Magazine article The Spectator

Local Hero

Magazine article The Spectator

Local Hero

Article excerpt

On board S/Y Bushido

While the eastern islands of Greece are being whipped daily by the meltemi, the hot, strong winds that can turn sailors into zombies, the western side, or the Ionian, remains soft, green and as feminine as ever.

The sea off Cephalonia is smooth and mirrorlike, but this year I have yet to make contact with mama and baby porpoise. Assos is the tiny village that clings to a small isthmus between the island and a huge forested pine hill crowned by a ruined 15th-century fort.

One year ago the road up to the fort was a dirt one. EU moolah, provided mostly by British and German taxpayers, has turned it into a paved-stone path, living proof that those mega crooks in Brussels continue to find ways to spend your money on useless projects such as this. Forested pine Greek hills do not need smooth tiled paths.

They need to be left alone in their natural state. A 25-mile highway, which connects Argostoli, the capital, with the northern tip of Cephalonia, was eight years under construction, and has managed to cut five minutes from the journey time, which was qone hour. Now it takes 55 minutes but in the eight years it took to build the road, many Greeks and EU bureaucrooks have made a hell of a lot of moolah. Next time you are about to file your taxes, ask your local MP about the hundreds of millions it took to cut five minutes off the perfectly good road that used to connect the north and south of this beautiful Ionian island. Then refuse to pay your taxes to the crooks. And while you're at it, ask about the expensive tiles up to the fort off Assos.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. There are signs everywhere, in case we missed it, that these projects have been paid for by the EU. But as a local told me, 'One man working alone would have finished the road in four years.

Instead, it took eight years and 2,000 men working round the clock for a few to make a hell of a lot.' This is what drives one mad with fury. Brussels has a monopoly on the financial fiddle, and there are those in government who call us names when we yell 'Stop thief!' Mind you, when the occasional bank stick-up man is caught, he gets 12 years and is out in six. Brussels bureaucrooks get caught and the person who caught them gets fired; the crooks remain in their jobs and expensive paved roads now lead up forested pine hills off Assos. …

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