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Friday, 15 June 2018

The Ouzo Anarchists, A Cautionary Tale (Καφέδες, ούζα και απάθεια)

A collaborative effort at a cautionary tale:

"All morning they slouch around in the coffee shops, nursing cold frappé coffees served in shiny transparent plastic cups with dome-like plastic lids, sipping slowly through plastic straws. They make them last until soon after midday, when they order ouzos with tasty mezedhes.

Only twenty yards from where they sit today lies a massive pile of stinking, rotting rubbish, hundreds of multi-coloured plastic bags stuffed full of mixed refuse and decaying detritus, dumped and left uncollected for many weeks by the side of the road, just opposite the palace. It’s one of thousands of similar mountains of trash to be seen all over the island, every few hundred yards or so. 

They seem relatively indifferent to the sight, as they have become accustomed to it, although their noses are offended by the pervasive stench, as it threatens to harm the island’s tourist industries, in spite of the fact that bookings and arrivals haven’t shown any sign of dropping and there have been few flight or hotel cancellations.

“What can we do about it?” ponders Ioannis, out loud, for the nth time. He considers himself to be something of an environmental activist.

“It’s the responsibility of the Mayor and the Municipality”, says Christos. “The Municipal Council made a terrible mistake at the time that it assumed responsibility for the whole island, when it should have gone ahead and decided to invest in the planned Integrated Refuse Management and Recycling Complex. If that comprehensive plan hadn't been rejected, everything would be working properly today”.

“That’s all very well; there are plenty of excuses and attempts at rationalisation for inaction and mismanagement, but right now the weather’s getting hotter, the rats are becoming more aggressive, and we’re facing a serious threat to public health”, observes Petros.

“Well, the baling and waste-compressing machine has broken down again and we all know that the landfill site is full and overflowing”, says Giorgos. ”The problem has been going on for years. The last three summers have become increasingly intolerable”.

“They should force the villagers in the south of the island to stop blockading the new landfill site; they should send in the army”, insists Demetris.

“If you lived down there, as my mother does, you wouldn’t wish your worst enemy a dump like our own towering hill of a landfill in the valley”, comments Petros, as he selects a piece of fried sausage. “I thought you were an anarchist!”

“Don’t forget that the current Mayor solemnly promised them that there would never be a dump down south. That’s how he won their votes”, says Nikos, sipping his coffee.

“Years ago the villagers were paid well for their land, which they sold willingly for that specific purpose. That was the deal”, says Demetris, "they themselves then chose to build homes near the allocated site".

“There’s bound to be an outbreak of cholera, if we don’t take decisive action”, says Ioannis, before ordering a round of ouzos.
After they have started drinking their second ouzos, they begin to dream up new solutions to the chronic rubbish problem.

"We've already made our points on Facebook and Twitter, without any results, apart from quite a number of Likes", observes Nikos.

“If the Mayor and the Cleansing and Recycling Department are incapable of taking action, we’ll have to teach him a lesson, to bring home the urgency of the situation”, continues Ioannis.
“People have already started things into their own hands, acting illegally, dumping rubbish in any open space they can find, setting fire to the larger piles or covering them with lime. What have you got in mind, Ioanni?”

“We’ll give the Mayor a lesson he won’t forget – and his useless Council and ineffective Party. There are still lots of compressed, plastic-wrapped bales of disgusting garbage waiting for a place to store them. They were baled up before the machine broke down again. We’ll take about ten of them to the old Town Hall, and deposit them outside the ceremonial hall where he receives VIPs and distinguished guests. Maybe we should plonk the most leaking and reeking, most rancid and revolting bale inside, on top of his desk. That’s a better idea than gathering ten thousand protest signatures. And Demetris can daub a huge A inside a circle on the wall, to show he’s with us and really means business”.

“That sounds a bit over-the-top”, says Nikos, “almost like sacrilege. The old town hall is a historic building; it once housed the opera theatre; before that it was an exclusive club, the loggia for the Venetian nobility”.

“So much the better”, replies Ioannis, “they can compose a new opera about our heroic actions designed to avert a tragedy. I’ll order a truck now and we’ll collect the bales tomorrow. If the Mayor can stand by and let piles of rubbish full of bacteria and dangerous micro-organisms accumulate for weeks on end outside our children’s schools, he needs to experience the nature of the threat at first hand, right outside his own grand front door.”

They all agree that something has to be done to deal with the tragic and deteriorating situation.

By the time they’ve drained the last drops of their second ouzos and finished off the mezedhes, they are still feeling hungry, and more than ready for their afternoon siestas; they forget about the urgency of the matter. They get up, a little unsteadily, carrying their plastic shopping bags full of large plastic water bottles which will soon be thrown haphazardly on top of the nauseating piles of rotting garbage outside their own houses and apartments".

Καφέδες, ούζα και απάθεια...(kai λίγο ασβέστη).

"Μετά λύπης μου καταλήγω ότι το κύριο πρόβλημα είναι η αδιαφορία των Κερκυραίων για την εικόνα του νησιού τους (ας μη συζητήσουμε θέματα δημόσιας υγείας ή περιβάλλοντος)".

Update. 26 June, 2018, Enimerosi: 

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