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COLENSO BOOKS: A selection of titles

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Friday, 28 February 2020

Australia: farewell to the Holden (BBC World Service)

I meant to post this last week

It's the end of the road for the historic car, as General Motors says it will no longer be made. Our correspondent in Sydney, Phil Mercer, takes a nostalgic look at this much loved brand (BBC Sounds).

Greece: EU migration policies drive health crisis on Greek islands

From The Lancet

"Despite evidence of the adverse health consequences of migration regimes that force people seeking safety to endure these environments, at the end of 2019, there were more than 42000 asylum seekers residing in the Greek Islands, even though those hotspot facilities have a maximum capacity of 6178.5 After arriving in Greece, asylum seekers are subject to geographical restriction, which prevents them from leaving the island unless they receive a positive decision or are deemed “vulnerable”. More than a third of asylum seekers are children, and there are over 1000 unaccompanied minors on Lesvos alone. People are forced to live in tents and under plastic sheeting even in the winter, with insufficient access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, exposing them to respiratory, skin, and gastrointestinal infections as well as environmental risks from hypothermia and fires".

Let us hope that none of these vulnerable people contracts coronavirus.
 There would be even more unimaginable consequences.

Better design and the housing crisis; Poundbury; Ruskin

From City Metric, Hugo Owen

"Are places such as Poundbury beautiful? Can a copy of something really be beautiful?

Ruskin’s interpretation of Poundbury would have been a fascinating one. Appreciation for the gothic elements, dotted around the site, would have quickly been replaced by bewilderment at what lay behind the facade. A pastiche copy of something could certainly not be a thing of beauty in Ruskin’s eyes. In the world of art, it is an easy debate to be had. The experience of an individual when exposed to a copy of say the Mona Lisa differs exponentially in comparison to exposure to the real thing. Scruton’s argument, however, would be one based on the fact that if we are unable to offer anything new in its place, then the best option we have is to copy a tried and tested model.

Maybe Ruskin’s stance on Poundbury would have loosened a little on the realisation of just how far aesthetics in architecture had slipped since his Victorian heyday. Who knows. But one thing that we can be sure of is his appreciation of the idea that elevation of the individual can be achieved through aesthetics. There are certainly examples of that at Poundbury. By creating a sense of place through good traditional design forms, individuals are able to find meaning and pride both within their own lives and the community around them. The flourishing local businesses within Poundbury, which contribute over £98m to the local economy, are a strong example of this".


Thursday, 27 February 2020

Persliflage - a puzzling word! Orwell, Lawrence and Byron

Persiflage has never been a word in my vocabulary. I only started to think about its meaning when I read this passage (about O'Brien) in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four:

"However much in earnest he might be, he had nothing of the single-mindedness that belongs to a fanatic. When he spoke of murder, suicide, venereal disease, amputated limbs, and altered faces, it was with a faint air of persiflage. 'This is unavoidable,' his voice seemed to say; 'this is what we have got to do, unflinchingly. But this is not what we shall be doing when life is worth living again".

I explored its usage a little further, and found that others had commented on it and quoted examples, such as this extract from D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love:

Some critics and commentators have called it a 'grandiloquent', 'twee' or 'over-literary word', and defined it in various ways, although the consensus seems to suggest it means flippant small talk, mocking banter (or writing).

I'm surprised that I hadn't thought about it before, as it's often used with reference to the satirical poems and some of the letters of Lord Byron. 

Some screen shots from the internet:

Is it a particularly English kind of supercilious mocking, frivolous banter (although the word has a French derivation)?

It doesn't seem to go down well with people from other countries, especially with those who don't appreciate being gently baited or 'put down', even in jest or in an apparently friendly manner. 

The speaker, when challenged, may claim "I didn't mean it, it was only a joke". 

I've learnt from experience that if I'm ever tempted to mock, tease or make fun of someone at his or her expense (kοροϊδεύω is the Greek word), Ι shall quickly be put in my place and told, Θα φας ξύλο!

But who can resist some good, well-intentioned English satire?

See also, Loraine Saunders on Orwell's Burmese Days

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Comic Method in Byron’s Epic, Peter Gallagher, The Byron Society

On Byron's Don Juan, Peter Gallagher

The playwright Simon Stephens meets Simon Armitage. the Poet Laureate.

The playwright Simon Stephens meets Simon Armitage. the Poet Laureate, BBC Sounds.

A relaxed, friendly conversation!

"Simon Stephens has created more than 30 works for the theatre. They include original dramas, such as Punk Rock, set in the library of a Stockport school, new versions of plays by Chekhov and Ibsen, and the highly successful stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won the Olivier Award for the best new play, and the Tony Award for the best play on Broadway. Simon Armitage is the current national Poet Laureate, a role he began in May 2019. He published his first full-length collection of poems, Zoom!, in 1989. Since then has published more than a dozen volumes of poetry, along with fiction, an acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, works for theatre, film, television and radio, and a book about of his love of pop music, and his band The Scaremongers".

The Classical Voice in Byron, Seferis, and Capetanakis, Eleanora Colli; The Byron Society

From The Byron Society website, by Eleanora Colli:

Unity and Fragmentation of the Speaking Past, Representations of the Classical Voice in Byron, Seferis, and Capetanakis

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Barrie Sims on Recycling in Arillas, Corfu

Bravo, Barrie! Corfu TV News, Barrie's talk in Greek

"Επέλεξα να ζήσω στην Κέρκυρα γιατί αγαπώ το νησί και την προσέγγιση του τρόπου ζωής που προσφέρει. Αγαπώ και σέβομαι τους κατοίκους. Θεωρώ τον εαυτό μου κομμάτι της Κερκυραϊκής κοινωνίας. Το νησί προσφέρει απαράμιλλη ομορφιά, καθαρό αέρα, εξαιρετικό φαγητό- όντας απλώς η Κέρκυρα. Και επιθυμία μου είναι να περάσω εδώ όσο περισσότερα μπορώ από τα χρόνια που μου μένουν. Εσείς οι μόνιμοι κάτοικοι είστε πραγματικά τυχεροί που έχετε ζήσει εδώ μεγάλο μέρος της ζωής σας, αν όχι όλη. Η Κέρκυρα είναι ένα όμορφο νησί και ο Αρίλλας είναι ένα από τα φυσικά της στολίδια. Θα μπορούσα να επιστρέψω στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο πολύ σύντομα και απλώς να ξεχάσω τα προβλήματα του Αρίλλα με τα απορρίμματα το ίδιο γρήγορα που ο Αρίλλας πιθανότατα θα ξεχάσει εμένα. Όμως δεν είναι αυτό που θέλω".

Read what else Barrie has to say...

Kalami, Corfu, The White House, Lawrence Durrell

Maria Strani-Potts at Kalami

Maria (rt) with Lawrence Durrell's daughter, Penelope

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Greek Archipelagoes, The Ionian Islands

Corfu, Zante, Cephalonia, the Ionian Islands...

Extract from a poem, Greek Archipelagoes, by Patrick Leigh-Fermor, published in The Penguin New Writing, 37, 1949


Friday, 21 February 2020

Another landslide on Dorset coast, towards West Bay

From Dorset Echo

"A huge pile of rocks has come crashing down on Chesil Beach beneath the huge cliffs just west of Freshwater Holiday Park towards West Bay. It is understood to be the third rockfall in this area in the past two months – and demonstrates just how fragile the coastline is".

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Passage to Paxos, Anna Weale.

See my essay on some insiders and outsiders who have written about Greece:

An excerpt, about Anna Weale and Passage to Paxos, Mills and Boon, 1981.

I have only ever read one Mills and Boon romance, Passage to Paxos, by Anne Weale (1981). I thought it was well written, given the constraints of the publisher’s frame of reference and formulaic advice, as set out online in the Mills and Boon author-guidance page, ‘How to write True Love, All About Mills and Boon True Love’

'Glamorous, international settings are encouraged and work well to add the aspirational element to our romances’…’Low-sensuality: These stories are high on emotional and sensual tension, but have no explicit sexual detail’. The romance series is ‘all about the heroine, she is the key.

Passage to Paxos is also about “the gaze” of the writer and the characters. Anne Weale provides a good example at the beginning of her story. Anna is the Greek apartment-cleaner, Valissa the heroine, on holiday on Paxos on her own: consider the gaze of the tourist, the reverse/ reciprocal gaze of the local Greek:

“Language was not the only barrier between them. Their backgrounds were as different as if they belonged to different planets. For Valissa, a lifetime spent on a tiny Greek island, however idyllic, was unthinkable. For Anna a life without a husband and children would be equally unthinkable. She would never be able to understand that, in the wide world beyond Paxos, women now had a number of choices as to which way they wanted to live and Valissa had chosen to have a career which left her neither the time nor energy for anything or anyone else.”


Kapka Kassabova, To the Lake; Lake Ohrid; BBC Radio 4

Episode 2, BBC Sounds

"In search of some kind of understanding of the fragmented identities of her maternal family and the overlapping histories that she inherited, Kapka Kassabova returns to the ancient lake town of Ohrid.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was on the verge of civil meltdown and the author had no idea what she would find in her grandmother’s town".

28 days left to listen

Written by Kapka Kassabova
Read by Clare Corbett
Abridged by Jill Waters and Isobel Creed
Produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

William Haygarth, Greece, A Poem in Three Parts, 1814. The Pindus Mountains and the Sublime

Partly written in 1811

Summit of Mount Pindus

With what impatience do I spring to thee,  
Eternal Nature; how I love to steal 
From the rude jar and clamour of the world 
To thy retirement, where I may compose 
My ruffled brow, and lay my limbs secure, 
And listen to the blast which howls afar. 
O let me seek thy haunts upon the brow
Of Pindus, where thou dwell'st midst solitudes
Of stern sublimity: with slow, slow step.
Painfully press'd upon th' unyielding rock,
I scale its rugged steeps....there the pine
Stretches his giant limbs, scorch'd by the fires
Of Heav'n, and stands to guard yon narrow pass,
An aged warrior, cover'd o'er with wounds,

More illustrations:

The Over-Familiar Lord Byron: Familiar Dialogues and Affectionate Expressions - Byron's Greek-English Phrase List

From the appendix to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto II (my 1819 edition of The Works of Lord Byron, Volume I).

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

                                                             ISBN 978-1-912788-02-6

ISBN 978-1-912788-06-4 

Available direct from the publisher:


or from

Judy Watson at IKON Gallery, 4 March — 31 May 2020

"Ikon presents the most comprehensive UK exhibition to date by Australian Aboriginal artist Judy Watson, as part of an international tour developed in partnership with TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Australia.

Born in Mundubbera, Queensland, Watson derives inspiration from her matrilineal Waanyi heritage, often conveyed through collective memory, using it as a foil for the archival research that informs much of her practice. The latter spells out an unceasing and institutional discrimination against Aboriginal people, described by curatorial advisor Hetti Perkins as “Australia’s ‘secret war’”.


Symposium: Culture and Country in Aboriginal Australia

Organised in partnership with Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

A day symposium responding to Ikon’s exhibitions by Australian artists Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce. Both place emphasis on environmental issues, Indigenous cultural traditions and Britain’s colonial legacy. Speakers include the artists, Aboriginal writer and curator Hetti Perkins and Gaye Sculthorpe, Curator and Head of Oceania, The British Museum.


Friday 06 March

Council Room
Strand Campus
King's College London
London, WC2R 2LS

09:30: Doors Open

13:30: Afternoon Session

16:00  End

I'll try to go. I have two very powerful signed and numbered lithographs by Judy Watson, as below: 

SWIMMING IN BLOOD, 1997, colour lithograph, 29.0 x 67.5 cm,
signed, dated, numbered and inscribed with title below image


our skin in your collections

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Icarus Schmicarus - What made you think you could fly?

A song from the show US by Adrian Mitchell, with the author's notes.

From Out Loud, first annotated edition, 1976

Above: one of my favourite song-lyrics  - a poem by Adrian Mitchell 
which I used to sing in a rhythm 'n' blues style.

From Byron  Is One Of The Dancers:

More from Adrian Mitchell

Another posting


From a letter from Adrian Mitchell to me (circa 1968)

Byron's European Impact, Peter Cochran. Also - Solomos and Byron.

From Cambridge Scholars Publishing (30 page extract/sample)



Date of Publication: 01/05/2015

(Currently available on for £18.90)

See also: