Friday, 18 May 2012


Some years ago I was one of a party of tourists, mostly British, sailing from Athens to the island of Aigina, a few miles to the south. The chief attraction of the island is the temple of Aphaia,

but since this is on top of a hill seven miles inland from Aigina port, transport is needed. So we all dutifully queued up to wait for the little bus that shuttled tourists up to the temple, but when the bus arrived, a party of Germans appeared from nowhere, pushed ahead of the Brits and filled the bus, leaving us all behind. While we waited for the next bus, some Japanese appeared and quietly queued behind us. When that came, a little old Japanese lady tottered to the front, and of course we politely let her on first. But what we failed to notice was that she was carrying an array of cameras, which she then placed around on seats to book them for her friends. I am sorry to report none of us had the nerve to kick them onto the floor, and as a result the Brits ended up standing all the way to the temple. Undoubtedly we Brits deserved full marks for politeness, but at the same time I felt the episode illustrated why we often lose out in world markets.

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