Town mouse goes to Greece

I’ve been to Greece a couple of times during the past few weeks: once to see an exhibition of Edward Lear in Corfu, and last week to visit the First World War battlefield of Lake Doiran. My mission could hardly be regarded as investigative, but, even so, this didn’t outwardly appear to be a country on the point of collapse. I’m sure that extreme cases of destitution, as reported by the British media, exist-all I can say is that I didn’t see or hear of any.

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In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, the cash machines still worked. From the Daios Luxury Living hotel-new, stylish and fully occupied- I looked out over a buzzing waterfront; you have to have a sharp eye to spot the bars that have closed. Admittedly, as I sipped a cup of coffee with a Greek friend, a demonstration shambled past by construction workers building an underground line who had been laid off. But I saw no more homelessness than in London. Bravely, the ordinary people to whom I talked are struggling on, working longer hours if they can. The sword of Damocles is suspended: everyone fears for their jobs. But lurid media coverage that frightens away tourists and stops others from paying deposits could make sound businesses go under.