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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Chronia Polla to Jina Politi!

I was delighted to see Jina Politi at the Athens Conference, Between Two Worlds.

We spoke on the phone this morning. Professor Emeritus Jina Politi celebrates her 81st birthday today.
Congratulations and chronia polla!

Professor Jina Politi (rt.) with Willy Russell in Thessaloniki


I found this useful short CV on the net:

Jina Politi holds a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University. She was a Fellow in English at Churchill College, Cambridge. From 1980 she was Professor of English Literature at Aristotle University,
Thessaloniki, Greece, and on retirement in 1997 was granted the title of Professor Emeritus. In 1998 she was awarded the prize for Excellence in Teaching and Research by the Institute of Technology and Research. In 2002 she was elected Honorary Member by the Society of Hellenic Authors. Her published work focuses mainly on British and Greek literature. Besides scholarly work, her writings include critical articles on social, political and cultural issues published in the daily press and relevant periodicals.

Countess Diamantina di Roma, Lady Bowen (and Bowen and Lear)

A nice Australian tribute on YouTube

An earlier posting of my own, and an extract from the 2004 oration by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, AC (Governor of Queensland at the time, now Governor-General of Australia, the first woman to hold that position):

"I wanted to know more about this captivating, exotic woman, of her serenity and kindness. And like many others who have read of the Bowens’ time in Queensland, I wondered about that couple’s relationship - the differences in upbringing and cultural traditions - yet encouraged by the impetus they gave, in partnership, to Australia’s northern colony, newly separated from New South Wales in 1859.

I was reminded too of the seeming contradictions in their temperaments. I am not the first to have considered this. The opening lines of a poem attributed to Jim Potts, currently with the British Council in Sweden, whose work Diamantina Roma and the Postings of Governor Bowen begins thus:

that selfish brute Bowen,
got Corfu, then Brisbane,
New Zealand and Melbourne!
Missed out on New South Wales!
Twenty years down under,
Sir Gorgeous Figginson Blowing…

Potts’ use of the word ‘brute’ and the sarcasm inherent in the corruption of Bowen’s name are taken directly from 19th century writer and natural history artist, Edward Lear, known the world over as the author of The Owl and the Pussycat.

Lear met Bowen on the island of Corfu and had lived there for some time in rooms near the Metropolitan’s Palace. He wrote of society under the British Protectorate as “having all the extra fuss and ill-will produced by a Court and small officials.” Apparently Lear’s particular loathing of Bowen appears in his personal correspondence."

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Themis Marinos at 95, a Small Celebration; Θεμιστοκλής Μαρίνος

After the Athens Conference, I parachuted in to visit an old friend (the young 95 year-old Themistocles Marinos) out in Kifissia. Themis was born in Zakynthos in February 1917. He is still writing fascinating and important books about his wartime experiences. A Greek (and British) war-hero, he was a member of the Harling Mission (the Gorgopotamos Operation, seventy years ago, in 1942). The cultural, literary and military links between Britain and Greece need to be celebrated at this time of economic crisis and uncertainty. This is to wish Themis a very happy 95th birthday in less than two weeks from now.

Θεμιστοκλής (Θέμης) Μαρίνος

On Zakynthos

In Sydney, Australia (O Kosmos, 15 April 1997):

Update November, 2017:

We were in Athens this November (their daughter Penny and our daughter Nina-Maria were both running in the Classic Marathon), and we were able to take the metro out to Kifissia to visit June and Themis. Themi celebrated his 100th birthday in February, 2017; it was wonderful to see them again, both looking so well. Themi told me the secret of a long life: "A clear conscience, integrity - and living so many happy years together with June".  He received a letter from the Queen. He intends to go to the next celebration of the Gorgopotamos (Harling) Operation, the 75th anniversary. The operation took place on 25 November, 1942. Themis is now probably the only survivor of that hugely important, history-changing operation. Α belated χρόνια πολλά, Θέμη!

Between Two Worlds Conference, Athens; Nanos Valaoritis

Nanos Valaoritis at the Athens Conference:

An earlier version of his talk.

From an article in Kathimerini, 18 September, 2007:

About Nanos Valaoritis, who is 90 years old.

Poem, "They", translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert,
Home and Abroad, British Council Staff Journal, May, 1968:

Back in Greece, the Drama Unfolds

Headline at Gatwick (light reading on the plane  to Athens)

Kathimerini on Troika demands..

An EU Budget Veto? OCHI! Impossible.

Budget Control? (Reuters)

FT (De)

Telegraph: "The spectre of bankruptcy"

Wall Street Journal:
Europe is "prepared to support Greece" with the new loan package, Mr. Schäuble said, but he warned: "Unless Greece implements the necessary decisions and doesn't just announce them…there's no amount of money that can solve the problem."

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I Mean Well

Some coats of arms

Theo Angelopoulos accident

The Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos has died following an accident. He was hit by a motorcyclist.

See an older posting on Angelopoulos in Zagori

It was only a few weeks ago that I was watching his great film "The Weeping Meadow".

I have followed his work since his first feature, "Reconstruction", but I haven't always enjoyed his films. I remember walking out of the overlong "Megalexandros", in spite of the superb compositions and cinematography, and his perspectives on modern Greek history. Viewers are not always in the right mood for the slow pace of his films. I will try again.

A tragic end to a unique cinematic talent.

Don't miss the film extract in this posting from Keep Talking Greece.

I know the feeling.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Luteolin: eat more of the flavonoid in fruit and vegetables

Research paper from BMC Gastroenterology

Popularisation in the tabloids (spotted while waiting for my car to be serviced this morning).

What I found interesting was the list of foods containing the cancer-slowing  flavonoid luteolin, which include

Thyme, oregano, rosemary, camomile tea, peppermint, olive oil, carrots and navel oranges.

Sounds like the typical Greek diet in most respects.

Another item that caught my eye at the garage, some research on the evolutionary differences between males and females regarding warfare!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Never on Sunday, In Memoriam Melina Mercouri

Don't look back: sorry, Melina, not quite a paidi tou Pirea!

I want my marbles back!

"To be born Greek is to be magnificently cursed. To a surprisingly large number of people, it means you personally built the Acropolis, you created Delphi, the theatre, and you sired the concept of democracy. The truth is that you're poor, many of your people can't read and the rare moments that you tasted of democracy and independence, foreign protectors or their Greek stooges snatched them away from you."

"I Was Born Greek", 1971

Song, The Mediterranean
Different images:
The Mediterranean (2)

The Rehearsal, I Epistoli, Dassin, Theodorakis, Mercouri

Duet with Mikis

Update, March 6 2012

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Rime Improvvisate, Solomos' improvised poems in Italian

Letter (Zante, 1822) from Lodovico Strani(s) to Ugo Foscolo, published as the introduction to Solomos' first collection of poetry (Rime Improvvisate, 30 sonnets in Italian), published by Strani(s) in Corfu, 1822.

From the poem:

Δυστυχής! Παρηγορία
μόνη σοῦ ἔμενε, νὰ λὲς
περασμένα μεγαλεῖα,
καὶ διηγῶντάς τα νὰ κλαῖς.

Two passports issued to Lodovico Stranis by the British Lord High Commissioner in the 1840s:

The Hill of Strani, by Aglaia Papa

Jungmannová Cultural Resource Centre Ceiling, Prague, Milan Ressel

Milan Ressel, Ceiling Dome Artwork, Prague Cultural Section Resource Centre, c. 1987,
on the theme of free and unfettered cultural exchange
between Britain and Czechoslovakia.
On Lute, Jim; Bagpipes, Milan; guitar, John Lennon!
(Milan's little joke: the three British cultural representatives were intended to be Shakespeare (or an Elizabethan lutenist), a Scottish bagpiper and John Lennon -with a nod to the significance of The Beatles and the John Lennon Wall in Prague; the less visible Czechoslovak cultural figures were Dvořák, Smetana and Janaček)

"Olga described how, every Friday, her husband would take the tram to the Cultural Section of the British Embassy, an unbelievably dingy first-floor office in the Jungmannova, to read the reviews in the English newspapers."
Robert McCrum, The Fabulous Englishman, 1984

The ceiling painting aroused the interest of the StB (Secret Police) of course.

    We tried to liven things up.                 

It's probably been whitewashed since then...

With Mark Fryars (on left)

from Riot Police by the Statue of Jungmann:

Let's be proud of our office

In Jungmannova Street,

Though British books have been long suppressed.

Just repeat after John:

"What though the field is lost ?

All is not lost......."

"Cot', ze pole ztraceno ?

po vsem veta neni......"

Josef Jungmann, defiant Czech,

By translating John Milton revived his own tongue;

In spite of the Austrian censors' office,

In spite of censors still to come:

Courage; th' unconquerable will !


Reading, 24 October, 1989