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This Spinning World (43 stories from far and wide), Jim Potts; ISBN 978-1-912788-02-6

I am pleased to say that my book has now been published and is available from Colenso Books (write to colensobooks@gmail.com ) and...

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Saturday, 31 March 2018

Blues Induction -Two Generations

Nearly fifteen years ago: Jumping Jack Flash!

Stockholm. Christmas 2003

In Addis Ababa, circa 1974

Theodorakis and Easter Lambs; Traditional Custom Called Into Question; Μίκης Θεοδωράκης: Να σταματήσει το «βάρβαρο έθιμο» του σουβλίσματος αρνιών

Greek Composer Slams ‘Barbaric’ Easter Lamb Custom, Greek Reporter

Mikis Theodorakis: The Easter Lamb tradition is a “national shame!”, KTG

Μίκης Θεοδωράκης: Να σταματήσει το «βάρβαρο έθιμο» του σουβλίσματος αρνιών, CNN Greece

«Είναι καιρός να πάψουμε να ντρεπόμαστε που είμαστε άνθρωποι!» - Πώς αναφέρεται στους ζωόφιλους, Prothema.gr

Ολόκληρο το κείμενο:

«Πλησιάζει και πάλι το Πάσχα. Πλησιάζουν οι μέρες της αθρόας σφαγής αθώων ζώων χάριν ενός βάρβαρου «εθίμου» που θα έπρεπε να έχει προ πολλού εκλείψει. Βεβαίως αυτή είναι απλά μια πτυχή του όλου θέματος. Κάθε μέρα διαβάζουμε όλο και περισσότερα περιστατικά κακοποίησης ζώων, περιστατικά φριχτά που «λογικά» δεν μπορεί να διαπράττονται από ανθρώπους και μάλιστα -πολλές φορές- από νέους ανθρώπους. Τι δείχνει άραγε αυτό για την κοινωνία μας; Τι άλλο παρά την γενικευμένη σε όλους τους τομείς σήψη! Η Πολιτεία είναι ανεπαρκής έως εντελώς απούσα. Ενώ θα ΄πρεπε να είναι παρούσα όχι μόνο κατασταλτικά αλλά πρώτα απ’ όλα παρέχοντας την ανάλογη ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ από την νηπιακή ακόμα ηλικία. Αν βεβαίως θέλουμε πραγματικά να απαλλαγούμε κάποτε οριστικά από αυτή την «εθνική μας ντροπή». Έτσι, όλο το βάρος πέφτει όπως πάντα στον «πατριωτισμό των Ελλήνων». Στους αφανείς ζωόφιλους που αφιερώνουν όλο τον ελεύθερο χρόνο τους και από το υστέρημά τους κάνουν ό,τι μπορούν. Και φυσικά κανείς υπεύθυνος δεν μιλά για τα σφαγεία (που ίσως θα έπρεπε να είναι το πρώτο θέμα), για τα πειράματα, για την καταστροφή που έχει προκαλέσει ο άνθρωπος σε όλο το περιβάλλον του. Δεν ωφελεί να κάνουμε ότι δεν ξέρουμε. Ας αρχίσουμε αλλάζοντας τον εαυτό μας και ας αγωνιστούμε παράλληλα για να αλλάξει η απαράδεκτη αυτή κατάσταση γύρω μας. Είναι καιρός να κάνουμε κάτι. Είναι καιρός να πάψουμε να ντρεπόμαστε που είμαστε άνθρωποι!»

Theodorakis may be right.

 Many of us are committed to the cause of animal welfare, but more of us follow the traditional customs of hospitality and selective meat-eating...

Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!

Where do you stand?

Lambs on the spit, Ioannina

Mikis Theodorakis used to care for his lambs, when he was in exile.

"Days and nights more brothers have killed each other 
Than lambs slaughtered for Easter…"

More to make us all think:

Two Film Articles Noted; British and Russian Cinema

Ian Jack, How 1960s cinema gave us a glimpse of our future lives, The Guardian

Andrew Ray, Battle on Ice (Alexander Nevsky), some LANDSCAPES (blog)

Friday, 30 March 2018

South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Poetry Apps, Maiden Castle and Eggardon Hill

"Simply download the relevant App to your phone, there is one for Eggardon Hill and one for Maiden Castle, take along some headphones and head out for your walk. When you walk into an area where one of the readings is 'located' the App will recognise that location and play the relevant reading, allowing you to hear poetry written by local people about a special place in that very place".

Eggardon Hill and Maiden Castle

On the Maiden Castle app:

"What to expect? You can start at any point within the site boundary and walk in any direction to experience the poetry park. Please explore the entire site – including banks, ditches, and central area. There are 39 poems hidden here; explore and see how many you can find! Remember that poems will not always be hidden on the obvious pathways. Exploring the entire site takes a minimum of 50 mins. Remember, it’s rewarding to stop and listen when you find a particularly evocative or longer poem. The core themes explored are: Archaeology, Pre-history, Roman occupation and Godesses, Myths and legends, Flora and Fauna, and poetic responses to the landscape. The poems installed in these Poetry Parks are the result of creative writing workshops. Ralph Hoyte (Bristol based spatial poet) led adult workshops and Martin Maudsley (storyteller) worked with primary school children. Poetry readings were recorded by David Rogers and Mandy Rathbone. Thanks to Steve Wallis senior archaeologist from Dorset County Council for sharing inspiring stories of the sites during the workshops. Poems were written and read by the following contributors: Aradia Zamora, David Ian Burns, Maria Donovan, Sharon Cowling, Ralph Hoyte; plus Year 4 Pupils from St Nicholas & St Laurence School (Archie, Carla, Chester, Edward, Eloise, Georgia F, Georgia R, Hannah, Isla, Jamie, Jude, Logan, Mollie, Shannon, Tom, and Zac)."

Good Friday, Glastonbury Tor

A photo from Good Friday, 1970, found in a newspaper the following day:

No prizes for identifying the couple out walking, bottom left.

Good Friday, Epitaphios, Corfu

Music from Three Traditions:

Poundbury, Dorset: Neighbours Nigh

A Tale of Two Cemeteries

The bodies of former convicts at Dorchester prison are to be reburied in Poundbury, Dorset Echo

Murderer who inspired Tess of the D'Urbervilles to be exhumed after Julian Fellowes campaigns,The Telegraph

"The remains include those of Martha Brown, the convicted murderess whose death was witnessed by a young Thomas Hardy and inspired one of his most well-known novels, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and David Jennings, a convicted murderer, who was the last person to be buried at the yard after he was executed at the prison in 1941", Dorset Echo.

Thomas Hardy: 'Life and Death Are Neighbours Nigh'

"No answerer I. . .
Meanwhile the winds, and rains,
And Earth's old glooms and pains
Are still the same, and Life and Death are neighbours nigh".

Related: The Early Christian cemetery at Poundbury, persee.fr - by Christopher Sparey Green

Wikipedia, Poundbury Hill: 

"Just outside the fort was a large Romano-British. The majority of burials date to the late Roman era of the 4th century AD, although the cemetery was in use from the Neolithic times to the Middle Ages The cemetery, located on the northeast side of the hill fort, was excavated during the 1970s".

A Review


When I look forth at dawning, pool,
Field, flock and lonely tree,
All seem to gaze at me
Like chastened children sitting silent in a school;

      Their faces dulled, constrained, and worn,
As though the master's ways
Through the long teaching days
Had cowed them till their early zest was overborne.

      Upon them stirs in lippings mere
(As if once clear in call,
But now scarce breathed at all)--
"We wonder, ever wonder, why we find us here!

      "Has some Vast Imbecility,
Mighty to build and blend,
But impotent to tend,
Framed us in jest, and left us now to hazardry?

      "Or come we of an Automation
Unconscious of our pains? . . .
Or are we live remains
Of Godhead dying downwards, brain and eye not gone?

      "Or is it that some high Plan betides,
As yet not understood,
Of Evil stormed by Good,
We the Forlorn Hope over which Achievement strides?"

      Thus things around. No answerer I. . .
Meanwhile the winds, and rains,
And Earth's old glooms and pains
Are still the same, and Life and Death are neighbours nigh.

Nature's Questioning

Thomas Hardy

Poundbury, Dorset: "A Utopian Idyll"; HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Prince William pays a surprise visit to Poundbury, MailOnline

I happened to walk past the group of visitors twice, without recognizing Prince William, who had come to see for himself the "Utopian idyll where there is no segregation of social classes, and schools, shops and places of work are within walking distance".

It was a private visit. "In keeping with the informality of the event, William dressed down in a grey fleece, chinos and brown boots".

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Corfu, Greece: "Unfortunate" Tourists arrive in Sidari, March 2018 - οι 500 πρώτοι «άτυχοι» τουρίστες στο Σιδάρι

From Corfu TV News - the first 500 tourists of 2018 arrive in the unprepared resort

Ήρθαν οι 500 πρώτοι «άτυχοι» τουρίστες στο Σιδάρι

- "the beach, filled with seaweed, rubbish and other remnants from last year"

- "broken slabs, rusting iron bus-stops, demolished bridges and garbage everywhere".

Spiros Rikos, 27 March 2018:
"Τους είδα να βολοδέρνουν στην παραλία, γεμάτη με φύκια, σκουπίδια και άλλα αντικείμενα απομεινάρια της περσινής χρονιάς και να περιηγούνται στο Canal de malicieux (άθλιο Κανάλι), έτσι όπως έχει μετατραπεί, λόγω της εγκατάλειψης το Canal d’amour, το οποίο αποτελεί έτσι και αλλιώς σημείο αναφοράς, όχι μόνο για την περιοχή, αλλά και για τον τουριστικό μας προορισμό.
Μονοπάτια ξεχαρβαλωμένα, σε κάποια σημεία μη προσβάσιμα και σε κάποια άλλα με ελλοχεύουσες παγίδες για τους διερχόμενους πεζούς, σπασμένες πλάκες, σιδερένιες σκουριασμένες αναμονές, γεφυράκια κατεδαφισμένα και παντού σκουπίδια".

"Corfu, in the Ionian sea, is another of the bigger islands of Greece capable of offering endless options to its visitor. Among the most beautiful beaches, it is possible to explore Paleokastritsa as well as the impressive shore of the Canal D’Amour", Greek Reporter

The Durrells’ Alexis Georgoulis on his favourite corners of Corfu: “All Corfiots are crazy”, Radio Times: Georgoulis loves Sidari...

Where’s your favourite place on Corfu?

"Sidari Beach, on the northwest coast of the island, for the astonishing sunsets and scenery".

UK: National Security Capability Review (NSCR)

The NSCR includes a new national security doctrine, the Fusion Doctrine, from gov.uk.


From the Prime Minister:

"So as this report sets out, we have agreed a new approach to the orchestration of our national security capabilities. Based on the new Fusion Doctrine, this approach will ensure that in defending our national security we make better use of all of our capabilities: from economic levers, through cutting-edge military resources to our wider diplomatic and cultural influence on the world’s stage"

Some extracts:

Global Britain 

"We will strengthen our overseas network so that we can reinvest in our relationships around the world, champion the rules-based system including free trade, and use our soft power to project our values and advance UK interests. 

1. Global Britain means the UK as an open, inclusive and outward facing free-trading global power playing a leading role on the world stage. We are reinvesting in our relationships around the world. We are championing free trade and the international rules-based system. And we are using our soft power to project our values and advance UK interests. 

9. We are investing £291 million to 2020 in the BBC World Service to increase access to trusted news and information. We continue to invest in the British Council as a world leader in promoting cultural relations and educational opportunities. Their major programme this year ‘Active Citizens’ builds understanding and trust between communities locally and globally and has trained 55,000 people in 2016/17.

11. How the UK is perceived matters. Building on these investments, we will create a cross-government soft power strategy, while respecting the independence of the BBC World Service, British Council and the many British institutions and brands that contribute to our soft power. We will use the GREAT campaign to support the UK’s future relationship with European countries and to continue to promote the UK and be a powerful outreach tool worldwide. We will develop options to improve visa service delivery through the FCO and Home Office."


A few scenes from a life:

In Nigeria:

 In Kumasi Bay, Ghana:

Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

An impressive scene, and photograph.

Also featured on Facebook, Art, Craft and Architecture.

Featured article, Town and Country, March 2017 

Country Life, September 2014

Wikipedia article

You would need to be a keen gardener!

Dr Richard Bradbury on William Barnes: What is the point of William Barnes in the 21st Century?

Last night's talk by Dr. Richard Bradbury of the Open University, editor of the six-volume The Collected Prose of William Barnes, made a convincing case for the continuing relevance and social significance of William Barnes.

See also William Barnes Society, News

Born in Templecombe, Somerset, for many years Dr. Bradbury was apparently mocked mercilessly by his peers, speakers of RP (the increasingly dominant Received Pronunciation, or BBC English) for his West Country accent. His career has made him appreciate the 'grandeur of life in diversity', as Charles Darwin put it, and the importance of having roots, a strong sense of place and of one's origins - but if we have boundaries, they should not become barriers to keep other people out (or to insist that one way of reading a Barnes poem aloud is better or more authentic than another).

Barnes felt a sense of horror at the loss of public spaces (whether common land or allotments). Dr. Bradbury compared it to people's current fears of the loss of the Welfare State.

He made a plea for people to get back to the sort of civilized values that were expressed by William Barnes, with an emphasis on the quality of life and on what makes life worth living.

Dr. Bradbury focused on Barnes' important prose work, "Views of Labour and Gold" (1859), published in the same year as Charles Darwin's "On the Origins of Species" and Karl Marx's "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy".

He was particularly interested in Barnes' discussion of the differences between "real" and "commercial" value (the gap, and disparities of wealth, had been opening up dramatically at the time of writing), and of Barnes understanding of ecological issues. These aspects of his writing ensure his continuing relevance in the 21st Century, quite apart from the inherent values of his poetry.

Thinking about Dr. Bradbury's description of his uncle's very local speech (far removed from the influence of RP, as he had owned no radio) and the 'power relationships' engendered by the spread of BBC English, I was reminded of the very powerful sonnets and other brilliant and moving Leeds poems by Tony Harrison, on related social, family and linguistic issues.

 With Tony Harrison, in Delphi

William Barnes and Tony Harrison remain two of my most frequently-read poets to this day.

Like Dr. Bradbury, I share and value a strong sense of being rooted in a place, although I have also worked overseas for many years, and speak other languages. While he can get by in Polish and Spanish, I often use Greek and other European languages, to the best of my ability. Dorset-Speak and Somerset-Speak (Dr. Bradbury is wary of terms like dialect, or of attempts to preserve the 'purity' of languages) retain their particular strengths, vitality and attraction.They are vital for our 'sense of being', and we must all be aware of the consequences of "glossophagy".

Thinking of language and diversity, Dr. Bradbury quoted with approval this passage by Charles Darwin:

"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

Although Dr. Bradbury said he had little in common with William Barnes, the Anglican priest, he did certainly do him full justice as a prose-writer, poet and social thinker.


Apparently, Darwin's " tangled bank " paragraph 'did not include the phrase "by the Creator" in the first edition of November, 1859. This phrase having been inserted, due to popular pressures for mention of divine actions, into the second edition of January, 1860 and subsequently retained'. (See http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/charles_darwins/quotes/tangled_bank.html)

Another extract from Labour and Gold: