After the Scottish Referendum a significant number of our limited acquaintance voted No but woke up on the day after feeling sorry at the result. They felt they had to be loyal to family and other cultural links with England or, more mysteriously, with ‘Britain’. But they seem to have had a sense that the rest of Scotland would do the job for them.
I think something similar is happening in Greece but the other way round. In the last few days people were saying to us that their heart told them to vote No but their head told them Yes. Greece’s luck is that, for these Yes people, the rest of the country really did the job for them. As we were told, a Yes vote guaranteed indefinite misery, a No vote had a least a glimmer of hope shining away inside it somewhere.
This morning we were considering the celebrations. There is dancing in the streets, Greek dancing, the kind where almost any number of people shuffle or dance according to age, ability and degrees of intoxication. You sometimes imagine that entire populations could do it all together. We tried to imagine dancing if the vote had gone the other way. We failed of course. There would have been no dancing after a Yes vote, we would have had the traditional fatalism of taxi drivers, a section of the population with optimism issues, and extra doses of the kind of political pessimism that has both led to the present crisis and been formed by it.
We are now looking with even more interest at our Greek neighbours as they return from voting – Greeks often have to return to their birthplace to vote. We will treat them softly, try not to offend them with premature optimism or any sign that we know better or hope more than they can. Then we expect to see signs of guarded hope peeping out here and there.
Greeks are not good at waiting. They are doing their best and maybe they won’t have too long to wait this time.