Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Smoke from the Ears!

Wednesday 25th

I would say it’s a certainty that I’m going to end up with a sack load of chillies here. Previously I’ve preserved them in olive oil or vinegar, but find they tend to lose their kick that way. This year I’ve decided I’ll dry a load, and turn the rest into something we tend to use quite a lot of: sweet chilli sauce. Has anyone out there done this? After reading various recipes on the Internet I’m inclined to a big saucepan into which will go a pint of vinegar plus a pint of sugar, one whole bulb of garlick then chopped up chillies right to the brim, boiling then bottling...

Monday 30th

Well, a test run using honey instead of sugar (we were given a jar here and simply don’t use it) seems to have worked. Now I have to buy some vinegar and sugar and just wait until I’ve got at least half a bucketload of chillies. At present rates of ripening that should be in about a couple of weeks.

Other projects on the go: I’ve cut from the tobacco plants a collection of leaves that were damaged by the wind and am drying them. The problem is that they dry out rather quickly here and so remain green. Perhaps I need to somehow slow down the drying process. Then again, they’re ‘green’ so they must be good for me.

The beach is now starting to empty. Most of the holidaymakers in the small apartment blocks in Makrigialos are Greeks, usually over from the mainland, with just a scattering of other nationalities. The big hotels at the end of the place, the Micropoli and the Sun Wing, are mostly occupied by Scandinavians – and yes very many of them seem to be blonde. It’s something we are supposed to ignore in this politically correct world, but national traits are much in evidence here. If you see someone running along the beach with one of those strap-on heart monitors around his chest, or cycling vigorously up a hill in temperatures above 30, you can generally guarantee he’s German. Tall women with blonde hair down to their perfectly formed arses are generally Scandinavian whilst the big blonde square-jawed men who look capable of snapping your neck like a twig can be both of the aforementioned. The lugubrious beer-drinkers with big moustaches are often Dutch, whilst the ape-haired men with wives who appear to think that children outside the womb are still attached by an umbilical cord are usually Greek. I haven’t nailed down the few French here, but I’ve been told they are the ones who dislike having to use that international tongue called English. And, unfortunately, Mr fat shaven-headed lobster skin clad in knee-length shorts and a Manchester United shirt, with the gross tattooed wife in tow, is generally British.

Tuesday 31st

Tomorrow Greece is introducing its fourth ban on smoking in indoor public places, and the politically correct wankers who want to force their world-view on everyone else are diligently analysing why the previous bans didn’t work. Apparently they need to be more forceful, they need to make the rules clearer, there’s a need for big fines and it is utterly necessary that smokers be pilloried, racked and beaten with strips of nicotine patches until they die. You see, the barmen and women, and THE CHILDREN must be protected from that lethal, killing secondhand smoke ... Wasn’t it Goebbels who said that if you tell a lie forcefully enough and often enough it will be believed?

Well, the reason why the previous bans didn’t work is quite simple. According to Athens News 42% of Greeks smoke, 63% of Greek men smoke, 39% of Greek women smoke, 37% of Greek children aged 12 to 17 smoke and 45% of the 16 to 25 age bracket smoke. What we are seeing here with the undermining of the rules, the twisting of the legislation, the lack of enforcement and the complete disregard for the new laws is something called ... now what are the words ... oh yeah, what we are seeing here is ‘democracy in action’.

You see, whilst 42% of Greeks smoke and there’ll be some of those who want to be forced to stop, there’s an even larger proportion of the remaining 58% of non-smokers who fall into these categories: ‘children’, ‘it’s got fuck-all to do with the government’, ‘stop telling people how to live their lives’, ‘surely it’s up to the bar owners’ and the huge category called ‘frankly I don’t give a shit’. In our democracies the governments in power would be hugely grateful to get into power on a 42% vote. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the European population would be hugely grateful for governments that did what they were voted into power to do, without corruption, instead of acting as enforcers for the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

In the same paper in which I was reading about the new smoking ban here I also learned that small businesses (ie those employing less than 50 people) make up 98.7% of the Greek economy. So, bearing that in mind, one should also bear in mind that tourism is the country’s second largest income. It would therefore not be too much of a stretch to add that a large proportion of those small businesses are bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Perhaps the Greek government should bear in mind, as it scrabbles for money to cover its huge debts, that in Britain, in 2007, the pub closure rate leapt from 4 a month to 27 a month, and has not dropped below that rate ever since. In fact, the shape of Britain has now been changed forever, with many pubs that were serving beer when Sir Walter Rayleigh was sparking up his pipe, now being gutted and turned into residential homes. And what was different about 2007? Oh yeah, the smoking ban. Occam’s Razor doesn’t lie.


Graeme said...

Thank fuck for that I thought you'd lost your edge. There's nothing like a cross ranty Asher rant, with statistics, swearing and revolution.

Power to the people Wolfie, power to the people :-)

Richard Fletcher said...

On the tobacco drying front, I can't say I know anything about it really, but some distant spanish relative of mine once showed me some tobacco drying out. It had been placed into a large ramshackle shed, lacking most, but not all of it's walls.

I'm assuming the idea was to have a breeze dry it out rather than the sun.

Clive said...

According to French lore, one of the reasons that lung cancer used to be relatively rare here was because the "brune" cigarettes (Gitanes etc.) were made from sun-dried tobacco leaves instead of leaves roasted, toasted and soaked in acetone in some huge factory.

As for the sweet chili sauce, for that quantity I would add more garlic, but that's because I like garlic.

Good rant on smoking bans - indeed what else do you go on holiday for if not to do things that are taboo at home? (although getting fall-down drunk and fornicating in public don't seem to be all that taboo these days in the UK).

Finally, French Tourist Spotting 101: Look at their clothes & accessories - normally there will be Lacoste, Dior or Chanel somewhere about and never, ever will you see a Frenchman wearing socks with sandals.

Neal Asher said...

I haven't lost my edge, Graeme, I'm just aware that if I allow my ranty side free rein I just end up feeling crappy. It also helps to live in Crete without access to British papers unless I make and effort!

Richard, I'll certainly give that a go. The probelm here is that things dry out so quick I end up with green tobacco.

Clive, I know that smoking isn't good for me in the long run, but right now I enjoy it. It is the case that it may kill me, which is my choice. The state does not own my body, much as it would like to.
Incidentally, you'll never see me wearing sock with sandals. Um, maybe that attitude is part of the reason we keep getting mistaken for Germans or Dutch by the Greeks.

Graeme said...

Very interesting. I have the same issue with getting ranty, it's not good for you... my mum says blah blah blah