bullshit.

A while ago, I watched a documentary in which a soldier was asked about his experiences during a 9-month hostage situation (I have spent ages trying to find it again but as yet nothing). The one comment that stuck in my mind was that it was always the optimists that broke first. They were always the first ones to look for a rope and a chair. This confused me, after all, everyone knows that looking on the bright side is the only way to be. Well, I’ve been thinking about that comment for some time and realised that it makes perfect sense.

Optimism is exhausting, you begin each day in the belief that everything is going to be hunky dory and it invariably isn't. Someone is always throwing banana peels at your feet and you are bound to come up against someone whose idea of things going well is things going wrong for you. Think about it, you want a pay-raise so you go into your boss and ask for more money. Now, his idea of a good day is to address flagging profits which is eating into his bonus or margins. Who is going to have a great day?

So what are we to do, give up? No! Well yes. I propose a new approach and I call it Constructive Pessimism. Under the rules of Constructive Pessimism you are not to assume that your day will have any success, you will assume that, as Murphy’s law so wisely states, what can go wrong, will go wrong. Now, I can already hear you jeering and you have every right to do so but hear me out.

Spot the optimist
Begin your day with a list and start with the weather, are there any clouds? It’s going to rain, take an umbrella or rain-mac. How do you get to work? Bus, car, train? There will be delays, leave early. You are already prepared. Optimists will tell you that each mishap is a lesson; bollocks! Having a raincoat is a lesson learned, being on time and keeping your job is a lesson learned. 

Optimistic spin on disaster is sign of a slow learner.


You have a big business meeting, the board will hate your proposals. What will they hate? How can you counter their objections and what will you do when they turn you down flat.
You have to budget a project. What will it cost? Wrong! It will cost much more. Sell it to the optimists at the lower amount but keep some aside for the hitches.

Optimists may help you but pessimism will save you.     

Experts tell us that pessimists suffer with stress that leads to neurosis and heart problems. They tell us that optimists take risks and succeed more. Well, I’ll tell you that the belief that every silver lining has a cloud will mean that you always have a brolly and a glass half-empty will lead you to a tap for a refill. Constructive Pessimism will keep adrenaline levels high making you more aware and ready to deal with life’s slings and arrows.

At the end of an optimistic day you will count the lessons learned and resign yourself to the good of the big picture. At the end of a pessimistic day you will be able to lock your door and count the things that didn't go tits-up, not to mention being glad you had that brolly with you.

Optimism sucks the life out of you, believing in the good nature of the universe is like willing your stocks to stop falling. The Universe does not know who you are and definitely has no great plans for you. 

Coming to terms with that may make you feel insignificant but it will put you back in the game.

             



From Under Dark Clouds

The Century of DIY