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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Paul Whyles on Corfu and Skoupidia

I was recently reminded of this controversial article from The Corfiot (November 2008), by British journalist Paul Whyles (pdf file, pp 13-14). "Paradise Island, Idyll...or Dump?"

I mentioned the article in my book

Meanwhile, in Dorset, England...

On Paul Whyles

Two excerpts from Paul's well-written and hard-hitting 2008 article (pre-Austerity Crisis, but still relevant during the current Municipality strikes - including the refuse collectors):

Centre of Corfu Town, height of tourist season, 
12 July, 2013. Municipalities will be closed until 17 July...

"All is not as it seems in this blessed place. If you step to the edge of the road to peer down, as we did last week, to view the green-cloaked hillsides or perhaps to trace the path of a track, a far uglier sight is revealed.

For just a metre from the roadside and hidden from view only by the slope, is a rubbish dump. Rotting soiled mattresses. The carcasses of discarded fridges, their harmful CFC gases long since leaked into the blue skies above. Old car tyres and batteries. Building rubble. An ancient oven. Rusting metal sunbeds and their cushions. Discarded hosepipes. Paint tins, a giant metal drum, corroding tins... and assorted plastic that will take 1,000 years to biodegrade. All dumped without compunction; a stain upon paradise....

And I do not mean a one-off dumping; an aberration for which the perpetrator should feel an eternal weight of lonely guilt. No, as you walk along the road and peer again and again over the edge, it quickly becomes apparent that this is systematic dumping. A befouling of nature on an organised scale. Once one senseless tipping takes place and is left unremoved, it seems, others see it as an invitation to follow suit. A mutually convenient avoidance of conscience takes hold. Sometimes a squalid attempt has been made to hide the evidence with broken-off foliage, now brown and dead. More often, the ugly piles of rotting detritus are a blatant offence against nature, the affronted herbs and shrubs of the hillside left to accommodate the filth at their feet as best they can."

Have things changed for the better? Your views? I still love the place.

1 comment:

  1. Several years ago I set about trying to learn more about why people foul their own nest. I started and still administer a Flickr Group, sharing striking images from the planting of chewing gum on streets or discarding a few bags of litter by the road through dumping toxic waste in river and sea or spewing fumes (and star-blinding light) into the sky ("sky" tipping) we strive to understand the psychology, morality, economics and politics of our dangerous wasteful messiness. I hope to stimulate shared learning broadening awareness of flytipping in all its ugly forms. Corfu's there, in company with the rest of the world By tiny way of reparation and consolation I like many many others all over the same world started a local charity in Birmingham that as well as doing small home and garden jobs for vulnerable people takes part in street litter cleaning and rubbish collection with a city permit for free waste disposal. I know it's a Sisyphean enterprise because the culprit is human nature - a product of our fecklessness, consuming greed and also our inventiveness in making useful objects that once discarded do not bio-degrade like the ancient middens of older human settlements where all that's left for the archaeologists are potshards and bones. One day we will be known as a thick stratum of blackened petroleum waste and radioactive elements whose toxic half-life has millenia yet to run.