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This is a question When were you last really scared?

We'd been watching the Shining. We were staying in an old church building. In hindsight, taking the shortcut home after midnight, in the mist, through the old graveyard was a bad idea.

I'm not sure what started it, but suddenly all the hairs on my neck had gone up and I was crapping myself. It was almost as bad as when, after a few cups of coffee too many and buzzing on caffeine, I got freaked out by my own reflection in the toilets.

When were you last really scared?

(, Thu 22 Feb 2007, 15:43)
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Greek Gestapo
A few years back I was stupid enough to just let a friend book a holiday on my behalf since Iw as going with the gang for a laugh - it could have been blackpool for all I cared.

But no, it was a previously unknown Greek resort named Faliraki. Never heard of it, but fuck it. WHat's to lose? As Hunter Thompson put it: "Many fine books have been written in prison".

But a few months before the holiday Faliraki hit the headlines as being one of the worst and sleaziest resorts on the planet, owing much to an exploitative ITV documentary.

I hear a lot about how it's a lawless free-for-all with no control whatsoever, so when I got there I was surprised to find it was fairly good natured. I mean sure, there's more than a few neds about sporting this week's Beckham haircut, but the atmosphere was great so who cares?
But about a week in I got a taste of the side of the resort you're not supposed to see. It was the first of several scares of which I had no way of foreseeing.
As I stood outside a bar looking into the busy street, the carnival-like atmosphere of the busy main walkway suddenly gave way to a breif fight between two chavs. It was the usual stuff, pushing, pulling, punching, ripped shirts, kicks aimed at the downed man's head, but before he could land it, four unseen spectres shot out from all angles of the crowd, clad in army trousers, heavy boots, and blue t-shirts emblazened with "police" written in English. In a furious whipping of frantic robotic movements, the four men had downed, restrained, and cuffed the aggressor and within ten seconds of first emerging were carrying off their prey and disappearing back into the crowd in a diamond formation.
In another five seconds there was no sign that they were ever there as the gap gave way to the thralling masses and the party continued unhindered.
The brutal efficiency of the assault was as frightening as it was admirable. Jesus, I thought, you put a foot wrong here and they'll throw away the key. That guy didn't even get a moment to think. The wiser among you would simply keep their wits about you and stay out of trouble after seeing this. But I've never been one to shy away from
A few pints later I emerged at the end of the main street to see a line of cops clad in the same uniform that the strike team had worn earlier, only this lot looked ready for a riot. A crowd of police stood before four or five police jeeps sat side on to the pavement in a row looking down into the main street. Each stared with the obvious intent to intimidate, never taking their eyes off the swarming mass of drunken Brit brats on their island. And they say there's no law here? I have to get evidence of this. I should have left it there.

Standing on a street corner I pulled out a disposable camera and aimed it at the crowd of cops, the nearest of which was the only one who looked out of place - his weedy appearance and curly hair and glasses gave him an air of insecurity. He looked like a former bank teller who'd just started his first night on the force, so when he saw me raise the camera in their direction, I was obviously going to ignore his call for me to stop.


"Sorry pal," I smiled too late.
Looking back it's probably the stupidest thing I've ever done.

Knowing I had committed a minor infringement I disappeared in to the crowd and walked at a brisk pace along the main road. It was about thirty seconds later that I became aware of the cop car which was drawing up alongside me as the uniformed thugs spilled out and surrounded me before it had even stopped.

I knew I was fucked. Raising my hands by sign of submission, I expected a stern talking to at the very least, but little more for such a small folly. Before I could open my mouth to apoliogise the ground was rushing up towards me and I felt the cold impact of the pavement on the left side of my face as my hands were yanked agonisingly half way up my spine and cuffed. Seconds later I was in the back of the meat wagon and heading at high speed out of the busy district. Stunned, I tried desperately to get my bearings, feeling only the bite of the cuffs as the tight metal dug painfully into the bone of my wrists. I was sure that if I could see my hands they would already be turning blue.
"The cuffs are too tight", I told the backs of the two heads in front of me.
Ignored, I repeated it louder and with further clarity, but was met only with stony silence once more.

After a few moments the passenger turned to face me. Somewhere in the last minute the banker had transformed into some kind of raging tormentor, shouting furiously in clear English: "Why do you disobey me? Why? Do you think I'm stupid? Huh? Huh?". Each word was emphasised with a shaking of the right hand held level with his head, the back of his increasingly clenched fist facing me. the fist tightened as his rage grew, and it was then that I noticed that we weren't going anywhere near the police station. I can't describe the fear I felt knowing that there was a high likelihood that all that would remain of me in a few hours was a bloodied corpse found in a ditch on the edge of town. The best I could hope for was just night in some rat-infested cell and a deportation order, but we had already passed the police station, so I knew it looked grim.
The growing violence in the cop's words was becoming clearer and clearer as he began spitting out angry words like a machine gun. I could see it in his eyes I was seconds away from a beating, the gesturing hand now a tightly-balled fist waiting to crash into my skull like a cannon. "You make me look stupid. You think you're better than me? I should teach you respect!"
I was sat defenceless in the back of a cop car, hands cuffed - if he hit me now I had no way of stopping him.
Then it came, not a blow, but an unexpected question: "What do you do?"
Bewildered and fearful, without thinking I blurted out: "Journalist".

His eyes flickered, there was a thought snaking it's way through his mind, he turned to the driver and uttered a few sylables in Greek and the car screeched to a halt and did a U-turn in the road.

Relief washed over me when I noticed the familiar main streets again, busy with potential witnesses. Thank fuck, I may get out of this yet. And all this because of the word "journalist".

The car arrived back at the corner I'd taken the picture and they helped me from the car. I felt a rush of blood back into my hands as the cuffs were removed, and bringing them in front of me I could see the bruises forming already at my wrists.

My camera film was exposed to the light before the chief cop handed it back to me. Smiling, he had now retained his banker's persona, but his English skills had suddenly deteriorated into that of Manuel from Fawlty Towers.
"This misunderstanding," he grinned "This no happen often in Faliraki."

I remembered: Journalist.
Advantage: Me.

Adopting the stance of a crooked plumber about to give an inflated estimate, I put a hand on my hip while the other scratched my chin and I tutted: "I don't know. That's how it looks to me. I'm going to have to write this. My editor wanted to trash the island but I said 'no' it's a beautiful place, there's no trouble here.' But no . . . ."

My ego allowed me to stick around long enough to accept several more apologies before I headed back to the hotel, shaken by how close I'd come to death, a thorough beating, or both.

The message is clear: Don't upset the Greek Gestapo.

Length? I'm lucky it wasn't ME getting a length in jail.
(, Fri 23 Feb 2007, 11:28, Reply)

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