8 DECEMBER 2001, Page 75

Payback time


TNew York

he very first article, not column. I wrote for The Spectator was in 1977. And it was about Greek paranoia. Yes, you guessed it. It was about plane-spotters, back then arrested near Kalamata, like the present bunch, their actions just as incomprehensible to the Greek mind as today's Peloponnese Twelve. The then sainted one, Alexander Chancellor, thought it rather quaint to have an HeIlene comment, so I called my dad. 'Of course they are spies,' said my father. When I protested, he hung up on me, telling me that I was naive as well as a fool. Be that as it may. Greek fathers are not exactly known for spending their time patiently explaining life's complexities to their children. They operate, instead, from a vantage point of experience mixed with knowledge. One is told how things stand in black and white. At least that is how it was in 1976.

Twenty-five years later, we're back to square one. At the time of writing, the plane-spotters are doing bird, The Speccie is furious, the Greeks are bullying and the British government is helpless. Here I must declare an interest. Although I feel sorry for the plane-spotters, I think 16 months in jail would do nicely, thank you. This is divine payback time, and don't let anyone tell you differently. When the saviour of Chile and Britain's best friend, General Augusto Pinochet. was Strawed by a judicial European Union subterfuge, Tony Blair claimed he was helpless to act. If 'modern reality is being usurped by the implementation of an antiquated legal system' in the birthplace of selective democra

cy, well, too bad. An antiquated legal system in my book, is a lot better than a European Union system that thrives on coercive bureaucracy which controls our behaviour as well as thought. Of course the 12 schmucks are innocent, but they did go to Turkey first, and did accept Turkish baklava. What are the Greeks supposed to think? After all, Greek eccentricity means making love to one's own wife, not walking around taking down the registration numbers of some rusting choppers.

When gangsters blew up my boat in 1994, the Greek socialist state was reluctant to chase them out. Once I flushed them out with private help, I had to produce the evidence. The fuzz did absolutely f— all. The individual means as much to a socialist state as the fact that Bill Clinton has the clap means to me. The November 17 terrorist group has been murdering people since 1975. Not a single terrorist has been caught because the socialists not only refuse to catch them but they are actually protecting them. This is a fact. The N-17 Marxist-Leninist terror cell was begun by Andreas Papandreou in Canada during the seven-year rule of the Colonels, 1967-1974. The government obviously does not wish to be exposed as having played footsie with this scum, and I hate to think who among the present cabinet was involved with the killers at the start.

Yes. I agree with last week's leader that the Greeks must grow up. But so should the Brits. I didn't hear Robin Cook read the riot act to the Greeks when Brigadier Stephen Saunders was murdered in cold blood. The Brits used diplomatic language, which is as useless as the Draft Dodger's oath in a court of law. As they say down on the farm, the chickens have come home to roost. Mind you, a couple of weeks in the nick never hurt anyone. Greek jails are better than British ones, not that I know anything about the former. Apparently one can have girls come in, not that this might interest any of the Brits. I just can't imagine someone who plane-spots being mad about nookie.

Oh well, it could be worse. I did three months in Pentonville, General Pinochet

was kept under house arrest for 16, and the Peloponnese Twelve will most likely do three weeks. Next week I will write my 25th Christmas double-issue column, actually 24th, because Christmas 1984 was spent in the pokey. And the Peloponnese Twelve will be home by Christmas, at least I hope so.