Lillian is a student of drama and photography at the University of Athens. She is a bright, intelligent 23 year old who speaks fluently and eloquently in a language that is mine not hers. Her plan is to work for a drama company in her home city but for the time being, she is working for 15 hours a day as a waitress in a beach taverna on Sifnos island. It funds her through school. She despairs of her peers who cannot find work. The truth is, she tells us, they will not work for minimum wage. They think that they are entitled to more. They are like her – from a privileged background but they are not willing to fight. She loves Athens. The Athens that I see is crumbling and graffiti ridden. Her Athens is a place of beauty and culture. She agrees with her friends on one thing however. The current prime minister Alexis Tsipras is a good man who has the best of intentions. However, he will not, cannot change Greece’s fortunes. No one can. It is too late. She will not even vote. The future of this country should be determined by people like her. Instead I saw only cynicism and despair.
She directed us to the capital of the island. In the main square the majority of the buildings are typical Cycladian whitewashed square blocks with brilliant blue doors and window frames. Next to the church is a crumbling relic from the past. It is oddly Venetian in style painted in a flaking yellow. The crenelations on the roof are dangerous. Some have gone but others look as though they are simply waiting for the next Meltemi wind to bring them crashing down. Windows have been broken but not repaired and window frames are slowly rotting. In the nineteenth century it must have been a beautiful building. The cafe owner laughs and tells me that it is like the Acropolis – a crumbling ruin. In fact, this is the town hall where people work to support the island. There is no money available for repairs. This is the plight of modern day Greece.