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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Westminster Abbey at Maumbury Rings

Lydlinch Bells, Dorset

When skies wer peäle wi' twinklen stars,
An' whislen air a-risen keen;
An' birds did leäve the icy bars
To vind, in woods, their mossy screen;
When vrozen grass, so white's a sheet,
Did scrunchy sharp below our veet,
An' water, that did sparkle red
At zunzet, wer a-vrozen dead;
The ringers then did spend an hour
A-ringen changes up in tow'r;
Vor Lydlinch bells be good vor sound,
An' liked by all the naïghbours round.

(From Lydlinch Bells, by William Barnes)

I enjoyed the bell-ringing at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Wedding yesterday (no, I wasn't there in person).

Friday, 29 April 2011

British Cemetery, Corfu

I may have linked to this Eleni Gage article about Corfu once before.

It makes mention of the British Cemetery in Corfu, which is justly famous for its orchids and flowers.

It's a good time to take a visit.

An old song that always comes to mind in that peaceful location is Blind Lemon Jefferson's  See That My Grave is Kept Clean

Problems at Igoumenitsa

Athens News reports

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Australian Dream Out of Reach? Sydney, Eastern Suburbs

Nick Bryant reports on the affordability of living in Australia.

Having spent seven years in Sydney in the 1990s, living on Seven Shillings Beach (Point Piper) and at Elizabeth Bay, it's hard to believe that the cost of living there has gone up so much.

The Eastern Suburbs were never cheap.

Corfu here I come!

Who needs more sunshine anyway? Weymouth has been more than a match for Bondi Beach this last week.

PS Nick Bryant on the Kate and William effect

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Three-30-Blues, Duane Eddy, Blues Guitarist

"Three-30-Blues", from a seminal LP, Have Twangy Guitar-Will Travel, by Duane Eddy.

This takes me back! Almost as heavy and intense as Jimi Hendrix's "Red House".

Friday, 22 April 2011

Boogie for Stu, Superb Ben Waters CD

In the end I missed the Ben Waters Poole concert to launch this great CD.

I've been listening to some stunning tracks, including P J Harvey- "Lonely Avenue" and the Dylan song "Watchin' the River Flow" with Mick Jagger and others.

Great Dorset boogie and blues! Bridport's Hamish Maxwell (of Custer's Last Blues Band) sings the Joe Turner classic, "Roll 'Em Pete".

From the Dorset Echo (James Tourgout reports):

West Dorset: Singer joins music stars on tribute CD

SINGER Hamish Maxwell from Bridport has teamed up with music legends to launch a new CD by pianist Ben Waters.
The frontman shared the stage at the Ambassadors Theatre in London for the launch of the Boogie 4 Stu tribute to Ian Stewart.
He joined such stars as Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, Stones guitarist Ron Wood, former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, singer and pianist Jools Holland and Mick Hucknall of Simply Red.
Ben, who is based in Weymouth, recorded the charity CD in tribute to his childhood hero Stewart, who was a founder member and long time piano player in the Rolling Stones.
All proceeds from the CD – on which a galaxy of stars perform – are in aid of the British Heart Foundation as Mr Stewart died of a heart attack in 1985 aged 47.
Hamish, 76, of North Allington, said: “It’s a very special CD and all for a good cause.
“All the people gave their time because of the cause.”
Hamish, who is the singer with Custer’s Last Blues Band, said: “Ben did a great job. It is all down to Ben.
“He got everybody together and deserves credit.”
Hamish met Mr Stewart at a jazz club at the Red Lion in Sutton, Surrey, and they went on to play in a skiffle band together.
Hamish was best man at his wedding and they often came down to West Bay to meet up with friends from the skiffle scene.
He also sings on one track on the album. Other musicians to feature on the CD include Stones Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood. Their former bandmate Bill Wyman also played – for the first on a track with the band in 20 years.
Others to guest on the CD include bassist Dave Green, Jools Holland, saxophonists Don Weller and Willie Garnett.
Ben’s son Tom, 10, also played, on alto sax, and the CD also features his cousin, West Dorset rock star PJ Harvey.
Beatles, Who and Rolling Stones producer Glyn Johns mixed the album and Sir Peter Blake, famed for his cover of The Beatles Sgt Pepper album, did a portrait of Stu for the CD cover.
The album will be released on April 18 on Eagle records worldwide.
Ben is also playing a benefit gig for Broadmayne school, where his children attend, on Saturday May 14 but also using the occasion to launch the CD in Dorset.
l Hamish is also playing a gig with Custers Last Blues Band at the George Hotel in Bridport on Sunday, April 24 from 8am until late. Admission is free.

Class and the Royal Wedding

Some timely observations from Bagehot

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Swedish call to boycott Greece as a holiday destination?

My Swedish is getting rusty, but I got the gist of this article .

It seems to be about human rights issues, and the case of a young woman called Anna

"The Greek authorities' handling of the case is unacceptable. European Convention requires the European nations to protect our basic human rights".

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Two Years of Corfu Blues

It's been two years since I started posts to Corfu Blues.

719 posts, 20,000 page views.

Is that par for the course?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Dorset Voices: Calling Dorset Writers and Photographers!


Click on image to enlarge

The Greek Banking System (Kindinologies 4)

EuroIntelligence reports alarming speculation:

"Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi, the most prolific campaigner against default, told il Sole24 ore that the ECB had carried out an analysis on the potential impact of a Greek debt restructuring, and found it would imply the failure of a large part of the Greek banking system, as the Greek banks hold a large portion of the Greek sovereign debt. (Another reason is that Greeks would transfer all their deposit to foreign banks, a process that is already partially under way). At the point the Greek banks would no longer have access to ECB liquidity, and would have to end their support for the corporate sector. He said that since Greece does not have a primary balance, a default at this time would lead to the cessation of pension and other social payments. The Greek economy would collapse, with devastating economic and social consequences. He said the other countries should stop pushing Greece into a catastrophe".

The Government response?

(Keep Talking Greece)

Costas Simitis says something different in To Vima.

The Daily Telegraph 

Damaging Rumours

The Economist

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lonesome Valley

Another song for the Corfu gig?

Carter Family

Mississippi John Hurt

Eric Bibb

I hope I don't have to walk it by myself.

More optimistic? Let Your Light Shine On Me, Blind Willie Johnson.

An update on Australia

Nick Bryant reports.
Are the Aussies overly self-satisfied about their lifestyle?

Greek Reality?

The Troika is deeply frustrated, according to this interesting blog, Keep Talking Greece, quoting TA NEA.

'Taxes not collected, corruption unpunished', in brief.

From The Guardian

Richard Pine in The Irish Times

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Ryanair, Stansted to Corfu Flights

Useful information (as always) from Susan Daltas and  the team responsible for The Corfu Blog.

It seems only logical that if Greek airports have indeed decided to waive landing fees, more budget airlines will start direct flights to Corfu.

For me, the most significant incentive in choosing one budget airline over another would be the amount of hold and cabin luggage allowed to passengers free of charge. Lets hope that new forms of competition address the different needs of different travellers, some of whom have to carry laptops, books and documents from one place to another.

EasyJet recently sent a stern warning message about high additional costs if items of luggage are larger than allowed.

I imagine that the excellent and friendly people at Mondial Forwarding Ltd will win a lot more business, as a result of such policies.

I hope Ioannina will also start receiving direct flights from the UK.

The Greek Crisis Continues...

Gavin Hewitt comments.

Oxford University Blues

David Cameron causes a stir.

John Lee Hooker was the best professor I had at Oxford. He certainly gave the most unforgettable tutorial. See what I mean.

BBC commentary on university admissions policy.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Dylan in China

I agree with Michael Gray.

I was reading the article in The Independent on Sunday on the plane back from Bermuda. I thought that the article(by Joan Smith) was very superficial, naive and incoherent.

As if Dylan is obliged to sing "Blowin' in the Wind" or "The Times They Are a-Changin'" wherever he performs!

The writer admits "I've never been a Dylan fan- his politics and his lyrics have aways seemed incoherent to me."

Dylan denies censorship

Monday, 4 April 2011

Five Fascinating Workshops in Corfu, at the Durrell School, 18-24 September


The Music, Dance and Drama of the Ionian Islands


This is an innovative and experimental event, combining elements of an academic conference with practical workshops in sacred and secular song, dance, drama, and verse performance.

This event is organized by Dr Anthony Hirst, the new Academic Director of the Durrell School of Corfu, and Dr Kostas Kardamis of the Music Department of the Ionian University, in conjunction with Alexina and David Ashcroft, the Administrative and Technical Directors, respectively, of the Durrell School. This is the second in the new series of Ionian Islands events organized by the Durrell School, following the seminar in May 2010 on The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands, the proceedings of which are now being edited for publication.

The week will begin with a Welcome Reception in the Library of the Durrell School in the early evening of Sunday 18 September, and end with a public performance of the results of the five workshops in the evening of Saturday 24 September. The programme on the five weekdays in between will involve academic sessions in the mornings followed by a long lunch and siesta period before the workshops start in the early evening. On one or two days the morning sessions may be shorter to allow for excursions.

The workshop sessions will be practical classes in which you can learn new skills, or exercise skills that you already have on new material. The workshop sessions will also function as rehearsals, leading to the performance at the end of the week. Final rehearsals, if needed, will be scheduled for the day time on the Saturday. Each learning/rehearsal session will last two to three hours. Each participant will be able to take part in only one series of workshop, and will be asked on the application form to rank at least three workshops in order of preference. The scope of each of the five workshops is described below, following the Call for Papers. The dance and music workshops will concentrate on those styles of singing and dancing which are peculiar to the Ionian Islands, and which distinguish Ionian culture from that of the rest of Greece; the drama and verse performance workshops will use texts by Ionian authors.

The public performance on Saturday will — weather permitting — take place in an open-air venue (though we will have an inside venue lined up as a fall-back), and the public will be invited to attend, free of charge.

We also hope to take advantage of performances that happen to be taking place in Corfu during the evenings of the week in question; and some performances may be arranged specifically to coincide with this Durrell School event.

Call for papers

Proposals are invited for presentations, in English, on any aspect of the history and practice of music, dance or drama in the Ionian Islands — and of course including that combination of music and drama — opera — which has played an important part in the culture of the islands.

Proposals, of no more than 600 words, should indicate not only the themes to be covered but also the audio-visual materials to be used to illustrate the themes. The delivery of the scripted part of the paper should not take more than 30 minutes, but the overall time may be extended by the length of any recorded audio or audio-visual material to be presented, up to a maximum of one hour. Each presentation will be followed by ample time for discussion. The proposal should include an estimate of the total length of audio-visual recordings. Proposals should be accompanied by a CV or brief biographical statement.

Proposals and CVs/biographies should be sent as email attachments in Word or pdf format to, to arrive not later than 15 June 2011.

Those whose proposals are accepted for presentation will be able to take part in all the activities of the week, including participating in one of the workshops, without payment of the Registration fee.

The five workshops

1. Sacred Song:

Orthodox Liturgical Music of the Ionian Islands (‘Cretan Chant’)

In this workshop you will learn to sing representative samples of the traditional polyphonic sacred chant of the Ionian Islands. This music is often called ‘Cretan Chant’, because of its derivation from the style of chanting used in the Orthodox churches of Crete. When Crete passed from Venetian to Ottoman rule in 1669, Cretan Chant was brought to the Ionian Islands, where it was developed and enriched, and is still in use today. Although based on the Byzantine octoechos (‘eight-mode’ system), Cretan Chant has much in common with the traditional polyphony of certain non-Orthodox Mediterranean regions, such as the island of Corsica. This workshop provides a unique opportunity to make contact with a somewhat obscure aspect of the Greek Church.

This workshop will be directed by Dr. Stathis Makris, Associate Professor in the Music Department of the Ionian University. He specializes in the sacred tradition of the Ionian Islands and the traditional folk-music of Greece.

Minimum number of participants: 4 (2 Tenors and 2 Baritones or Basses). While Orthodox Chant is normally performed only by male voices it should be possible to include some female voices particularly Contraltos.

Maximum number of participants: No upper limit

Requirements: a basic knowledge of musical notation and solfeggio (Tonic sol-fa), and some experience of choral singing

2. Secular Song:

The urban choral tradition of the Ionian Islands

Through the creative amalgamation in the Ionian Islands of local polyphonic traditions with the practices of ‘learned music’ there emerged during 19th century a fascinating choral repertoire, usually known as kantades. In this workshop you will have the opportunity to learn to sing some of the most popular of these choral songs.

This workshop will be directed by Fotis Argiros, a music educator and experienced conductor of choirs.

Minimum number of participants: 4 (2 Tenors and 2 Baritones or Basses), other male voices and all female voices are also welcome.

Maximum number of participants: No upper limit.

Requirements: a basic knowledge of musical notation and solfeggio (Tonic sol-fa), and some experience of choral singing

3. Dance

While many traditional dances familiar in other parts of Greece are also found in the Ionian Islands, there are also distinctively Ionian dances which, like Ionian music, show Italian influence from the long period of Venetian occupation. In this workshop you will learn a small group of these Ionian dances.

The director of this workshop has not yet been appointed but we expect to engage an experienced dance instructor from one of the dance academies in Corfu town which specialize in traditional dance.

Minimum number of participants: 8

Maximum number of participants: No upper limit.

Requirements: An interest in dancing (extensive experience not essential), a good sense of rhythm, and stamina.

4. Drama

In this workshop you will learn, rehearse and perform an excerpt or excerpts from an 18th-century play by Petros Katsaïtis (c.1662–1742) who lived in Kephalonia. This play is based ultimately on Euripides’ tragedy Iphigeneia in Aulis, but the theme came to Katsaïtis through a 16th-century Italian intermediary. Katsaïtis’ play Iphigeneia has been successfully revised and modernised for performance by Spiros Evangelatos (also from Kephalonia), as Iphigeneia [in Lixouri] — Lixouri being one of the principal towns in Kephalonia. It is the modern version by Evangelatos (first performed in 1979, and published in 1995) that we shall be using. This entertaining and amusing play blends Greek tragedy with elements of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. It is striking in its comic use of the Heptanesian (Ionian Islands) dialect, and — depending on the languages of the participants — it may be performed partly in Greek and partly in English. Participants will be provided in advance with the Greek text and English translations of the excerpts selected.

This workshop will be directed by Dr Konstantinos Poulis, a playwright, theatre director, actor, translator and academic, who has studied at the Panteion University in Athens, and also in England at the universities of Nottingham and Cambridge. He has translated Oscar Wilde’s first play, Vera, or the Nihilist, into Greek. He played the role of Agamemnon in a production of Iphigeneia [in Lixouri] by the Panteion University Theatre Group.

Minimum number of participants: 4

Maximum number of participants: No upper limit.

Requirements: A real eagerness to try acting is sufficient; previous experience is not essential.

5. Verse performance

While this is perhaps the most unusual of the five workshops, it is a form which has twice before been part of a Durrell School seminar. In May 2010, at the seminar on the History and Culture of the Ionian Islands, the second and most complex draft of Solomos’ unfinished masterpiece, The Free Besieged, was performed in the Greek and Italian of the original as well as in English translation, to musical accompaniment. This new workshop will range more widely, taking in the work of many poets who were born or who lived in the Ionian Islands, or whose work relates to the Ionian Islands, from the sixteenth century to the present day. Ionian poets will include Markaros, Pieris, Solomos, Sikelianos, Valaoritis and Eparchos; non-Ionian authors will include Edward Lear, Oscar Wilde and C. P. Cavafy. Texts will be performed in the original languages and in translation. The range of languages of translation will depend on the linguistic range of the participants. There will be opportunities for participants to suggest poems for inclusion and to provide translations in their own languages.

This workshop will be directed by Seán McCrum, an independent curator of innovative and often multi-media exhibitions, and Patrick Sammon, a linguist, translator and editor. Both are partners in the Durrell School of Corfu, and they have collaborated in directing many verse performance workshops, including those at the Durrell School.

Minimum number of participants: 6

Maximum number of participants: No upper limit.

Requirements: A voice, and a willingness to speak loudly and clearly in front of an audience.

Application and fees

You should have received an Application Form with this announcement. If not, please write to to request one. The completed application form should be emailed to the same address, or posted to Dr Anthony Hirst, 68 Palatine Road, London N16 8ST, to arrive not later than 1st July 2011, to allow us time for the preparation and circulation of advance materials for the workshops. Late applications may be considered, depending on the number already received.

For those attending the event but not presenting a paper, the registration fee is 325 euros. A deposit of 75 euros will be requested on acceptance of your application, with the balance of 250 euros payable during the event.

Those whose papers are accepted for presentation at the morning sessions will not be asked to pay the Registration Fee. They will only be asked for small contributions towards food and travel costs on excursions they take part in.


A small number of bursaries will probably be available to assist students from Balkan countries to attend. Bursaries will cover the Registration Fee and provide a contribution towards travel and accommodation costs. If you think you may be eligible, please write to for information.

Accommodation in Corfu

The website of the Durrell School of Corfu ( has information about hotels. On the Home page click on “Forms & Links” (top right), and on the next page select “Accommodatios Bookings here” (on the left above the Lion of St Mark). For further advice you can contact Alexina Ashcroft, Administrative Director of the Durrell School at

Travelling to Corfu

Throughout September there are regular charter flights to Corfu from many European countries. For those coming from the UK there are scheduled flights with Easyjet: every day from London Gatwick, three times per week from Manchester and twice per week from Bristol. For those wanting a more leisurely journey, there are regular ferries from Italian ports (Venice, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi) or from Greek ports (Igoumenitsa and Patras).