Featured post

This Spinning World (43 stories from far and wide), Jim Potts

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

Follow by Email

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

American Blues Meets Greek Rebetiko, New York University Course

From Greek Reporter: "New York University announced last week that it will offer a new class exploring the historical origins of Greek Rebetiko and American Blues — and focusing on how the two musical genres intertwine in so many different ways. The course, titled “Songs of the Underdog: American Blues Meets Greek Rebetiko,” will be offered for the spring 2020 semester under the auspices of the Consulate General of Greece in New York City".

A pity this isn't an online course.

I didn't think that the jams with Louisiana Red and Stelios Vamvakaris were that successful. Better to appreciate the two genres separately.

Oxford Announces Director of Centre for Byzantine Research; Peter Frankopan

Oxford Announces SNF Director of Centre for Byzantine Research as Part of Broader Expansion

Peter Frankopan was recently at the Corfu Literary Festival.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

A Culture Vulture's Guilty Secret, Paris

Our last night in Paris...a very rainy night. We were at a loose end, so we went to see Downton Abbey at a cinema on the Champs-Élysées. We have to support our local Dorset film producers and screenwriters.

No, we didn't eat at nearby Macdonalds after the movie. We got thoroughly soaked when walking back to the hotel. We changed our clothes and went round the corner to eat at a Chinese/Asian noodle-sushi-dumpling fast food diner. Delicious! A great night out, but I kept recalling a poem by Jacques Prévert -

"Il est terrible
le petit bruit de l'oeuf dur cassé sur un comptoir d'étain
il est terrible ce bruit
quand il remue dans la mémoire de l'homme qui a faim
elle est terrible aussi la tête de l'homme
la tête de l'homme qui a faim..."

- and two images, a detail from a painting in the El Greco exhibition (I heard someone remark, "Isn't that a Big Mac, bottom right?"), and a sadly typical scene on the Champs-Élysées (even more disturbing to see someone in that position in the pouring rain)

Achilleion Palace in Corfu in urgent need of repair

Dorset: the oldest population in the country?

Trevor Bevins, Dorset Echo:

We've got the oldest population in the country - now elderly set to put extra strain on services

La Fayette; Marquis de Lafayette

EL GRECO Retrospective Exhibition, Grand Palais, Paris

We were lucky to see the Greco Exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris on the day of opening. It's tremendous.

"This retrospective is the first major exhibition in France ever to be dedicated to this artist. Born in Crete in 1541, Domenico Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco, undertook his initial apprenticeship in the Byzantine tradition before refining his training in Venice and then Rome. However, it was in Spain that his art flourished, firmly taking root from the 1577s. Attracted by the incredible promise of the El Escorial site, the artist brought Titian’s colour, Tintoretto’s audacity and Michelangelo’s heroic style. This eloquent combination, original yet consistent with his own way, gave El Greco (who died four years after Caravaggio) a unique place in the history of painting, as the last grand master of the Renaissance and the first great painter of the Golden Age".

Listen to "L’œuvre du Greco",  France Culture (audio)


Musée d'Orsay: Some Sculptures

Sappho, Penelope, Mercury, Liberty: 

Musée d'Orsay: Cattle

Two Musicians, Musée d'Orsay

Athens: the appearance of the city

Why does Athens look so quirky? BBC

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Romania: why does it import waste from abroad?

BBC News

Corfu: The Modern European Dimension in Waste Management, Enimerosi

On Short Stories

Thanks to Demetris Dallas for this quote from the New York Times book review of Zadie Smith's collection of short stories:

"To consider yourself well versed in contemporary literature without reading short stories is to visit the Eiffel Tower and say you've seen Europe".

When in Paris, one discovers a lot of different views and angles of the Eiffel Tower. I've never actually visited it. But you can now read my short stories - from all over Europe and around the world!

I was able to spend some precious time with my daughter,
and to give her my new book.
She's so busy, I doubt she'll find the time to read it!

No sooner had we arrived, it seemed, than she suddenly had to  reschedule her plans and  travel itinerary. Before she flies from Paris to Istanbul, she has had to add a flight, with the French news film crew, to Barcelona, before returning to Paris again to fly back to Washington DC.

Our last hasty lunch in Paris,  while she re-organizes her flights:

And I thought that I had "a spinning world"!

Poppies (Monet's and Mine)

My photograph of poppies at Poundbury was not influenced by Claude Monet's oil painting of poppies, 1873. A compositional coincidence.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

What Awaits Britons Abroad After Brexit (Spiegel Online)

Roughly 1.2 million Britons live abroad in the European Union and Brexit is making their lives more expensive and more complicated. For some, it has endangered their livelihoods, Claus Hecking

Brexit: What would it mean for UK pensioners living in Europe? BBC

Have UK voters changed their minds on Brexit? BBC

Caribbean coral reef and cruise ships in the Cayman Islands

From The Telegraph - Caribbean coral reef could be destroyed to make way for cruise ships in the Cayman Islands

Furch Little Jane Acoustic Travel guitar

What a great design! Peter Annear brought his Czech "Little Jane" to show me. Very impressive.


I'll stick with my Taylor travel guitar for the time being.

Poundbury, Prince Charles, The Future of the Duchy of Cornwall

From The Telegraph (Hannah Furness)- How Prince Charles 'stuck to his guns' against 'endless criticism and carping and shouting and screaming'

On Poundbury:

“Everybody was against it,” he said. “Having seen what had happened in the past, land had been sold and a developer had come along and built in a way that I felt was no longer appropriate.

“I wanted to make sure we, that this time we did it in a more sustainable way.

“I was told it was completely uneconomic, so everybody was against it, from the treasury to everybody else. In the end I was determined to stick to my guns.

“I’ve gone on regardless of the endless criticism and carping and shouting and screaming, because I’ve always believed in the long term.

“I hope I’ll see the end of Poundbury [being built], because I want to be able to potter round on a stick in my dotage saying 'Gosh look at this'."

The first part of the documentary will air on ITV at 9pm on Thursday, October 24.

Prince William:

“I’ve started to think about how I will inherit the Duchy one day,” Prince William tells tenant farmers. “Well rest assured I’m not going to rock the boat; I’ll do much the same as what my father’s doing.”

He joked: “I’m not so into the architecture that’s the only thing.”

Eliud Kipchoge


Eliud Kipchoge @EliudKipchoge

"Today we went to the Moon and came back to earth! I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world. Thank you to all who gave me the opportunity. Asante".

Occitan, the language the French forbade

Despite centuries of efforts to make standardised French the language of all of France, Occitan, which is intrinsically tied to the local culture, could not be suppressed - BBC Travel

Occitan poetry: a millenial adventure

Occitan Medieval Song- Ai Vist Lo Lop

Se Chanto [Imno de l'Occitania]


"Audio CD includes musical pieces performed by Elizabeth Aubrey.
An Introduction to Old Occitan is the only textbook in print for learning the language used by the troubadours in southern France during the Middle Ages".