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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Andrew Marvell (and Roky Erickson) on being Bermuda bound

Too much troubling news these days.

My thoughts will soon be focused on other islands:

"WHERE the remote Bermudas ride, 
In the ocean's bosom unespied, 
From a small boat, that rowed along, 
The listening winds received this song : 

   "What should we do but sing His praise
That led us through the watery maze,
Unto an isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own?"

(Andrew Marvell)

A good place to start rehearsing for the forthcoming festival gig in that other island associated with "The Tempest" and Prospero/Ariel, in the spirit of John Lennon, "starting over".

Roky Erickson is more explicit about going to Bermuda (thanks Ian).

See also my posting on Lyme Regis and Bermuda.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

ARTS COUNCIL funding cuts..and increases!

Here is a list of cuts to date, from The Guardian

Congratulations to Dorchester Arts, on their funding increase!

More great Bluesnights assured!

Greek Sovereign Debt Now Rated BB-

With Greek Sovereign Debt now downgraded (ie S&P'd) to BB-, with a negative outlook (largely because of the ESM agreement) it is not a good time to read about the true state of the country's pensions and social security funding.

There's a substantial "fiscal hole" and an alarming budget deficit.

It's reassuring to have reports from Ioannina that the restaurants and coffee shops are just as full and as busy as ever.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Ionian Highway and other funding problems

We should be grateful that the splendid Egnatia Highway is operational. Other motorway projects in Greece apparently face a funding problem, including the Ionian Highway from Ioannina to Antirio.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Paying my respects to Apollo and Hercules

I went to pay my respects to Apollo and Hercules today.

Can you guess where I found The Temple of Apollo and the Pantheon?

Both the Temple and the Pantheon are situated in the beautiful landscaped gardens of Stourhead, Wiltshire, not far from where I grew up. You don't have to travel far, even in the West Country, to find the influence of Greece and Italy.

The Pantheon, Stourhead

Friday, 25 March 2011

Education, Class and the Polarised Society

Education has always been a controversial issue, but it has become even more divisive as a result of public spending cuts in our "Big Society". Here are the views of two very different bloggers, Bagehot and Fielding, for The Economist and The Guardian respectively:


Bagehot (2)


Fielding (2)

An International Filmic Language?

After the best part of a decade (the 1970s) of being involved with film-making and film-training in Africa (in Ethiopia and Kenya, and subsequently in Ghana), and other international media consultancy work, I wrote this 8 page article for Sight and Sound, which was published in Spring 1979. Some of the issues raised are still relevant, even in this age of international broadcasting , the internet and digital TV.

The Future of the Eurozone

More speculation and informed analysis  ("Euro Breakup Revisited" by Wolfgang Münchau, EuroIntelligence).

Thursday, 24 March 2011

TUC "Oppose the Cuts" Video

What do you think of this TUC protest video?

It was apparently the winning "60 second ad" TUC competition winner.

It will be shown on a giant screen at the Hyde Park Rally on Saturday, according to Bagehot.

Update, after the event.

But no news of the impact of the video.

What do YOU know about Science?

Ten things you should know (FT article)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Hugh Laurie sings the blues

Just watched the versatile Hugh Laurie singing the blues in New Orleans. His first ever blues gig, courtesy of

I enjoyed "You don't know my mind" and his boogie piano playing on "The Old Folks Back Home".

Tim Jonze commented:

"Can a 51 year old from Oxfordshire possibly pull off music that was written by – and documented the hardships of – grizzled black men from the Deep South? It's certainly some stretch for the imagination. But then the House star is the first to admit that he could get shot down: “I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s. I've never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south … [but] I love this music as authentically as I know how.”

He did a pretty good job...for a grizzled Englishman.

John O'Keefe, The London Hermit: or Rambles in Dorsetshire

This intriguing comedy of 1798 by John O'Keefe is going to be given a reading by the New Hardy Players at the Dorset County Museum on 29 April at 7.30pm.

For those of you who may miss it, the text can be ordered (print on demand)  through ALIBRIS

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The UK in Albania

Here is a short account of the British Embassy in Albania and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 1991.

I recently joined a group of UK Albanian, Balkan and Byzantine specialists at the Frontline Club in Paddington, London: a fascinating evening spent discussing Greece, Albania and Montenegro.

It reminded me of my own involvement in the region, and my official visit to Tirana before diplomatic relations had been re-established; this lead to the creation of the British Council Resource Centre at the University of Tirana (inaugurated 22 June 1992, by Sir Stephen Egerton, HMA Italy).

The LSE and LIBYA, etc.

Prof. David Held, in OpenDemocracy (March 2011)

Prof. Halliday's Memo (October 2009)

An article by Fred Halliday (September 2009)

A further OpenDemocracy contribution to the debate by Anthony Barnett (31 March 2011)

Moussa Koussa, BBC statement (on Libya)

Remember Frantz Fanon?

Pinetop Perkins

BBC Report of the death of Pinetop Perkins, blues pianist, at 97.

This video was recorded on his 95th birthday.

Pinetop's New Boogie Woogie 

How Long Blues

Monday, 21 March 2011

Corfu, June 2,3,4

With thanks to Corfucius for the image and PR

Can't wait to get back for some good ole downhome backporch Holy Rolling Gospel Blues!

A Corner of a Foreign Field (Corfu)

Corfucius recently linked to this Sunday Times article from November 2008, about the properties of wealthy Brits and celebrities in the North-East of Corfu.

Trying To Do Business in Greece?

It ain't getting any easier, according to the World Bank and The Economist.

Richard Pine in The Irish Times.

Kathimerini on corruption (Transparency International)


...and now the nuns!

BBC on Portugal and Greece

How much of the above is "kindinologies"?

East Coker and T. S. Eliot

The future of East Coker?

See also my posting "Everyman's East Coker", 24 November 2010.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Blues Film Lament for Lost Youth (remember "Ebb"?)

I was in my second year at Wadham College, Oxford, aged 19 turning 20, reading English Literature, discovering the blues and European cinema.

Wadham College had one of the only established and active film-making groups at Oxford. The college had a long tradition of undergraduate film-making (Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson were both undergraduates there). The Oxford Mail once described it as "Pinewood College". Others have written about "Hollywood Oxford".

When I was 19, I wrote the script for the film "Ebb", which was originally going to be called "The Court Jester" or "Lorelei". Perhaps it should have been called "Prufrock", because Eliot's poem was one of the influences ("I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"..."In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo").

Having grown up in a Somerset village, I had never seen a European art film before I started going to the Scala Cinema in Oxford, where I was introduced to the works of Bergman, Bunuel, Antonioni and Godard, etc.

The Wadham Film Group gave us the chance to try our hands at making a film, although we had absolutely no experience or training in 16mm techniques, film lighting, graphics, continuity or cinematic make-up (it probably shows).

So I wrote my script, with its subconscious (?) symbolism and intertextual references to Eliot's "Prufrock", to Rodin (instead of Eliot's Michelangelo), to Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries", to Heine's "Lorelei", and even to Shakespeare's "King Lear" ("a tempest in my mind"). Perhaps there's a touch of Camus and 'the Absurd' in there too!

It's really a film about an Everyman Idealist who becomes a detached, cynical outsider and heartbroken (but ever-hopeful) clown as a result of disillusionment and rejection: a melancholic man with the deep, deep blues, in short.

Click here to see the film. 
(NB The film starts after 25 seconds; there is some deteriorioration in the reversal film print and magnetic stripe soundtrack; the 46 year old print has been copied from film to VHS to DVD and then uploaded).The film begins with a few bars from Blind Willie Johnson's haunting Dark Was the Night, Cold the Ground.

Ian Whitwham played the part of "The Fool",  "The Court Jester" or "Everyman", in what I conceived as a "cinemime", a silent film with a continuous blues soundtrack, which was recorded especially for the film by an enthusiastic John Lee Hooker, who was delighted to support a student film. Introducing the film on tape, John Lee said, with feeling:

"EBB is based upon mens and womens. Some have been searching all their lives for things they have never found, and never will find- maybe for love, or for gold, or for happiness; but the flesh is weak, and they cannot materialise what their hearts long for, and they die before they reach their goal."

You can listen to his introduction here (after the two short blues songs).

OK, it is a roughly made, adolescent film, but people say it captures the period in some respects. Simon Brett referred to its "mature integration of symbolism" and "swift evocation of mood". Shooting began in the Michaelmas term 1964. It was completed a year later, at the end of Trinity term, as the script required different seasonal episodes, one to be shot in a cold misty street in the winter, the other a more lyrical summer interlude. It was made on  a budget of £50, on Plus-X reversal film. The budget could only run to one take of each shot. Locations included Port Meadow and Jericho.

The blues lyrics serve as an introspective commentary on the action of the film and the emotional state of the moody outsider around whom the film is centred, and whose life is "ebbing away".

"There is a finely orchestrated sequence from physical cold through non-communication and introspection to a sort of emotional death, the involuntary position of the loveless who turns to mockery and cyncicism." (Simon Brett).

Here's a somewhat pretentious note from the original film launch programme:

"The film ends with a shot of the now old "ebbed man" drowned amongst the reeds in the river, having stripped off his Fool's costume (donned in a desperate gesture of trying to laugh at the absurdities of life after he is faced with the sudden realisation that his youth is gone" - and that his ideal is out of reach, unattainable. Philippa Midgely (swimming in a dirty and freezing river for the sake of art) has the same effect on the symbolically rejuvenated but ageing Everyman as the Lorelei did on the sailors in the folksong: "with a surge of regenerative hope he tries to swim out to reach this Siren-vision of the ideals of his youth, but drowns before he can reach her (the flesh is weak!). Hooker at this stage sings an adaptation of the traditional Death Valley Blues."

Hints of the drowned Ophelia too?

It's hard to wind back the clock, to get inside the head of the person one was at 19 or 20. The film is a painful reminder! But there you are...

Derek Grigs, the Oxford Mail film critic, once wrote:

"Making films is like writing in water. Of today's pictures, only one in a hundred is remembered tomorrow; in Oxford, not even those".

John Birt has written  ("Oxford Today", Trinity issue, 1996, vol 8.3) about Oxford student films generally, that such films are better "remembered with affection through the mists of time".

Monday, 14 March 2011

Was the World Wide Web conceived in Dorset?

Not quite, but a nice try!

Sir Tim-Berners Lee (who has East Dorset connections) offers some useful advice about email and other web-related matters on his personal website.

Thucydides on the Seismic Causes of Tsunami

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 3. 89, ed. Thomas Hobbes.
"The next summer the Peloponnesians and their confederates came as far as the isthmus under the conduct of Agis the son of Archidamus, intending to have invaded Attica; but by reason of the many earthquakes that then happened, they turned back, and the invasion proceeded not. About the same time (Euboea being then troubled with earthquakes), the sea came in at Orobiae on the part which then was land and, being impetuous withal, overflowed most part of the city, whereof part it covered and part it washed down and made lower in the return so that it is now sea which before was land. And the people, as many as could not prevent it by running up into the higher ground, perished. Another inundation like unto this happened in the isle of Atalanta, on the coast of Locris of the Opuntians, and carried away part of the Athenians' fort there; and of two galleys that lay on dry land, it brake one in pieces. Also there happened at Peparethus a certain rising of the water, but it brake not in; and a part of the wall, the town-house, and some few houses besides were overthrown by the earthquakes. The cause of such inundation, for my part, I take to be this: that the earthquake, where it was very great, did there send off the sea; and the sea returning on a sudden, caused the water to come on with greater violence. And it seemeth unto me that without an earthquake such an accident could never happen".

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Attractions of Dorset

"Stars of the West", an article about Dorset, the desirability of properties in the county and its attraction for film-makers. Julian Fellowes talks to Graham Norwood (The Daily Telegraph, March 12, 2011).

Arcadia Books featured in new Woody Allen film

Woody Allen's new film You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, which opens in the UK on 18 March, features Arcadia.
Arcadia Books published "Swedish Reflections, From Beowulf to Bergman" (co-edited Jim Potts and Judith Black).

An Arcadia Books 15th Anniversary News Release

Woody Allen finds himself in Arcadia

Another small press that's enjoying a Christmas windfall from an unlikely source is Gary Pulsifer's Arcadia Books, known to literary London as the publishers of Shere Hite, Francis King and Lisa Appignanesi. When Woody Allen decided to locate his most recent new film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, starring Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, and Naomi Watts, in London, the location scouts for his script set about finding an appropriate "small publisher". Allen finally settled on Arcadia in Nassau Street, W1. Pulsifer did not expect his office to survive the cutting room, or to be exposed to the real world without fictional disguise, but Arcadia's appeal proved stronger than the editor's scissors.
Robert McCrum, Observer

Woody turns the page to Arcadia
To call Woody Allen's literary rom-com You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger star-studded would be an understatement. In his new film, Allen has cast Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Freida Pinto and Josh Brolin. But, for British bookish types, the publishing house that features in the plot will outshine them all. It is Arcadia Books, the splendid indie run with such debonair dash by Gary Pulsifer and Daniela de Groote. Pulsifer reports that Allen's team found the Arcadia ethos to be "a perfect fit" for the firm in the film, even if their actual office proved "too modest". The crew filmed elsewhere, but let's hope that the credits, and cash, roll for Arcadia.

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

The word "MOJO", now mainstream in British politics

Muddy Waters, Got My Mojo Workin'.

Muddy Waters, Chicago, 1963

Lightnin' Hopkins, Mojo Hand

BBC News, 13 March 2011:

Foreign Secretary William Hague has rejected claims he might resign over his handling of the Libyan crisis and denied he has lost his "mojo".

He told the Sunday Telegraph he has wide support in his party..."If some of the people who write about  mojo came with me for a week, they would drop dead on their feet."

A trip to Louisiana?

Important Changes in Europe

Bagehot highlights a major development in the EU and Eurozone.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Film on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church

I have just managed to upload a 24 minute documentary on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the ancient art of making crosses by the lost wax technique. I made the film in my spare time between 1971 and 1975. It's called "The Cross: Artform of Ethiopia".

The master 16mm print is on loan to the Horniman Museum in London. This digital copy is taken from a VHS tape made from the only surviving film print (the film laboratory lost the negative and all the sound tracks).

Christianity became the official religion of the kingdom of Axum in 333 AD. It was Constantine the Great who started to promote the use of the Cross as a symbol of the Christian faith when he was converted to Christianity in the year 312 AD. Ethiopians believe that part of the True Cross was brought to their country in the fourteenth century by Emperor David 1st.

The film contains images of a world that has come to an end. You will even see bullets transformed into crosses. Filmed during the reign of Haile Selassie, the processions and festivals take one right back to Biblical times. The rock churches of Lalibela are spectacular.

Francisco Alvarez was probably the first European to see the rock churches of Lalibela in 1520: "I weary of writing more about these buildings, because it seems to me that I shall not be believed if I write more".

"Jim Potts has produced a fascinating film on the tradition of cross-making in Ethiopia. The 24-minute documentary contains scenes which may never be seen again with the radical changes taking place in Ethiopian societry. Included are the lost-wax process; unique patterns and mystic symbols; festivals and processions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church..."The Cross: Artform of Ethiopia" contains many forms of the cross unknown in the West...a valuable medium for other Orthodox Christians to understand their rich heritage of art and worship" (ACTION, April 1980, Newsletter of the Wold Association for Christian Communication).

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Has the crisis returned?

For the latest on the Greek economic crisis, and for European economic news and analysis, it's well worth registering with EuroIntelligence.

From today's bulletin:

"Greek 10-year yield reached a eurozone record, of 12.9%, as the markets are now overwhelming expecting a debt restructuring, following Moody’s three notch downgrade. Greece yesterday managed to raise €1.6bn in six month Treasury Bills at a yield of 4.75%, up from 4.64% in February. The proportion of foreign investors was one third, which is a lower proportion than last time.
After Moody’s, S&P is also pondering further downgrades for Greece and peripheral countries. Moritz Kraemer, head of sovereign credit ratings for Europe at S&P’s, told Reuters Insider Television that the outcome of the March 24/25 European Council in respect of the operating rules of the ESM will be critical in the futher ratings process. "We have two main concerns. The first is the preferred creditor status of the ESM ... and second is the conditionality the ESM can impose to restructure debt. If both materialise, S&P would consider downgrading Greece. The same goes for Portugal,” Kraemer said.

The FT reports that the debt agency PDMA quadrupled the size of this month’s six-month bond issue to help meet a jump in debt repayments this month. Greece is set to pay back a total of €12bn of debt that matures during March. Wall Street Journal reports that the Greek government plans to sell up to $3 billion of so-called diaspora bonds to U.S. retail investors.

Note also that the euro fell back by a cent to under $1.3891, as a result of these latest market jitters. The forex markets are clearly torn between the eurozone crisis – which exerts downward pressure on the currency – and the transatlantic monetary policy gap, which exerts upward pressure."

The FT on the resignation of Athens' senior tax official:

Greek Inspector of Taxes Resigns

Update on tax collection 

The Guardian, 13 March

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Daniel Defoe in Dorset

Defoe's description of Dorset

Defoe on Dorchester:

"From hence we turned up to Dorchester, the county town, though not the largest town in the county. Dorchester is indeed a pleasant agreeable town to live in, and where I thought the people seemed less divided into factions and parties than in other places; for though here are divisions, and the people are not all of one mind, either as to religion or politics, yet they did not seem to separate with so much animosity as in other places. Here I saw the Church of England clergyman, and the Dissenting minister or preacher drinking tea together, and conversing with civility and good neighbourhood, like Catholic Christians and men of a Catholic and extensive charity. The town is populous, though not large; the streets broad, but the buildings old and low. However, there is good company, and a good deal of it; and a man that coveted a retreat in this world might as agreeably spend his time and as well in Dorchester as in any town I know in England."

Defoe on Bridport:

"From hence we went on to Bridport, a pretty large corporation town on the sea-shore, though without a harbour. Here we saw boats all the way on the shore, fishing for mackerel, which they take in the easiest manner imaginable; for they fix one end of the net to a pole set deep into the sand, then, the net being in a boat, they row right out into the water some length, then turn and row parallel with the shore, veering out the net all the while, till they have let go all the net, except the line at the end, and then the boat rows on shore, when the men, hauling the net to the shore at both ends, bring to shore with it such fish as they surrounded in the little way they rowed. This, at that time, proved to be an incredible number, insomuch that the men could hardly draw them on shore. As soon as the boats had brought their fish on shore we observed a guard or watch placed on the shore in several places, who, we found, had their eye, not on the fishermen, but on the country people who came down to the shore to buy their fish; and very sharp we found they were, and some that came with small carts were obliged to go back empty without any fish. When we came to inquire into the particulars of this, we found that these were officers placed on the shore by the justices and magistrates of the towns about, who were ordered to prevent the country farmers buying the mackerel to dung their land with them, which was thought to be dangerous as to infection. In short, such was the plenty of fish that year that the mackerel, the finest and largest I ever saw, were sold at the seaside a hundred for a penny."

From A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journeys, vol.1 (1724)

Glyn Hughes, from "A Year in the Bull-Box"

I have been reading Glyn Hughes' latest collection of poems, an important and moving sequence called "A Year in the Bull-Box", Arc Publications, 2011. The bull-box is an isolated stone hut retreat in the Ribble Valley. The book was launched on 26 February. I couldn't get to the launch, or to Glyn's exhibition of paintings, but I spoke to him yesterday on the phone, and he gave me permission to reproduce one of the poems from "A Year in the Bull-Box" here. A poem to read on the top of Maiden Castle.


In my first escape I was aged five or six
observing larks above a bristle of corn.
When following oracles in the countryside
I seemed to pass through a pane of glass
and feel an inner rising, as a lark in a field
that is a clod of earth until it sings
and sprays horizons with its song.

I first met Glyn Hughes in Thessaloniki, in December 1980. We visited Petralona Cave together, and shared the same view of Mount Olympus as Petralona Man had done.

Several of Glyn's books, and many of his poems, deal with Greece in whole or part:

Fair Prospects (Gollancz, 1976)

The Summer the Dictators Fell (Goldmark, 2005)

Dancing Out of the Dark Side (Shoestring Press, 2005)

see also

In Association with

Monday, 7 March 2011

You Gotta Serve Somebody

Bob Dylan, You Gotta Serve Somebody

Etta James

Mavis Staples 

Booker T and the MGs

I wasn't an ambassador to England or France...but we may have to perform this number in Corfu in June, even if, like Booker T and the MGs, we have to read the lyrics rather than learn them.

What do you think, Chris, Raul? Mary wants some Dylan!

The Greek Language in Greece and Cyprus

This is a fascinating article on the linguistic differences, by Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra.

This one is for you, Simon, at Democracy Street!

Papandreou Losing Popularity?

From EuroIntelligence:

As austerity bites, Papandreou loses popularity

"So much for the notion that the Greek public supports austerity – let alone the kind of austerity that is yet to come as a result of the EU/IMF deal. The popularity of Pasok has fallen to 21.9% according to a poll for the Thema newspapers (as reported by Reuters), while New Democracy is at 19.6%. This is the lowest gap since the 2009 elections. Another remarkable result is that 71% believe that Papandreou was following the wrong policies to deal with the crisis."

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Blues Roll On: 1) Papa George 2) Smokey Smothers

After countless years listening to the blues, it surprises me when I discover artists I've missed or never even heard before.

Last night I went to a great gig by the Papa George Band.

I particularly liked "Cleansing My Soul" and his bottleneck playing, as on "Rollin' and Tumblin".

Another recent discovery, a bit late in the day (he died on  July 23, 1993) is Smokey Smothers. That's Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, as opposed to his brother "Little" Smokey Smothers, who died at the end of last year.

My daughter recently gave me a CD with recordings dating back to 1961 and 1962, Smokey Smothers Sings The Backporch Blues. Freddy King is playing with him. How did I miss it first time round?

Three songs by Smokey Smothers:

1   I've been drinking muddy water

2   I ain't gonna be no monkey man no more

3   Blind and Dumb Man Blues

I was also pleased to receive an appreciative comment on my  "Howlin' Wolf Tribute", which I also call "Wolf Tracks" on YouTube.

misskelseylou wrote "I'm lovin this jam. Great sound". Thanks Kelsey Lou! Fame at last!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

John le Carré, 80 in October

John le Carré (nom de plume of David John Moore Cornwell) will be 80 on October 19th, 2011.

I hope that Dorset has plans to celebrate his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first novel, "Call for the Dead" (1961).

He was born in Poole (where his grandfather had become Lord Mayor) and went to school in Sherborne. Perhaps Sherborne School will not be celebrating, given the author's foreword to "A Murder of Quality" (1991 edition of the novel and screenplay). He tells us how much he hated English boarding schools, which he still finds monstrous. His school career ended when he was 16, "when I flatly refused to return to Westcott House, Sherborne".

He told Olga Craig (Daily Telegraph interview, 31 August, 2010):

"I was at public school and I hated it. My father never paid the fees. I wasn't a proper gentleman. I just didn't fit".

Outraged by the system, he had this to say about the school- as it seemed to him then:

"Sherborne in my day had been rustic, colonialist, chauvinist, militarist, religious, patriotic and repressive. Boys beat other boys, housemasters beat boys, and even the headmaster turned his hand to beating boys...To this day, I can find no forgiveness for their terrible abuse of the charges entrusted to them."

After reading Cecil Day-Lewis's description of life at the school, in "The Buried Day" (1960), or Alec Waugh's "The Loom of Youth" (1917), it seems hardly surprising that many public schools have become co-educational, even if only for economic reasons.

The author lives in Penzance. Maybe it will be Cornwall, not Dorset, that will make the most of Cornwell?

He recently donated his entire literary archive to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University (his "spiritual home").

He sent his own boys to Hazlegrove House, Somerset.

In the 1960s he lived on various Greek islands.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Eurozone Interest Rates Set to Rise?

Stephanomics reports.

The impact in Greece.

The Daily Telegraph

Marshwood Vale Magazine: Louisa Adjoa Parker

I just picked up the March 2011 issue (no 144) of  the invaluable Marshwood Vale Magazine.

Louisa Adjoa Parker (photo Jim Potts)

I was delighted to see that the Arts and Entertainment section contains my feature article on the poet Louisa Adjoa Parker, whose work is gaining increasingly wide recognition. One of the poems I quote in the article, with Louisa's permission, is called "Dreaming of skinheads":

At night, I'd dreamed of being chased
By gangs of skinhead men,
And my Afro, like a soft foam ball,
Would seem bigger in the darkness
As the stamp of their
Doc-Martened feet
Came closer.

For information about Louisa's "All different, all Dorset" project and workshops, see this pdf file

A new project that a team of three of us is currently developing is an anthology to be called DORSET VOICES (publication date Spring 2012). More information to follow soon.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Altar of the Twelve Gods?

I nearly missed this article about the Altar of the Twelve Gods.

Bob Dylan, 70 on May 24, 2011

Bringing it all back home: an interesting conference in Bristol (UK), the town where I lived until I was eight years old. On Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, May 24.

The first time I ever heard Bob Dylan was in January 1963, when I watched the BBC play "Madhouse on Castle Street". One of the songs Dylan performed was The Ballad of the Gliding Swan.

He also sang Blowin' in the Wind. I was an instant enthusiast.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Carving in Stone

I recently completed a very enjoyable introductory stone-carving course.

Photograph Copyright Neil Crick

Photo JP

This is the sort of letter-carving I aspire to do on a future course. It's the work of a degree-course student:

Little Sparta here we come!

A Special Centenary

I sometimes write about the centenaries and bicentenaries of the birth of poets, artists and musicians. I seldom (ie never) blog about personal or family anniversaries. I take this opportunity to note that my father would have been 100 this month; my mother would have been 96. To mark the centenary of my father's birth, I am posting two photographs from his youth, and two of my mother.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Some Significant New Books: Constantine Theotokis, Karin Altenberg, Theresa Nicholas, Glyn Hughes

There a number of new or forthcoming books I'm looking forward to reading:

Glyn Hughes, A Year in the Bull-Box, A Poem Sequence, Arc Publications

Theresa Nicholas, Suntouched, Pen Press

Karin Altenberg, Island of Wings, Quercus (here's a review)

Constantine Theotokis, Slaves in their Chains, translated by J. M. Q. Davies (Angel Classics;delayed until 2012).

The novels by Theresa Nicholas and Constantine Theotokis are both set in Corfu.

About Island of Wings:

ISLAND OF WINGS by Karin Altenberg

July, 1830
On the ten-hour sail west from the Hebrides to the islands of St Kilda, everything lies ahead for Lizzie
and Neil McKenzie. Neil is to become the minister to the small community of islanders and Lizzie, his
new wife, is pregnant with their first child. Neil’s journey is evangelical: a testing and strengthening of
his own faith against the old pagan ways of the St Kildans, but it is also a passage to atonement. For
Lizzie – bright, beautiful and devoted – this is an adventure, a voyage into the unknown. She is sure
only of her loyalty and love for her husband, but everything that happens from now on will challenge
all her certainties.
As the two adjust to life on an exposed archipelago on the edge of civilization, where the natives live in
squalor and subsist on a diet of seabirds, and babies perish mysteriously in their first week, their
marriage – and their sanity – is threatened. Is Lizzie a willful temptress drawing him away from his
faith? Is Neil’s zealous Christianity unhinging into madness? And who, or what, is haunting the moors
and cliff-tops?

Exquisitely written and profoundly moving, ISLAND OF WINGS is more than just an account of a
marriage in peril – it is also a richly imagined novel about two people struggling to keep their love, and
their family, alive in a place of terrible hardship and tumultuous beauty.

Advance praise for ISLAND OF WINGS: “There are shades of Alistair MacLeod and of John
McGahern in this beautiful story of love and loss among the dark sea cliffs of St Kilda. The book tastes
wonderfully of its own weather, of sea salt on the tongue, and I read it with a rising sense of
appreciation. ISLAND OF WINGS is a precise, subtle, spiritually alive debut from Karin Altenberg.”

Andrew O'Hagan

“ISLAND OF WINGS captures a world that disappears in the act of its description, and the love, so
inescapable and elusive, of the outsiders who try to tame it. With scrupulous attention to place, history
and the natural world, it tells a story washed by a clean and lovely kind of sorrow.”

Anne Enright

Karin Altenberg was born and brought up in southern Sweden and moved to Britain to study in 1996.
She holds a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Reading. Her thesis was published in 2001 and
won the Nordenstedska Foundation Award. She is currently senior advisor to the Swedish National
Heritage Board and is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. ISLAND OF WINGS is her first
novel and she is currently working on her second.

ISLAND OF WINGS: UK: Quercus (pub May 2011)

Update, Guardian article by Karin Altenberg

Hallå där, Karin

120309 | Tove Leffler

NYHETER: Vars bok Island of Wings i går nominerades till brittiska Orange Prize, den enda boken skriven av en författare med annat modersmål än engelska.

Hur fick du reda på det?

– Jag var långt bort, på Orust, och plötsligt började telefonen ringa från alla håll och kanter: vänner, förlag och agent, alla försökte få tag på mig.

Hur reagerade du?

– Det har nog inte sjunkit in än. Det är en väldigt stark lista och det är roligt att se sitt namn ihop med folk jag beundrar. Orange Prize är ett viktigt pris, i alla fall i Storbritannien.

Hur kommer det sig att du valde att skriva din första bok på engelska och ges ut där?

– Jag har bott i 15 år i Storbritannien, arbetade som akademiker och skrev min avhandling på engelska. Jag har helt enkelt skrivit på engelska väldigt länge. Boken utspelar sig dessutom på en ö utanför Hebriderna, så det blev naturligt med engelska. Ursprungligen var jag inte säker på att det var en roman. Jag tänkte att det kunde bli ett långt resereportage eller en litterär studie, men karaktärerna började tala till mig och till slut blev det en roman. Jag tror att jag alltid velat skriva skönlitteratur, men inte vågat riktigt.

Hur ser du på att komma ut i Sverige, i en artikel i DN förra året stod det att du inte ville det?

– Det blev faktiskt lite fel i den artikeln. Klart det vore jätteroligt att komma ut i Sverige. Boken har gått ut till de flesta svenska förlag så det är snarare de som tackat nej. Ett svenskt förlag bad mig skriva om på svenska och det var det som jag sa nej till. Jag hade hellre sett att en professionell översättare översatte. Jag har jobbat med översättare och de vet vad de gör, det är ett yrke i sig. Dessutom tror jag att jag hade frestats att skriva om boken om jag satt mig med den igen.

Snackar du med svenska förlag nu?

– Jag har ingen egen kontakt utan har överlåtit det på min agent, så jag vet inte. Kan ju hända att de väntar på att boken ska vinna något pris.

Hur hamnade du hos Quercus?

– Det var auktion och tre förlag var med och bjöd. Jag fick välja mellan de tre och möta förläggarna. Vad John Riley på Quercus ville göra stämde väl överens med vad jag ville. Vi klickade och så som boken såg ut i sin första utgåva var jag väldigt nöjd med. Det är viktigt att man får känna så från början, relationen mellan förläggare och författare är mycket speciell.

Hur påverkar nomineringen till Orange Prize?

– Det har ju inte uppmärksammats i Sverige ännu såg jag. Om man tittar på listan på de som har vunnit bakåt i tiden har många av dem blivit stora namn. Vad jag har hört kommer det att påverka försäljningen. Hittills har den inbundna utgåvan sålt över 5 000 exemplar här och det är väldigt bra, säger mitt förlag. Pocketupplagan kom ut i mitten av februari och den säljer mycket bra. I USA är det Penguin som ger ut mig och de har ännu mer muskler, så där säljer jag ännu bättre.

Vad skriver du på nu? – Jag håller på med min nästa bok, manuskriptet skall lämnas in till sommaren och kommer ut nästa år. Jag har just fått ett skrivstipendium i Italien och ska åka dit och skriva. För tillfället bor jag i Sverige och jobbar heltid och det är lättare skriva på engelska när jag är i brittisk miljö. På retreaten i Italien pratar man engelska - vi är tre författare samtidigt - Andrew Miller (som just vann Costapriset), en amerikan och jag.