The new masters
Solemnity. Great Night. The rigidness of a strict protocol reigns in the palace. His Eminence the host count Emmanouil Stravomaounas - otherwise known as Manolakis Sachleouras - squeezed into his tails, receives his noble guests with the seriousness required by his fresh millions. [...] In his lit-up salons crystal chandeliers shed their light on the low-necked dresses of the new socialite ladies, among whom the glorious personality of the Countesse Pipi Stravomaouna - otherwise known as dame-Kalliopitsa or fat midwife - glows. [...] Protocol all right. But also courtesy. Elegance. Hand-kissings. Pardon and Merci. Gold cigarette cases, brilliants, sapphires and amethysts, pearls the size of hazelnuts. It is an exceptional gathering of what glamour our anxious times can supply - legendary names of the nobility, coats of arms and titles distributed by the white hands of the black market, fortunes made in no time at all that make you dizzy. [...] The nobles sit comfortably, the countesses sit comfortably, slaves in tails go around others with platters and others with bottles of wine taken from ice boxes. [...] The orchestra plays Mozart on the command of the host who had learnt confidentially that due to his finesse he is more discerning. [...] And suddenly at the tenth glass the oppressed demon springs up, tears off his tails and the thunderous voice of a revolutionary outbreak echoes:
- Health to you, Sachleouras!...
And instantaneously there comes the answer:
- Health to you, Bamia the immortal!
That was it. A storm of cordiality sweeps away formalities, protocol, coldness and a scream of relief echoes from the relieved breast.
Health to you, lads!
[...] Mozart goes out the window and the orchestra plays the national anthem of the black market:
The power in man
is his wallet
in our day
you all know this!...
[...] - Long live the black!
- Long live the Germans!
[...] Down with Liberty, my brother! Down with the end of war. Down with the Germans and the Italians leaving. Aouch!
Turmoil. The neighbourhood rings with carousing. The hurly-burly lasts till morning. Cost? A few millions - some three hundred. You can have it. If there are some naive people who die from starvation that is a detail. We want strong people. As you all know, the power in man lies in his wallet...
(Dimitris Psathas, Cheimonas tou '41, Athens, Maris, 1979, pp. 138-142)