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Monday, 29 December 2008

The end of December

I'm taking down the decorations, storing the tree, removing the wreaths, getting ready to head for the Highlands with Oscar. Lin's on the phone to Jill ~ "Let's hope 2009 makes things a bit better, but I don't think it's going to somehow." Now she's said goodbye to me for a week and gone to take her dad into Stafford Hospital for a check. Karen and family stayed overnight and kept us happy company yesterday. They've headed south. I've got lots of small errands and a job-list of things to do when I'm in Scotland and books to read. * * * Just before Christmas I'd asked teacherdude's permission [he's a photographer, street journalist, blogger, teaching EFR in Thessaloniki and someone whose occasional confusions bespeak the honesty of a reporter, rather than a celebrity remora] to quote him and he replied this morning:
Thank you for mentioning me. I thought I'd add a few points concerning the tactics of the riot police here in Greece. I think that the first point that should be made is that they often have a very poor level of discipline (my note: see Kat's excellent recent interview with a MAT officer) ... they are easily provoked to violence, often at targets unconnected with the hard core of rioters they are meant to be confronting. Time and time again their wrath is directed at some hapless demonstrator who was in the vicinity rather than the guys throwing rocks etc. Apart from firing tear gas to break up large groups and the occasional baton charge I have seen no evidence of any kind of strategy. I feel most of what they do is designed for media consumption, to show that the authorities are 'doing something'. As far as escalation of violence is concerned I think both sides realise that would quickly spiral out of control as there are literally millions of guns in circulation.
It's less a shared reading of the manual on policing urban disorder - as I'd implied after asking my daughter about police methods - than shared awareness of Greek history and alertness to the awful danger of everyday hatred, the words of Yiorgos Seferis in January 1945, having observed the Δεκεμβριανά - a hideous spectacle of 'buffoons' - that 'blood brings blood and more blood'.

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Simon Baddeley