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Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Economist, Special Report on Water

For want of a drink - Finite, vital, much wanted, little understood, water looks unmanageable. But it needn’t be, argues John Grimond  The Economist, May 20th

"Team Trump and the Russians", The Economist

From Lexington's blog, The Economist

The European Union in Corfu and the Ionian Islands

I was given a bag of goodies (in Greek) in Corfu Town this morning -
 a notebook, a CD, a poster, various leaflets about the EU and my rights.
A pity the EU didn't fund similar handouts of freebies and useful information
 in the streets of British towns. 
A lot of Brits had little or no idea about the projects, national and regional,
 that the EU had helped to fund in the UK, I suspect.

I welcomed the pack of material, which I shall read (in Greek) with interest.

Perhaps the most useful item was the good-quality hardback spiral notebook ("EU In My Region" on the cover) with its blank white pages, which I plan to devote to my thoughts and observations
 about the EU, Grexit and Brexit.

I was most grateful, as I was many years ago, when we were presented with a large sack of excellent rice, courtesy of the EU. That was in Epirus. 
I gathered then that most of the villagers fed their free sacks of rice to their animals, as they didn't like the taste of that variety of rice for their own consumption.
It's an expensive business, public relations, and it doesn't always have the desired effect.

I shall study my rights as a EU citizen (CD on left), 
wondering how long the English, Welsh, Northern Irish and the Scots will be able to enjoy them.

We're still included in the literature, for now. In the EU "Passport" (immediately above, on the right),
we should be proud that our most representative cuisine and favourite dishes are described as eggs and bacon, fish and chips, shepherd's pie and bangers and mash.

The three most famous Britons are listed as David Beckham, Paul McCartney and William Shakespeare.

Greek food, for comparison, is represented by mousaka, stifadho and galaktoboureko (dessert of semolina custard in filo).

Famous Greeks: Plato, Aristotle, Onassis, Alexander the Great.

Corfu Market: Lobster or Crayfish? Αστακός/αστακοί; Astakos/Astakoi - "Ασ' το εκεί!"

Ειναι ολοι αστακοί;

A witty villager, spying an expensive lobster on a Corfu fishmonger's market stall this morning, exclaimed to his wife:

"Αστακός!"  (Astakos)  - "Ασ' το εκεί!"  ("Leave it there!")

British Airways computer systems crash across the world sparking chaos at airports; Network-wide issues; IT outage

Update: our friends have managed to leave the airport and have gone home, without their luggage.

It seems doubtful that they will be able to fly tomorrow, either. "Complete madness and chaos at Heathrow".

Just heard from friends stuck at Heathrow - MailOnline: 'It's carnage': British Airways computer systems crash across the world sparking chaos at airports with huge queues and passengers stuck on planes

I was due to meet them in Corfu at 4.50pm Greek time:

British Airways – BA 654- SCHEDULED - 11:35 AM,  4:50 PM

No news.  BA online Flight Status still indicates a slightly earlier arrival at 1641!

Updated arrival (Local time)16:41
Saturday 27 May
Is the system still down? Obviously it is, as our friends have absolutely no news at Heathrow. They don't know how many hours they will have to spend there, having already checked in.

BBC News - British Airways: Computer problems cause flight delays

British Airways‏@British_Airways  - "We apologise for the current IT systems outage. We are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible".

"Network wide system issues - Saturday 27 May", updated 27/05/2017 11.48 AM (UK time)


"We are experiencing network wide system issues which are impacting our operation as well as our contact centres and some aspects of, including online check-in...We are sorry for the inconvenience caused. Please try again later".

Pensions - a global time bomb; World Economic Forum

From The Telegraph, Szu Ping Chan - Pensions are sitting on a global time bomb, warns WEF

"The world’s biggest economies are sitting on a $70 trillion (£54 trillion) pensions time bomb that will balloon to more than $400 trillion within four decades unless policymakers take urgent action, the World Economic Forum has warned. Analysis by the WEF showed the six countries with biggest pensions – the US, UK, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and Australia – as well as China and India – the two most populous countries in the world – faced a retirement savings gap of $428 trillion in 2050, up from $67 trillion in 2015".

"The WEF believes workers need to save between 10pc and 15pc of their annual salary to support a reasonable level of income in retirement. It warned that many workers faced a shock in later life, with current savings rates “not aligned with individuals’ expectations for retirement income – putting at risk the credibility of the whole pension system".

World Economic Forum report (pdf) -

Friday, 26 May 2017

Fairest Isle, All Isles Excelling...Henry Purcell, John Dryden

Fairest Isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love,
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav'rite nation
Care and envy will remove...

Music inspired by legends - to take our minds off the reality of General Election campaigns, the exchange rate - and this week's tragic events - if only for a few short minutes:

YouTube - From "King Arthur" (libretto by John Dryden), Gill Ross, soprano, English Baroque Soloists

Enter Venus.


Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love;
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav'rite nation,
Care and envy will remove;
Jealousy that poisons passion,
And despair that dies for love.
Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love;
Soft repulses, kind disdaining,
Shall be all the pains you prove.
Ev'ry swain shall pay his duty,
Grateful ev'ry nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in beauty,
Those shall be renown'd for love.

Eurogroup Transcripts, Greek Debt Sustainability

From Greek Reporter - Eurogroup Transcripts Reveal IMF Still Not Convinced of Greek Debt Sustainability

«Μύλος» το Eurogroup για το ελληνικό χρέος  - Euro2day,gr

Zagori (Greece) - Weather Forecast

Rainstorms to continue -


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Greece :Further Slide in Property Prices (Reuters)

"Greek property prices slide again as bailout jitters weigh", Reuters

Greece: The Cost of Five New Highways

From Kathimerini - Προϋπολογισμός 4,97 δισ. για πέντε αυτοκινητοδρόμους, με τελικό κόστος... 6,27 δισ.

DNA Tests and Ancestry Sites (BBC Radio 4)

Are you descended from a Viking? If so, what is your Viking /Scandinavian DNA percentage?

This BBC Radio programme (from 12.15 am, UK time, 25 May, 2017) discusses ancestry sites and DNA tests, and how robust the results might be. The larger the database, the more comparative information there is, and the more helpful the results, it seems. Apparently the results are reasonably robust in terms of identifying genetic communities if one goes back 1000 years, but less accurate if one goes back only 200 years. But maybe your DNA will match with that of an unknown second cousin, and thus help you trace descendants of shared great-grandparents.

"The popular ancestry site that claims the right to make money out of your DNA forever" - BBC programme information.

Who retains the rights to the information and your personal DNA data? Do you really want to share the results? Can you opt out or delete the data?

"Y-Chromosome" DNA testing was once described as "genetic astrology", according to a speaker on this interesting feature on the consumer affairs programme You and Yours. 

Different companies' tests may come up with different results.

Worth a listen.

Cow-Power (with Bells), Zagori, Greece

"Give us a shove!"

On the threshing-floors (ta alonia)

Virginia Woolf, On Not Knowing Greek,1925; Johanna Hanink, On Not Knowing (Modern) Greek; Για την άγνοια των αρχαίων Ελληνικών

With thanks to June Samaras, Kalamos Books and Greek News Agenda, for bringing this topic, and the invaluable links and essays, to our attention.

On Not Knowing Greek, Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader

Johanna Hanink, On Not Knowing (Modern) Greek

Greek translation,. of Johanna Hanink's article,  Konstantinos Poulis

Βιρτζίνια Γουλφ «Για την άγνοια των αρχαίων Ελληνικών»

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Corfu Blues", book still available from The Hellenic Centre, London

Corfu Blues - the book - poems and essays inspired by Greece and the Balkans

"A positive contribution towards an understanding of modern Greece".

Athens News

"Informed by an invigorating enthusiasm, a level of scholarship which commands respect and a degree of empathy with another culture which offers insights to us all".

New Horizons

"He has internalised vast knowledge of Greek culture and here offers a compact but varied expression of it".

Kathimerini English Edition, 22 June 2006 

From an article by the late Cypriot poet and artist Niki Marangou
(O Filelevtheros, 27 July, 2006) :


"Γνώρισα τον Τζιμ Ποττς σε ένα συνέδριο στους Δελφούς και μου έκαναν εντύπωση τα καλά ελληνικά του και η γνώσεις που είχε για την ελληνική λογοτεχνία. Μίλησε τότε για την Κύπρο του 1953-56, για τον Ντάρρελ, τον Σεφέρη, τον Κάρντιφ, για λογοτεχνία και προπαγάνδα στα δύσκολα εκείνα χρόνια του αγώνα της ΕΟΚΑ.

Αυτές τις μέρες κυκλοφόρησε ένα βιβλίο του με τίτλο CORFU BLUES, Ars Interpres Publications. Πρόκειται για μια συλλογή ποιημάτων, τραγουδιών, συνεντεύξεων, άρθρων που έχουν σχέση με την Ελλάδα, στην οποία έζησε πολλά χρόνια και στην οποία επέλεξε να κατοικήσει. Τα θέματα ποικίλουν, από τα ρεμπέτικα μέχρι τον Λόρδο Βύρωνα, από τους συνταγματάρχες μέχρι τα Ζαγόρια και την Κέρκυρα. Επιπλέον ασχολείται με τις αγγλοελληνικές σχέσεις, αμφισβητούμενες θέσεις, και ρίχνει νέο φως σε άγνωστες πτυχές της νεώτερης ιστορίας της Ελλάδας. Μου έκαναν εντύπωση τα ποιήματα του. Εχουν μια απλότητα και μια αμεσότητα που σπάνια συναντά πια κανείς στις μέρες μας, όπου συχνά βουλιάζει το νόημα του ποιήματος σε μια ακατάσχετη λογιοσύνη".

OTHER BOOKS  FOR SALE - Cultural books available from the Hellenic Centre

Corfu Blues is also available direct from the publisher in Stockholm, Sweden - list of publications

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Zakynthos, Greece; Morbidity and Outcomes of Foreign Travellers in Zakynthos Island, Greece: A Retrospective Study

From journal, April 11, 2014

Authors: Eleni Plessa, Giannoula S. Tansarli, Dimitrios Xanthopoulos, Matthew E. Falagas

(Data from foreign travellers visiting Zakynthos, in the period May 1 to October 30, 2012).


"Two thousand six hundred and eighty-eight patients were included in the study. The mean age (±SD) of the patients whom the age was recorded was 29.6 (±18.3) and 51.5% of them were from 18 to 40 years old. Disorders of the respiratory tract (32.7%), dermatologic conditions (21.1%), musculoskeletal injuries (16.4%), and gastrointestinal disorders (16.3%) were the four most prevalent clinical categories among patients. Ear disorder was the most common syndromic description (14.5%) among which 81.2% were ear infections; otitis externa and otitis media were diagnosed in 8.5% and 3.3% patients in total. The most common specific diagnosis was gastroenteritis (14.3%). Insect bite and sunburn were the most common diagnosis (6.5% and 3.8%, respectively) among patients with a dermatologic condition. Ear infection was the most common diagnosis in pediatric patients".

Vitsa Steps, 150th Anniversary, 1868 -2018; Zagori, Epirus; Vikos Gorge; Πέτρινη Σκάλα Βίτσας

See note 3, above, from Ioannis Nikolaidis' Monograph on Vitsa (1939; page 103), referring to the inscription on a plaque, stating that the construction of the steps (skala) in 1868 cost 4,500 grosia (Ottoman currency).

With thanks to the great Vitsa benefactors,  Alexios and Angeliki Papazoglou.
I have read, in To Zagori Mas, issue 459 (September 2016, page 9), that Angeliki made more than 25,000 grosia available for the construction of the stone steps along the route of the original path - but the author appears to suggest that this donation was made in 1872.

In his monograph on Vitsa (1939), Ioannis Nikolaidis also records the following information (page 156) and gives a date of 9 June 1861 concerning a different skala, of 'Kyralexina', from Aghios Nikolaos church down to the Voidomatis River:

There was  almost certainly a path joining the villages of Dilofo and Vitsa,
which led across the riverbed (when dry) and the bridge of Misios (constructed 1748)
 long before the elaborate and beautiful stone skala or mule-track and pedestrian steps were constructed.

"Η Σκάλα κατασκευάστηκε το 1868"