Friday, 14 August 2015

The Circular Logic of the Blinkered Idiot

The 15th of August is, in the Greek Orthodox calendar, the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary; one of the most important days, even for the not-very-religious, in Greek culture. Among the other events here in this island there is a ceremony in the upper square of the old village, dedicated to the memory of the victims there of the massacre on that same day in 1944. Our local doctor reads a speech, telling the story of what happened.

Understandably, the whole ceremony, including the doctor’s speech, is in Greek, so a while ago I suggested to the doctor that it might be a good idea if at least a resumé of his speech, translated into English, were read — this is of course the very height of the tourist season, and many foreigners have asked me to explain what happened. Doctor Yorgos thought mine a good idea, so I made an accurate translation of his speech, précised it, and was all set to read it after his own speech.

However, on the morning of the 14th, I was told by the waitress in the place where I go for my morning coffee, that the mayor has forbidden my reading. We telephoned the doctor to ask for confirmation of this, and an explanation. He said that indeed the mayor had forbidden my reading of a speech in English, that he didn’t know why, but would ring back. He duly did so: the mayor says there’s no point in there being anything in English at the ceremony, because no foreigners ever come to it anyway.

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