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Saturday, 28 July 2012

La Rochelle (sans laptop - ordinateur portable)

Getting ready for La Rochelle

Packing some books by Sartre and Camus, and an old song

Not that there'll be much time to read, with four grandchildren to keep entertained!

It should be an exciting week. I'm leaving the laptop ( l'ordinateur portatif?) at home for a change.

La Prise de La Rochelle (French poem)

Painting  by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot:
L'abreuvoir; vue prise près des ramparts, avec la Tour de la Lanterne, La Rochelle

Siege of L'ile de Re (Le siège de Saint-Martin-de-Ré, l'île de Ré)

Siege of La Rochelle

Tax Evasion Rates as High as 100% on Some Greek Islands

Athens News reports.

Oh well, only 75% tax evasion on Corfu, compared to 100% on Zakynthos and Lefkada.

Well done, Corfu!

NB The figures refer to businesses, not individual tax payers.

Six out of ten businesses evade taxes, on average, according to the inspectors.

Who will hear Greece's cry? Nick Malkoutzis, Inside Greece.

Logios Hermes

Update from Hydra (August), Keep Talking Greece

The London Olympics Opening Ceremony

As reported in the New York Times

Kathimerini (in Greek)

"Games without end" (Kathimerini)

Down here in Dorset it's still England's "green and pleasant land".

William Blake, Mr Bean, James Bond and a snatch of the Rolling Stones spelt...Satisfaction.

BBC Video Replay (Sir Paul McCartney at section 19; Mr Bean plays Chariots of Fire at section 8)

Mr Bean in London (, in Greek

Touchy issues 1

Touchy issues 2

What the world thought, A summary from The Telegraph

NB The influence of Humphrey Jennings (Jennings was one of Britain's inspirational film-makers). He died in Poros, Greece.

Friday, 27 July 2012

"A Lover Not a Fighter"- Lazy Lester in Dorchester, Dorset

I've booked to see Lazy Lester at the local arts centre in August.

He's on tour in the UK.

He may be 78, but he's still rocking the blues- authentic Louisiana swamp blues, and he blows some great mouth-harp. He also loves country music.

"I'm a Lover, Not a Fighter" from 1958

"I'm a Man"

"Harmonica Blues"

"Rainin' in My Heart"

"Blues Stop Knockin' At My Door"

Not to be missed!

More on Lazy Lester

Update, 11 August.

The show was enjoyable, a good mix of country songs and blues. Lazy Lester is a charming man with a  cool, self-deprecating sense of humour. As he said, the reason he's still here today is because he was poor back then, and (fortunately) couldn't afford the pills that killed so many others. He's in pretty good shape!

I enjoyed his covers of Jimmy Reed songs like "You got me dizzy" and "Caress me baby", and some of the slow blues like "When my first wife left me". His version of David Houston's "Almost Persuaded" was deeply moving. He didn't pull off all the country songs, some of which strained the vocal chords in a couple of places if he tried too high a key, but  he gave us great versions of Hank Williams' "Your Cheating Heart", the 'Canadian Cowboy' Hank Snow's "I don't hurt any more", Ernest Tubb's "Walking the floor over you" and the traditional "New River Train". On the pop music side, Lee Dorsey's "(Sitting in the)Ya Ya" won plenty of applause.

I would have liked a bit more mouth-harp (the previous night he'd performed as a duo with another musician alternating on harp and guitar) and some of the early Excello hits, but at 79 he certainly ain't lazy, as the lady in the next seat remarked.

In Castle Cary with Great Uncle Roy

Two of the grandchildren with my brother,
Castle Cary, yesterday.

In the good old days:

In West Bay, Dorset:

Battle for the Winds, Weymouth and Portland, Sailing Olympics

If you missed the preview and open dress rehearsal for the Battle for the Winds on Weymouth beach last night, don't miss the even more spectacular staging of the battle (against the stone-hearted Doldrum, and to determine the perfect wind, to launch the Sailing Olympics) on Saturday 28 July (8.45 pm).

Sadly, not everyone shares my grandchildren's innocent enthusiasm for such events. Polly Toynbee, for instance. Unlike those who are older and maybe wiser, children have no time for spoilsports.

Better safe than sorry.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Athens News (newspaper) On Strike

Journalists and writers would like to be paid for their work.

Nowhereisland arrives in Bowleaze Cove

Wile I was swimming near Weymouth this afternoon, the island suddenly appeared from nowhere, pulled by a tug, until it was safely moored in Bowleaze Cove.

About Nowhereisland, an artwork by Alex Hartley.

Some of the nearby swimmers weren't impressed, dismissing it as something daft and "arty".

"An astonishing folly" at half a million pounds? (BBC)

I rather liked the idea

Q and A

The sea has been better than in Greece for the last three days. Amazing!

Greek Athlete Removed from Team

The consequences of a tweet

Voula Papachristou apologises (in Greek). She has apparently been removed from the Greek Olympics team.

A Greek reaction (Hellas Frappe)

and Logios Hermes (in Greek) report

Comments from Yahoo Sports

Athlete 'very bitter and upset' (The Guardian)

Athens News report

Greek high jumper also out of the Olympics

More details

The legacy from 2004 (BBC)

St Georges, Bermuda, Mayor and Town Crier to Lyme Regis, Dorset

News from Bermuda

Greece, "Way Off Track"

Reuters article


Money woes

Albanians and Bulgarians living in Greece are apt to say, somewhat cynically, that it is time for Greek families to start selling off some of their extra houses, apartments and other real estate."Few other Europeans enjoy the use of such an extensive portfolio of properties". "One family home should suffice", says the average Bulgarian.

Update, 26 July, Reuters "Greece hammers out austerity cuts"

"Δεν αρκούν πλέον τα λόγια. Οι πράξεις είναι πολύ πιο σημαντικές" (Barroso to Samaras).

Wall Street Journal, 27 July, on the size of the shortfall.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Kerouac's On the Road, Finally on Film

Wikipedia entry: "On the Road", the film


On the road in Lowell

Blues Pilgrimages

Kerouac's Blues

UK release date, September 21st 2012


Finally seen it on DVD. Rather disappointed, although I enjoyed some snatches of song on the soundtrack, blues songs by Bukka White and Son House, some jazz by Charlie Parker, and Kerouac himself singing "Home I'll Never Be". Some great shots of the road, landscape, and of cotton-picking. Good attention to the period.

The Ionian Islands and Epirus- Kindle Edition, 2012

Just discovered that my book has also been published as a Kindle edition (2012)

Time to get a Kindle?

Quite a few books on Greece are coming out only as e-books, eg two books by James Pettifer:

The Greeks (new edition)

The Making of the Greek Crisis

Bradley Wiggins, A French View

According to the BBC

Bradley Wiggins, a modern John Henry.

The winner! 

"A man ain't nothing but a man!"
John Henry sung by Phil Wiggins and John Cephas

When you get tired of cycling, Walking Mama

Friday, 20 July 2012

Kenyan Torture Victims, 1950s

Truly disturbing, shocking report (The Guardian)

ABC (Australia)

The Daily Telegraph

Mail Online report

Book: Britain's Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya

Update September 2015, BBC News - Kenya Mau Mau memorial funded by UK unveiled


Old - anonymous- Kenyan blues song: "Mau Mau Blues":

"Going back to the forest, can't live in this town no more;
Going back to the forest, can't live in this town no more,
I wonder now, wananchi, what I was fighting for.

We've got our independence, but still life's just the same,
We've got our independence, but still life's just the same,
The men with the Mercedes, the Wabenzi are to blame.

Look at all the politicians, they wear the white man's shoes;
Look at all the politicians, they wear the white man's shoes,
But we're still walking barefoot with the independence blues.

When I came out of the forest, back in nineteen sixty-three;
When I came out of the forest, back in nineteen sixty-three,
They said, "Lay down your weapons, you don't need them now we're free."

Some called us freedom fighters, some shouted out 'Mau Mau'!
Some called us freedom fighters, some shouted out 'Mau Mau'!
Don't matter what they called us, they don't want to know us now.

Going back to the forest, people, can't live in this town no more;
Going back to the forest, people, can't live in this town no more.
Now I know, wananchi, what I'll be fighting for."

For Democracy Street

In case you missed it last time I posted this quotation from Roy Fuller's poem "To a Friend Leaving for Greece", here's the last stanza again:

"You visit a country where the unclean being
Who brought disaster has already been expelled,
And far back in its history the gloomy date:
'Twenty-eighth year of the War. Blockade of Athens'.
Will you return with hopeful messages
For the new victims of the Theban king
And of the destroyers of democracy?"

It was written at the time of the Junta.

I don't know why I think of it again now, after I have returned from the "burgundy seas, white harbours, empty skies". It happened that I came across a photocopy of the poem as I was tidying my papers.


Tsipras predicts default (Athens News)

Corfu Honours its Living Poets and Visual Artists. Programme of Events

Press Release (in Greek):

Κέρκυρα, 16/07/2012


“κάτω απ’ τον έναστρο ουρανό μας”

Η Κέρκυρα τιμά τους εν ζωή ποιητές και εικαστικούς της

Το ΔΗ.ΠΕ.ΘΕ. Κέρκυρας προσκαλεί τον κόσμο του νησιού, να γνωρίσει τους Κερκυραίους ποιητές και εικαστικούς, σε συνεργασία με μουσικούς και ηθοποιούς, σε έντεκα βραδιές αφιερωμένες στην Σύγχρονη Κερκυραϊκή Καλλιτεχνική Δημιουργία.

Έντεκα βραδιές σε έντεκα ιστορικά “ανοικτά” σημεία της πόλης, με ποίηση, εικαστικά δρώμενα, μουσική και χορό, όπου ανθολογούνται και παρουσιάζονται είκοσι τρείς ποιητές και έντεκα εικαστικοί, οι σημαντικότεροι δημιουργοί, αντιπροσωπευτικοί όλων των τάσεων, από πέντε διαφορετικές γενιές δημιουργών.

Οι ποιητές που ανθολογούνται είναι: Ορέστης Αλεξάκης, Κατίνα Βλάχου, Θεοτόκης Ζερβός, Γιώργος Κάρτερ, Δημήτρης Καρύδης, Σπύρος Κατσίμης, Ευριπίδης Κλεόπας, Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης, Σπύρος Κωσταγιόλας, Κώστας Λιντοβόης, Νάσος Μαρτίνος, Μαίρη Μαυρωνά, Μαρία Μελέντη, Λεωνίδας Μερτύρης, Ερωτόκριτος Μωραΐτης, Γεράσιμος Ρομποτής, Κώστας Σουέρεφ, Γιώργος Σοφιανός, Αλέξης Σταυράτης, Σπύρος Τζουβέλης, Σωτήρης Τριβιζάς και Τηλέμαχος Χυτήρης.

Οι εικαστικοί μας: Τζίνος Δημητράτος, Εύα Καρύδη, Νίκος Κόκκαλης, Γιώργος Κουλούρης, Τάκης Μεταλληνός, Γιώργος Πέννας, Στέφανος Σγούρος, Σπύρος Σουρτζίνος, Δημήτρης Σοφιανός, Πέτρος Στραβοράβδης και Σπύρος Τρούσας.

Συμμετέχουν οι μουσικοί: Αμβρόσιος Βλαχόπουλος, Γιώργος Βλάχος, Παντελής Κοντός, Αναστασία – Φιόρη Μεταλληνού, Ρόζα Πουλημένου, Maria Bozena Σουέρεφ κ.ά.

Τα ποιήματα διαβάζουν οι ηθοποιοί: Σπύρος Ασωνίτης, Σπύρος Βέργης, Σπύρος Βερονίκης, Πέτρος Γάλλιας, Νότα Δαρμανή, Ευγενία Ζάγουρα, Ναταλία Καποδίστρια, Σπύρος Κασφίκης, Αλεξάνδρα Παγιατάκη, Αντωνία Πετροπούλου – Ρήγα, Γιώργος Πουλημένος, Μαριέττα Σαββανή, Μάγδα Σγούρου, Όλγα Τζήλιου, Σοφία Τόμπρου κ.ά.

Την καλλιτεχνική διεύθυνση των αφιερωμάτων υπογράφει ο Πέτρος Γάλλιας και την ανθολόγηση των ποιημάτων ο Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης

Η παραγωγή είναι του ΔΗ.ΠΕ.ΘΕ. Κερκύρας.

Οι βραδιές πραγματοποιούνται σε συνεργασία με το Γραφείο Πολιτισμού του Δήμου Κέρκυρας






Παρασκευή 20 Ιουλίου

Δημήτρης Καρύδης / Λεωνίδας Μερτύρης

σε συνεργασία με την Θερινή Ακαδημία του Τμήματος Μουσικών Σπουδών του Ιονίου Πανεπιστήμιου

Νίκος Κόκκαλης 

Στην Πλατεία Κρεμαστής – στο βενετσιάνικο πηγάδι

Τετάρτη 25 Ιουλίου

Γιώργος Σοφιανός / Αλέξης Σταυράτης

Δημήτρης Σοφιανός

Στον «πόντε» του Ανεμόμυλου

Παρασκευή 27 Ιουλίου

Γεράσιμος Ρομποτής / Σωτήρης Τριβιζάς

Γιώργος Κουλούρης

Στο προαύλιο του Ιερού Καθολικού Ναού «Παναγία της Καρμήλου» - Τένεδος (Νέο Φρούριο – Οδός Σολωμού)

Κυριακή 29 Ιουλίου

“Ανθολόγιο Κερκυραίων ποιητών”

σε συνεργασία με το Σύλλογο Βιβλιοχαρτοπωλών Κερκύρας

Ορέστης Αλεξάκης, Κατίνα Βλάχου, Θεοτόκης Ζερβός, Γιώργος Κάρτερ, Δημήτρης Καρύδης, Σπύρος Κατσίμης, Ευριπίδης Κλεόπας, Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης, Σπύρος Κωσταγιόλας, Κώστας Λιντοβόης, Νάσος Μαρτίνος, Μαίρη Μαυρωνά, Μαρία Μελέντη, Λεωνίδας Μερτύρης, Ερωτόκριτος Μωραΐτης, Γεράσιμος Ρομποτής, Κώστας Σουέρεφ, Γιώργος Σοφιανός, Αλέξης Σταυράτης, Σπύρος Τζουβέλης, Σωτήρης Τριβιζάς, Τηλέμαχος Χυτήρης.

Εύα Καρύδη

Στο Μνημείο Ένωσης

Άνω Πλατεία

2η έκθεση βιβλίου

Τετάρτη 1 Αυγούστου

Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης / Τηλέμαχος Χυτήρης

Τάκης Μεταλληνός

Στο προαύλιο της Τράπεζας της Ελλάδος στην Πλατεία Δημαρχείου

Παρασκευή 3 Αυγούστου

Ευριπίδης Κλεόπας / Σπύρος Τζουβέλης

Γιώργος Πέννας

Στην Πλατεία Λεμονιάς

Παρασκευή 17 Αυγούστου

Ορέστης Αλεξάκης / Θεοτόκης Ζερβός

Πέτρος Στραβοράβδης

Στην Πλατεία Αγίας Ελένης (Καμπιέλο)

Τετάρτη 22 Αυγούστου

Νάσος Μαρτίνος / Ερωτόκριτος Μωραΐτης

Τζίνος Δημητράτος

Στο «Φαληράκι» - στα «Μπάνια του Αλέκου»

Παρασκευή 24 Αυγούστου

Κώστας Λιντοβόης / Κώστας Σουέρεφ

Σπύρος Σουρτζίνος

Στο προαύλιο του ιστορικού Καθολικού Ιερού Ναού του Αγίου Φραγκίσκου (5ο Δημοτικό Σχολείο – Νικηφόρου Θεοτόκη 97)

Τετάρτη 29 Αυγούστου

Γιώργος Κάρτερ / Σπύρος Κατσίμης / Σπύρος Κωσταγιόλας

Σπύρος Τρούσας

Στον κήπο των παλαιών Ανακτόρων – στον «Κήπο του Λαού»

Παρασκευή 31 Αυγούστου

“Οι ποιητές μας κάτω από τη πανσέληνο του Αυγούστου” σε συνεργασία με την 21η Εφορεία Βυζαντινών Αρχαιοτήτων

Ορέστης Αλεξάκης, Κατίνα Βλάχου, Θεοτόκης Ζερβός, Γιώργος Κάρτερ, Δημήτρης Καρύδης, Σπύρος Κατσίμης, Ευριπίδης Κλεόπας, Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης, Σπύρος Κωσταγιόλας, Κώστας Λιντοβόης, Νάσος Μαρτίνος, Μαίρη Μαυρωνά, Μαρία Μελέντη, Λεωνίδας Μερτύρης, Ερωτόκριτος Μωραΐτης, Γεράσιμος Ρομποτής, Κώστας Σουέρεφ, Γιώργος Σοφιανός, Αλέξης Σταυράτης, Σπύρος Τζουβέλης, Σωτήρης Τριβιζάς, Τηλέμαχος Χυτήρης.

Σπύρος Αλαμάνος

Στον προαύλιο χώρο του Ιερού Ναού του Αγίου Γεωργίου στο Παλαιό Φρούριο

Ώρα έναρξης αφιερωμάτων 21:30

Είσοδος Ελεύθερη

Το ΔΗ.ΠΕ.ΘΕ. Κερκύρας επιχορηγείται από το Υπουργείο Παιδείας, Θρησκευμάτων, Πολιτισμού, Αθλητισμού και τον Δήμο Κέρκυρας

A Sting of Remembrance! Salonika Re-Union

From "The Mosquito",  issue no 3, September 1928. I would have liked to have prepared a paper on this journal for the Thessaloniki Centenary of Liberation conference (October 18-21, 2012). Alas, no time.

The first issue was published in September, 1927. The journal was in continuous publication for over forty years. The Salonika Reunion Association (a veterans' association) existed from 1924-1969. The journal published many fascinating photographs and reminiscences of the campaign.

Stanley Spencer went to Salonika in August 1916. One of his great paintings of the campaign ("Travoys Arriving with Wounded...")

and The Resurrection of the Soldiers

NB James Pettifer has informed me of another interesting conference at the University of Oxford, on The Balkan Wars (1912-1913), to mark the 100th Anniversary. Dates, 17-18 October 2012, at the Rees Davies Room, Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford. All welcome, but numbers are limited, you need to reserve a place.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

IMF on the Euro Area

IMF (pdf) file, report on Euro Area policies, July 2012

Dorset Food, Drink, Crafts and Music Festival, 4-5 August 2012

Celebrate in early August! 50 stalls, Queen Mother Square, weekend of 4-5 August.

Sounds great, but I'll be in France at the time, enjoying French food and drink.

C'est la vie.

Back in the UK

Back in a cooler climate!

My computer crashed three times over the last few days in Corfu; it kept overheating and going into a defiant standby mode. The last time it happened (last night), I thought it was done for.

Happily it's just come back to life again in England. For how long, I can't be sure.

EasyJet flight excellent today. Not too crowded, even had an exit row. No more than a minute's wait at immigration control at Gatwick Airport (congratulations). I had been expecting a wait of at least an hour. Quick getaway with the pre-booked Europcar Skoda. OK, the M25 and M3 are not quite as empty as the Egnatia Highway, but it was an easy drive.

Meanwhile, back in Greece...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Perceptions of Greek Bureaucracy

From "Blue Skies and Black Olives", John Humphrys and Christopher Humphrys, Hodder and Stoughton, 2009:

"The population of Greece is about ten million. Most of the middle class in the cities is made up of lawyers. Outside the cities there are farmers. But everywhere there are bureaucrats...

Obviously, every country has its army of bureaucrats, but Greece is in a league of its own. That may be because working for the public sector is just about the only way to guarantee a secure income and a pension or it may be because the only way to defend yourself against the bureaucrats is to become one. I would estimate that approximately seven million of the ten million Greeks are bureaucrats. The entire public sector is one massive job creation scheme- creating jobs for more bureaucrats- and most of them are dedicated either to stopping people doing things or making it so difficult that still more bureaucrats will be needed to deal with the problems...

I suspect every bureaucrat in Greece is given a copy of Little Dorrit on their first day in the job and told to go away and learn from it".

Such ironical exaggeration seems somewhat unfair, even if intended for humorous effect. Unfortunately it reflects the persistent perceptions of many foreigners, however much they may love Greece. It makes Greece sound as much Kafkaesque as Dickensian, in terms of its bureaucracy.

The book is a good, entertaining read, in spite of this observation.

Government Plans (Kathimerini)

Pension cuts (Kathimerini)

Progress with Privatisation? (Athens News)

Reading Homer, The Iliad, July 21st, Hellenic Centre, London

A great idea from the Readers of Homer.

More information 

Homer's Iliad Day-long marathon reading and singing of the Iliad by Homer, on the occasion of the 2012 Olympics.

The Hellenic Centre
The Great Hall
July 21, 2012 • 10am

Roubini 2113 "Storm" Prediction

Reuters report about Professor Nouriel Roubini's predictions of "a perfect storm" in 2013.

Report in Greek (

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Bob Dylan, "Tempest", New Studio Album, 50 Years from First Album

Good news "Tempest" a new Bob Dylan Studio Album.

Only one good song? "Roll on John".

Fifty years after his first album (which also contained one good original Dylan song, "Song to Woody", also about another iconic singer.

Press Release

Update: Cover photo of the Athena Fountain (River Vltava)

Track Listing

A first listen (Uncut)

"Early Roman Kings", listen here

Michael Gray blog

Mojo, First Listen


"What! shall it e'er be said by British tongue,
Albion was happy in Athena's tears?"

Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, XIII

NB This blog derives no pleasure from the misfortunes of others

Say No To Schadenfreude

"Can I see another's woe, 
And not be in sorrow too?
 Can I see another's grief,
 And not seek for kind relief?"

William Blake, On Another's Sorrow

IMF warning, Greece.

Wall Street Journal report

From the article:

The IMF warned that Greece's loan program risked being derailed...

Without further policy changes, the country's budget deficit will trend towards 1.5% to 2% of GDP, versus the 1% planned in the latest revised emergency loan program, the IMF said.

The latest tranche of a joint E.U./IMF bailout program has been delayed amid Greece's political turmoil, again raising questions about the ability of Athens to pay its debt obligations. New bills are soon coming due and the IMF is planning to send a team to Athens in the coming week to see how--and if--the program can be put back on track. That could take several weeks, pushing any potential loan salvation to the eleventh hour again.

More difficult cuts to be found (Greek article,

Keep Talking Greece on MPs' benefits

Irate Greek on same topic (October 2011)

OECD Chief Economist (Kathimerini)

ECB on Greek bonds

Support Local Bookshops

Gail Aldwin visits Imagine Books in Weymouth

Honky-Tonk Angels

Kitty Wells has died at 92 (16 July).

Kitty Wells bio.

I may be a bluesman at heart, but I sometimes like a good old sentimental country song, like this one, "It Wasn't God who Made Honky-Tonk Angels"

Kitty Wells sings "I don't claim to be an angel"

and finally, "Will your lawyer talk to God?"

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ian Whitwham, on bereavement, grief and mourning in the modern age

A beautiful piece of writing by my friend Ian Whitwham, on mourning his late father-in-law. From The Guardian.

A heartfelt masterpiece.

For comparison, something from my own experience:

Up in the mountains of Epirus in June we witnessed a traditional Sarakatsani miroloi (dirge or lament for the dead). Another way of dealing with grief. It was a Saturday, the "Saturday of Souls" (Psychosavato) in the Greek Orthodox Church, the day before Pentecost, or Whit Sunday.

We were out for a walk through the woods, when we approached a village cemetery. We could hear a strange keening sound, which we soon understood was the dirge of a very old Sarakatsani widow wailing her tragic miroloi, for a departed relative, or relatives.This uninhibited and continuous outpouring of pangs of deep grief and pain, as the old lady was moving round the graves and arranging the roses, came in stark waves of ancient melody. Sometimes she seemed to be talking, addressing the departed souls directly.

It was just how one imagines the sound of an ancient Greek threnody, and for some it would have called to mind descriptions of the Trojan women wailing their sore lament over the body of Hector 

The Sarakatsani do not use professional or specialist mourners or miroloi wailers. The women who have lost a relative make up and sing their own threnodies, dirges and laments. It is a dying art; very few Sarakatsani (only a few very old ladies) can sing miroloi nowadays, and it is only very rarely that one actually hears such a miroloi.

G.F.Abbott ("Macedonian Folklore", 1903) gives an example from Macedonia of a mother’s lament for her only son: 

“My darling child, my grief for thee where shall I cast it?
If I cast it on the mountains, the little birds will pick it,
If I cast it into the sea, the little fishes will eat it,
If I cast it on the highway, the passers-by will trample it under foot.
Oh, let me cast it into my own heart which swells with many sorrows,
Let me sit down with my pain, lay me down with my pangs,
And, when I rest my head upon my pillow, pine for sleep!”

As this commentator from Crete notes, the word "mirologia" means "words of fate", laments which are "sad to the bone".

 YouTube, klarino miroloi

 Epirot Miroloi with flute

 Miroloi from UNESCO collection

 Polyphonic, from Konitsa

Graveside Lament, Southern Albania

 Katina Paxinou, From "Hecabe", Euripides.

KLEIDI (KLITHI), VOIDOMATIS, EPIRUS, Palaeolithic Settlement

A note to follow up on this interesting topic, mentioned by Costas Zissis on the phone.

The Kleidi economy

The Upper Palaeolithic in the Greek area

Book on Klithi

On recovery techniques (pdf)

Partial Bibliography:


Bailey, G.N. et al., The "Older Fill" of the Voidomatis Valley, Northwest Greece and its relationship to the Palaeolithic Archaeology and Glacial history of the region, Journal of Archaeological Science 17, 1990, 145-150.

Bailey, G., The Palaeolithic of Klithi in its wider context, Annual of the British School at Athens 87, 1992, 1-28.

Bailey, G., King, G. and Sturdy, D., Active tectonics and land-use strategies: A palaeolithic example from Northwest Greece, Antiquity 67, 1993, 292-312.

Bailey, G.N. (ed.), Klithi: Palaeolithic settlement and Quartenary landscapes in Northwest Greece, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge 1997 (further bibliography is cited).

Galanidou, N., "Home is where the hearth is". The spatial organisation of the Upper Palaeolithic rockshelter occupations at Klithi and Kastritsa in Northwest Greece, BAR International 687, Oxford 1987.

The Evil Eye (Kako Mati)

I've been struck by the strength of belief in the evil eye, in Greece and Albania.

Wikipedia on the Evil Eye (including Greece).

Some people believe in it absolutely and have personal experience or 'proof' of its potentially deadly effects, others are superstitious to a lesser or greater degree, blaming small accidents on the fact that someone has cast the evil eye on them.

The Orthodox Church accepts the existence of the Evil Eye.

More on this.

As a sceptical rationalist (nothing New Age or mystical about me) paying half hearted lip-service to rather few folk-superstitions (maybe- at a stretch- those about walking under ladders or seeing a single magpie*), I am taken aback when otherwise rational people describe incidents of matiasma, to kako mati, vaskania, or indeed when they tell me about ley-lines and the power of crystals etc

Maybe I lack imagination.

Help! I've just mislaid my mojo amulet (bought in New Orleans) and my peacock's feather (acquired in Corfu), but luckily I've still got my blue glass charm to ward off the evil eye!

If you find my mojo or the peacock's feather, please return them. Did anyone out there give me an online evil eye? If so:

"Foul Superstition!" (Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, XLIV)

"The Evil Eye is a kind of telepathic curse" (John Humphrys and Christopher Humphrys, "Blue Skies and Black Olives", pp 194-196)

* Note :
"Among some of the older folk of Buckinghamshire it is still considered unlucky to see one magpie, but lucky to see two; while in certain occasionally hears this rhyme about magpies:

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding and four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret ne'er to be told".

* The Wayfarer's Book, E. Mansell (1935), p. 149

See also, Dorsetshire Folk-Lore, John Symonds Udal (1922):

"One, sign of anger,
Two, sign of mirth;
       Three, sign of wedding;
                                     Four, sign of birth (or, sometimes, "death" )

In Dorsetshire, some persons will spit on seeing a single magpie" (p.240)

In Somerset, some people spit over their left shoulders.

The evil eye. An account of this ancient and wide spread superstition (1895)

UK: No Windfall Benefits from the Olympics?

Reuters reports

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Maddie's Greek Gap Year

We shall be looking out for the Griggs, come September.

Parakalamos Gypsy Blues (Moukliomos; Yiannis Chaldoupis, Γιάννης Χαλδούπης)

Last night I visited Parakalamos, near the Greek-Albanian border, not far from Kalpaki in North West Greece. See map

I had made an appointment to conduct an interview with an outstanding Gypsy (Rom) clarinet (klarino) player called Yiannis Chaldoupis, with the help of his wife Nellie Chaldoupi. I had met them at a festival in Ano Pedina at the end of May, when Yiannis was playing with his dynamic group called Moukliomos, which means ‘freedom’ in the Romani language dialect he speaks (Romacilikanes), in addition to Greek.

I plan to publish the full interview when it's ready.

Moukliomos blog

Moukliomos YouTube Videos, at parakalamosrom

For a scholarly study of the Gypsy musicians of Parakalamos, see this fascinating pdf file by Aspasia Theodosiou. (if no longer available online, see book by Aspasia Theodosiou:
Authenticity, Ambiguity, Location: Gypsy Musicians on the Greek-Albanian Border*)
A great evening. I learnt a lot. Thanks Yianni and Nellie!

*"The book addresses how tensions around the politics of othering and 'difference' unfold in a historically constructed ambiguous/marginal place and around people who figure ambiguously in the national imaginary. Drawing on her fieldwork among the Parakalamos Gypsy musicians on the Greek-Albanian border, the author explores how these are reformulated within the recent emphasis on multiculturalism and cultural heritage in Greece. A key concern is how place and its locatedness are implicated in processes of othering and are played out in music. It is argued that the ambiguities embedded in gypsy music playing resonate with the same ambiguities that permeate the construction of place and do not relate to a 'separate' gypsy 'culture' or identity. The book also explores the ways such marginality impinges on Gypsies' processes of identification and its implications on the way interethnic relations are experienced and practiced. Situated where performativity theory and phenomenology merge the analysis centres around the notion of location in-between, in order to capture the unstable, partial and situated character of the intersubjective relations between place, people and music".

See also, Bright Balkan Morning

"Dorset Voices", new review, by Janine Pulford


£6.99 soft back ISBN 978-1-906651-15-2

"With a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales, this credible little book is packed with poetry, short stories, articles and photographs of Dorset.

In black-and-white it explores the county through the eyes of local people creating a reflective mood. I was intrigued to discover the ‘Forgotten uses of furze’ by Nigel Palfrey, amused to read a poem by Timmy Crump about an ‘Odd Encounter in Shaftesbury’ and loved Andy Case’s good old Dorset dialect in the verse ‘Shepherd’s warning.’ The photograph that will remain with me for longest is that entitled ‘William Barnes, the voice of Dorset’ in the snow. The short stories are well chosen, if a bit gruesome, and I would have liked something humorous, but for me the outstanding piece was an article by Benjamin Blech, ‘The world has changed; so must Dorset.’ In his piece, he details the stark fact that by 2035 the world will be a different place because of the acute shortage of oil. The repercussions for Dorset are that tourism could increase three fold. This article is a must read and got me thinking about the future and how the cost of air travel will eventually be crippling. But don’t despair, settling for good old Dorset for your holidays isn’t such a bad option.

Dorset Voices is a gem of a book, professionally produced and brought to fruition by an ambitious group of people called Poundbury Voices. I hope to see more from them".

Review by Janine Pulford


Another mention here

Friday, 13 July 2012

Jane Horrocks on the Naturalist's Corfu

From The Independent, 13th July

Ethiopian Blogger Jailed

BBC Report on Eskinder Nega

Euronews in Greek by End of Year

Greek Reporter article

Christine Lagarde (IMF) Latest on Greece

CNBC, Lagarde "Implementation, not mere lip-service"

CNBC exclusive interview with Christine Lagarde (video)

"The Greek authorities have to demonstrate their determination to own, adopt and implement the programme...
it's way too premature to discuss extension, to discuss additional financing"

Kathimerini report report

CNBC, Guest Blog on "Privatisation Blackmail" (Nick Skrekas)

Enikos Greece: 210 out of 300 of the aims not implemented

Rheinische Post article

"Der vorläufige Bericht der "Troika" aus EU-Kommission, Internationalem Währungsfonds und Europäischer Zentralbank über die Reformen in Griechenland zeichnet nach Informationen unserer Zeitung aus Regierungskreisen ein fatales Bild der Lage. Demnach hat die griechische Regierung 210 von 300 Sparvorgaben nicht erfüllt. Bei den Privatisierungen würden dieses Jahr nur zwei Maßnahmen mit einem Volumen eines zweistelligen Millionenbetrags umgesetzt".

Quelle: RP/jh-

Inside Greece, on "tactical meandering" by the Greek government

Logios Hermes blog

Hahn in Athens (Athens News)

Troika turns up the heat (Kathimerini)

Tsipras on the situation now (Athens News)

New Plan to Improve Greece's International Image

Kathimerini article on the new initiative to promote tourism

"It includes the establishment of a crisis management committee which will start working without delay to improve the country’s image in international markets. A new marketing company, already planned to be jointly formed through a public-private partnership, will be created immediately".

Father Paisios the Athonite

Some sayings of the Elder Paisios:

Father Paisios said, " I often see a strange thing that occurs with religious people, reminding one of a vegetable market. There everybody shouts. One says, take oranges; another says take beets, and so forth, each in order to sell their own stuff. Something similar happens with Christians. Some say if you enter this association you'll be saved. If you go there you'll be saved. However, many people are not for here or there but for somewhere else..."
The elder spoke again on the same theme, "Someone wants to paint icons, has decided to become an icon painter, to make icons which will perform miracles; may it be. Another wants to become a married priest; it is my joy. One wants to be unmarried; let him be unmarried. One wants to be a monk? He should be helped accordingly. All do not fit in one basket. Some set people to do things contrary to whatever they can do."

These sayings sound quite sensible and liberal. Why are so many dubious "prophecies" attributed to the Elder Paisios?

Corfiot Minister says centre of Athens is "an expanding time bomb"

Nikos Dendias, Corfiot Minister for Public Order in the Greek Government,  on the state of the centre of Athens
(Hellas Frappe).

Phantis report

Island News

"Law Springboard", News from Bermuda

School students shadow lawyers, take part in a mock trial.

An important opportunity for young Bermudians.

'On Friday the students participated in a Mock Trial devised and run by Alex Potts, a barrister and Special Counsel at Sedgwick Chudleigh. Mr. Potts, who also played the role of Magistrate, said that all the students gave excellent performances during the mock trial, both as witnesses and as prosecution and defence counsel.

“Even though it’s a mock-trial, there’s a large amount of preparation that is required on the part of the students. They have to consider the relevant facts and the law, adduce the evidence and then challenge it under cross-examination, and finally make closing arguments to the Court based upon that evidence.

They have been introduced to important principles of evidence and legal reasoning, including analysis of the burden and standard of proof, the hearsay rule, and the weight to be placed on circumstantial and inconsistent evidence. The students really rose to the challenge, both individually and working as teams, and we’ve seen some great potential for the long-term future of Bermuda’s legal profession.”' (Bernews, 13 July)

Good work, Alex!

Some other Bermuda mentions (Royal Gazette) just discovered online:

and recent news (2014)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Chalk Legend: Music for Dorset

An article by the composer of The Chalk Legend oratorio

See my posting "Saying sorry to the Vikings"

The Balkan Bridges; Stari Most, Mostar; Zagori Brdges, Epirus.

"From Zagori to Mostar the same magnificent stone bridges link the Balkan peninsula prolonging its historic unity" (Alexandros Yannis).

"(We) were in Mostar, "Stari Most", old bridge. Presently we were looking at that bridge, which is falsely said to have been built by the Emperor Trajan, but is of medieval Turkish workmanship. It is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. A slender arch lies between two round towers, its parapet bent in a shallow angle in the centre. To look at it is good; to stand on it is good. Over the grey-green river swoop hundreds of swallows, and on the banks mosques and white houses stand among glades of trees and bushes. The swallows and the glades know nothing of the mosques and houses" (Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon).

YouTube: The Destruction of the Old Bridge of Mostar

The 16th Century Stari Most was destroyed on 9 November 1993.

The reopening of the bridge  eight years ago (BBC, 23 July 2004)

The Australian, October 1, 1997:
"Ethnic hostility mars rebirth of famed bridge", by Tom Walker in Mostar

From "By the old bridge in Skopje", Gane Todorovski, translated Ewald Osers
 ('Contemporary Macedonian Poetry', 1991):

"The Vardar is silent, there is no gallows,
not even a plane-tree!
This century has changed a lot of things,
today they kill without ceremony,
without drums, judges, bemedalled hangmen,
today the bridges have no privileges
as participants in famous deaths."


Two Zagori Bridges:

More Bad Weather Warnings in Dorset and Weymouth

A procession has been postponed (BBC News)

Car buried in landslip, two people killed (update 16 July)

Police "didn't want to know" (Telegraph)


The New York Times has a disturbing article by Simon Johnson about the rigging of the market and of LIBOR rates.

The Economist reports

Reuters report

The Guardian

Update, The Telegraph

Zagori Carved Wooden Ceiling and Rosette

Photos taken this morning at Central Zagori house (a listed building):

In a different house in the same village, a ceiling that didn't survive:

A Bear in the Backyard

1.20 am. A big brown bear making a noise outside the window. Prowls majestically around the sun umbrellas and the grapevine. Then, alerted, he runs back down the stone steps to the small orchard. Before (or after) coming up the steps, he breaks branches from a plum tree and an apple tree. The plums and apples weren't even ripe. But he seems to have cleared up most of the fallen, slightly rotting windfall.

The local dogs have been distracted and barking for a few days now, and chasing off into the dark to explore and follow the scent of bears.

Advice for future reference: how to escape from a bear.

It may come in handy.

BBC News - What should you do if you encounter a bear?

Recent bear attack (15 July), in Greek (

Later I learn that a mother bear and a smaller bear were spotted on the outskirts of the other end of the village, at around the same time.

Brown bear and cub in Zagori

Species: Ursus arctos arctos

On Bear Conservation in Greece (pdf)

Road deaths on the Egnatia Highway (Kathimerini)

Another bear killed

Bear shot in Kalambaka

Abandoned orchards

Orthodox Priest with bears (photo)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Weymouth Events 2012 (including Cultural Olympiad Events)

A planning aid

The Albanian Bektashian Sect and Mount Tomerit

Having often talked to an Albanian Bektashi friend in Greece about the liberal Bektashian Sect, I thought it might be useful to find a few links to provide more background information:

and Wikipedia,

"Among the most famous followers of Bektashi Sufism in the 19th century Balkans were Ali Pasha and Naim Frasheri." (Wikipedia)

My friend is often encouraging me to visit the great Bektashi festival that takes place on Mount Tomor (Byron's Mount Tomerit, Childe Harold, II, 55), towards the end of August (August 22, or from 19-24). I'm tempted to go, but you have to hire a tent to sleep in and it's customary to take along your own live lamb to slaughter on the spot (along with about ten thousand others).

YouTube (Albanian)

Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (II, 55)

"The sun had sunk behind vast Tomerit, 
And Laos wide and fierce came roaring by; 
The shades of wonted night were gathering yet, 
When, down the steep banks winding warily, 
Childe Harold saw, like meteors in the sky, 
The glittering minarets of Tepalen, 
Whose walls o'erlook the stream; and drawing nigh,
He heard the busy hum of warrior-men 
Swelling the breeze that sigh'd along the lengthening glen. 

Greece: Emergency Property Tax for 2012

Keep Talking Greece has an update on the emergency property tax, payable from August 2012

More general information on Greek taxation liabilities, found on the net, and a useful pdf file with more detail (in English)

All information of this nature needs to be checked thoroughly- and regularly- with accountants or the appropriate authorities

And this is one of the reasons why...

Update, July 14, Keep Talking Greece

Update, July 13, Athens News:

"The government will also review tax laws and create incentives for certain categories of foreign nationals, such as retirees, to encourage them to establish tax residence in Greece" (George Gilson, "A More Just Tax System?").

Reports of tax evasion (Athens News)

No power cuts if you don't pay (Kathimerini)

Update, 16 August, Keep Talking Greece

Mikis Theodorakis, My Greek Childhood

A very interesting account of his childhood.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Corfu, an expensive self-catering destination?

Corfu is rated an expensive self-catering destination

It depends where you shop. There is an inexpensive Lidl supermarket just outside Corfu Town.

This survey found that the same basket of supermarket goods cost £56.67 in Majorca, compared to £100.31 in Corfu.

A Bat in the Basket (in the UN Year of the Bat)

The bat was asleep inside a folded sun umbrella. Eventually it flew away, and found a new home inside this blue basket, used as a lamp shade.

I think of that great song by Theodorakis, sung by Kaloyannis: "A bat guards my house" 

A rehearsal of the song, sung by Theodorakis himself

An interpretation by Protopsalti

UN Year of the Bat

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Monkey's Jump Park and Ride Carpark, Dorchester

Having been away for a while, I am wondering what is happening with the "temporary" Sailing Olympics Park and Ride Car Park below Maiden Castle, at Monkeys Jump Roundabout (opposite McDonalds).

Here is the report (Pdf)

Dorset Echo report

It looks to me as if the plan is to make this a permanent Park and Ride park (for up to 950 cars) to serve Dorchester rather than just the Sailing Olympics.

Martinstown Residents oppose the plan

Good for McDonalds, bad for lovers of Maiden Castle and Martinstown, and for the immediate area.

Or have there been other developments that I have missed?

Update from Dorset Echo, 1 August 2012

Made in Britain Art Exhibition in Tirana, Albania

I'm tempted to hop over the border to see the Made in Britain exhibition in Tirana.

National Gallery of Arts, Tirana (until August 5, 2012).

Rain and Floods in Dorset

Dorset Echo report


Update Sky News

The Packaging and Rebranding of Cricket

Interesting Excapite posting on the beginnings of (Australian) cricket as gladiatorial combat

Here's a lesson in effective rebranding! See video on link above.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Transformational Grammar (for Noam Chomsky)

You have to give it to the transformational linguistics academics who come up with witty slogans for T-shirts in their spare time.

I saw one on the Corfu-Igoumenitsa ferryboat this morning.

At first glance, it read "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

I looked again. It actually read:

"A Hard Man is Good to Find".

Not as original or academic as I thought: on its origins  Maybe Mae West?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Dylan Thomas on Corfu and "a bucket of Greek sun"

I'm finally beginning to come round to Dylan Thomas's point of view - if only because I'm having a hard time coping with temperatures above 35 degrees.

In Corfu: too much sun, too many tourists, too much political and economic frustration.

I can't write or concentrate in such heat and hassle.

I've reached a decision to stop frying my brain. So I've escaped to the Pindos mountains of Epirus, in order to meet some deadlines. Maybe this is the beginning of "islophobia". I hope not. All next week the forecast for Ioannina is 38-39 degrees (even hotter than Corfu)- you can't win!

A fine response from Simon Baddeley at Democracy Street.

And a 20% increase in British arrivals in Corfu in June (Kathimerini). Could be on account of the heavy rains in the UK? See "Britons head overseas to escape the rain (Telegraph)

Prolonged heat wave in Greece

Whatever. It was time to head for the mountains. I'm glad for Corfu. I'm not one of those who see the Brits on Corfu like this Sunday Times cartoonist once did:

Did he have Agni or Kavos in mind? (Joke)

Maddie Grigg wishes she was back in Greece