Copy of a letter (2 of 5) sent to the RT Hon. Boris Johnson
November 4th, 2019
Let’s Shake Hands on the Parthenon
(Cont.) I promised yesterday to explain that my reference to you by your first name was not disrespectful, on the contrary. I am not writing to you as my superior, that is as my prime minister, because I am not a British subject, but a citizen (the distinction is important) of Hellas, nor am I a smooth Greek diplomat harnessed by protocol that dictates how we should communicate.
We are both products of British schools belonging to the Headmasters' Conference; boarding schools with their prefects, fagging, rugger, cultivation of House Spirit, Oxbridge beaks to teach us, our school architecture created by eminent British architects, a surfeit of playing fields to build character and team spirit. I was your senior at school, in a different location of course , indeed we did not at the Prince of Wales School in colonial Kenya wear fancy waistcoats, too soppy, but I was privileged in my last term to be able to walk on the lawns of the Main Quadrangle.
I could draw on having been an upperclassman and senior to your much later entry as a junior boy into the same system and stand on that seniority, but will not do so. And I will not, out of respect, address you by your surname as public school seniority would dictate, but by your first name, in democratic fashion, as equals. (My Greek conscience prefers it that way.)
And so, with true respect I am writing these five letters to request that you, as an agile and consumately intelligent politician, famously known and acknowledged to be able to spin on a farthing, or a Euro now, when there is advantage to be gained for your country (or for yourself), to explain that if Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, let us invent a new game where there are no losers: Let's call it "Parthenon Return", a new game after the endless Parthenon Marbles ones in which many players have engaged, and lost, on both sides.
I am, as a private Greek citizen, requesting that you take advantage of the majority wish of British and world public opinion and return the looted-for-a-mansion magnificent Parthenon Sculptures, torn violently from a temple that is the permanent symbol of the very democracy that has allowed you to become top dog in Blighty.
The Return by you, Boris, will please the majority, and displease only that small cabal of UK taxpayer funded trustees of the depository of colonial-era booty that calls itself the British Museum. It is stocked with collections of blood-soaked artefacts, mostly stolen, taken by force, or lifted from weak nations under occupation; it is not a museum in the conventional sense, nor does it conform to today's norms of ethical curating. It is sadly a beyond its sell-by date version of Ali Baba's Cave, and reflects foreign glory only. There is no honour in pilferage.
The Sculptures and other siezed collections, laundered by slave and opium trading-era laws, are a blight in the manner they are held and displayed by a proud and historic nation with magnificent traditions that have been the framework of a Just Society that prides itself on its traditions of fair play, on the field and in society. Your national, personal, and yes, your electoral popularity, will benefit as kudos are showered on the UK by a grateful Greece and by the rest of the world.
Little boys in Hellas will carry the name of Boris, streets too, and even possibly a city suburb, as you no doubt know of Vironas (Byron's suburb), in Athens that is the mark of a grateful nation to a man who respected our culkture.
The Return of the Parthenon Sculptures will be a huge international event, and after returning India and Hong Kong, Britain will hardly feel the loss of emptying just one room in a London museum, a museum that has to entice visitors to visit its vast collections by offering free of charge entry.
I have rambled, but needed to do so to explain the parameters of this win-win game for and us. A ground-breaking perhaps concept, of all being winners, in a cultural conflict that has simmered and flared up for 200 years of needless rancour, steeped in conflict, acrimony, and locked in a stalemate. Let's play "Parthenon Return" then Boris, and when the object of the game is achieved for both parties, let us conclude by Shaking Hands on the Parthenon! Without protocol, without the trappings of seniority or political office. Just one Greek citizen with a British counterpart, both brought up to understand the universal truth for civilised men and women, that it is never wrong to do right.
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely, Alexis M.
(Part 3 will follow tomorrow)