Outside a small café in Athens a group of GPs huddle together and toast the future. A new breed, they’ve made the decision to forge a new life in Greece, convinced that anywhere on the planet is better than staying in the UK.
‘We came over here a couple of months ago,’ says Margaret, a furtive GP in her mid-40s.
‘I was a partner for 15 years before I saw the light. There’s plenty of work out here and the property is dirt cheap, because a lot of it was set on fire.’
Margaret found it easy to settle into the Greek way of life.
‘I watched Clash Of The Titans a couple of times, bought a Demis Roussos CD and said my goodbyes.
‘In the few short months I’ve been out here I’ve seen more and more disillusioned GPs coming over.
‘They’re attracted by the prospect of getting to retire whilst they’re still alive, drinking Ouzo in the sun and best of all getting to escape the mindless drudgery of British society, which has slammed a barbed wire tower block into the crotch of common sense.’
When asked about the looming economic crisis and the political uncertainties in Greece, Margaret just shrugged: ‘What crisis?
‘It doesn’t cost anything to walk around the shaded parks holding your lovers hand and it doesn’t cost anything to admire your smooth skin as it’s cooled by the Athenian breeze, besides we’ll just print off some more Drachma when the time’s right. Another Ouzo?’
‘At the end of the day,’ adds another GP, who over-heard the conversation, ‘the whole experience of living and working in the UK was torturous.
‘Being a doctor was a bit like being forced to slowly squeeze one of my testicles through the roughened window of a doll’s house whilst someone else tipped a watering can over my head.’
When all said and done it seems that for many GPs, including the small group we met up with here in Athens, the smell of revolution and burning tyres will always be better than the smell of burning dreams.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen.