(BJ) Hi, Daddyo ......
(BS) How many times have I told you not to call me that over an open line. You can call me EG – Eminence Grise.
(BJ) Oh, yeh ... sorry EG.
(BS) What the hell do you mean by making recognition of Macedonia
your first priority? And without even asking me first! Don’t
you realise what a headache you are giving the State Department –
now Colin Powell’s threatened to resign! The Greeks haven’t
stopped phoning, faxing, spamming and emailing since the announcement
and all our communication services are down due to overload. Even
our ambassador, there, had to change his cellphone number 3 times
in one day to stop the incessant ringing! Huh, with one action you’ve
managed to render the entire State Dept communicatively dead!
(BS) What, by recognising FYROM as Macedonia? Don’t you realise what this will do to my social life? The Latsis family may even withdraw my annual yacht trip round the Greek islands because of it!
(BJ) But, Da ... I mean EG, hasn’t Greece been asking us for years to recognise their province of Macedonia as Macedonia, but for some reason both the EU and UN always refused? Look, my geography’s not the best, but even I know that Thessaloniki is in Macedonia. I mean, we sent ships, supplies and troops there during the Kossovo crisis. I remember very well. Kossovo has no port so we sent everything through Thessaloniki and the Navy Order definitely read “for transit through Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece to Kossovo.”
Now look here EG, I got elected on moral grounds. The future’s gonna refer to me as the FAMP (First American Moral President) so I just gotta do what’s morally right . And it’s only moral that Greece gets its request for Macedonian recognition granted.
(BS) [in exasperated tone] Listen, Junior, north of Greece is ANOTHER country, FYROM. Kossovo comes after that. It’s FYROM that wants recognition as Macedonia, not Greece; and the Greeks don’t like it and are now giving us a king-sized headache. You’ve recognised the wrong country as your first presidential action! FAMP, huh ... the future is more likely to call you FAGE (First American Geographical Eccentric) [Ed. Isn’t FAGE a Greek yoghourt]
(BJ) But, EG, since it’s all Macedonia – wherever it is - why not let the Greeks copy our lead in Iraq. Let them just add it to their Macedonia. After all, since we’ve morally recognised it as part of their country, surely they can morally govern it? I mean, it’s only a matter of simple basic morality, after all, isn’t it?
(BS) Oh, my God ......
(BJ) Er, you called?
Religion and Reporting a Theft
In early November I had the misfortune to be robbed at a Saronic resort. My car was stolen and though I thankfully found it later the same day, anything of value had disappeared. That included all my documents in a case in the boot.
Later, I went to the police station of the area to make a formal report and met two of the sweetest policemen I could ever have the luck to meet. Not too bright, but very sweet.
“Name, father’s name, mother’s name, address, occupation;” the list went on in the expected smooth, well oiled patter one is used to hearing from a government functionary. At least, till we got to the subject of religion. “Anglican,” I replied. “What’s that?” came the question. “Church of England,” I answered. The young legal guardian then put his pen down and coolly looked at me. “I know Orthodox and Catholic, but I’ve never heard of Anglican. What exactly do you believe in?
At that moment his colleague entered and, hearing the last part of the conversation, laconically told his fellow cop: “you could have a problem. This guy may not be able to sign the deposition.”
“How come,” I asked. “what does being Anglican have to do with reporting a theft?”
“When you sign you have to swear you have told the truth,” he answered. “It’s like swearing on the Bible in court. If you don’t recognise our Bible how can you swear on it; and how do we know you are telling the truth?” For a moment I was nonplussed. There was a certain sense of fact in his statement, reminiscent of hearing a false syllogism for the first time.
“But Anglicans are Christians. It’s the same God, the same Christ and the same Bible.” He looked thoughtful, then asked: “so why aren’t you Orthodox?”
Somehow I didn’t think a long theological discussion was going to win the day. A shorter clincher was definitely necessary, but which one fitted the problem. I idly considered a patriarch’s face and mentally compared it with that of my local vicar. Then, in a vision of gestalt revelation, I knew; and with fingers crossed the cop was no theological dictionary, quickly blurted out: “It’s all in the beard, you see. Orthodox priests must have beards longer than 18 cm, while Anglican ones cannot have theirs longer than 10 cm!”
“You see,” he said, with a knowing look, “there is a difference. I’d better check with the duty officer first.”
Fortunately, his boss agreed that since I was willing to swear I
recognised the same God and the validity of the same Bible, I could
sign my deposition. And, a few minutes later, as I tiptoed, relieved,
out of the door, I could hear spirited suggestions and explanations
being put forward to account for the different lengths of European