Saturday, January 29

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?

The point about Greece is you must learn to live with it. One can live here - as I do.

But expect to need to draw deeps breaths of exasparation coming up against Greek Life. It will drive you mad, make you laugh, fill you with despair and make you question your sanity. Learn to live with that, and then enjoy.

By way of introduction, where am I?

I'm 2 years into trying to buy my house.
I'm 2 years into starting my business.
I'm 1 year into my failed 2nd marriage.
I'm onto my 4th lawyer.
I'm onto my 3rd accountant.
My 2nd notary.
Many new friends.
Even more failed tax returns.
My 4th Greek language teacher, (and one day away from my 1st lesson with her).

Laywers. What precisely do they do? I believe they know the law. I believe them when they hear your story, they look at you, they take a deep intake of breath and raise their eyes heavenward, and they tell you it’s sooooo complicated. I know they appear in court. I know they have 27 big rubber stamps on their desk and I know they insist on using every one of them every time a page needs signing.

My latest lawyer (I've been changing them as often as my wives, though the relationship doesn't last as long) is a lovely man.
But seeing him is harder than getting a private meeting with the Pope.
I've learn't to just turn up in hope, to wait, and to sit in queue's with others.
And when I get to him, then he'll talk to me all day if I want, smoke with me, and drink endless cups of coffee with me. But will he ever do anything about what we talk about?
My lawyer, he's quite a local celebrity, always out & about, and knows everybody. And, judging by the lines of people queuing waiting in his office, everybody is his client, too.

I've never had a bill from him - and after 2 years, I'm frightened to ask. Think of all those coffees and fags he’s given me.

If you haven’t experienced an Accountant here, think of lawyers and then shudder.
What do their 'secretary's' actually do if, when you again turn up for the pre-arranged appointment (and on time, and again he's not there) they can't call his mobile (he's busy), they can’t make a new appointment (he doesn’t keep a diary) they can’t track down where he is now (he never tells them and anyway, never answers his phone to them) or they can’t answer my questions (he's the expert). I'm not saying my previous UK lawyer was better - but at least I could get to see them and argue and shout with them.
That was Accountant No.1.

No.2 accountant (a friend of a friend of a friend) always sees me. But we can't communicate well.
Actually we can't communicate at all, as she speaks no English, and my still baby Greek can't get across my VAT and tax thresholds and tax breaks and rollovers and depreciation and tax allowance questions.
She scratches her head, tells me the taxman will tell me what tax I should pay, buys me another coffee, polishes her rubber stamp holder, tells me she’ll look at my Tax papers, and graciously smiles goodbye. Meeting over.

I've got a 3rd accountant now. I can't comment on him because he's too new, though so far on the coffee and cigarettes quotient, he seems to be good. Meanwhile, I’ve still got No.2 Accountant hanging on in there because she won't release my tax papers to No.3 Accountant because she insists on doing the work. Now. At last, after 10 months. And still not understanding what I want. And, still no tax return.

But you have to learn to live with it. And get to like coffee. And, for God's sake, start smoking again!

Remember, these people are experts, spending years developing their styles. It's the buraucratic equivalent of a neutron bomb that leaves institutions, buildings and professions intact but will blow you away. But they call it the civil service and the Professions.

And me? That's why I've started this Blog. I've stopping taking deeps breaths of exasperation. I'm writing about it, instead, to prevent Madness.

Thursday, January 6

New Beginnings

I thought I should tell you a little more about where I live, and some more about me, just in case anybody's bothering to read this stuff. If you've bothered, then maybe you deserve to know more.

My World is a small Greek village from now on, known as, The Village.
I arrived 2 years ago.
My plan was to buy, and rebuild, a house I knew of. To stop chasing the stress of London. To start a new internet-business idea I had. Maybe, to write some........
Like all plans, my plan went wrong.
More on this later, perhaps...

Here is here, because I used to come as a child, holidaying. Time diverged and I grew up, but I always remembered the place and visiting the house that I'm now taking on. Achilles, apparently, was from around here, too. (Clue?) Great name dropping.

My house sits high on a hill overlooking The Village, and from my terrace I can sit and see the sea and distant mountains. The area is rural. Olives trees. Nearby beaches. Sea. Cafe's , bars, taverna's all around, but ohhh, soooo much privacy in my house and gardens. I like it here.
I think I do.

I'm the only foreigner around. I can't blend in 'cos I don't speak Greek.

In a land where few have passports, I'm a King of experiences, but it's pretty useless because no one understands me.

I have Huge plans for my house, but I lack the Huge funds to deliver them all now. One wall at at a time, I guess..

So I spend my time trying to buy my house. Making my plans. Starting my business.

And now, time spent writing this blog. In betweeen the times when I'm dealing with the madness around me. I not going to clever about the writing. I can't be clever about my writing, I'm not clever enough. Don't even know if I'll retain the stamina or interest to update it.

But I know I should start off setting the bar low. Then, I can only improve.