My first visit to a Greek bank in three years, I'm half way to owning a gun!

Tom Winnifrith Sunday 9 December 2018


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You may remember, that at the height of the Greek Financial crisis I went to deposit 10 Euro in an account with the National Bank. As I entered the branch the queues at the withdrawal counters were endless. I went to the special assistance desk where there was just me and three completely senile peasants.

Though they did not know what day of the week it was, they were not so far gone as to be making a deposit. They too wanted their cash out, they just needed help. I was the sole person actually putting money into the bank and for that heroic act, Jim Mellon, rightly, suggested that they should have erected a statue of me in Kalamata next to those of the heroes from 1821.

At some stage I will need 4,000 Euro in that account in order to get Greek residency so I can buy a car and a gun. Please don’t blather on about Brexit. My father’s Canadian friend Peter has had residency for years and Canada is not in the EU. Being a non EU resident just means that you need to pop along to the local cop shop once a year to present your papers. I can handle that.

Pro tem I have not actively deposited cash but the proceeds of the Greek Hovel olive harvest each year are deposited into the account automatically. Wondering how much was in my account and being in Kalamata I wandered into a branch which seemed relatively quiet. I took a tab from the machine and got a number (205) and waited my turn. The big sign showed 193. Though the bank was full of staff shuffling papers there was only one of six counters manned. After 20 minutes the counter showed 194 so I asked a young man if there was a quicker way for me to find out what was in my account. I was shuffled to the special assistance desk and pretty soon was sitting opposite a young lady presenting my account book and passport.

The account book was pushed into a machine and came back with a raft of transactions on it. Blow me down, I have 2057 Euro in the account and will have another 290 shortly. At that point the young lady started suggesting that she’d like to see an electricity bill which I said was not needed, took my passport and account book and left.

The time is coming to risk c1700 Euro of real money, visit the branch again and get my account book to show that I have 4,000 Euro in it.  Since the Greek banks are all bust, though we all pretend otherwise, I may well lose the lot but if I act quickly I can secure my residency before that happens. And then, like everyone else in Kambos, I get to own a gun.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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