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Friday, 31 August 2018

UNHCR urges Greece to address overcrowded reception centres; EU Financial Support to Greece (Managing Migration) ; MSF Update, September 2019

From the UN Refugee Agency:

UNHCR urges Greece to address overcrowded reception centres on Aegean islands

"Centres are severely overcrowded. This means that thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants, including many children, live in squalid, inadequate and rapidly deteriorating conditions. Some have been living in these centres for more than six months.

UNHCR calls on the authorities to rapidly accelerate procedures for those eligible for transfer to the mainland; to increase reception capacity on the mainland to host them; quickly improve conditions in reception centres and provide alternative accommodation for the most vulnerable.

The situation is reaching boiling point at the Moria RIC on the island of Lesvos, where more than 7,000 asylum-seekers and migrants are crammed into shelters built to accommodate just 2,000 people. A quarter of those are children.

An estimated 2,700 people, mainly Syrian and Iraqi families, are staying at the Vathy RIC on Samos, originally designed to hold less than 700. This is forcing many to stay in flimsy tents and makeshift shelters. This is likely to become a serious concern if not addressed before winter sets in. People in need of medical attention are being forced to queue for hours before receiving treatment.

Reception centres on the islands of Chios and Kos are close to double their intended capacity.

These levels of overcrowding have not been seen since March 2016, when arrival rates were far higher. Limited access to services prevails across all the RICs. UNHCR is particularly concerned about woefully inadequate sanitary facilities, fighting amongst frustrated communities, rising levels of sexual harassment and assaults and the increasing need for medical and psycho-social care. UNHCR commends the hospitality shown by local communities and is aware of the impact of this situation on them.

Children, including hundreds of unaccompanied boys and girls, are particularly at risk, as well as dozens of pregnant women, new-born babies, survivors of sexual violence, and other extremely vulnerable people.

More than 3,000 asylum seekers on the islands have been given authorisation to move to the mainland, but transfers have been slow due to the lack of sufficient accommodation and reception on the mainland. Some 1,350 asylum-seekers were transferred to the mainland in August however, this is failing to ease the pressure as more people continue to arrive on the islands. An average of 114 people arrived each day in August, up from 83 in July. More than 70% are families from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite receiving European funding, the Government has faced challenges in delivering on previous commitments to decongest the RICs on the islands. UNHCR urges the authorities to strengthen efforts to overcome administrative and logistical delays. In the meantime, extraordinary measures need to be considered, including the use of emergency accommodation or other alternative facilities – as well as encouraging the authorities to work closely with civil society and non-governmental organisations in specific areas such as delivering health care.

UNHCR remains ready to support the Greek authorities with building capacity and strengthening its operational response as well as with transfers of eligible people to the mainland. At the request of the government, UNHCR has exceptionally agreed to continue its support in transport of asylum-seekers to the mainland in September in order to avoid further delays".

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

An Island in Despair (pdf), Refugee Rights Europe

How to Humanely Solve Europe's Migration Crisis, Spiegel Online

Updates (thanks to KTG for the three links below):

MANAGING MIGRATION, EU Financial Support to Greece, European Commission

Οι φορείς και οι ΜΚΟ που έλαβαν τα 1,69 δισ. ευρώ από την Ε.Ε. για το Προσφυγικό,

Dividing the 1.69bn euros in EU aid for refugees in Greece,

Update from The Telegraph, September 2019:

Overcrowding forces Greece to move migrants from ‘hell’ camp

Update from MSF: Greek and EU authorities deliberately neglecting people trapped on islands

Social Inequalities and Education

I have just received issue 3 of The Londinian, the magazine for alumni and friends of the UCL Institute of Education. It helps to keep me in touch with current educational research. I spent a postgraduate year at the IOE.

I read with great interest the article by Alissa Goodman, "The long roots of childhood: Explaining economic inequalities across the whole of life". It deals with the core of the UK's social mobility problems, the causes of inequalities in cognitive development, and the cumulative disadvantages which have an increasing impact throughout life.

Alissa Goodman is Professor of Economics, and Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), UCL Institute of Education (IOE).

There is also a pdf document of March 2010 accessible online:

Poorer children’s educational attainment: how important are attitudes and behaviour?
Edited by Alissa Goodman and Paul Gregg

"This report considers some of the ways that affluence and disadvantage influence children’s educational attainment. It focuses on a broad set of factors, varying across childhood, classified under the broad umbrella term ‘aspirations, attitudes and behaviours’. The implications for policy are also explored. Children growing up in poorer families emerge from school with substantially lower levels of educational attainment. This is a major contributing factor to patterns of social mobility and poverty".

Background to a recent lecture (20 June, 2018):

"Professor Alissa Goodman, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education, Alissa Goodman is a professor of economics and Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies in the Department of Social Science at the UCL Institute of Education. She is the Principal Investigator of the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study (NCDS), and is currently leading the team responsible for the design and content of the study's major new age 61 sweep. She is an economist whose main research interests relate to income inequality, poverty, education policy, and the intergenerational transmission of wellbeing. Alissa previously served as Deputy Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, which is Britain’s leading independent microeconomics research institute".

"In this lecture I'll talk about my research on inequalities, showing how both cross-sectional and longitudinal data are being used to illuminate and address some of the major social and policy questions of our time. I'll show how the UK's birth cohort studies reveal the long roots of childhood experience on later life, and the importance of tackling childhood mental health problems. I'll show how earlier adult life is influencing the decisions of a generation now approaching retirement age, and some of the striking generational changes occurring in our society, including in incomes, obesity, and mental health".

The public lecture can be heard in this video recording.

Multicultural Britain, Demographics

"Conventional Wisdom" on Greece?

"Greece’s debts are not the problem, it is the state’s inability to reform", Simon Nixon, Business Comment, The Times, 30 August, 2018

"The conventional wisdom says that Greece has been a victim of sinister external forces. But the external forces that inflicted the greatest damage on Greece were foreign commentators who used Greece to fight ideological proxy wars while ignoring the country’s deep-rooted structural problems" - Simon Nixon, LinkedIn.

From a Twitter comment on the article:

"STOP inflicting more of your “conventional wisdom” damage to the already psychologically damaged people of GR. Write about Brexit instead".

Is the Greek state and its public administration still "dysfunctional",  "largely unreformed" and is the political class "backsliding"? Read on! 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dorset and Devon are the most popular English counties - YouGov Survey

Dorset and Devon are the most popular English counties

"Newly released YouGov Profiles data on the opinions of more than 42,000 people towards 47 English counties reveals that Dorset and Devon top the popularity charts, with 92% saying that they like each of the counties.

The South West is actually home to four of the top five most liked counties – Cornwall places 3rd at 91% and Somerset 5th at 86%. The only county outside the South West to make the top five list is North Yorkshire, in 4th place at 87%."

Dorset County Hospital Cuts

Dorset County Hospital £7.6m cuts target 'challenging', BBC News

"Dorset County Hospital is struggling to hit its cuts target of £7.6m this financial year, according to a report. The hospital in Dorchester needs to save 4.3% of its turnover but is yet to identify where £1.7m of the cuts will come from, the internal report says".

Greece and China

From Greek Reporter - Greek, Chinese FMs Commit to Expand Cooperation

See also, African Trade with China

From BBC News:

Patrick White on the Aegean Islands of Greece

Of all the writings of Patrick White, those I enjoy most are about his journeys with Manoly Lascaris in Greece, as contained in the autobiographical self-portrait “Flaws in the Glass” (1981).

I couldn't help chuckling while re-reading his two sections about some of the Aegean islands. They are full of his extremely frank and forthright perceptions, his occasionally cruel, provocative but wittily satirical observations:

“Difficult to remember in which order we visited the Greek islands. I see them as a patchwork, or collage, or progressive disillusionment, not only with Greece but with post-War life”.

“Who, among the Greeks, as time goes on, has not collaborated with Germans?”

“In Greece, the enchanted distance is often destroyed by close acquaintance”.

On Chios:

“In the evening as we sat on the quay, drinking ouzo or a coffee….the bourgeoisie strolled up and down, island style, the ladies armed with handbags, no doubt planning next season’s Athenian handbag and their costume for the evening stroll”.

“Much of Chios looks extinct. Apathy has settled where passions erupted in the past; blood flowed without acting as a fertiliser”.

On Samos:

“The word ‘ennui’ might have been coined in connection with the evening stroll in island ports and the provincial towns of mainland Greece”.

On Patmos:

“If it seemed probable that the Prophet Elias haunted his chapel, nobody would climb the peak to find out. On the saint’s feast day a priest was reputed to pay his respects, but from what I had seen of Orthodox priests, I doubted”.

They thought seriously about buying a house on Patmos (pages 181-182):

“The house was too large by practical standards, but ideal for one who likes to walk from room to room while stuck for a word”.

“It was a relief when our dream of Patmos petered out finally. If we had forced our fantasies as far as actuality, schizophrenia and bankruptcy would have got us as we jetted between the hemispheres”.

 On Lesbos:

“I don’t remember coming across either a lesbian or a bugger during our stay in the flat, characterless town of Mytilene, though the olives were large, black, and juicy”.

“Molyvos, a pretty village perched above the sea on the north coast, has become the victim of international intellectuals and artists. They return year after year, to paint, write, and discuss the reasons why their marriages should break up, even type poems to the marriage which has broken that morning. We ran away from Molyvos”.

On Santorini:

“Tightened girths made the mules arch their backs, inflate their bellies, and fart like machine guns at the jab from a knee.”

On Skiathos:

“Skiathos has been developed as a retirement village for the well-to-do British middle-class, who discuss passionately in buses the difficulties they have found in what had been represented as a geriatric’s paradise. Plumbing of course enters into the conversation…You wondered how long they would accept exile from their natural neo-Tudor world, and hoped for their sakes that Papdiamantis and Greek plumbing would send them packing before complete senility set in”.


Buy "Flaws in the Glass" on

Patrick White, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1973

Patrick White Biographical Note (Nobel Prize)

"I was born on May 28th 1912 in Knightsbridge, London, to Australian parents. Victor White was then forty-two, his wife, Ruth Withycombe, ten years younger. When I was six months old my parents returned to Australia and settled in Sydney, principally because my mother could not face the prospect of too many sisters-in-law on the property, in which my father had an interest, with three older brothers. Both my father’s and my mother’s families were yeoman-farmer stock from Somerset, England. My great-grandfather White had emigrated to New South Wales in 1826, as a flockmaster, and received a grant of crown land in the Upper Hunter Valley. None of my ancestors was distinguished enough to be remembered, though there is a pleasing legend that a Withycombe was fool to Edward II..."

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures

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Lesbos, Greece: Moria Refugee Camp

From BBC TV  - 14 minutes

Catrin Nye, the Victoria Derbyshire programme

"Children ‘attempting suicide’ at Greek refugee camp - At Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, there is deadly violence, overcrowding, appalling sanitary conditions and now a charity says children as young as 10 are attempting suicide. Catrin Nye has been given rare access inside".

See also:

Rare look at life inside Lesbos' Moria refugee camp- Images capture living conditions the Greek island's largest camp, home to thousands of refugees and migrants, Kevin McElvaney, Aljazeera

Situation at 'boiling point' at refugee centre on Greek island - U.N.(from Reuters) 

UNHCR urges Greece to address overcrowded reception centres on Aegean islands, UNHCR

Residents at Moria refugee camp live in fear, new survey shows, eKathimerini

An Island in Despair (pdf), Refugee Rights Europe

'We have found hell': trauma runs deep for children at dire Lesbos camp, The Guardian

Mary Anning and Fossil Hunting

From BBC World Service Science Stories

"Mary Anning lived in Lyme Regis on what is now known as the Jurassic Coast in the first half of the 19th century. Knowing the shore from childhood and with a remarkable eye for detection she was extremely successful in finding fossils. In 1812 she unearthed parts of an Icthyosaur and in 1823 she discovered the first skeleton of what became known as a Plesiosaurus – a long-necked, flippered creature with a tiny head. It looked a bit like an elongated turtle with no shell.

Naomi Alderman tells the science story of how Mary Anning, a poor and relatively uneducated young woman, became the supplier of the best fossils to the gentlemen geologists who were beginning to understand that the earth was very old and had been inhabited by strange extinct creatures. Naomi talks to Tracy Chevalier, author of Remarkable Creatures, a novel about Mary Anning, about her life and relationship with the geologists of the time, and to Dr Susannah Maidment, Curator of Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, about fossil hunting today".

China: Air Pollution and Cognitive Performance

The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance, PNAS

"We find that long-term exposure to air pollution impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests".

The impact of air pollution is apparently the equivalent to the loss of one year of education (

Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals - Impact of high levels of toxic air ‘is equivalent to having lost a year of education’, The Guardian

"It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education. “Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge,” said Xi Chen at Yale School of Public Health in the US, a member of the research team".

Air pollution may harm cognitive intelligence, study says, BBC News

Newsday, World Service. from c. 5.15 point

Too dirty to breathe: can London clean up its toxic air?The Guardian

Monday, 27 August 2018

Lady Amelia's Key to Happiness

Lady Amelia Windsor, in an interview: "I would love to live in Dorset or Devon and swim in the sea every day come rain or shine. I'm convinced it's the key to happiness". The Telegraph, 27 August, 2018.

An opportunity for Weymouth to attract another Royal?

She would be in good company - and she wouldn't even need a bathing machine.

Sweden Farewell Party, Gothenburg

I just found a box of old photos in a cupboard. Here are some from a farewell party given for me in Gothenburg - a literary party. Amongst the guests, Dame Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd; Sir Michael Holroyd, Professor Kjell Espmark, poet and Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Literature at the time (from 1988).

I always loved going to Gothenburg and to the International Book Fair.

In Stockholm, with Dannie Abse, on another occasion:

Dannie reading from his poems in my Strandvägen apartment, Stockholm

Other Swedish Highlights:

Fårö: Ingmar Bergman and Harriet Andersson (photos JP)

Hydra, State of Emergency, Without Water or Electricity: Σε κατάσταση έκτακτης ανάγκης η Υδρα - Αποχωρούν μαζικά από το νησί οι τουρίστες

Hydra without water and electricity, Kathimerini

Tourists are leaving the island - "There are no restaurants, ATMs, nothing".

The blackout may be due to the underwater cable.

English version - Island of Hydra without power or water, eKathimerini

UPDATE: Power Returns

Alexander Billinis: Hydra: Summers on my Father’s Isle

An article about Hydra, Alexander Billinis

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Patrick White on Greece, and Love-Hate for his "Other Country".

I have always been interested in what other serious foreign writers about Greece have to say about their feelings for the country. Many of them seem to get a lot of things wrong, perhaps because they don't understand the language or the country very well (μιλάνε όλοι...)

From Lord Byron to Patrick White, one is struck by the intensity of their alternating and often jaundiced "Love-Hate" emotions and critical comments.

Patrick White (1912-1990), the Australian novelist and winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature has many contentious observations on Greece in Flaws in the Glass, A Self-Portrait, 1981. 

The title essay concerns his experiences at the end of a year in Greece at the end of World War II. He was aware that some of his views might be interpreted as "elitist sentiments" at the time of publication, in 1981. "I have to admit to a bitter nature", he writes. He describes himself as "a lapsed Anglican egotist agnostic pantheist occultist existentialist would-be though failed Christian Australian". 

 “By degrees I saw myself as the beachcomber all foreigners become when they settle in Greece – tolerated, but never much more than a joke".

"When I sailed from Piraeus I was still painfully haunted by the thin trickle of a tune squeezed through the concertina-player’s chest as he stumped through the streets winding around the Lykavittos, and the almost solid blast of perfume from stocks on the fields fringing the city. All this is gone by now. Jerry-built apartment blocks stand in the fields where the stocks grew; exhaust fumes from unmufflered cars cannot escape from the labyrinth of Lykavittos. Never were there such victims of progress as contemporary Greeks. Peasants who sold their fields in Thessaly and Thrace live like battery fowls on their steel and concrete balconies, or expose themselves to television in the cells behind, in every interior the same box flickering the same message. They tell themselves they are happy. They are prosperous, at least for the time being, stuffed with macaroni, fried potatoes, and barbecued meat. Livery and neurotic. The human contacts of village life are of the past, along with those tough, golden, classic hens scratching freely amongst the dust and stones.”

On Salonika (and other later journeys in Greece, from the essay Journeys):

“Ancient ruins and Byzantine mosaics fail to distract the mind from the air of Slav menace on the city’s northern rim".

"Lacerations alternating with visions, is this what hooks the most perverse Grecophile…the Greek is never wholly unconscious of the echoes from the torture chamber in which his psyche is a permanent victim. Initiated into cruelty by Turk and German he is not above torturing his fellow Greek, which rebounds to him as self-torture".

"Most Greek eyes wear an expression of fatality, as though brooding over disasters, personal, historic, and those still in store for them".

"Those of the Greek peasantry who have resisted selling their houses and land, and who have remained locked into their traditions on island and mountain fortresses, are the true nobility of Greece".

"Over and over, during these journeys and after, when M. tells me I hate Greece, I cannot explain my love...Greece is the greatest love-hate for anyone genuinely hooked…Greece is one long despairing rage in those who understand her”.

Who can really claim to understand Greece? 

Patrick White had few good things to say about the UK, if that's any consolation. "It was a long time before I was conscious of connecting boredom with undiluted Anglo-Saxon blood". In "State of the Colony", an ABC-TV interview of 1981, published in Patrick White Speaks, 1990, White says,

"Today there's a political reason underlying everything that is done...Music is supposed to be apolitical. Recently I was asked to become patron of a music organisation formed in London to help young Australian musicians living in England. I was told it would strengthen the ties between our countries, I had to point out that their aim was political and that as an Australian Republican I thought these ties should be cut".

In his essay "Greece - My Other Country" (1983), also included in Patrick White Speaks, White calls Greece his other country, "not that I haven't been frequently disgusted by some of its material aspects, as those who have read my books will know". 

"Whatever Greece has endured in the past is nothing to the concert of suffering she may be called on to share with the rest of Europe".

Perhaps Patrick White's views were deeply influenced by those of Manoly Lascaris.

Vrasidas  Karalis, in his "Recollections of Mr. Manoly Lascaris", 2008. quotes from one of his own many conversations with Lascaris:

Lascaris: "You are from the old Greece and have never felt what it means to leave behind the port of Smyrna, silently saying a long and irrevocable good-bye. My family did exactly that. I live with these memories to this day. And who was responsible for this? Greek politicians! And what happened to them? They thrived and prospered and still rule the country. We are a nation unable to face the truth; isn't this enough to condemn us for ever? We have not been pierced by the sharp nails of conscience. Our forehead is wrinkled only by the sun. Thinking is not a part of our existence, We live in the mythological space of fairy tales".

Manoly told Vrasidas that he admired the Anglo-Saxon character "that frightening interiority, full of moral dilemmas and guilty secrets. We Mediterraneans have been devastated by the blue serenity of our childhoods. Even if we went through disasters and catastrophes we have remained untouched by the results of our own works. Hence we can never repent."

"We can never repent...we Greeks lack an internal life, the soul stuff, the stuff of personal history. You know that although I have tried many times, I've never found any autobiographies in Greek? This is really sad: no interiority, no internal conflicts, no sense of the dichotomy within us".

Shallow is a strangely inappropriate word Lascaris also uses.

Shallow? Kazantzakis, Cavafy, Seferis, Ritsos, Theotokis? Hardly!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Greece: Austerity and Public Health

Greek Reporter - US Study Highlights ‘Devastating’ Impact of Austerity on Greece’s Health

The Lancet Public Health (pdf)

Linked articles

Dorset: Dramatic Rescue at Durdle Door

Watch the video of the rescue (HM Coastguard/Dorset Echo)

Also on BBC News

Dorchester, Dorset: Markets and Car Park Development Plans

Dorchester's Fairfield won't be developed (for now), Dorset Echo

"The cheers came when he admitted that despite interest from developers the Fairfield would not be developed, either with shops or with a multi-storey car park for the foreseeable future. He said the deals being offered would mean the council bearing most of the financial risk which was not acceptable".

Alcohol and Health (The Lancet): No level of alcohol consumption improves health

From The Lancet - a sobering thought:

"The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer. There is strong support here for the guideline published by the Chief Medical Officer of the UK who found that there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption”. The findings have further ramifications for public health policy, and suggest that policies that operate by decreasing population-level consumption should be prioritised. The most effective and cost-effective means to reduce alcohol-related harms are to reduce affordability through taxation or price regulation, including setting a minimum price per unit (MUP), closely followed by marketing regulation, and restrictions on the physical availability of alcohol".

Friday, 24 August 2018

Dorset: Bournemouth In Dread of Brexit?

Times change:

"Lawrence Durrell always thought of Bournemouth as a ‘living death’, but both he and Gerald returned from time to time and used it as a base between foreign travels, postings and expeditions. Lawrence once worked as a porter at Bournemouth railway station and he and Nancy Myers were almost daily visitors to H G Commin’s bookshop. Lawrence and Nancy, the first of his four wives, were married on 22 January 1935 (before the family moved to Corfu, although there is no mention of Nancy in My Family and Other Animals). He was back in Bournemouth in the spring of 1947 with Eve Cohen, his second wife, living at his mother’s house".

Le Monde: Brexit - London prepares for the dark scenario of divorce without agreement

From Le Monde

"In recent years, Russians, Chinese or wealthy Americans have been able to acquire a residence permit or a passport that facilitates their access to a country of the Union, and therefore to the area, without a Schengen passport. Vera Jourova, the justice commissioner, fears that this practice facilitates money laundering, corruption and risks to security. Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are particularly targeted. The cases of Austria, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Portugal will also be scrutinized".

McDonnell backs claim second referendum on Brexit risks unrest, The Guardian

Brexit and the Overseas Territories, Legal Conferences, Bermuda Legal

Garbage on Corfu - Deutsche Welle Video

A little late in the day:

Garbage on Corfu, 23 August 2018, watch DW 4 minute video

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Dorset Waste Partnership: Plastic - Friend or Foe?

Plastic - Friend or foe? A message from from Dorset Waste Partnership:

"There's been a lot of coverage around plastics lately. Here are our top 3 facts about plastic recycling in Dorset... 1. Most of Dorset's plastic collected at the kerbside is recycled - around 66% annually. That which cannot be recycled is turned into fuel to generate electricity here in the UK. Our plastics are not stockpiled or sent to landfill.

2. It's good to recycle plastic, but it's best to not buy it in the first place. It's significantly cheaper to process recycling compared to black-bag rubbish - not to mention the benefits to the environment - but plastics don't generate any revenue for the council. The less waste we receive - recyclable or not - the better, so use reusable items whenever you can and avoid single-use and overly packaged items.

3. When produced and used responsibly, plastic is a cheap and versatile material that is easily recyclable. Problems arise when manufacturers use packaging that we can't recycle in Dorset (eg. plastic film or polystyrene) or items aren't placed in the right bin or, worse still, littered.

So please remember to keep putting your plastic tubs, trays, pots and bottles in your recycling bin".

Copyright © 2018 Dorset Waste Partnership, All rights reserved.

Tourists Are Destroying the Places They Love; Overtourism; The Predatory Nature of Modern-Day Tourism

From Spiegel Online

Overtourism - a style of travel that is devouring all the beautiful places which drives it - the predatory nature of modern tourism - the infrastructure is no longer up to the task of handling the onslaught of travelers.

Reading Greece | An Englishwoman in Evia: Publisher Denise Harvey on her love for Greek literature and culture

From Greek News Agenda

A fascinating interview with publisher Denise Harvey


"How did your interest in Modern Greek literature develop?"

My first two years in Greece I spent in Mani, then moved to Athens in 1969. The dictatorship notwithstanding, and in some ways because of it, it was a very exciting place to be. The cost of living was minimal and rents were cheap and enabled a bohemian way of life that was very attractive to aspiring poets, writers and young scholars, mainly non-Greek, most of whom, like me, had come to Greece before April 1967 when the colonels staged their coup. The Greek element of serious committed literary people was always present at our gatherings; many were the evenings when the tavern owner closed his shop down and left us at his tables with a good supply of wine and we talked through the night. Not a small number of our company were active in the resistance to the dictatorship, and not silent about it either. During those years, in addition to other jobs I worked as a ‘stringer’ and journalist -I remember one of the pieces I wrote was on Greece being a nation of poets with statistics on how many volumes of poetry were published each year, an unbelievable number- and I also produced books for the academic publisher Adolf Hakkert and an occasional volume for Oxford University Press. Those activities brought me in touch with a lot of people in the literary world in Greece".

"Do other foreign nationals share that interest? Have your publications managed to attract a viable readership?"

"I hope they do but fear that now a great many of them probably do not. Greece is no longer a haven for penniless foreign writers who are the most faithful supporters of small publishers like myself when it comes to buying books about the literature and culture of the country they are presently living in. One can no longer live in Greece on a shoestring. It would seem to me that foreign nationals with sufficient money to buy books are for the most part in the business world and on the whole they simply do not have the time to search out and read such books. Another factor is that, because of the economic crisis, the majority of bookshops still surviving in Greece are unable to stock books on their shelves as they used to in the past, and so they mostly upload titles with limited popularity on to their websites and only order them if they get an actual firm order for a particular title. That’s a very different way of finding a book which one maybe is attracted to read. Lost is the delight of discovering something which really interests one among a host of others on a shelf in a bookshop, and then flicking through it to get a taste of it; and not only that but having the opportunity to appreciate the quality (or not) of the publication, its design and general feeling. A book is a material thing and its content should participate in and contribute to its physical presentation, but that seems to happen less and less nowadays".

Books Published by Denise Harvey

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Greece: Zagori Stone Bridges in Danger of Collapsing; Τα γεφύρια της Ηπείρου κινδυνεύουν με κατάρρευση

From Kathimerini

"Τα σημαντικότερα προβλήματα εντοπίζονται στο Ζαγόρι, στα γεφύρια Χάτσιου, Κοβάτσαινας, Πλακίδα, Καμπέρ Αγά, Αρκούδα, Μίσσιου, καθώς και στο γεφύρι Σκάλας Βραδέτου".

Sunday, 19 August 2018

NPR IA Friday News Round Up International

Listen here

See also live video (scroll down)

Panel Guests

Nina-Maria Potts Director of Global News Coverage, Feature Story News; @ninamariapotts

Nick Schifrin Foreign affairs and defense correspondent, PBS NewsHour; @nickschifrin

Nathan Guttman Washington correspondent, Israeli Public TV; @nathanguttman

'Trouser Legs' Building, Beijing, China

Saturday, 18 August 2018

The Colours of La Rochelle

Greece: Eurozone bailout programme finally over

From BBC News, Andrew Walker

"The eurozone passes an important milestone on 20 August. The date marks the formal end of the bailout of Greece..,The last payment has been made and the Greek government will have to finance its spending through taxes or by borrowing in the financial markets, though it will be decades before it is all repaid".

Greece warns Brussels: No Brexit deal could trigger economic meltdown, KTG

Η πραγματικότητα παραμένει δύσκολη - Δεν έχει έρθει το τέλος των μεταρρυθμίσεων. Kathimerini

A sad assessme, eKathimerini

Shadows loom over government’s ‘clean exit’ scenario, eKathimerini

Greece Meeting with Lenders Sept. 10 for Post-Bailout Talks, Greek Reporter

A Controversial Viewpoint, The Telegraph: "Greece will not escape debt servitude until the euro is destroyed"

Greece’s eight-year odyssey shows the flaws of the EU, Charlemagne, The Economist

"Greece created its own problems, but was largely a bystander while “solutions” were imposed by others. The rules of its bail-outs reflected the installation-by-stealth of austerity as official euro-zone dogma. And it was the victim of bad policy as well as power politics. Other governments regularly promised Greece jam tomorrow in exchange for hardship today. But projections for its recovery consistently proved wildly optimistic, as the austerity visited on the country, wholly predictably, deepened its recession and made its debts ever more unpayable. It was the most ruinous way imaginable to make a point. Now Greece, left with threadbare public services, eye-watering tax rates, weak institutions and appalling demographics, is supposed to run large primary surpluses (ie, before interest payments) for the next four decades. This is magical thinking masquerading as policy. Too often in today’s Europe, acute problems are not dissolved by silvery diplomats but rather transformed into chronic ailments that remain bearable, until they are not... One lesson, then, of Greece’s crisis is that the single currency is harder to fracture than critics predicted. Another is that the EU will go to considerable lengths, including the impoverishment of its own members, to avoid taking hard decisions".

A Greek tragedy: how much can one nation take? Financial Times

Friday, 17 August 2018

Corfu in Colour, 1920s National Geographic; Crete and more

From Pappas Post

Corfu Garbage Bales Update: Lefkimmi-Tebloni Back and Forth Pass the Parcel Farce

Τραγελαφικό «πήγαινε-έλα» των σκουπιδιών Λευκίμμη-Τεμπλόνι-Λευκίμμη! Enimerosi

"As reported in a press release by the Corfu Municipality, a contractor's machine was collecting the bulk trash in order to take them back to Temploni to re-package them!"

Any ripped garbage bales were sent back to Temploni again to be re-baled and returned to Lefkimmi!

Ludicrous coming and going of refuse: Lefkimmi-Temploni-Lefkimmi

"To summarise - the waste bales travel 40km from Temploni landfill to Lefkimmi landfill where they are deposited according to the temporary permit. The bales that have broken open (2,500 up to now) leave a pile of mixed waste which is collected and travels 40km back to Temploni to be baled once again before travelling the 40km back to Lefkimmi..."

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Poundbury, Dorset: New plans for Jubilee Hall

From Wessex FM

From Dorset Echo  

Hoarding a "mental disorder" - World Health Organisation

From The Telegraph

"Hoarding has been classified as a medical disorder for the first time by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a move that experts say could benefit thousands of people. Psychiatrists said the “extremely ­significant” decision would help ­doctors and the NHS identify people struggling with hoarding and improve treatment for a condition campaigners say affects up to 5 per cent of the ­population. According to the WHO, hoarding disorder is characterised by an “accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of or difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value”.

From Metro: Hoarding officially recognised as a medical disorder

Collecting is ok then!

Metro: "When you collect items such as stamps, mugs, or postcards, you’ll usually keep them well-ordered and easily accessible, whether that’s in a display case, a scrapbook, or a box. People who hoard, however, tend to keep items in an extremely disorganised state, letting them take up a lot of room in the house. Hoarding is considered a serious problem when the clutter interferes with everyday living (such as blocking off access to a room) or is causing significant distress to the person or their family. Items hoarded have little or no monetary value, but if someone tries to clear the clutter, someone who hoards will become very upset".

Read more:

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Charmian Clift: What Migrants Miss Most in Australia

From the newspaper article, "On Gathering No Moss", included (undated) in "The World of Charmian Clift", 1970 - essays from the last two years of Charmian Clift's writings for the Melbourne Herald and the Sydney Morning Herald. She had begun writing a weekly column for the Sydney Morning Herald after fourteen years living abroad.

It must have been published several years before she took her own life, almost fifty years ago, on 8th July, 1969.

Charmian writes that migrants to Australia might have been "a good deal better off emotionally in their own familiar social patterns, which are generally richer and more colourful and more satisfying than anything we can provide".

By the time I lived in Australia, the country had changed in many ways: the Mediterranean spirit had established itself down under, even if the siesta was no longer a practical possibility for most people.

As she points out, life wasn't much fun "in a crowded slum in the inner suburbs or a still unsewered estate twenty miles out, certainly way beyond range of all those lovely golden beaches".

Remember, she was writing about the situation as she found it more than fifty years ago.

She wasn't always happy living on the Greek island of Hydra. Her article, "Getting Away From it All" expresses her dissatisfaction with the number of visitors expecting her to be "entirely at their disposal", a "permanent summer host" to all-comers, including the friends of friends of friends. "Hydra during the years I lived on it appeared to be the holiday goal of half the world...the one thing certain about holiday-makers is their inability to accept, or even comprehend, that everybody else is not on holiday too".

She also complains of those visitors arriving on steamers (cruise-ships these days), who never spend more than a day, or maybe just a few hours "to wring the island dry of its history, economy, local customs and quaint folklore, to snap the colour slides, buzz off a few feet of film, raid the tourist shops, write the postcards and be off".

Charmian Clift, Self Portrait: - Ten years on Hydra

“We were about the first foreigners who lived on that island, and later…others came drifting in, buying houses, and there began to be established a foreign colony – I don’t like that word “colony” very much but I can’t think of anything else to call it - a foreign colony composed of people who  wanted to write and people who wanted to paint, and exiles from all over the world…I began to feel like an exile myself. I hadn’t until that point, because in spite of the fact that one was alien again, on that island for the first time I didn’t feel like an outsider looking in, because I had built something for myself that was mine…the foreign colony got more and more fashionable…and our cheap little island that was ours was ours no longer”. Self Portraits by Charmian Clift, selected by David Foster, 1991

"Through the turbulent and transformative years of the 1960s, Charmian Clift engaged the readers of her weekly newspaper column in a way that would now be done by a blogger. While her writing was so far ahead of her time that her opinions continue to challenge us to think about our identity and responsibilities as Australians, Clift’s cutting-edge social and political commentary was conveyed in a prose so exquisite that she is regarded as one of the greatest stylists of Australian literature"-  Nadia Wheatley, 

Nadia Wheatley on her biography of Charmian Clift (pdf)

- or read online

Q. Emigration and expatriation: what is the real difference? What do expatriates miss most?

See also:

Australians in Aspic: Picturing Charmian Clift and George Johnston’s Hydra Expatriation, TANYA DALZIELL, University of Western Australia, PAUL GENONI, Curtin University (pdf)

The World of Charmian Clift (Neglected Books)

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Dorchester: plan for new covered market at Charles Street site

From Dorset Echo:

Dorchester's £2m plan for new covered market and car park at Charles Street site, Dorset Echo

23 new parking spaces at the cost of £40.5k each

Calls for archaeological dig on site of church (before its demolition)

Jim's Blues ("Just One More Time"); Vintage Down-Home Blues

Four recent postings, in case you missed the videos on YouTube!

Fixin' to Die Blues

Mississippi Juke-Joint Blues, Clarksdale

Hillbilly Blues

"When you get to thirty-one"

Lament from Epirus, Christopher King: Greek edition planned, Ηπειρώτικο μοιρολόι , DOMA Books, Athens, ΔΩΜΑ

Ηπειρώτικο μοιρολόι 

Στην παράδοση του Πάτρικ Λι Φέρμορ και του Τζεφ Ντάιερ, ένας βραβευμένος με Γκράμι μουσικός παραγωγός ανακαλύπτει μια παμπάλαιη δημώδη μουσική παράδοση εξαιρετικής δύναμης.
Σ’ ένα δισκοπωλείο στην Κωνσταντινούπολη, ο συλλέκτης δίσκων Κρίστοφερ Κινγκ εντοπίζει μερικούς απ’ τους πιο παράξενους ―και υπνωτιστικούς― ήχους που άκουσε ποτέ στη ζωή του. Οι δίσκοι 78 στροφών που φέρνει στο φως είναι βαθύτατα συγκινητικοί. Μοιάζει να αντλούν από μια αρχόγενη πηγή συναισθήματος, στην οποία η σύγχρονη μουσική δεν παρέχει πρόσβαση. Τα τραγούδια είναι απ’ την Ήπειρο, μια περιοχή της οποίας η μουσική παράδοση εκτείνεται μέχρι την προοημερική εποχή. Ακούγοντας αυτή τη μουσική ακούς το παρελθόν. 
Το Ηπειρώτικο μοιρολόι είναι ένα αλησμόνητο ταξίδι σε μια μουσική εμμονή. Μέσα απ’ αυτό το ταξίδι, ο συγγραφέας αναζητά τις καταβολές ενός μοναδικού μουσικού είδους, τις οποίες τελικά εντοπίζει στις ρίζες του ίδιου του τραγουδιού. Αναζητώντας δύο προ πολλού πεθαμένους δεξιοτέχνες της ηπειρωτικής μουσικής―ο ένας εκ των οποίων ίσως να διέπραξε φόνο― ο Κινγκ αφηγείται την ιστορία των Ρομά, οι οποίοι υπήρξαν πρωτοπόροι της ηπειρώτικης δημοτικής μουσικής, αλλά και των απογόνων τους που συνεχίζουν την παράδοση σήμερα. 
Ο Κινγκ εντοπίζει στοιχεία που φωτίζουν τα βαθύτερα προσωπικά του ερωτήματα σχετικά με τη λειτουργία της μουσικής στην ιστορία του ανθρώπου: Ποια είναι η σχέση μεταξύ μουσικής και γλώσσας; Γιατί οργανώνουμε τον ήχο ως μουσική; Η μουσική είναι κάτι περιττό, μια απλή μορφή ψυχαγωγίας, ή μήπως πρόκειται ενδεχομένως για ένα εργαλείο επιβίωσης; Το ταξίδι του Κινγκ μετατρέπεται σε μια έρευνα για το ρόλο του τραγουδιού και του χορού ως μέσου πνευματικής ίασης ― και για το τι αυτό μπορεί να αποκαλύπτει όσον αφορά τις εξελικτικές ρίζες της μουσικής. 

«Enjoy the hypnotic clarity of the landscape—physical, human and musical—that [King] paints. … [Epirus’s] depth and freshness are undeniable, and I thank Mr. King for giving me a sip».
«Απολαύστε την υπνωτιστική καθαρότητα του τοπίου ― φυσικού, ανθρώπινου και μουσικού― που φιλοτεχνεί [ο Κινγκ]. Το βάθος και η φρεσκάδα [της Ηπείρου] είναι αδιαμφισβήτητα, και ευχαριστώ τον κ. Κινγκ που μου πρόσφερε μια γουλιά».
Wall Street Journal

«A must-read volume for those interested in music, even if your village is about as far from Epirus as can be… King explores music as a powerful form of communication, a tool for healing and even survival, as a shared experience for the community».
«Ένα βιβλίο που πρέπει να διαβαστεί απ’ όλους όσοι ενδιαφέρονται για τη μουσική, ακόμη κι αν το δικό τους χωριό το χωρίζει απέραντη απόσταση από την Ήπειρο… Ο Κινγκ μελετά τη μουσική ως μια πανίσχυρη μορφή επικοινωνίας, ως ένα εργαλείο με σκοπό τη γιατρειά ή ακόμη και την επιβίωση, ως ένα κοινό βίωμα της κοινότητας».
The National Herald

Μέχρι την κυκλοφορία της ελληνικής έκδοσης, που θα είναι έτοιμη σε λίγους μήνες, το ΔΩΜΑ διαθέτει στην Ελλάδα την πρωτότυπη έκδοση του βιβλίου από τη W.W. Norton

See also:

Greek Book Market: Dawn of a New Age, Windy City Greek

An old article from 2014: The Wild, Healing Music of Epiros, National Herald

From To Zagori Mas, July-August 2018: