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Friday, 30 November 2012

Lawrence Durrell, On Comic Books for Colonial Cyprus

Item in The Daily Telegraph today, 30 November, "Ripping yarns: how Britain planned to tame Cyprus".

In the mid 1950s British Colonial officials were considering the production of adventure comic books as propaganda aimed at swaying the opinion of rebellious young Cypriot schoolchildren.

A document was released today by the National Archive.

Lawrence Durrell, then director of information services "said the idea would not appeal commercially to publishers and that the real problem is that Cyprus is 'dreadfully boring'."

Back to Barnes and Aristotle: Moral Virtue and Happiness

I went to a lecture on "The Science of Happiness" last night.

It didn't give me any profound or particularly useful clues or techniques on how to increase one's sense of happiness and well-being, on how to become more positive thinking- or how to achieve a constant flow of neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

One good outcome. It sent me back to Aristotle. Read here

The lecture took place in the William Barnes Room in a local hotel.

It occurred to me that William Barnes was a better guide than most to help us "enhance our experiences of love, work, and play". Barnes certainly led a meaningful life.

I still like these words of Albert Camus

Good advice from Imany, Slow Down

Happy, Happy, Happy Pair, Handel, Alexander's Feast

I also approve of a paragraph by Lawrence Durrell (discussed at a Durrell School of Corfu seminar by David Roessel), which was unfortunately edited out of the published text of "Reflections on a Marine Venus", about the "Greek way" of happiness:

"I knew what she meant, for somehow in Greece happiness- animal unthinking happiness- was the norm. It flowed out of good spirits and good health in a way that was simpler and more natural than happiness in other lands and climates. It was a primal attribute of place, whose god had selected this chain of sunburnt islands as his province of operation".

What we have lost, in Greece and elsewhere!

I've always made a mistake, when in Greece, when trying to translate the word happy, as in the question, "Are you happy?" On the whole Greek people never ask each other "Eisai eftichismenos?" or "Eisai efcharistimeni?" It's not only considered intrusive, it seems to be wrong from a linguistic point of view. Something worth exploring further.

Listen to Mozart's Adagio and Fugue, the music that Agnes Varda selected for her 1965 film "Le Bonheur" (Happiness), a film which explores the transient nature of happiness. I think this is (my favourite) recording by Josef Vlach. You can see the dark clouds coming.

What is happiness (for the French)?

“Si le bonheur consiste dans l’égalité des désirs et des forces, je marche aussi droit que possible dans les voies de la sagesse, et vous pourrez témoigner que vous avez vu un homme heureux » (from E. Fromentin's Dominique)

"Is it not absurd that we cannot be happy in our little life that is so soon over? Yet who can regulate the lone cry of the curlew or the cry of the eagle in the clouds!"

Llewelyn Powys, Letter to H. Rivers Pollock, 1930

Finally, a short poem by Ringelnatz:- an amusing and ironical take on the tragic nature of life -"Das ist die Tragik des Lebens"

Greek Bond Buy-Back, The New Athenian

I think I've lost the plot.

See John Psaropoulos (The New Athenian)

Kathimerini article


On ECB information issues


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Albania, 100 Years of Independence

Albania's Prime Minister Prof. Dr. Sali Berisha  managed to upset some of his neighbours on Tuesday, with a speech reported by Associated Press in the Washington Post. He apparently spoke of 'Albanian lands' "stretching from Preveza in Greece to Presevo in Serbia, and from the Macedonian capital of Skopje to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica".

The Greek Foreign Minister cancelled his visit to Tirana on Wednesday (Greek Foreign Ministry statement)

Elsewhere in Greece it was reported thus:

Ο Σ.Μπερίσα δήλωσε «Αποτίω φόρο τιμής στην Αυλώνα, στους πολίτες της, στον Ισμαήλ Κεμάλι Βλόρα και τους άλλους άνδρες του έθνους, οι οποίοι ανακήρυξαν στην αιώνια αυτή πόλη, στις 28 Νοεμβρίου 1912, την ανεξαρτησία της Αλβανίας, την ανεξαρτησία της Εθνικής Αλβανίας, της Αλβανίας όλων των αλβανικών εδαφών από την Πρέβεζα μέχρι το Πρέσεβο, από τα Σκόπια μέχρι την Ποντγκόριτσα.Αιώνιος ο σεβασμός για τον πατέρα της ανεξαρτησίας της Αλβανίας, τον Ισμαήλ Κεμάλ Βλόρα, τους άνδρες που υπέγραψαν την πράξη ανακήρυξης της ανεξαρτησίας, τους πολίτες της Αυλώνας και όλης της Αλβανίας! Χρόνια πολλά για την 100η επέτειο!».

Euronews (Reuters)

Corfu Poems: New Anthology of Poetry, Limited Edition

This looks as if it will be a beautifully produced limited edition (in Greek), with poems about Corfu, or in some way inspired by Corfu, by  around 100 poets, such as Valaoritis, Dendrinou, Desyllas, Elytis, Embeirikos, Cavafy, Kavvadias, Kalvos, Karyotakis, Mavilis, Xenopoulos, Palamas, Sikelianos, Solomos, Ritsos, etc. I'm honoured to be one of the few foreign poets to be included (in Greek translation), with two or three short poems. Here's a list of the foreign poets, as the editor has just informed me:

Οι ξένοι ποιητές, μέσα στους λίγους ξένους ποιητές που έχω (το λέμε "μεταφράσεις") είναι:
Flaccus Quintus Horatius, Lolli Flaminio, Mercantini Luigi, Potts Jim, Stefanidis Theodore, Tibullus Albius, Wilde Oscar.

Update: publication has been postponed, but details below:

Aπ του Ουρανού το αίμα εβγήκε ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ
                                            αἵματος Οὐρανίοιο γένος Φαίηκες ἔασιν
                                                               ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΟΣ ΡΟΔΙΟΣ

Ολοκληρώνονται στις 30 Νοεμβρίου οι εγγραφές για την προμήθεια ονομαστικού αντιτύπου της συλλεκτικής έκδοσης που θα θέσουν σε κυκλοφορία  οι Εκδόσεις Αλκίνοος το τρίτο δεκαήμερο του Δεκεμβρίου του 2012, με τον τίτλο

Aπ' του Ουρανού το αίμα εβγήκε ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ / Η Κέρκυρα μέσα από την ποίηση  

Υπενθυμίζεται ότι θα κυκλοφορήσουν μόνο 300 αριθμημένα, ονομαστικά, μοναδικά αντίτυπα και ότι η έκδοση δεν πρόκειται να κυκλοφορήσει σε άλλη μορφή ή να επαναληφθεί πριν από την πάροδο πενταετίας.

Κάθε αντίτυπο θα φέρει τυπωμένο το όνομα του προσώπου για το οποίο τυπώθηκε. 

Για πρώτη φορά ανθολογούνται οι ποιητές και τα ποιήματα που
αναφέρονται στην Κέρκυρα και τους ανθρώπους της, από την αρχαιότητα έως τις μέρες μας. Ολόκληρη η ιστορία της Κέρκυρας αναδύεται μέσα από στίχους κορυφαίων Ελλήνων ποιητών, με συνοδευτικά κείμενα.

Η μυθική υπόσταση της γης των Φαιάκων, η αρχαία και η σύγχρονη Κέρκυρα, ο τόπος και οι άνθρωποί του, η πολυκύμαντη ιστορία και η μαγευτική φύση του νησιού αναδύονται μέσα από τους στίχους του Ομήρου, του Απολλώνιου Ρόδιου και χιλιάδων στίχων των αιώνων που ακολούθησαν και της νεότερης εποχής, από λαϊκούς στιχουργούς και περισσότερους από 100 επώνυμους ποιητές, όπως ο Αριστοτέλης Βαλαωρίτης, ο Νικηφόρος Βρεττάκος, ο Φώτος Γιοφύλλης, η Ειρήνη Δενδρινού, ο Ιάσων Δεπούντης, ο Μ. Ι. Δεσύλλας, ο Οδυσσέας Ελύτης, ο Ανδρέας Εμπειρίκος, ο Κωνσταντίνος Θεοτόκης, ο Κ. Π. Καβάφης, ο Νίκος Καββαδίας, ο Ανδρέας Κάλβος, ο Κ. Γ. Καρυωτάκης, ο Νικόλαος Κονεμένος, ο Τάσος Κόρφης, ο Λορέντζος Μαβίλης, ο Μιλτιάδης Μαλακάσης, ο Αντώνιος Μανούσος, ο Γεράσιμος Μαρκοράς, ο Αντώνιος Μαρτελάος, η Μυρτιώτισσα, ο Γρηγόριος Ξενόπουλος, ο Κωστής Παλαμάς, ο Ι. Μ. Παναγιωτόπουλος, ο Ζαχαρίας Παπαντωνίου, ο Ιωάννης Πολέμης, ο Άγγελος Σικελιανός, ο Διονύσιος Σολωμός, ο Δημήτρης Σουρβίνος, ο Γεώργιος Σουρής, ο Γεράσιμος Σπαταλάς, ο Ιάκωβος Τριβώλης, η Ιωάννα Τσάτσου, ο Γιάννης Ρίτσος, ο Στυλιανός Χρυσομάλλης.   

Συντελεστές και βασικά χαρακτηριστικά του βιβλίου:

* 480 σελίδες διαστάσεων 20,5x28 εκατοστών, σε χαρτί garda pat ciara 115 γραμμαρίων.

* Βιβλιόσημο, εξώφυλλο με πανί και ειδικό χαρτί πολυτελείας, με χρυσοτυπία και κουβερτούρα σε χαρτί modiliani neve 200 γραμμαρίων.

* Ανθολόγηση, εισαγωγικό σημείωμα: Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης, Ορέστης Μουσούρης.

* Κάθε αντίτυπο θα φέρει εκτυπωμένο τον αριθμό του και ένθετο, σε ειδικό κάλυμμα, αριθμημένο, αυθεντικό χαρακτικό έργο της διακεκριμένης Κερκυραίας χαράκτριας Άριας Κομιανού, με τίτλο ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ, φτιαγμένο αποκλειστικά για την έκδοση και τυπωμένο στο χέρι.  

* Θα είναι εικονογραφημένο με 30 γοητευτικά εικαστικά έργα και με διακοσμητικά στοιχεία που έφτιαξε ειδικά για την έκδοση ο ταλαντούχος Κερκυραίος ζωγράφος Γιώργος Μικάλεφ, εικονογραφώντας στίχους ποιητών.

* Επιπλέον ενότητες: 1. Η Κέρκυρα σε στίχους ξένων ποιητών. 2. Η Κέρκυρα σε ποικίλη λαϊκή, σατιρική, πολιτική  και δημοτική στιχουργία, σε μελοποιημένα τραγούδια και σε τραγούδια του κινηματογράφου. 

*  Αφιέρωση: Στα 100 χρόνια από τον θάνατο του Γεράσιμου Μαρκορά (2011) και του Λορέντζου Μαβίλη (2012).

* Επιμέλεια έκδοσης: Χρήστος Κορφιάτης. 

* Τριακόσια (300) αριθμημένα, ονομαστικά αντίτυπα και άλλα είκοσι (20) αντίτυπα εκτός εμπορίου.

* Κάθε αντίτυπο θα φέρει εκτυπωμένο, σε ειδική στήλη σε αρχική σελίδα, το όνομα του προσώπου για το οποίο τυπώθηκε.   

* Τιμή κάθε αντιτύπου: 80 ευρώ.

Η συλλεκτική έκδοση θα διατίθεται κατευθείαν -και μόνο- από τις Εκδόσεις Αλκίνοος. Για τον λόγο αυτό οι Εκδόσεις Αλκίνοος άνοιξαν κατάλογο παραγγελιών και δεσμεύονται να ανταποκριθούν σε αυτές, βάσει του καταλόγου παραγγελιών. Κάθε αγοραστής θα ενημερώνεται προκαταβολικά για τον αριθμό που θα φέρει το αντίτυπο που θα παραλάβει. Επίσης, θα τηρηθεί σειρά προτεραιότητας. Ο κατάλογος των παραγγελιών άνοιξε στις 16 Νοεμβρίου. Μετά τις 30 Νοεμβρίου δεν θα υπάρχει η δυνατότητα εκτύπωσης ονομαστικού αντιτύπου.

Η παράδοση των αντιτύπων θα γίνεται, κατόπιν συμφωνίας, σε εξουσιοδοτημένα σημεία στην Κέρκυρα και την Αθήνα.  

Η έκδοση θα περιλαμβάνει στις τελευταίες σελίδες της, εκτυπωμένο, τον κατάλογο των συνδρομητών, με τα ονόματα όλων των αγοραστών, εκτός εκείνων που θα δηλώσουν ότι δεν το επιθυμούν.

Οι παραγγελίες γίνονται:

* είτε με την αποστολή μέιλ στη διεύθυνση
* είτε τηλεφωνικώς στα τηλέφωνα 210-6109014 και 6944-106451.     

ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ ΑΛΚΙΝΟΟΣ, Χρήστος Κορφιάτης
Τηλ. 210-6109014, 6944-106451
Fax: 210-6109015

Collective Intelligence, Thomas Malone

Fascinating video talk on Collective Intelligence.

Weymouth Pavilion, The Future

The future of Weymouth Pavilion (BBC Dorset) appears to be uncertain, and demolition is even under consideration. Dorset Echo report.

The building certainly stands in need of restoration, ugrading and modernisation.

The site is the perfect location for an iconic building like the Sydney Opera House!

But not another car park, please.

How about an international competition to find the new Jørn Utzon?

Greece, Land Registry Changes

Some changes, reported by Kathimerini.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hate Crimes in EU Countries; UK

 Report just issued by the EU's FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency).

Update 15 February 2017 - UK, 'Record hate crimes' after EU referendum, BBC

Forces with greatest percentage rises - July-September 2016 compared with April-June 2016

"Dorset and Nottinghamshire saw the highest percentage increases in reports - 100% and 75% respectively - compared to the levels seen between March and the end of June. That previous period had included the referendum campaign itself and the week immediately after the vote".

Greece: Debt Relief Deal

The Telegraph

Der Spiegel




Eurogroup Statement

To Vima: Ο Γερμανός υπουργός τόνισε ότι, αν η Ελλάδα δεν εφαρμόσει τις μεταρρυθμίσεις, τότε θα πρόκειται για «αδύνατη αποστολή»  (ο Γερμανός υπουργός Οικονομικών της Γερμανίας Βόλφγκανγκ Σόιμπλε).

Monday, 26 November 2012

A Greek Christmas Story (Papadiamantis); Short Stories

The Gleaner (pdf)

Christmas Short Stories, Project Gutenberg (in Greek)

Easter Stories

Rolling Stones, Charlie is My Darling film

I didn't get to see the Stones at the O2 stadium (Midnight Rambler here) in London last night, but Peter Whitehead's film, Charlie is My Darling (BBC iPlayer; new version by Robin Klein and Mick Gochanaur), was a great substitute (a lot cheaper too). Wonderful B/W period footage, from around the time I first saw the Stones live in Bournemouth (1964), and some of it shot in Ireland, near the time of my first visit to Dublin (Easter, 1965) between the Stones' first two Irish concert tours. Another film from around that period: "Ebb". Ian, who acted in "Ebb" was mistaken for a Beatle or a Rolling Stone when he arrived in Dublin! See Michelle Hanson, on the Stones (and Ian) in the Guardian.

From BCC iPlayer:

"As part of the celebration of the Rolling Stones' 50th Anniversary, BBC Two presents the first TV broadcast of this legendary but never before officially released film, The Rolling Stones: Charlie is my Darling.

The film marked the cinematic debut of the band, following them on a quick weekend tour of Ireland in 1965 just weeks after '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' topped the charts and became the international anthem for an entire generation. Charlie is my Darling is an intimate, behind-the-scenes diary of life on the road with the young Rolling Stones, featuring the first professionally filmed concert performances of the band's long and storied touring career, documenting the early frenzy of their fans and the riots their live performances incited. The film also captures the band's formative period, capturing early song-writing sessions and featuring candid, off-the-cuff interviews with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman.

This new 65 minute version was developed by producer Robin Klein and director Mick Gochanaur after researching and locating additional film footage shot by Whitehead and uncovering a source of first generation audio recordings of the band's concert performances. Painstaking work was done on restoring the footage to come up with the new film that offers a coherent narrative and gives the viewer unprecedented access to the Rolling Stones' original line-up".

On the O2 concert

Greece, Eurozone Meeting in Brussels today

Kathimerini report on progress to date

Der Spiegel (in German)



FT (Opinion piece)

More from Der Spiegel

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Greek Privatisation Progress: Selling Corfu's "Kassiopi Plot"

From Kathimerini

25 million Euros to be raised before March 2013?

See posting of 7 March, 2012

Somerset Library Cuts, Legal Costs

 A very interesting judgement and development, but a sad waste of  scarce resources.


"The High Court ruled the cuts did not comply with "public sector equality duties" owed to vulnerable social groups.

As a result of the court ruling, 11 libraries kept their funding, four mobile libraries were reinstated and the opening hours at 23 libraries were lengthened".

High Winds in Dorset

From the Dorset Echo:

"HIGH winds brought down trees, damaged buildings and caused a lorry to overturn, with experts warning that worse weather is on the way.

The new Thomas Hardye Leisure Centre in Dorchester was evacuated at winds caused damage to the roof of the multi-million pound facility".

Flood warnings remain in place.

Thomas Hardy, notes on strong winds:

"Windy evening at Swanage. The wind shrieks an aria round angles & posts, & the chimney growls a bass accompaniment".

"Windy day- every door wrestling with every doorpost, & every sash with its frame".

From Thomas Hardy's "Poetical Matter" Notebook (2009).

John Craxton, Ian Collins Lecture and Monograph

Ian Collins gave a superb illustrated lecture about the artist John Craxton in Dorchester last night.

Ian's outstanding monograph, John Craxton (Lund Humphries), is essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth century British art and in Greece, where John Craxton spent many years of his life (he also had strong Dorset connections). Publication of the book was supported by (amongst other Trusts), the Rothschild Foundation. Can we hope for a Craxton retrospective exhibition in Corfu, Athens, Hydra and Crete at some point in the future? Rex Warner remarks, in Views of Attica (1950), that the British Council organised a John Craxton exhibition at the British Institute in Athens (as well as of Theophilus and Ghika) in the late 1940s.

Here's a review of the book, by Jim Burns.

Craxton was clearly a major artist. I had never before had the chance to see illustrations of so much of his work. Ian Collins' lecture and monograph provided ample evidence of Craxton's stature. How many people realise that he also designed the dust jackets for a number of books by Paddy Leigh Fermor?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Paddy Leigh Fermor with The British Council, Athens, Corfu, Crete

Maurice Bowra reported that Leigh-Fermor was "a misfit - unfit for office work" at the Council's British Institute in Athens, but Paddy's lecture tour, which took in Corfu and Crete, was a great success. He was good at making contacts and enjoyed his roving brief.

Bowra also wrote two poems about Leigh-Fermor, which only saw the light of day when published by Henry Hardy in the Wadham College Gazette for 2011 (pages 106-112). A few of the less scurrilous lines from The Wounded Gigolo (17 April, 1950) :

"What avails the apt quotation,
What the knowledge of the arts,
What the lore of every nation
Learned from many unpaid tarts?"

See also, The British Council in Corfu, 1946-1955

Episode 4 of the BBC's Book of the Week, Artemis Cooper's biography of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor.

BBC IPlayer - not currently available..

In a letter to Lawrence Durrell, of 18 December, 1046, PLF wrote: "I'm leaving in about a fortnight, feeling angry, fed up, and older than the rocks on which I sit......" This sentence was followed by several expletives about his bosses, after the British Council had "let him go". See The Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor, Dashing for the Post", p. 22, selected and edited by Adam Sisman (the source of the facsimile letter to Maria Aspioti, above).

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Kosova, James Pettifer

Here's an important new book I have just started to read and which I plan to review.

Professor James Pettifer has written a number of ground-breaking books about Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Macedonian Question, Kosova (Kosovo) and the Balkans.

See website

Here's a little 'haiku' I wrote in March 1999, called Kosovars on the Brink (it can be found in my book, Corfu Blues, Ars Interpres, Stockholm, 2006):

Kosova or Kosovo?
Death and destruction
Between the "a" and the "o".

See also Gerald Gallucci in TransConflict

Biogas, Anaerobic Digester; Prince Charles

Biomethane gas energy for the National Grid

From the anaerobic digester at Rainbarrow Farm, Martinstown

Prince Charles

BBC update

HRH The Prince of Wales, speech

Monday, 19 November 2012

Nina-Maria reporting USA- in the State Department, and Tampa

Images courtesy of social media

See also this Twitter photo

One minute she's in Washington DC or Tampa, Florida, the next minute she's helping to train Iraqi Kurdish TV journalists in Erbil

Pathfinders and Phantoms on Eggardon Hill

A wire-haired Scottish fox terrier (Tilly) picks up the scent of the phantom Roman legionaries

The fox terrier could see them. Can you?

About Eggardon Hill

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Burglaries in Poundbury

Lock your doors and windows!

Wessex FM item

Dorset Echo

Last week

Tolstoy, In the Footsteps of T.E.Lawrence

I enjoyed a splendid walk today, starting at Moreton in Dorset, heading towards Clouds Hill and over Throop Heath, where there were military exercises involving tanks and rifle target practice near Bovington Camp, not far from our path through the woods and over the heath.

"The district is good for walking" (T.E.Lawrence letter to H.S.Ede, from Cloud's Hill, Moreton, Dorset, 5.iv.1935.

I was reminded of a passage in Tolstoy's short story, The Raid:

"Only very occasionally did one hear the clang of a heavy gun, the ring of bayonets clashing, restrained voices, or the snorting of a horse.

Nature seemed to breathe nothing but pacifying beauty and power.

Could it be that there was not room for all men to live in this wonderful world, under this fathomless starry sky? Was it really possible that in the midst of such natural splendour, feelings of hatred and vengeance, or the passion to destroy one's fellows, could reside in the hearts of men? All that is evil in man should- one would think- disappear on contact with nature, the most direct expression of beauty and goodness."

T E Lawrence, the motorcycle accident

Lawrence was on his way back to Cloud's Hill from Bovington Camp on his Brough motor-cycle when he had his fatal accident.

The film version

Clouds Hill cottage

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Brother Ray

I've been listening again to all those Ray Charles Atlantic Records masterpieces. A genius, yes indeed!

My Bonnie

Tell me how do you feel

Ray Charles Live in France, 1961

What'd I Say, Sao Paolo Brazil,1963

I shall ask my young grandson, who is learning the saxophone, to study the technique of David "Fathead" Newman

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Descent and Devolution of Man

This report by Science Editor Steve Connell in The Independent today (13 November) was entirely plausible. It concerns the ideas of Professor Gerald Crabtree, eg:

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas and a clear-sighted view of important issues.”

Professor Crabtree's paper was published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

Serbian President visits Serbian Museum in Corfu

Serbian Museum Visit, by the President

See my blog posting on "The Sea Grave" (Vido Island)

An earlier posting on Milutin Bojic and "The Blue Graveyard" (alternate translation of the poem's title)

Two Serbian Riddles

Update April 2016 - Nikolic becomes honorary citizen of Corfu - In the consciousness of the Serbian people, Corfu symbolizes "the trinity we are born with and we die with: suffering, salvation and hope."

Greece: The Troika Draft Report, November 2012

Kathimerini links to the pdf file of the draft Troika report

The FT has it too

Bloomberg comments

IMF/EU Clash, The Telegraph

Monday, 12 November 2012

Condor Ferries, Weymouth

Dorset Echo: Condor Ferries will return to Weymouth from 17 July, provided the harbour wall repairs have been carried out and completed.


Dorchester, Drugs Raid

Dorset Echo Report

Greece, the vote in Parliament

Article from The Telegraph, on the spending cuts.

The Guardian.



On Caravan Parks and Beauty Spots

A pity John Betjeman isn''t around to comment on this development near Golden Cap

"One day a tidal wave will break
Before the breakfasters awake
And sweep the cara's out to sea,
The oil, the tar, and you and me..."

I always enjoyed childhood caravan holidays in small, discreet sites in Cornwall, Devon and by the Solent. For some years in the 1980s I kept a caravan at a site in Sani, Halkidiki, Greece. It was a great place to escape from Thessaloniki. I stored a windsurf board in the caravan, for use at weekends.

I wasn't amused by Clive James' comments in his review of some of the poems in Betjeman's "A Nip in the Air":

"The new, usurping middle class doesn’t pull together except for advantage. They find their unity in legalized vandalism, creating nothing but a wilderness, in which the disinherited working class aimlessly sheds litter. The caravans of the milling proles jam the shoreline and the wrappings of their potato crisps non-biodegradably choke the surf".

Thursday, 8 November 2012

On Levitation

I found this Edwin Brock poem (Only Child) in the Winter 1961 issue of Critical Quarterly, which also contained Philip Larkin's Breadfruit.

From Only Child

Edwin Brock

At the age of eight I practised levitation:

lay in bed and willed myself six inches

from the ceiling...

Call it what you like,

that nightly jaunt I took, analyse it

as you will, there must have been

some benefit I gained from it – otherwise

I’d have come down long ago.


I wish I could remember how I used to levitate!

Photo Source: Wikipedia

On Greek Yoghurt

When is Greek yoghurt really Greek?

Greece, Trying to Keep Up with the Omnibus

It's getting harder to keep well-informed at a distance (or even close to the action).

Here's a report from The Telegraph


Unsustainable debt

On Tourism (BBC)

"Primitive Politics" (Kathimerini)

Reuters: how big is the Greek debt?

Parliamentary Staff (Kathimerini)

More on this (Greek Reporter)

Drinkig the hemlock (New York Times)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Publishing e-books

A useful article.

The Mediterranean, Former Glories

A thoughtful and challenging article by Jurica Pavicic, brought to my attention by June Samaras' most helpful Hellas-Greece.

US Election Night

It's a weird experience waking up at 3am to hear one's daughter broadcasting live from Florida, courtesy of LBC. My son-in-law is in Chicago, covering the election there.

A powerful speech by President Obama. Now maybe I can catch up with some sleep.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Monday, 5 November 2012

William Penn on Pride, Ancestry and Family History

Just when I was getting more interested in genealogy, I happened to read these wise words by William Penn (1644-1718):

"That people are generally proud of their persons is too visible and troublesome; especially if they have any pretence either to blood or beauty; the one has raised many quarrels among men, and the other among women, and men too often for their sakes and at their excitements. But to the first: What a pother has this noble blood made in the world:--antiquity of name or family, whose father or mother, great grandfather, or great grandmother was best descended or allied; what stock or what clan they came of:--what coat of arms they gave:--which had, of right, the precedence! But methinks nothing of men's folly has less show of reason to palliate it.

For, first, what matter is it of whom any one is descended that is not of ill fame: since it is his own virtue that must raise, or vice depress him? An ancestor's character is no excuse to a man's ill actions, but an aggravation of his degeneracy: and since virtue comes not by generation, I neither am the better nor the worse for my forefather; to be sure, not in God's account, nor should it be in man's. Nobody would endure injuries the easier, or reject favours the more, for coming by the hand of a man well or ill descended. I confess it were greater honour to have had no blots, and with an hereditary estate, to have had a lineal descent or worth; but that was never found: no; not in the most blessed of families upon earth, I mean Abraham's. To be descended of wealth and titles fills no man's head with brains or heart with truth: those qualities come from a higher cause. It is vanity then and most condemnable pride for a man of bulk and character to despise another of less size in the world and of meaner alliance for want of them: because the latter may have the merit, where the former has only the effects of it in an ancestor: and though the one be great by means of a forefather, the other is so too, but it is by his own: then, pray, which is the braver man of the two?

Oh, says the person proud of blood, It was never a good world since we have had so many upstart gentlemen! But what should others have said of that man's ancestor, when he started first up into the knowledge of the world? For he and all men and families, aye, and all states and kingdoms too, have had their upstarts, that is, their beginnings. This is being like the true church, because old, not because good: for families to be noble by being old, and not by being virtuous. No such matter: it must be age in virtue, or else virtue before age; for otherwise a man should be noble by the means of his predecessor, and yet the predecessor less noble than he, because he was the acquirer: which is a paradox that will puzzle all their heraldry to explain. Strange! that they should be more noble than their ancestor that got their nobility for them! But if this be absurd, as it is, then the upstart is the noble man: the man that got it by his virtue; and those are only entitled to his honour that are imitators of his virtue: the rest may bear his name from his blood, but that is all. If virtue then give nobility, which heathen themselves agree, then families are no longer truly noble than they are virtuous. And if virtue go not by blood, but by the qualifications of the descendants, it follows blood is excluded: else blood would bar virtue; and no man that wanted the one should be allowed the benefit of the other: which were to stint and bound nobility for want of antiquity, and make virtue useless".

The Eurozone Depression

According to an Australian economist...Bill Mitchell's blog posting.

Greece, The Week Ahead

John Psaropoulos, The New Athenian

Greece, Property Owners, New Energy Performance Taxes and Certificates

Blog article in Greek

Automatic translation:

"The hikes for homeowners are endless, you'll have to pay up to 600 euro to provide certificates for the energy performance of buildings under the EU Directive.

Apart from the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), the homeowners should have two more, from 1 January 2013. One will deal with the heat and the other is the air conditioning . Specifically, according to the EU Directive 2010/31 R . E. , licenses will have a duration of ten years, as the energy (SMO), but are valid for two to four years, depending on the heating or air conditioning system and the type of fuel. however there will only be on sale or lease of buildings as it is today for energy certificates, but will be mandatory for all property owners , even if the property is not used. Score, owners incur additional money for the adoption of each of these two certificates. According the Draft Law on the Energy Performance of Buildings , the fee for the inspection of heating and cooling buildings will be set free , by written agreement between the parties will not, however, exceed the following values: - 250 euros for an installed capacity of up to 200kW, - four hundred euros for an installed capacity of 201 kW up to four hundred, - eight hundred euros from 401 kW and above. noted that hitherto mandatory version EPC , where completion of a new or major renovation of existing building and selling or leasing a new tenant for apartments, offices and shops area of over 50 sq. km. m (excluded warehouses, garages and certain categories of commercial buildings). For a 100 sq.m. house, the cost of SMO ranges from 150 to 200 euros. If a landlord does not have ARC or has not completed energy audit of heating or air conditioning , according to the bill, the fine would be from 1,000 to 10,000 euros , based on the surface and the use of certified building or building unit, the size of the building systems, the degree of culpability and any recurrence of the debtor.


Friday, 2 November 2012

Just the Blues, 1970

Quite a programme here (YouTube). Some old favourites.

Europe's Oldest Town?

That's what they say. A prehistoric town has been unearthed in Bulgaria.

Read more

The Telegraph

Llewelyn Powys, Final Words of Advice

Llewelyn Powys' last words (on his deathbed) : "Love life! Love every moment of life that you experience without pain."

It may have been Philip Larkin who put the last two words into italics (his introduction to Powys' "Earth Memories", 1983 edition). Earlier edition here (Google Books)

In his essay, "Natural Happiness", Llewelyn Powys writes:

"No human being should ever wake without looking at the sun with grateful recognition of the liberty of another day; nor give himself to sleep without casting his mind, like a merlin, into the gulfs between the furthest stars."

Sound Dorset wisdom! "Natural Happiness".

See my posting and photograph: Llewelyn Powys, Memorial Stone

Llewelyn Powys, from “Death” in “Ebony and Ivory”: “The unspeakable privilege of merely being above ground”.

"Is it not absurd that we cannot be happy in our little life that is so soon over? Yet who can regulate the lone cry of the curlew or the cry of the eagle in the clouds!" Llewelyn Powys, Letter to H. Rivers Pollock, 1930.

On Llewelyn Powys

Strange that some of the most lyrical essays ever written came from the pens of two men who suffered for much of their lives from tuberculosis: Llewelyn Powys and Albert Camus. Others include Alan Sillitoe, George Johnston and the Brontes

List of TB sufferers

Jimmie Rodgers, Whippin' that Old TB

TB Blues

A Tale of Two Islands (Parts 4 and 5)

I'm sorry, but Shakespeare did NOT have Corfu in mind as his setting for The Tempest.

I very much doubt whether Homer had Corfu in mind when imagining the island of Scheria in The Odyssey, but that's a little more complicated.

For more on this topic, I have written about it at some length in "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History".

Even The Rough Guide gets it wrong.

No other comments on Part Four of "A Tale of Two Islands"

Or on Part 5

Was part 5 scheduled deliberately to be shown on the same evening as "The Inbetweeners". What was fact and what was fiction- young people misbehaving in Kavos, Corfu or in Malia, Crete?

Greece, "Hanging by a thread"

Kathimerini lead article on the Greek political situation (in Greek)

Extract in automatic translation:

"The country is still hanging by a thread. Today's vote in the House shows that the political system insists on suicide, its own and the country's. Even at this last moment, members of PASOK and KPS put their outdated personal obsessions over the interests of the country. We all realize how heavy is the load for politicians who bear the fortunes of the country. If they flinch now, Greece will get into a great and dangerous adventure without return".

“Announcing and passing laws is not enough if the administration and the general public undermine them" (Bundesbank spokesman, Kathimerini).

George Soros, On Greece and the EU

George Soros' new initiative.

Timon of Athens (2)

Somehow I had expected the National Theatre's production and staging of Timon of Athens to be a moral tale about greed, flattery, corruption and the state of the capitalist economy in the context of Athens itself:

"The commonwealth of Athens is become a forest of beasts" (Act 4, scene 3, l. 347-8).

Instead, it was firmly based in the City of London, and the play opens with the tents of the anti-capitalist protesters occupying the stage.

I don't know why I felt dissatisfied by the production at times. The writing is superb (but more kinder?):

From Timon of Athens:

Timon will to the woods, where he shall find
Th’ unkindest beast more kinder than mankind.
Act 4, sc. 1, l. 35-6.

Men shut their doors against a setting sun.
Act 1, sc. 2, l. 145.

I wonder men dare trust themselves with men.
Act 1, sc. 2, l. 43.

This is no time to lend money, especially upon bare friendship without security.
Act 3, sc. 1, l. 41-3.

At least the play seems to have had some impact on a senior Bank of England official. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Wiltshire Life, Moonraker, November 2012

I enjoyed reading the article by Moonraker in November's Wiltshire Life.

Moonraker is the Editor-in-Chief, Mark Allen.

To read it, you'll have to buy it!

It's Mark's take on a visit I reported here.

Howard Jacobson makes me laugh

And it's a good medicine!

I enjoyed much in his latest novel "Zoo Time" (see extract), especially the parts that deal with the publishing and bookselling industries.

I'm now reading his collection of columns for The Independent, "Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It".

Find his columns here.

I wonder if the senior staff of the National Trust have read all his columns carefully (they seem to be aware of the views of Alan Bennett).

He's really good on Hardy (and Cornwall), on Washington DC and on Australia. And lots more besides (Dylan, Cohen). The more I read, the more I find to savour and enjoy. I look forward to another collection.