This is another Episode that will go into Part 1.
|Stand up, take arms... space bar to fire!|
The campaign trail has been long and arduous but along the way I have learned a lot about my fellow man, things I maybe would prefer not to have learned but now learned they cannot be unlearned. The common voter is at their most vulnerable at election time. The hope against hope that this time they'll really mean it, the tired allegiances to parties and ideals that have on so many occasions forsaken the faithful renewed by new promises, new faces, new slogans. Family, friends and neighbours pitched against each other in defence of those who would not provide a cup of sugar or watch the kids for the evening. Civil choice becoming civil abrasion.
The established candidates use a network of affiliates, trade unions and the business community to garner favour, we have cafes, bars and working men’s clubs. The establishment has funds donated from membership and the aforementioned groups, we are running up a bar tab. Fortunately, in the establishments frequented by the great Greek dispossessed, I can stand enough tsipouro and retsina to make them see the reason in my rants for the same as it would cost for a single round in a London pub. That said, by the time I’ve gone round all the tables toasting “YAMMAS!” I’ve doubled the bill. My Greek is rapidly improving though. I know when to agree when I don’t entirely understand, I know when to use my burgeoning vocabulary of swear words to put down the establishment. The Greeks are so much more politically aware than the Brits, they are acutely aware of the tricks and patter of the usual suspects at the elections but voting is mandatory and when pencil come to paper their X always falls in the same box. Everyone knows the problems, no one know the solution. Conversations invariably end with shrugged shoulders and “what can we do, it’s Greece.” The fatal belief in the fact that the country’s DNA is one of failure pervades hope of change. This is my ‘IN’, I’m British, I get things done. It dawned on me why Socrates press-ganged me into this. My broken Greek could be filled with faith that I meant what needed to be said.
“Mahatma Gandhi once said,” I was back on a table in front of twenty or thirty pensioners and a hand-full of youngsters looking for a free drink. It wasn’t the O2 but it was the best offer I’d had since leaving home. “The same Indian guru who freed his country from British imperial rule, he said that a nation can be judged by how it treats its animals. Here, they buy their cute little puppies, play with them but don’t train them then, when they get too demanding, they throw them out on the street to go wild and bite our children.”
A rustle of agreement broke out. Until one addressed the stage. “So, what are you saying, malaka. poison the strays?”
“I’m talking about responsibility, commitment.”
“We can’t afford to feed our dogs and he wants to put them down!” Came another.
“NO, no. I mean this is how your government treats you!” My instinct was to put the hecklers down, make them the laughing stock but a witty put down here would not win the audience over.
“So, you want them to TRAIN us?”
For once I needed the audience to agree with me, not laugh at me. This was new territory. “I was bitten recently.” I subconsciously pointed to my balls. The whole place erupted into laughter.
“He thinks we bite our children?” This dampened the laughter to dissent.
“Maybe, he wants us to bite his balls!” Hysteria broke out again with each adding to the joke. This would once have pleased me no end, I would stand on stage fanning the flames, pretending to be part of the joke not the butt of it.
I stood down from the table and only stopped at the door of the Mercedes because it was locked.
On the back seat of the old German car making a swift getaway from Greek cynicism an English comedian turned to an old Greek named after an ancient profit of wisdom and said, “Who are we kidding? These people need cheap booze and a good laugh. Once a comic, always a comic.”
Socrates looked at me. I saw no resignation in his ancient eyes but I knew it was there.
“Listen son, you do not need to make them agree with you, that is the job of a salesman. Make them think. Make them believe in possibility. The Greeks gave light to the world and were left in darkness. Show them the light that was always theirs, be who you pretend to be and you will find your wisdom.”
I wanted to cry, to scream, to drink myself numb. But, I did not want to let this old man down. “Socrates?” I asked. “Why aren’t you doing this, why haven’t you done this long ago.”
His eyes dipped. “I was too honest to be a politician and live.”
We stopped at a bar filled with the young idly posting facebook updates about being somewhere with someone to make others jealous that they were nowhere. Socrates set me up with a bottle of Bushmills and left me with the driver, who didn’t say much and I didn’t reply.
The old man came back with what could be considered a smile fairly well positioned on his face. “We’re going. You can take the bottle.”
As we left the barman raised a hand, “No problem Mr. Socrates.”
Before I knew it I was sitting in a barber’s chair with what was left of the Black Bush.
“Short, modern but not too tidy. Take the beard back to a shadow, but not shaven.” Socrates ordered. “Tomorrow you will talk at the students union. Don’t talk politics, don’t talk manifesto. Talk about you. Where you came from, what you’ve been through, who you want to be, what you want to do.”
Now, one of the reasons we came to Greece was for some anonymity, to get away from the attention. I had told the wife that that was asking too much. I’ve done Hollywood films, countless TV and tours. But no one, NO ONE has recognised me since we arrived. I haven’t even told you who I am, my dear blogees. At least the wife enjoys it.
“But, Socrates. These are the young, my people. They’re bound to—”
“Celebrity is irrelevant out of context.” He said. “You need this. You need to enjoy this. You need to get your mojo back.” My MOJO back. Who is this guy.
We were met at the gates of the university by Maria, a well-rounded but officious looking young lady with large framed glasses and tightly pulled-back hair. She slipped her clipboard under her arm making her cleavage pout under her shift dress and gave us each a firm handshake and an English “Pleased to meet you.” I replied in Greek to showcase my dubious abilities but she assured me that I could speak to the group in English as they all had a ‘Proficiency’ proud to declare that many of their lessons actually took place in English. Socrates followed behind whispering under his breath, “Mojo!”
The auditorium was still filling but Socrates took the lecturing stage and began. He said that when he first met me he though “Wow!” and felt it was his obligation to introduce him to young new dynamic wave of Greeks. He asked if anyone had any problem with me addressing them in English which caused a wave of giggles then waved me over.
I modestly accepted Socrates’ Wow saying that I had a lot to live up to now and feared I might disappoint. Then I prowled pensively round the stage before jumping down to the floor of the auditorium. “I grew up on a council estate in Essex. For anyone who doesn’t know what a council estate is, it’s a like a ghetto for the poor and those the government would like to forget. We were lucky, we got one of the houses with a garden but the walls were like paper and you could hear them beating each other up and children crying. I went to a school after they, the school authorities, had decided that it was no longer appropriate for teachers to beat the kids for breaking the rules.” I paced up the middle of the room between the students who sat shellshocked. “They couldn’t beat us so some of the other kids decided to shoulder that responsibility.” I laughed. “I got picked out quite often for a good beating. In school you learned to fight or run, I was never much good at either.” Maria stood with Socrates at the back of the room, her clipboard still tightly under her arm. “You know one thing I was good at— Booze! I was fantastic at getting really drunk. I nearly got sponsored by Johnny Walker until they realised that I couldn’t keep walking!” At last a giggle, but not a laugh. “So I went on to drugs!”
FUCK! I felt like some amateur scribbler at a book reading, the audience patiently, politely strategizing how to avoid buying a copy on the way out. FUCK!
“So what drugs gave me was choices. Choice is power. I could wake up in the morning. Well I say morning.” I looked around the room with a smirk. “Come on, you’re students, you know what morning really means, eh? AM is when the party ends, not when the day begins, right?” I picked one of the guys in a Nirvana t-shirt. “What time did you crash last night?”
“Three, maybe four.” Some jeers came from around the room. “Six! Six!”
“And what was keeping you UP?” I toked an invisible spliff while jerking my pelvis looking round the room.
“Assassin’s Creed syndicate,” he said.
“Ass n’ weed?” I asked.
“ASSASSIN’S CREED! IT’S A GAME!” the room yelled.
Shit, there really is no hope for this generation.
I went into how I woke up in the morning with the choice of whether to be a drunk or a junky today. To end the day marinaded in my own piss or with a needle hanging from my arm and vomit on my chin.
I threw myself around the room, climbing chair-backs as I animated my climb from addiction, fell and planted myself in youthful laps to uncomfortable giggles. I raised members of the audience to illustrate optimism. I vowed solidarity. I pledged my allegiance to their tomorrows. I slumped on the edge of the stage dangling my legs.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, you all know the Einstein quote about insanity.” They collectively nodded. “The same applies to people, if you trust the architects of chaos to design calm, you will never rest easy.”
I bowed and walked up the aisle high-fiving everyone. My phone started pinging with friend requests. A queue formed waiting to shake my hand.
“Thank you very much. That means a great deal coming from you,” I replied.
Socrates waited by the door smugly beaming. Maria stood by his side writing on her clipboard. I slipped past them, high-fiving and thanking everyone for their thanks until I reached the empty corridor beyond. My cheeks ached and my palms stung. I exhaled and looked up. Maria was standing in front of me. She placed a tick, looked up and announced. “You will now take me for coffee.”
Socrates stumbled through the door behind me asking if I had seen Maria.
“Seems I’m taking her for coffee,” I said.
He looked at his watch. “A little late for coffee.”
The sun was well past the yard-arm and my nerves were jingling like Christmas, stimulants was not the way to go.
“I will drink coffee, you will drink beer,” she paused in thought. “Or wine. And you,” she looked to Socrates. “Will go.”
“Should he wait up?” I asked.
“No he should not!” She disappeared into an office. I swapped glances with Socrates who shooed me mouthing “Votes!” She returned without the clipboard and began walking down the corridor then stopped, looked round, smiled and I went running.
I awoke to the sound of a running shower and an uncomfortable feeling. She had taken me to a cafe where I’d had a couple of beers, then I must have bombed because I had no memory of the rest. She must have been pretty pissed not to have been able to put the last tick on her form. I guess it must have been the adrenaline of doing my thing again. The numbness was receding and I must have been all over the show. Fallen down stairs, maybe? The shower stopped. I felt myself up for damage. She had looked after me alright, I was all tucked up all cozy and naked. That must have smarted, I’m no good to man nor beast when I get like that, ask the wife. I’d definitely fallen on my arse. Maria emerged from the bathroom followed by plumes of steam and soapy smells. She was wrapped in a white towelling bathrobe towel drying a huge black dildo. Maybe she was still in the mood for the real thing. As the towel moved from the base of the mamba some straps fell. I felt my arse again. SHIT! She roofied me!
Go on! You know you deserve it!
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