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Two Books by Jim Potts: "This spinning world" (short stories) and "Reading the signs" (poems)

ISBN 978-1-912788-06-4  ISBN 978-1-912788-02-6 Available direct from the publisher:  colensobooks@gmail.com (recom...

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Friday, 31 January 2020

The Dawn of a New Era? Wordsworth in 1802

"We are right glad to find ourselves in England, for we have learned to know its value". See Letter

I have been reading a number of William Wordsworth's poems over the last few days.

With all this talk of 'the dawn of a new era', I couldn't help feeling that - in some respects- we seem to have put the clocks right back to the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Consider the following two poems by Wordsworth on the theme of National Independence and Liberty:

Composed By The Sea-Side, Near Calais, August 1802

FAIR Star of evening, Splendour of the west,
Star of my Country! - on the horizon's brink
Thou hangest, stooping, as might seem, to sink
On England's bosom; yet well pleased to rest,
Meanwhile, and be to her a glorious crest
Conspicuous to the Nations. Thou, I think,
Should'st be my Country's emblem; and should'st wink,
Bright Star! with laughter on her banners, drest
In thy fresh beauty. There! that dusky spot
Beneath thee, that is England; there she lies.
Blessings be on you both! one hope, one lot,
One life, one glory! - I, with many a fear
For my dear Country, many heartfelt sighs,
Among men who do not love her, linger here.

Composed In The Valley Near Dover, On The Day Of Landing

Here, on our native soil, we breathe once more.
The cock that crows, the smoke that curls, that sound 
Of bells; - those boys who in yon meadow-ground 
In white-sleeved shirts are playing; and the roar
Of the waves breaking on the chalky shore;
All, all are English. Oft have I looked round 
With joy in Kent's green vales; but never found 
Myself so satisfied in heart before.
Europe is yet in bonds; but let that pass, 
Thought for another moment. Thou art free, 
My Country! and 'tis joy enough and pride
For one hour's perfect bliss, to tread the grass
Of England once again, and hear and see, 
With such a dear Companion at my side.

And a romantic poet's afterthought?

I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea; 
Nor, England! did I know till then 
What love I bore to thee. 

'Tis past, that melancholy dream!
Nor will I quit thy shore 
A second time; for still I seem 
To love thee more and more...

Thursday, 30 January 2020

William Wordsworth, 1770-2020; 250th Anniversary of Birth of Wordsworth. "England hath need of thee..."

London, 1802

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:

England hath need of thee: she is a fen

Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,

Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,

Have forfeited their ancient English dower

Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;

Oh! raise us up, return to us again;

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:

Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:

Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,

So didst thou travel on life's common way,

In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart

The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

It is not to be thought of that the Flood of British freedom

It is not to be thought of that the Flood

Of British freedom, which, to the open sea

Of the world's praise, from dark antiquity

Hath flowed, "with pomp of waters, unwithstood,"

Roused though it be full often to a mood

Which spurns the check of salutary bands,

That this most famous Stream in bogs and sands

Should perish; and to evil and to good

Be lost for ever. In our halls is hung

Armoury of the invincible Knights of old:

We must be free or die, who speak the tongue

That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold

Which Milton held.—In every thing we are sprung

Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold.

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798


For I have learned

To look on nature, not as in the hour

Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes

The still sad music of humanity,

Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power

To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth; of all the mighty world

Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,

And what perceive; well pleased to recognise

In nature and the language of the sense

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being.

William Wordsworth: In Wordsworth's Footsteps (BBC Sounds)

BBC Sounds: 1. Spots of Time

George Orwell, 1984, new BBC radio production.

From BBC Radio 4 Extra/ BBC Sounds

Episode 1

Episode 2

"One of the most influential novels of the 20th century, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was first published in 1949. Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway".

Winston Smith...Christopher Eccleston
Julia...Pippa Nixon
O'Brien...Tim Pigott-Smith
Parsons...Kim Wall
Charrington ...Robert Blythe
Syme ...Sam Alexander
Prostitute...Susie Riddell

With Christine Absalom, Don Gilet, Joe Sims and Joshua Swinney

Director: Jeremy Mortimer

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Nicholas Parsons on Cricket in Corfu

From The Cricketer

"Why I love cricket: Nicholas Parsons on bowling out Dennis Lillee, leading the Lord's Taverners and cricket in Corfu. The broadcasting icon, who passed away this morning at the age of 96 after a short illness, shared his lifelong passion for cricket with JAMES COYNE for The Cricketer's June 2017 issue".


Eric Morecambe presents 'Mad Dogs & Cricketers' - YouTube

The Road to Nineteen Eighty-Four; George Orwell; 1984; Thought Police; Thoughtcrime

I've been re-reading 1984 with more interest and deeper concentration than in the past.

"Only the Thought Police mattered...How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time....You had to live - did live, from habit that became instinct - in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."  p.6.

“From the table drawer he took out a penholder, a bottle of ink, and a thick, quarto-sized book with a red back and a marbled cover”. p.8

“He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him. To begin with, he did not know with any certainty that this was 1984. It must be around that date, since he was fairly sure that his age was thirty-nine, and  he believed that he had been born in 1944 or 1945…”  p.9.

"For whom, it suddenly occurred to him to wonder. was he writing this diary? For the future, for the unborn". p. 10.

"The idea had even crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Thought Police". p.12. 

"Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed - would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper- the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you." p.19.

I was reminded of the journal/diary I kept when working in Czechoslovakia in the 1980's.

Some radio programmes:

Sunday, 26 January 2020

«Ευτυχία» - η ζωή της Ευτυχίας Παπαγιαννοπούλου, στην ταινία «Ευτυχία»

Film trailer

From YouTube

Ευτυχία Παπαγιαννοπούλου - Μεγάλες επιτυχίες

List of lyrics

Η μηχανή του χρόνου-Ευτυχία Παπαγιαννοπούλου

Ευτυχία, η γυναίκα, η δημιουργός. Kathimerini

«Ευτυχία»: Νέο trailer για την ταινία με την ζωή της Ευτυχίας Παπαγιαννοπούλου  (lifo.gr)

Glorious Greece, Sunday Times Travel Greece Special; Paxos; Zagori

I always have mixed feelings when my favourite parts of Greece are given too much high-profile publicity. Overtourism is already a blight in many parts of the country (Julia Bradbury's programme on Santorini, The Greek Islands with Julia Bradbury, Episode 3, highlighted that - ITV on Friday).

The Sunday Times Travel Greece Special today has features on the Zagori and on Paxos.

As far as the article on Zagori is concerned, I am puzzled by Russel Herneman's advice, "don't overdo the local cherry liqueur". I've never come across cherry liqueur in the Zagori region. Could he have been referring to tsipouro (nothing to do with cherries)?

‘Every moment I can, I spend on Paxos’ - Travel entrepreneur Victoria Hooberman explains her infatuation with the characterful Ionian island she has visited more than 80 times

The article on Paxos, "Why I adore Paxos", by Victoria Hooberman draws attention to Ben's Bar, at Monodendri beach, and the well-patronised taverna above the beach, run by Ben's mother.

I've spent some great times at that beach, and on Paxos more generally.

It's only natural to want some strict limits set on the further development of vulnerable environments, especially in areas where the infrastructure seems inadequate.

Greece, Tourist Arrivals

Tourism numbers for Greece expected to hit all-time high in 2020

Black Friday Broken Record Blues

It doesn't always pay to order online: 

I'm glad it wasn't a copy of the rare original 78rpm record!

The Economist Podcast: Checks and Balance. New Economist Radio weekly podcast on American politics

Economist Radio, new weekly podcast of interest:


24th January podcast includes David Rennie, from 24 minute point.

Greece: Retirement and Household Expenditure in Turbulent Times

Retirement and Household Expenditure in Turbulent Times


See also the LSE blog post


Friday, 24 January 2020

Portland, Dorset: from the Journal of Elizabeth Pearce, 1793-1801

What a wonderful piece of prose I discovered on Byegone Dorset (on Facebook), posted by Carole Dorran, taken from Dorset The County Magazine, 1983.

This extract is dated September, 1801:

"Yesterday afternoon, I took my needlework with the boy, to have an hour on the beach. I let him play among the rocks; for, young as he is, he loves the sight and sound of the sea. 'Tis in his blood, as 'tis in mine; which is scarce to be wondered at, considering how our lives here are bound up in all its moods; for places makes us, as much as people do: or as much as we are born to be. I love it on mild, sunny days, when it just laps, laps the shore, as though kissing the land; I love it when the fresh breeze is making the clouds scud across the blue heavens, causing strange lights and shadows on the shifting waters; I love it when the setting sun is making a glory path across our Bay, right up to Heaven itself; but, most of all, I love it when it thunders against the rocks, and the spray dashes up the face of the great cliffs, while the angry billows roll ever more and more forward, every seventh wave towering grander than its fellows, and the seventh of every set of seven being grandest of all. I go as near as I dare after the receding waves, and rush madly back, lest the next incoming wash should sweep me off my feet, and suck me under; for the ground swell is very strong on our Beach, especially in stormy weather, and it is dangerous for even good swimmers, when fairly calm, to essay too much. I know, therefore, if the whirling onrush of waters should entrap me, it would be all up; and yet I cannot help it. Something wild and mad gets in my blood; something which must have filtered down the ages from my forefathers; and I sniff the breeze, and race with delirious joy, (the sweet, briny scent, the wind-tossed foam causing my veins to tingle with life; life pure and bright and beautiful) and I am one with the tossing waters, and they are one with me; one with the wide stretch of horizon beckoning me to the unknown beyond; one with even the frowning cliffs above, for I have known them all my conscious existence, as I feel sure they have known me - my possessions, part of myself, which none may gainsay - part of the heritage from the ages, when all Nature was alive to every man, spoke with no uncertain voice, just as all the Past speaks today, to those who care to listen. And men call it pagan! So it is, if to be Pagan is to feel the Spirit of Good, the Spirit of the eternal yet ever changing Universe, which pervades everything, is everywhere; itself transcendent.

I took the boy down Higher Lane [from Fortuneswell into Chiswell]; guiding his baby feet amongst the stones as we crossed Branscombe; and then carried him up the beach and down the other side, till we gained the fringe of rocks. My eyesight is strong and long, like most coast people's, but I can't come near our fishermen in this matter. It is really wonderful, the way they tell the rig of a distant ship, and distinguish objects in or near the surface of the water. Today, the mackerel were straying in great shoals, and the boats brought in a big catch. From my seat on the rocks, I could see them leaping and darting in the nets, as the boats were drawn ashore. Poor things, gasping and dying, no doubt, but looking for all the world like a beautiful picture to me, with the sunrays on their shiny skins, showing up all the colours of the rainbow. I have heard that salmon are even more beautiful than mackerel, and show up brightest when nearest dying. And we too, human beings; who is to know that our immortal souls are not most beautiful when nearest leaving this life for heaven above, and perhaps even radiate glory in the eyes of the angels, the ministering spirits always around us, which the fleshly eyes are too gross to see? And when my time comes, as come it must, may I go with the waters of our own West Bay in sight; may my last vision of an earthly landscape be that of this same bay, o'ertopped by its cliffs, and the long line of the Devonshire coast, just melting into the horizon, where earth and Heaven meet the waters, by way of which our freedom-loving royal forefathers came; and by which, maybe, in the old, old days, some of them set off on their last, long solitary journey to Valhalla.

I had to call back my wandering thoughts, and lay down my sewing, as the boy was tired of playing on the pebbles alone. And then I took him along the shore, and showed him the fisherfolk, every man of whom I knew, and who knows us; for we all know one another here. I told him to call them by name; which afforded them a mighty deal of amusement, and they showed him the crab and lobster pots, just drawn in. There was, too, a tremendous long-oyster [crayfish] trying its hardest to get away. Poor things! A sudden drop into boiling water: a shiver of agony: then all the dark, ugly, blackish-brown changed into brilliant scarlet, a fitting adornment for the table of a king.

Presently, I saw Jane, and my friend Jane G-, coming down over Lankridge, and crossing Killick's Hill: no doubt coming to look for me and the boy. Jane had not been very well for a few days, which had made a regular Peter Grievous of her; so I hoped that the harmony of sea, and sky and soft-lapping waters would not be disturbed, to mar my feelings of peace, which I ever get when out-of-doors. But I soon saw she was better, and in her brightest mood; and she can be very entertaining when she likes.

I walked back to meet them, and we all sat on the rocks together, little Boy well pleased to greet more faces he knew, and from whom he was like to get a sugar stick. Jane G- rarely came empty-handed, and soon drew out one of her own making. Having little fresh news on hand, we sat (I with my hemming, and they with their knitting - the small shell pattern pieces for quilts), and told tales of war, and shipwreck; of pixies and golden-haired heroes (such a one had been he, Jane thought, that had given his name to the hill behind); of smugglers and Bony [Napoleon]; of ghosts and visions (which last I like as well as anybody, when 'tis but tales); till 'twas time to go home for our dish of tea...

We came across some fine anemones, as we clambered over a rock, and found a large piece of pop-gun seaweed, which must have lain ever so long in the sun. We kept cracking the little air vessels to amuse the boy, whose tiny legs were tired with the rocks"

Some of my photos:

Vitsa, Zagori, Panigyri, CNN Greece, Photos: Χορεύοντας στις άκρες του Βίκου

"Το φετινό καλοκαίρι με βρήκε με τη σύντροφό και τη νεογέννητη κόρη μας στο χωριό Βίτσα του Κεντρικού Ζαγορίου. Μετρώντας χρόνια ιστορίας το πανηγύρι της Βίτσας είναι το μεγαλύτερο της περιοχής και ο Πολιτιστικός Σύλλογος κρατάει αναλλοίωτο το παραδοσιακό στοιχείο ακόμα και σήμερα"- Λευτέρης Παρτσάλης, CNN Greece
Watch, listen!


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

7.7 Billion People...

BBC Horizon: 7.7 Billion People and Counting

BBC Programme Information:

"According to the UN, it is predicted that the human population could reach ten billion people by the year 2050. For broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham, who has dedicated his life to championing the natural world, the subject of our growing population and the impact it is having on our planet is one of the most vital – and often overlooked – topics of discussion in an era of increasing environmental awareness.

Chris is worried that a world of ten billion may simply be too many people for the earth to sustain, given the impact 7.7 billion humans are already having. Travelling around the globe in search of answers to difficult and sometimes controversial questions, Chris investigates why our population is growing so rapidly, what impact it is having on the natural world, and whether there is anything that can be done.

Chris travels to Brazil to discover a megacity on the verge of running out of water and an industry expanding to feed our growing numbers – with dire consequences for biodiversity. In Nigeria, a country set to become the third most populous nation on earth by 2050, overtaking the United States, Chris visits an extraordinary community surviving against the odds and a school that might hold the answer to a future fall in the birth rate. Back home in Britain, Chris interviews Sir David Attenborough – like Chris, he is a patron of the charity Population Matters. Chris also examines the role of falling birth rates around the world, the impact of an aging population, and meets a couple who are struggling to get pregnant through IVF.

With interviews from several population experts, Chris’s focus ultimately turns to the impact our levels of consumption are already having, and asks whether the world can rebalance to accommodate the needs of over two billion more people".


Corfu Before the Cars (1962)

There were very few cars on the island.

Paleokastritsa was still relatively undeveloped.

Corfu (1962) A British Pathé travelogue

Other old films of interest available on YouTube:

Spirit of Place

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The Snake, a short story by Beverley Farmer

The Snake, a story by one of my favourite writers

From Meanjin Quarterly, Summer 1982

Strongly recommended (especially the stories set in Greece):

Milk (1983)
Home Time (1985)
Place of Birth (1990)
The House in the Light (1995)
Collected Stories (1996)

See also:

Against the Grain: Beverley Farmer's Writing, by Lyn Jacobs

Perceptions of Others

I'm still not sure what to make of this pen-portrait of someone I know quite well!

Talking of poetry, I have just received the proof copy of my new book, a collection of poems entitled 'Reading the signs", which will be published at the beginning of February, 2020.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Malaysia returns 42 containers of 'illegal' plastic waste to UK

BBC News

"Malaysia said a total of a total of 3,737 metric tonnes of unwanted waste had been sent back to 13 countries, including 43 containers to France, 42 to the UK, 17 to the United States, and 11 to Canada".

Martin Johnston; Dimitris Tsaloumas; Migration and Memory in the Writings of Martin Johnston and Dimitris Tsaloumas

In Transit: Migration and Memory in the Writings of Martin Johnston and Dimitris Tsaloumas (pdf),
Julian Tompkin

Charmian Clift; Brenda Chamberlain; Hydra

Read Paul Genoni's paper: Charmian Clift, Brenda Chamberlain, and the Dichotomous Freedom of Hydra (pdf)

Kalymnos: Three Ways of Looking at Kalymnos. Charmian Clift’s Differing Versions of One Greek Island SHILO PREVITI, JAMIE WALTERS and DAVID ROESSEL Stockton University

Read here (pdf)

Joice NanKivell Loch, A Fringe of Blue

Humanitarian Aid among Aegean Neighbours: Joice NanKivell Loch’s A Fringe of Blue, TANYA DALZIELLUniversity of Western Australia

Books I have in my library:

Literary Expatriation. Australia; Greece; Hydra

JASAL, Vol 19, No 1 (2019) -  Literary Expatriation

Table of Contents

Preliminary pages

Tanya Dalziell, Paul Genoni


Elsewhere: On Not Being Home—Creativity as Expatriation
Susan Johnson

Exile’s Return: Change Was in the Air
Andrew Taylor

Home Away from Home: The Curious Case of Diplomats
Margaret Barbalet

The Internationalists: Australian Writers and Contemporary Greece
Anne Pender

Humanitarian Aid Among Aegean Neighbours: Joice NanKivell Loch’s A Fringe of Blue
Tanya Dalziell

Three Ways of Looking at Kalymnos: Charmian Clift’s Differing Versions of One Greek Island
Shilo Previti, Jamie Walters, David Roessel

An Expatriated Adventurer: Charmian Clift and the Utopian Possibility
Susan Carson

Charmian Clift, Brenda Chamberlain, and the Dichotomous Freedom of Hydra
Paul Genoni

The Ghikas House on Hydra: From Artists’ Haven to Enchanted Ruins
Helle Goldman

A Lens on Leros: The Poet as Iconographer
Jena Woodhouse

In Transit: Migration and Memory in the Writings of Martin Johnston and Dimitris Tsaloumas
Julian Tompkin

Telling Spaces: Reading Randolph Stow’s Expatriation
Kate Noske

Silvia Cuevas-Morales: A Chilean-Australian Expatriate Writer?
Michael Jacklin

ISSN: 1833-6027

Of related interest, from C.20 Journal:

Essay: Insiders and Outsiders - Beverley Farmer, Maria Strani-Potts and other expatriate or “displaced” writers

GHANA - Highlife: The sound of Ghana

From The Forum, BBC Radio

Programme Information:

"The name Highlife is thought to have been coined in the early 20th Century when people on the streets outside clubs reserved for the Gold Coast elite observed the elegant clothes and dancing of the customers inside. Dance band Highlife is just one element of the music which has soaked up all manner of cultural traffic that has marked this part of West Africa. Military bands, gospel, calypso, folk music, ragtime, jazz, reggae, hip hop have all left their imprint on Highlife in a dizzying back-and-forth between Africa and the New World. When the Gold Coast became the independent state of Ghana in 1957, the music became associated with the search for a national identity. Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, made Highlife the national dance music, a move that was copied by other emerging nations of West Africa. But from its heyday in the 1960s and '70s, Highlife fell on hard times when a military regime came to power and imposed a curfew. Many musicians left the country to pursue their careers elsewhere. But Highlife proved once more that it could take on new influences, even in exile, and today it is the backdrop to the popular Highlife genre. With the help of musical examples, Rajan Datar and guests will explore how Highlife works, and discuss how it has grown from its origins in the towns of the Gold Coast to become a commercial success the world over. Joining Rajan will be guitarist and singer Kari Bannerman, percussionist Oheneba Kofi Adu, producer of the long-running American radio show Afropop Worldwide, Banning Eyre, and Dr Nana Amoah-Ramey, author of Female Highlife Performers in Ghana: Expression, Resistance and Advocacy".

A History of Honey (BBC Radio)

From The Forum, a BBC World Service radio series

Programme information (BBC):

"It takes twelve honey bees their entire lifetimes to make one spoonful of honey. From sweetening and preserving food, to treating wounds and sore throats, this sweet, viscous substance has played an important role in nearly every society around the world. In the ancient world, it held religious significance while in the 21st century, scientists are researching how honey could combat lethal diseases and finding ways to identify so-called fake honey.

Joining Rajan Datar to discuss the history of honey are Dr Lucy Long - author of Honey: A Global History and director of the nonprofit Center for Food and Culture in Ohio, USA; Sarah Wyndham-Lewis - writer, Honey Sommelier and co-founder of Bermondsey Street Bees in London, UK; and the Australian microbiologist Dr Shona Blair from Imperial College London who has conducted detailed research into the antimicrobial activity and wound healing properties of honey."

Plastic tree guards, an environmental and woodland disaster?

From The Sunday Times, Jonathan Leake

"Britain’s attempts to rebuild its lost woodlands have resulted in plantations of plastic, with millions of “tree guards” shedding crumbling pieces of toxic polymers into soils and waterways. About 200m of the plastic tubes have been deployed by the Woodland Trust, Forestry England, the National Trust and private landowners over the past four decades. Many have been left to rot in the wild. The tubes, up to 6ft tall, are used to protect saplings from grazing animals, but scientists and conservationists are warning that the tree guards have become environmental disasters, spreading microplastic particles over hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness and contaminating rivers.
Many have been funded by the taxpayer..."

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Gibraltar 'could stay in Schengen Area after Brexit'

From Euronews - British territory Gibraltar 'could stay in Schengen Area after Brexit'

From MSN/The Independent: Gibraltar considers joining EU’s Schengen open borders area to ease damage from Brexit

The Old Homes; The old home towns

Nostalgic photos, nostalgic songs!

Rylestone Grove, Bristol

Castle Cary

West Bay (near Bridport)

Bristol, Castle Cary, West Bay...

Some sentimental country songs:

There's a call from Castle Cary
John Mackie

When the dew be on the daisies, when the dawn be in the sky,
When the birds do start their praises in vull-droated harmony,
There's a tuggen at the heart-strings, there's a stirren in the breast,
Then once more do vlow the mind-springs droo thik message vrom the west.


There's a call from Castle Cary, whispered by the western breeze,
There's a call vrom Castle Cary vrom the hedgerows an' the trees.
Vrom the grass-grounds, brooks, and uplands, vrom the dawn and close o' day
There's a call vrom Castle Cary- I must go wi'out delay.....


Finally, a rather maudlin, self-pitying song I wrote in East Africa,
 on hearing of a move of the family home from Somerset to Dorset:

Moving House

My mother’s moving house today-
My childhood home for twenty years;
And I’m so far, so far away.
I cannot hide these childish tears.

I’ll never see my room again,
Nor my favourite chestnut tree.
The move is made, I won’t complain,
I’ll throw away my front door key.

My father’s grave neglected now,
The old home town is home no more;
Were he alive, would he allow
Strangers to walk in the door?

It’s farewell to the wedding bells
Which sounded on a summer’s day;
There are certain things one never sells
One should not even give away.

My toboggan and my cricket bat,
Old photographs and things like that.
But I hope you’ll be happy, I want you to be,
And I’ll try to imagine your house by the sea.

Nairobi, January 1977.

Friday, 17 January 2020

The New Enclosure, by Brett Christophers

From FT

"The massive privatisation of public property is key to understanding Britain today".

Riddles of land ownership must be solved - The government should complete the Land Registry and overhaul antiquated council tax rates, Ed Conway, The Times, January 17, 2020

"Since 1979 the government has sold off half of all public land, mostly to private companies- a staggering revelation from The New Enclosure, by the economist Brett Christophers".

Splitting time between two countries and making it work

How people split time between two countries, BBC News

"For some people, dividing their life between two homes thousands of miles apart is normal... Here's how they make it work".

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Κίτσος Χαρισιάδης, Μοιρολόι. Percy Bysshe Shelley - Sweet Pipings, Sad Dirges

Κίτσος Χαρισιάδης - Μοιρολόι αρβανίτικο (1928)

"No song but sad dirges,
Like the wind through a ruined cell, 
Or the mournful surges 
That ring the dead seaman's knell".

P. B.Shelley, from 'When the lamp is shattered".

"All wept, as I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood,
                At the sorrow of my sweet pipings".

P.B. Shelley, from "Hymn of Pan".

Εἴπατε τῷ βασιλεῖ, χαμαὶ πέσε δαίδαλος αὐλά, οὐκέτι Φοῖβος ἔχει καλύβην, οὐ μάντιδα δάφνην, οὐ παγὰν λαλέουσαν, ἀπέσβετο καὶ λάλον ὕδωρ.

A favourite Greek epigram:

Εἴπατε τῷ βασιλεῖ, χαμαὶ πέσε δαίδαλος αὐλά,
οὐκέτι Φοῖβος ἔχει καλύβην, οὐ μάντιδα δάφνην,
οὐ παγὰν λαλέουσαν, ἀπέσβετο καὶ λάλον ὕδωρ.

See also:

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

NHS: Inclusive NHS


“We depend on people coming from the EU and abroad to help us out. We’d really like to say thank you to them all."

Consultant Anaesthetist Martin Clarke explains why our EU staff are such a valued part of @RBCH_NHS #InclusiveNHS

I extend my own sincere thanks to the impressive British and international (not just EU) staff of DCH.

A Voluntary Exile: J.B. Priestley on Writers as Voluntary Exiles (1927). On Writers Abroad

From Open House, A Book of Essays, by J.B. Priestley  (1927)

"It is not the going abroad, for a glance or two at an alien life, but the living abroad that works the mischief. The real exile, with a hunger in his heart, may write more beautifully than ever he did at home, seeing the life that he has lost as an old man sometimes sees his youth, something far away and glamorous yet wonderfully clear. Literature can be well served even by nostalgia, for passionate desire and dream are there…. The voluntary exile, unless he should be one of those very exceptional persons who find their own souls only in a foreign land, is in an absurd position. He is merely a tourist who is lingering on".

I have just received a copy of Open House. Priestley's essay, A Voluntary Exile, is brilliant, but provocative!

How many writers fit into the category of  'voluntary exiles'?

Do you share Priestley's misgivings about voluntary exiles?

"I mistrust this practice, now so general among literary people, of voluntary exile....Some of these exiles...we can very well spare, reserving our sympathy for the Parisian quarter or Italian village horribly destined to receive them...Is there any one more boring and futile than your cosmopolitan aesthete?"

Priestley's essay seems to anticipate the 1950's views of stay-at-home poets like Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin and their suspicions about "abroad" and about British writers choosing to live abroad (following the "Personal Landscape" writers who were based in Egypt during the war years):

"Nobody wants any more poems on the grander themes for a few years, but at the same time nobody wants any more poems about philosophers or paintings or novelists or art galleries or mythology or foreign cities or other poems. At least I hope nobody wants them" (Kingsley Amis, preface to his  contribution to Poets of the 1950s).

More on Kingsley Amis and 'abroad'.

Both W. H. Auden and Bernard Spencer died in Vienna. Robert Graves moved to Deià, Mallorca. in 1929. D.H.Lawrence and James Joyce settled in sunnier climes, to name a few other voluntary exiles.The list is long.

"Throughout his life, England was Larkin’s emotional territory to an eccentric degree. The poet distrusted travel abroad and professed ignorance of foreign literature, including most modern American poetry"- Poetry Foundation

"Throughout his adult life Larkin had what can reasonably be described as an irrational, deep-set fear of foreign places. Andrew Motion, in his biography Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life, documents Larkin’s dread at having to visit Germany to collect the Shakespeare Prize. It was holidays in Germany as a child of the ’thirties that had, according to the poet, ‘sowed the seed of my hatred of abroad’, a seed that germinated abundantly in Larkin’s adulthood. Whether this ‘hatred of abroad’ was more accurately a hatred of going abroad, or near scatter-gun xenophobia, is a matter of debate; certainly, however, one country received the brunt of Larkin’s opprobrium: the United States of America" - Ablemuse.com

Even Dylan Thomas expressed similar views, in a letter (c. December, 1938) to Lawrence Durrell, who'd invited him to visit Corfu in 1939:

"I think England is the very place for a fluent and fiery writer. The highest hymns of the sun are written in the dark. I like the grey country. A bucket of Greek sun would drown in one colour the crowds of colours I like trying to mix for myself out a grey flat insular mud. If I went to the sun I’d just sit in the sun; that would be very pleasant but I’m not doing it..."

From The Life of Dylan Thomas, Constantine Fitzgibbon, J. M. Dent and Sons, London, 1965

Full letter here


"Durrell seems to stand for a good many things which the Movement poets (and critics since) have been determined to disapprove. An inveterate denizen of 'abroad', and especially of the Mediterranean littoral, raffish, touched by surrealism, but unable to take it very seriously, technically rather loose and careless: it adds up to a formidable indictment. Durrell proceeded to add insult to injury by becoming a best-selling novelist" - Edward Lucie-Smith, British Poetry Since 1945 (quoted by Jonathan Bolton, Personal Landscapes, 1997).

Bolton discusses Lucie-Smith's criticism:

"The charge of 'abroadness', of not being one of us, is decidedly parochial...Needless to say, things do happen outside of Britain that cannot be witnessed from the window of a third-floor bedsit in the Provinces".

Title page from my copy of Personal Landscape, An Anthology of Exile, 1945:

Of related interest, Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad


Letter from Harriet Byron to Lucy Selby:

"Travelling! Young men travelling! I cannot, my dear, but think it a very nonsensical thing!...
To see a parcel of giddy boys under the direction of tutors or governors hunting after -What? - Nothing: or at best but ruins of ruins," from Richardson's Sir Charles Grandison.

Quoted by M. G. Lloyd Thomas, in Travellers' Verse, 1946 (a book I bought secondhand in 1965)

Lithograph by Edward Bawden


The Oxford Book of Exile, edited by John Simpson

Robert Crampton in The Times, 21 January, 2020 (on Prince Harry leaving for Canada):

"I always sympathise with anyone who has to live away from this country, for family or work reasons.

 (As for those who leave voluntarily, because they just prefer somewhere else, I can never entirely forgive what I regard as treachery, albeit in a mild form.)

...Leaving these shores will be a huge emotional wrench. Or it will become so after a year or two. Exiles are rarely happy after a while".



Dorset NHS shake-up plans to go ahead

From BBC News

"Plans to reorganise hospital services in Dorset at a cost of £147m have been approved by the health secretary. Under the CCG Clinical Services Review, Poole's A&E, maternity and paediatric services will be move to Bournemouth, which will become the area's main emergency hospital. Poole will be redeveloped to become a centre for planned treatment and operations, with 14 operating theatres".

Bournemouth Hospital@RBCH_NHS

Delighted to report that our plans with @DorsetCCG to develop both RBCH and @Poole_Hospital
have been given the go ahead by an independent panel. This will help unlock a significant investment across our hospitals for the benefit of patients. Details: https://rbch.nhs.uk/index.php?id=2833

Bournemouth Hospital@RBCH_NHS

“We depend on people coming from the EU and abroad to help us out. We’d really like to say thank you to them all."  Consultant Anaesthetist Martin Clarke explains why our EU staff are such a valued part of @RBCH_NHS #InclusiveNHS

Bournemouth Hospital@RBCH_NHS

One in eight of our staff come from the EU. When you come to hospital you are likely to be treated by an EU staff member. That’s why we’re saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to them for helping us care for you. We'll be posting more videos celebrating them soon. #InclusiveNHS

A Portrait of Dionysios Solomos, Professor Nina Gatzoulis and others; Dionysios Solomos

A Portrait of Dionysios Solomos and Two of His Poems

On his poem The Shark  (Reconfiguring Romanticism, Dionysios Solomos Poem and Commentary, with Jeffrey C. Robinson)

"Xanthoula" by Mantzaros - Solomos (Kayaloglou and Grigoreas - live tv) [Ξανθούλα]

Traditional Kantada version of Xanthoula from Zakynthos

Markopoulos/Solomos: 'The Free Besieged' (Ελεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι)


Ludovico Strani, Λουδοβίκος Στράνης - Strani and Solomos, Close Friends or Brothers?

Rime Improvvisate, Solomos' improvised poems in Italian


Partial translation by Rudyard Kipling

The Greek National Anthem


WE knew thee of old,
Oh divinely restored,
By the light of thine eyes
And the light of thy Sword.

From the graves of our slain
Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again—
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

Long time didst thou dwell
Mid the peoples that mourn,
Awaiting some voice
That should bid thee return.

Ah, slow broke that day
And no man dared call,
For the shadow of tyranny
Lay over all:

And we saw thee sad-eyed,
The tears on thy cheeks
While thy raiment was dyed
In the blood of the Greeks.

Yet, behold now thy sons
With impetuous breath
Go forth to the fight
Seeking Freedom or Death.

From the graves of our slain
Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

Monday, 13 January 2020

The Memory of Nations; Paměť národa. Post Bellum; Czechoslovakia; Czech Republic; Projects and Archives

POST BELLUM o. p. s.
kancelář: Palác Lucerna, Vodičkova 704/36
sídlo a fakturační adresa: Palác Lucerna, Štěpánská 704/61
PSČ: 110 00, Praha 1

The Eighties 1980–1989


Tajné služby (Secret Services, StB/Secret Police)


Magazine (in Czech)

Post Bellum is a non-governmental nonprofit organization which documents the memories of witnesses of the important historical phenomenon of the 20th century and tries to pass these stories on to the broader public. It was founded in 2001.

About us

The organization was founded by a group of Czech journalists and historians, who met at press conferences and anniversary commemorations of various events and who were convinced that witnesses must receive the opportunity to tell their whole story.


The Memory of Nations is largest publicly accessible database of witness stories in Europe, which we continue to expand and manage in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and Czech Radio

Each year we organize the Memory of Nations Awards ceremony, where we present our award to people who showed in their lives that honour, freedom, and human dignity are not empty words. In seven years, a total of 34 witnesses have received this recognition from the hands of eminent personalities of Czech and Slovak society.

International cooperation

The Memory of Nations provides a common place for storing and publishing recordings of witness interviews. Each year, we publish scores of interviews with witnesses from abroad as well. A large contributor to this success is our Slovak sister organization, Post Bellum SK.

We document the memories of the witnesses who survived the tragic events of the 20th century. We aim to share their stories with the public through educating the next generation. We also train teachers, organize exhibitions and public events, publish books and produce movies.

The Memory of Nations Friends’ Club

The Memory of Nations Friends’ Club associates people who care about our past and who support its preservation with regular financial contributions. 


Contact us!  ČTĚTE DÁLE


From Radio Prague International, June, 2018

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Follow Me on Twitter @DorsetWriter

Since I was given an iPad at Christmas, I've taken to Twitter, which is keeping me awake at night: it's so easy to discover interesting items on YouTube and other sites, without having to get up and go to my PC on the desk.

I've been posting songs and music from all over the world.

Follow Me on Twitter @DorsetWriter

Weymouth, 1970s, Site of Cafe Oasis, Overcombe Bay

A photograph from the Cafe Oasis Facebook page.

Corfu: Edward Lear and Philip Sherrard. The New Barbarism

With great reluctance, I am going to quote once again from Philip Sherrard's Appendix Two (page 237) from his magnificent book, Edward Lear: The Corfu Years - A Chronicle Presented through his Letters and Journals (Denise Harvey, 1988).

I quoted the passage in my own book, The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History. There were very few negative comments in the book, but this is one passage that I couldn't avoid, alongside an article by Gerald Durrell published in the same period.

For the Sherrard quotation

A reader recently contacted me, wanting to discuss Sherrard's harsh comments, asking if things were really that bad in the late 1980's. Your views?

Here's the quotation. Philip Sherrard is expressing his own strong views about Corfu and 'The New Barbarism':

“Every stretch of it accessible by road or track has been so butchered and bartered, drawn and quartered, and so immersed and desolated beneath the ferro-concrete hideosity of hotel and boarding-house, discotheque, bar, cafeteria and chop-house ... and the other gimcrackery and detritus (plastic and mineral) of mass tourism, that one searches in vain, across the wreckage of this dishallowed world, for the virginal loveliness that confronted Lear at virtually every footstep. His beloved Palaiokastritsa, for example, is a total disaster, but it is absolutely no exception.”

Three images of Palaiokastritsa by Edward Lear: