Saturday, January 25, 2020


“The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” William Shakespeare
I blame the woes of post-Junta Greece on the fact that Greek diva and actress Aliki Vougiouklaki, the darling and eternal hope of the people was never elevated to the lofty position of Head of State. This makes no sense. Her appointment would have imbued the adoring populace with hope and purpose, driving them towards a better future, without angst. As she herself pronounced: «Τράβα μπρος και μη σε νοιάζει…» Furthermore, to a restive populace in the “now” age where pessimism, despondency couple together with an inability to wait for better days, Aliki of blessed memory’s immortal doctrine: 
«Κάντε υπομονή κι ο ουρανός θα γίνει πιο γαλανόςΚάντε υπομονή μια λεμονιά ανθίζει στη γειτονιά would have not only served to revivify the flaccid spirits of a downtrodden people and keep them from engaging in time-wasting protest at the drop of a hat, but also ensure that their daily requirements of Vitamin C were met as well. Pre-empting disastrous experiments in a state-run, planned economy, Saint Aliki would have propounded a credo that not only would have served to enshrine an easy going, laissez faire approach to economic development, arguing that if left alone, the market will regulate itself, but also combining this message with a powerful prohibition of cruelty against animals. Further, in an age of climate change and anxiety over the depletion and the use of fossil fuels, Aliki would have discovered, five years before the Beatles did, that in order to run a civilization, you need not rely on carbon belching fuels, or on renewables. Instead, if you have her as driver, all you need is love, to laugh in the face of adversity: «Καροτσέρη, καροτσέρη, ασ’ το καμουτσίκι απ’ το χέρι/ και μην το χτυπάς/ Δεν χρειάζεται να τρέχειςόταν τόσο πια κοντά σου έχεις/ κείνον π’ αγαπάς./ Άσ’ το τ’ αμάξι μονάχο να κυλάει/ κι όπου κι αν πάει για μένα είναι χαρά/ Όλα είναι εντάξει κι η αγάπη μου είναι πλάι/ κι όταν γελάει ο κόσμος μου γελά».
Under this paradisiacal regime, a sort of precursor to John Howard’s relaxed and comfortable Australia, there would be no need for data protection and privacy for everything would be in the public domain: 
«Έχω ένα μυστικό κρυμμένο στης καρδιάς τα βάθηΚανείς δεν το ’χει μάθει και ποτέ δεν θα το πω/… το ξέρουνε οι κάμποιτο ’χει μάθει το βουνόΤο τραγουδούν τη νύχτα στα κλώνια όλα τα αηδόνιακαι το ’χουν γράψει τα χελιδόνια στον ουρανό». If this were not enough for the doubters, the splittists and the anti-social elements, the aethereal Aliki promised that life under her benign reign would be filled with bread and circuses, giving the plebs full opportunity to “makes some noise,” clinching the argument for her perennial presidency evermore: «Θα σας πάρω καραμούζες και ροκάνες/κι ένα δίχτυ τσικουλάτες και γλυκάκαι ταμπούρλα και κορνέτες και καμπάνεςγια να κάνουμε μεγάλο σαματά./ Ένα μόνο θέλω εγώ για το καλό σας/ να με κάνετε αρχηγό κι αφεντικό σας». Aliki of course in Greek means Alice and the homeland would have been renamed Wonderland, its inhabitants basking in the afterglow of endless tea-parties, and dancing hasaposerviko to Lobster Quadrilles.
Grievously, the Greek people did not get the Queen of people’s Hearts, Alice to lead them. Instead, since the re-founding of the Hellenic Republic, its hapless citizens have been led by lacklustre litany of loathsome layers, the first being Professor of Law Michalis Stassinopoulos, followed by lawyer and diplomat Konstantinos Tsatsos, then lawyer and politician Konstantinos Karamanlis, to be succeeded by lawyer and jurist Konstantinos Sartzetakis, who in turn was replaced by lawyer Konstantinos Karamanlis, who not only wanted a second go, but wanted to institute a constitutional convention according to which  only Greek male lawyers called Kosta could assume the presidency. That there was an attempt to establish this convention is proved by the fact that Konstantine Karamanlis was succeeded by lawyer Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, and was only modified so that you have to be a Greek male lawyer whose name starts with K,  when lawyer and politician Karolos Papoulias assumed the presidency. He of course was followed by Law Professor Prokopis Pavlopoulos, when his predecessor wanted to go pee pee. Of course the country had long gone in the same direction, by this time.
Now, the convention, though slightly modified, is being reinstated, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis initiating a special broadcast to announce that Katerina Sakellaropoulou has been nominated to be the next President of the Hellenic Republic. Granted, if parliament approves the nomination, she will be the first woman to be appointed to the role, and it is high time that a woman assume the country’s most esteemed appointment. Yet in other respects, she merely fits convention. Firstly her name begins with a k, and secondly and most heinously, she is yet again, a career lawyer, being the current president of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court. Ominously enough, we learn that this talented professional, who has successfully occupied a number of prestigious legal appointments, is into discipline, having served on the Disciplinary Board of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that she is a cat-lover, making us all wonder whether the history of the Greek nation would have turned out differently if Mrs Slocum from “Are you Being Served?” had ever been given the opportunity to run the country. Most likely, this would have been highly beneficial, and I am unanimous in that.

Appointing a lawyer, however brilliant, yet again, to the pinnacle of Hellenism conveys the message that only the privileged few, of whichever gender, can ever aspire to such greatness. It restricts the top job to members of the guild and reinforces the aridity associated with what should be an exalted position. Surely, it betrays a lack of imagination and true empathy with the Greek people and their ultimate destiny. In their supreme leader, the Hellenes, both in Greece and beyond its borders, seek someone who they can identify with, who they can admire and who they feel, has an innate feel for their condition.
It is thus mystifying that Greek daytime television goddess Eleni Menegaki was overlooked for a position that should have been hers by right. As a veteran talk-show presenter, she has her finger and camera on the pulse of the average Greek citizen, and possesses a unique insight into their inner-most thought processes, one that Russian funded hackers are still, yet to master. So deep is her penetration into the collective psyche of the Greek people that she has been named by Forbes Magazine, second-most powerful and influential celebrity in Greece and top-ranked female. As a working mother with four children, she, like no other public figure in Greece is most qualified to personify those qualities that are so required by a supreme overlord. Her resourcefulness and tenacity is exemplified in the fact that she has presided over the same talk show, named in her characteristic, no frill, no nonsense style, “Eleni” after herself, since 2011. Here is one pulchritudinous president who will not stand idly by dispassionately and allow sundry members of parliament to let the country go to the dogs. Instead, she will invite them on her show and engage in a talk-fest of such dizzying lexical complexity, that she will confound, confuse and ultimately combust any hot-air talking, self-satisfied politician. Her appointment is also vital for national security. Give her the top job and watch her fix the Sultan across the straits with her steely gaze. The beguiled tyrant will go weak at the knees and grovel at her sturdy feet within five minutes. She will be the face that launches a thousand ships, to  re-assert Greece’s maritime sovereignty and drill for oil. A single majestic blank stare, and the carrot-topped Planetarch across the seas will hasten to offer her his missiles and do her bidding. Watch her silence Largarde, Merkel and the rest of the heads of the Five Families. Eleni Menegaki can out-talk, out-stare, out-last anyone, and when she runs out of words, she invents her own.
Appointing Eleni Menegaki as Greek president would have righted an outrage that was committed against Aliki Vougouklaki decades ago. She is desperately needed to leave the cohorts of bankers breathless and ready to pander to her every whim. Unlike the esteemed and highly accomplished Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Eleni Menegaki, is ageless and, rumour has it cannot die or decay and thus she can act as a perennial, economical, (given that she can remain in the position for eternity) and more suitable symbol of Hellenism. As Expressionless and dispassionate as an immortal and as monolithic as an Olympian deity on heat in pursuit of its purpose, she is as much an object of worship, as she is a candidate for premier potentate.  It is inconceivable and the loss of a historic opportunity for the beleaguered republic, that she has, yet again, missed out. The lawyers have struck again.
Rennard Strickland may argue that “Lawyers are the foot soldiers of our Constitution,” yet who needs lawyers, albeit remarkably precocious and cerebral ones, like the gifted Katerina Sakellaropoulou, when one is governed by a goddess with the constitution of a concrete elephant? Aliki may have long gone, yet her surefire methods of re-establishing her country upon the path of greatness, remain. Hers is the way of austerity, a way which is borne willingly, in a manner that her rightful successor, Eleni Menegaki can only epitomize: «Ζω με δίχως στεναχώρια/κι ας μου λείπουν τα λεφτά/αγαπώ όλα τ' αγόρια/και με αγαπούν κι αυτά». For in the end, there is no provision, either in the Hellenic Constitution, nor in the Legislation of the Republic, where loafing lawyers abound, for love.
First published in NKEE on Saturday 25 January 2020