Enough about civil liberties already. Here’s a really bizarre and yet amusingly pitiful story currently taking shape in Greece. In fact, the Greek town of Kalamata, which until today Talking Points had only known through the eponymously named (and quite tasty) olives. Anyway, the British press is full of the story of twelve British and two Dutch ‘plane-spotters’ being held on charges of espionage in one of Greece’s nastiest jails.
What the hell is a plane-spotter?
Good question!!! I didn’t know either. So let me try to hook you up.
From what I can tell from this article in the Times of London, this one from the Telegraph, this one from the BBC, and others, plane-spotting is a popular hobby in Europe, which involves middle-aged, primarily male, oafs hanging out at air shows and military bases, watching planes take off and land, and taking pictures. If you’re a guy and you’ve been through junior high you probably immediately understand the phenomena.
Anyway, apparently this is a big thing in Europe – plane-spotting, that is. But no one does it in Greece. And even though these guys were invited to come to some air show or something by Greek authorities, the Greeks wigged out and arrested them for spying on the Greek Air Force.
Who these guys would be spying for and who would care about whatever they were able to see of the crack Greek Air Force isn’t really clear. But apparently the Greeks are pretty pissed about it and they’re leaving the luckless plane-spotters to rot in some awful Greek prison while the matter winds it way through the courts.
You’ve got to feel sorry for these hapless boneheads whose gee-whiz vacation has turned into a softball, farcical version of 1978’s chilling hit Midnight Express. But the British press is playing the drama like some Victorian set-piece with steadfast Brits keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of captivity by benighted barbarians. Here’s one piece about how one of the plane-spotter’s wives is holding up through the ordeal (“Sad wait for plane spotter’s wife“).
Talking about her imprisoned husband (pictured opposite), Perdita Norris tells the BBC: “We’ve been to Greece together many times. Peter loved everything Greek. At home, we’d have Greek salad, we’d buy Greek honey, Greek yoghurt, feta cheese. Now he doesn’t want to know anything about the country. He says he’ll never come back here, and I won’t either.”
By phone last night, her husband told her the group was “keeping up their ‘true British grit'”.
You can’t make this stuff up.