I am a British, living in an isolated seaside village in Greece. At the end of June we were held up for two and a half hours at gun point and totally robbed of priceless jewelry and antiques etc…
The Greek police arrived quickly and our car was found abandoned in the mountains the next day.
In spite of living here for thirty years I was made uneasy when one policeman suggested that, being foreign, I may have been involved in the robbery. I calmly rang the British Embassy in Athens to ask for advice in dealing with the police. First call got me through to a foreign lady; a list of solicitors could be sent to me in dead end. The following week after talking to a friend I tried again, this time a possibly English lady but again most unhelpful. Even the vice consulate in Patras was directed to Athens.
I may have pressed the wrong buttons as there was no button for general advice on the ansaphone system.
In thirty years I have never asked for any assistance so why on earth did I bother!
I wonder if you would be interested in publishing my article which follows:
Held up at gunpoint for two and a half hours in a back of beyond seaside village, Paleros, Western Greece. Having lived here as a foreign British woman for thirty years and struggled to be accepted, I respected all the strange quirks, family squabbles and possibly a lot of trouble best not known about. I went to all the family funerals and memorial services seeing more dead people than the average person in England except the doctor and the undertaker!
Why on earth did we buy a tent for the balcony last year? It has always been too hot to eat lunch outside; but on this day we did! After eating my husband went to rest, I was followed into the kitchen by two hooded men after clearing the table. They threatened me with a pistol and a pair of parrot jaws and ushered me upstairs to my dialysis patient husband. Any defense attempt was impossible.
Bound but not gagged we were forced to see everything broken open and emptied into plastic bags.
My precious grandmother’s antique jewellery, Maundy money presented to a great aunt, hand painted pendants, jewellery presented by the queen and my Cornish diamond etc, etc… all chucked into bags together with the top of a cheap Chinese scent bottle- anything that glittered. All gone forever unless the Greek police excell themselves.
It has been like losing one’s family over again, not so much the incalculable value of “the stuff”.
I am still the same person. Having been fairly well educated I remember the phrase somewhere “riches gathered in this world have no value in the next”.
?Consolation- I’m trying hard. I had a go at swearing but as I never do either in Greek or English it did not help. There were a few words gathered after working as a translator in a hotel years ago!
After the event, in spite of thirty years here, one policeman even suggested that I may have been involved in the robbery! Little did he know that I was the one who had lost all!
Until that moment I had been quite impressed with the speed of the police arrival etc.
Feeling a little uneasy I rang the British Embassy in Athens. First time I got a foreign person who could give me a list of solicitors. A week later after talking to a friend I tried again.
This time an English person who talked through her nose -no joy there either- most unhelpfull. I realise that after so many years a British passport holder could not expect much help, but I rang calmly asking for advice in dealing with the police. I possibly pressed the wrong buttons and got these cookie ladies or life has changed so much in England. If I think, it took me two days pressing buttons to get the Southern Electricity Board in England, what can one expect.
It is the first time I have asked for assistance even though my husband had a sensitive position in the Greek Marine Force.
Up the river without a paddle – quelle domage!
Mary E. Swain
Mary E. Swain