There were still -- beyond denial -- certain places and events:
the gardener's footsteps beside the wall, the morning train
in the deserted station under fog, a dried-up lemon tree,
when they left the large wooden boxes on the stairs,
and the faces of the young were so distant, unreconciled, lovely,
changing the future almost into the present, approaching the windowpanes,
holding an apple in two fingers only, not knowing
whether to bite into it or to use it to break the mirror --
and later a certain word, every now and then, late at night, the moon out,
the word that is most ours, summer, between two strokes with the oars.
Athens, February 28, 1972
Yannis Ritsos (1909-1980): Sources, from Sidestreet [1971-1972], in Exile and Return: Selected Poems 1967-1974, translated by Edmund Keeley, 1985
A model walks the runway during the Marc Cain show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin: photo by AP, 8 July 2015
A pensioner leans against the door of a branch of the National Bank as he waits to receive part of his pension in Athens, Greece: photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters via the Telegraph, 8 July 2014
A senior citizen leans against the door of a closed bank as he queues up to collect his pension outside a National Bank of Greece branch in Kotzia Square, Athens: photo by Christopher Furlong via ABC News, 7 July 2015
Drifting nearer the maelstrom
Calm defiance gives way to panic as Greek deadline looms: Paul Mason in Athens, 8 July 2015
I sat last night with a Greek family and their friends as they heard the news that the Eurozone’s leaders had given a final ultimatum. A deal by Saturday or a specially convened EU summit to prepare for the collapse of the banking system, expulsion from the Eurozone and a “humanitarian aid” package to deal with the inevitable food riots, premature deaths and state failure.
A long exposure photo shows lightning striking across the sky during a storm in Allershausen, Germany: photo by Marc Mueller/European Pressphoto Agency, 8 July 2015
The old took it with equanimity. They believed their government when it said a no vote would strengthen its hand in negotiations for a third bailout. Those who spoke of the way they’d voted had voted no, like 80% of people in the working class suburbs of Athens.
But behind the apparent calm Greeks are getting panicky. There is a rumour mill: vital factories producing medicines or baby milk are rumoured to be closed. Someone rings to check: it’s wrong. People break down suddenly in tears, overwhelmed by the stress.
#Greece -- Frail pensioners queue in blazing sun to withdraw €120 from #Banks - IB Times: image via Dio Perix @DioPerix, 9 July 2015
If I give you three stories that were told to me yesterday by this extended group of family and friends, it will explain the pressure Alexis Tsipras is under to do a deal, but not one that humiliates his country.
Greece extends bank closures: image via BBC News (World) @BBCWorld, 8 July 2015
Ms A works at a private sector job. Her bosses pressured everybody at work to vote yes, she tells me. When she told them she would vote no, the bullying became intense. It’s a non-union workplace, and half her wages come “off the books” so there’s no HR department to go to. Now, after the no victory, she’s been told not to come into work and will not be paid.
Daily life in central Athens: image via Aris Messinis @ArisMessinis, 7 July 2015
Ms B voted yes. She breaks down tearfully every so often. She has two bank accounts but only one has a bank card. She’s borrowing cash. She does some work as a teaching assistant: “one of the children drew Euro notes and cut them out and shared it with their playmates” she says. They are hearing on TV only about money, and how nobody has any. The stress is getting through to them.
Ms C voted no. She is supposed to take unpaid holiday each August, keeping her job effectively non-permanent, by arrangement. But now she has to take July off as well. Unpaid.
Closed Bank of Greece, Athens: photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Breitbart, 7 July 2015
What strikes you -– and must strike the heavily state-employed and pension-protected older generation around the table -– is the precarious nature of everything in these young people’s lives.
The family dinner table, with grandma, dad and mum working the barbecue represents the institution Greeks will have to rely on most in the coming days: the extended family and the village identity.
A sign outside the Bank of Greece in Athens is defaced with graffiti to read, "Banque de Merkel": photo by Christopher Furlong, 6 July 2015
For many of the young the family has become a kind of soft prison: they live with their parents; those who don’t are relying grandma’s pension. Its a refuge, yet they have little privacy nor independence.
Here, with the barbecue smoking and the pot-plants withering in the summer heat, in a tiny apartment in a non-descript suburb, is the Greece whose fate will be decided on Sunday.
They are not surprised to be powerless. They’re a small country with a delinquent ruling elite. Nor are they surprised that, finally, after months of saying it was impossible, half the Eurozone is preparing to kick them out.
A camera control light frames German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who briefed the media on Monday, June 29 at the chancellery in Berlin after a meeting with leaders of all parties represented in the German parliament about the economic crisis in Greece: photo by Markus Schreiber/AP, 29 June 2015
The only thing they’re surprised by is that Tsipras did not cave in. We’ll see if that lasts until Sunday night.
A pensioner leans against the gate of the National Bank of Greece as he waits to withdraw money. Photo @atzortzinis: image via AFP Photo Department @AFP Photo, 7 July 2015
A nut and herbs stall in Athens. Five years of economic crisis have already taken their toll on Greece, hollowing out the solid middle class and causing tens of thousands of small and midsize businesses to close their doors: photo by Eirini Vourloumis for The New York Times, 9 July 2015