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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Wired Brain, Mountain Retreat; ἀγρυπνία.

Up in this remote Greek mountain village retreat, where I come for peace and quiet and the beauty of unspoiled nature, it’s a different story at night. I become a wired-up man, with three sets of ear-bud headphones dangling and tangling around my bed - one set for the digital radio, one pair for the iPod, one pair for the CD player. When I cannot sleep, I alternate between them.

I listen to BBC Radio 4 and the World Service on the internet radio, classical music CDs on the CD player, blues and rockabilly on the iPod.

The radio programmes penetrate and influence my dreams and nightmares - ἀγρυπνία.

If I am restless enough to get up and make a cup of tea, I may check emails on my PC, listen to a programme, write my blog or watch some YouTube videos (last night, some Albanian kaba music, and some pre-war country blues).

I listened to Chris King’s programme, Chris travels at 78rpm, Episode 11, Music On Both Sides, which I’d missed when it was broadcast live, but it’s just been archived (early blues, country, Cajun, Albanian kaba and a wonderful Epirot skaros).

On the CD player I selected some calming English music (songs composed by Linley, Vaughan Williams, Ireland and Butterworth).

On the radio I heard less calming news about Theresa May’s social care “policy meltdown”, and strong criticisms of the apparent chaos  and confusion it is causing in the lead-up to the UK general election.

I listened to a fascinating BBC 4 programme on The Yoiker and the Landscape (sound recordist Chris Watson captured the remarkable chants of Andé Somby, a Sami yoiker) and a Book of the Week reading from Bella Bathhurst’s book, Sound, Stories of Hearing Lost and Found.

All of that was drowned out after midnight (after 12.30am Greek time) by the appalling news and tragic reports of fatalities and injuries from the terrorist (?) attack and nail bomb explosion (a bomb packed with nuts and bolts) at the Manchester Arena, at the end of the Ariana Grande concert. That kept me wide awake for the rest of the night.

Dawn finally broke. Birdsong.

Peace and quiet? Not in my head. Not in anyone’s head.

Twisted wires, twisted minds that cannot be untangled.

There is no retreat. There can be no retreat.



Examining The Impact The Manchester Attack Will Have On Britain, NPR (USA) - Britain is no stranger to terror attacks. David Greene talks to David Rennie, Washington bureau chief for The Economist, about the explosion in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people.

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