In the bar yesterday evening here in Greece, someone pointed out that the official figure for unemployment is now 23%. Hard to say quite what that means — who is counted and who not — but it’s high.
‘People who’re not out at work have more time to think,’ he said. ‘Also, they can pay more attention to their feelings. Consequently there’s an increase in depression, and so an increase in suicide.’ (Indeed, suicide rates in Greece have increased enormously during the ‘crisis’.) He went on to suggest that the job of gravedigger — already a secure one; people will continue to die whatever happens — was therefore now still more attractive. He had even gone so far as to check the current rates of pay, perhaps by consulting the local gravedigger, a jolly cheerful chap like his predecessor, and also fond of the odd beer or six. Though pay is not high, it’s enough for a modestly comfortable life, he thought.
Who was this person in the bar, this cold, calculating cynic? Well, I admit to a slight deception: ‘He’ should have been ‘She’ throughout. It was a healthy, cheerful, but unusually intelligent 14-year-old schoolgirl.