On Monday morning your humble narrator was invited to explain the Greek crisis to listeners of Radio Television Hong Kong. Here is a potted version of the discussion in Q and A format.
Q: Two thousand years ago, Greece was the home of the cleverest men who ever lived, Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. What happened?
A: They died.
Q: Other countries have debt problems. Why such a fuss over Greece?
A: Greece sold its debts to its neighbors.
Q: That’s pretty smart.
A: Yes. It was probably the last decision taken by the direct descendants of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates before they died too.
Q: Did Hong Kongers buy any of this debt?
A: Yes. Your unit trusts and MPF pension funds have chunks of European debt.
Q: Oh shoot! Does Greece have natural resources?
A: No. Except for massive deposits of the letter O. Typical Greek name: Apostolos Papadopoulos-Tzortzopoulos.
Q: Is it true that protestors threw Greek yoghurt at police?
Q: Do they know how much that stuff costs?
A: Sure. Why do you think the banks ran out of cash?
Q: Talking of food, is the famous Greek dish moussaka made out of moose or mice?
A: It depends where you order it.
Q: How come you know stuff about Greece, anyway?
A: I lived in the Greek quarter of London for a while. There were two Greek pop groups. I joined the one that flopped. The other became rich and famous, under the name “Wham!”
Q: That must have been traumatic for you.
A: No, I’m fine now, except for spending every day wishing George Michael would DIE DIE DIE.
Q: What ever happened to him anyway?
A: He changed his name back to Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou and now focuses on his other interest, being arrested in toilets.
Q: Does the Greek dessert “Baklava” contain real lava?
A: Only if you cook it for a REALL Y long time.
Q: So, what happens next?
A: Eurozone financiers say they will lend Greece more cash if Greeks workers will tighten their belts and work out how to increase earnings from their main skill-set: smashing dinner plates.
Q: So I guess the Greeks are thankful about that?
A: They have expressed their gratitude by rioting in the streets and throwing rocks at police officers. And that’s just the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.
Q: That doesn’t sound good.
A: It’s normal. Europeans are passionate people. If you say “Good morning,” a European will kiss you on both cheeks, perform a folk dance, and spit three times over his left shoulder, especially if an American is standing behind him.
Q: The Finance Minister just resigned, right?
A: Yes, he will likely be replaced by someone with more gravitas and international macroeconomic experience; I’m thinking Spongebob Squarepants.
Q: Why are Greek weddings big and fat?
A: Have you seen John Travolta lately?
Q: Do I have to ask any more questions?
A: Yes, because this column needs to be just a little bit longer.
Q: So, what else do you want to tell me about Greeks?
A: Greeks have a great sense of humor. The word “comedian” is Greek. Greek comics joke that there are three questions that will reveal if someone is Greek.
1) Does your father leave his shirt buttons undone to reveal thick chest hair and a massive gold cross?
2) Have you or a family member ever been photographed standing next to a donkey?
3) Do you have to shave twice a day? Or, if you are male, three times?
Q: Can we PLEASE stop now?
A: Okay, done. Let’s go eat Greek yoghurt to boost the economy there.