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Waging peaceΗ κοινοτοπία του καλόυ ~ goodness, too, goes to and fro in the earth.

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  • 07/26/14--06:03: Far to go
  • Hannah Rowan Hollier born at 00.14 the morning of Thursday 24th February (photo: Richard Baddeley)

    After the excitement on Thursday I went to London for the afternoon - Birmingham Snow Hill to Marylebone ... dawdling for my 10.14 train to London, I decided to photo myself alongside the statue between the platforms. A professor of dentistry with a classy camera asked to take a picture of me taking a selfie. He emailed it to me and but edited it with eyes askance in B & W on his Flickr stream.
    With John McKenna's Commuter at Snow Hill Station (photo: Damien Walmsley).
    From Marylebone I cycled north towards Hornsey to see Francis Niemczyk. I wanted a touch-look-talk at his place - to view the kit he's using to synchronise the ageing 16mm film and 1/4" reel-to-reel tape from my stepfather's archive of Out of Town programmes. Round Regents Park it was still sunny but humid. The forecast rain clouds were gathering. Kentish Town Road, Fortress Road, Junction Road to Archway, and urban heat brought the overcast to breaking point. There was lightning and thunder and on Hornsey Rise - a downpour; rivulets riding down the gutters; vehicles fecklessly throwing up sheets of drenching spray I dodged by walking the pavements until I could shelter below a petrol station canopy; dispense myself a milky coffee and choc cookie, before free-wheeling down Crouch End Hill, through the Broadway and along Park Road to Francis' side street. He's on night shift these days, sleeping from about 8.00am to 4.00pm. I followed him through the house to his garden shed so's I could see the kit he's using on the film and tape [links to the back story - the material and my journey to collect it from the West Country in April 2010)

    The process of restoring the material I inherited from my stepfather is taking time. It's nearly a year since the first synchronisation (actually the second, as the restored episode that gave me the original idea of what might be done, was completed in May 2010 by Roger Charlesworth at SWFTA). Although we now have a list of the tapes that go with the films and Lin and I, in June 2013, duct taped a dozen pairs of tapes and film, based on the numbers pasted on them at SWFTA, and had five of these pairs taken to London for Francis to work on, only one pair has yet been synchronised. This sample, just over for four minutes, has been done perfectly, and gives an idea of what's involved.


    The restoration process is nothing if not tricky, painstaking; even tedious.
    "The atmos sound's not a problem but the spot sounds - like a hammer blow or a gate shutting - are"said Francis. He's lots of other film work, hitches with his machines, and he needs to work nights ... We discussed the possibility that after he's synchronised the next two pairs of sound tapes and film over the next fortnight, he focus on digitising sound tape and film and leaves the synchronisation for the moment. Then I suggested we see if it's possible to enlist additional helpers - people who might not have the technology or the skills to transfer the delicate 16mm film and the reel-to-reel sound tapes to DVDs, but do have the craft and perseverance required to work on synchronising the digitised sound to the digitised image on the archive material if provided with pairs of DVDs for each episode. One volunteer has described this in an email to Francis:
    Hello Francis. My name is ***. I live in Maryland and became acquainted with Simon Baddeley and his efforts to rescue heretofore neglected and forgotten Out of Town material through his group on Facebook
    One of the obvious problems Simon faces is the enormous amount of time and potential expense of stitching back together Stan Bréhaut’s MOS material with Jack’s extant recorded narratives. While Simon has made us aware of some of the technical challenges (e.g. sometimes having to time compress or dilate the narrative to match the flow of the picture), much of the effort appears to be the grunt work of cleaning up noise and persistently fiddling with the timing to get a good match.
    Several of us in the circle of Jack’s fans have the digital tools and experience to be able to help with this on a volunteer basis, once the original digitalizations  are made. I suggested to Simon that he might farm out some of this raw material to us to accomplish some of the tedium. The would be little risk in trying this as all that would be passed to us are working copies of the original rips – and they can easily be passed to and worked on anywhere in the world. 
    For myself, I was involved with website production for about 15 years which did involve a fair bit of video and sound editing & have use of a fairly powerful machine and the complete Adobe CS6 suite of software. For sound I move back & forth between Sony & Adobe, depending on the tools needed.
    You are the one in the position to digitalize the precious originals and to judge which pieces require your technical expertise and which can be passed on to patient and reasonably capable enthusiasts. 
    I am suggesting the following process for yours and Simon’s comment and discussion:
    1. Proceed with mass digitalization of material before getting involved with the editing of individual pieces.
    2. Do whatever tape to picture pairing can be done or identify a range of possibilities.
    3. Provide reasonably detailed technical specifications for the finished product,
    4. Send out pairs of rips to potential volunteers & let us do an “apprentice pieces” to see if further cooperation with this or that volunteer has potential.
    Perhaps this will free you up to do the most challenging work and let the project progress in a more timely and economical way.
    Thanks for your attention & I look forward to your reply. If you think it a go, we can arrange a telephone chat. Cheers, ***
    From Hornsey I cycled south - knowing I can never get lost in London - ending up on the Holloway Road, then Camden Road where the rain returned more persistently and I had to shelter in a bus stop where I continued reading my Harris on Dreyfus, pondering the character of George Piquard, the author's interesting narrator,  as successive buses loaded and unloaded wet passengers until a let up...

    ...in the rain allowed me to continue into Friday evening Camden Town where the one way system fooled me into nearly cycling north again towards Chalk Farm and no-one I asked knew the way south
    Passing through Camden Town on Friday evening
    I had a sweet supper with family just off the Edgware Road and later cycled fast - the conversation difficult to break off - to Euston to catch a fast train back to New Street.
    *** ***
    I had a bizarre exchange about a hair-split on the difference between a primary and a secondary source. A didact let fly on a letter copied me by Richard Pine that he''d received from Seamus Heaney. The dialogue on a Wiki Talk page, its owner insisting the letter be removed at once. I disagreed - suggesting the letter was in the public domain permitted by the Heaney estate, quoted by Pine's publisher. This editor replied:

    You asked for my suggestions; I replied. If you don't want the facts don't ask for them. Obviously, you are way out of your depth. I find it sad that someone whom claims to have degrees resorts to a website to publish their thoughts. If you can't contribute according to our norms, take your ball and go home. Chris Troutman (talk) 23:44, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
    Chris, Such an intemperate and, frankly rude response is unacceptable. You owe Simon an apology. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to AndyAndy's edits 13:38, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
    Chris, you have a reputation for speaking bluntly, but I have not seen you behave rudely before. I ask you to consider your words to Simon and make proper overtures to him regarding them and your behaviour in this thread. Even when we have a strongly held opinion we may not express it rudely. Fiddle Faddle 13:56, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
    @Pigsonthewing: @Timtrent: So you two have been called upon because my "rather didactic advice" offends someone? Here's some more didactic advice for everyone: WP:PRIMARY and WP:SPS describe this letter as a primary source of questionable verifiability. Without provenance, I think the letter is problematic at best. My degree is in history. The study of history teaches us that a letter written contemporaneously to the subject period is a primary source. Primary sources are not to be used in tertiary sources because they require secondary source analysis, which is meant for qualified individuals, not hobbyists.
    On wiki all editors are hobbyists; no one here is an expert even if they really are. Wikipedia is not set up with "verified" accounts; therefore, editors cannot argue from a position of authority. I don't take the word of anyone online, anyway. On Wikipedia we argue the facts independent of users.
    Sibadd came to my talk page and asked for my advice. I provided it. That user chose to then argue with me about same and complain when my response was brusque. I didn't nominate anything for deletion or threaten to interfere. I didn't even raise an issue on the article's talk page. I registered an opinion and I wasn't degrading, demeaning, or hostile when doing so (in my opinion). And yes, Timtrent, I will be just as vehement in person; I find such intimation otherwise to be insulting. Sibadd's argument about the letter holds no water with me and I don't understand why a user that's been registered since 2006 doesn't understand these policies, guidelines, and essays or my reaction to their argument. While I have been trying to attract academics to Wikipedia as a Campus Ambassador, I reinforce the clear understanding that Wikipedia is functionally different. I don't care if you hold the Lucasian chair, you're just another editor cobbling together secondary sources on wiki. I do find it sad when academics mistake Wikipedia as an alternative. Adrianne Wadewitz never did that; she contributed encyclopedic knowledge and adhered to our rules, as we all should.
    I am disappointed that for the amount of time I take considering how to respond, toning-down my initial response, and assuming good faith that I'm still perceived as some kind of reckless bomb-thrower. So, if my response doesn't meet your needs, take it to a noticeboard. I'd be content with an IBAN from all interested parties.Chris Troutman (talk) 02:22, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
    I had not expected a rationale for rudeness to be attempted. I have no issue with your opinion being held strongly, nor with that opinion being expressed assertively. I have an issue with your rudeness to the editor. You can be as blunt as you wish up to but not passing the point of rudeness. I don't care one fig for anyone's degrees. I don't care whether the letter is out or in. I don't care about the article, though I care about articles. I do care about the way people behave towards others. I very much doubt I will say more on the matter in a timely manner, I am travelling today and tomorrow. After that the matter will have cooled and not be helped by being re-raised, so I think any further response form me will be unwarranted. I simply express my surprise and distaste for your behaviour, and for your reinforcing it. It is not your message I quarrel with; it is one you are entitled to deliver. It is your mode of delivery. Fiddle Faddle 05:05, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
    Good to find out about Adrianne Wadewitz, and I'm glad other Wikipedia editors responded, reminding me of Jimmy Wales' and Andrea Wekerle's 2009 article on 'keeping a civil cybertongue...
    ...we need to create an online culture in which every person can participate in an open and rational exchange of ideas and information without fear of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment or lies. 

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  • 07/29/14--08:14: Festival in Ano Korakiana
  • Το πανηγύρι...
    ag_parask2014b.jpg

    "Όσοι βρεθήκαμε το απόγευμα της Πέμπτης (24-7) στην Αγία Παρασκευή, πρέπει να αισθανθήκαμε λίγο καλύτεροι. Λίγο πιο ανεβασμένοι.Από τη μια μεριά οι ενεργές δυνάμεις του χωριού με επικεφαλής το ΔΣ της Φιλαρμονικής μας και ο παπα-Κώστας με τους Επιτρόπους της Εκκλησίας να δουλεύουν για να είναι το πανηγύρι της Παρασκευής 25-7 όσο το δυνατό καλύτερο. Από την άλλη, Κορακιανίτες αλλά και πολιτογραφημένοι Κορακιανίτες (λόγω γάμων) να επισκέπτονται και να περιποιούνται τα μνήματα των αγαπημένων τους, που δεν είναι πλέον μαζί μας. Η ζωή σε μια ολοκληρωμένη στιγμή της. Οι ζωντανοί με τους κοιμηθέντες, αλλ’ όχι μηδενισμένους, όπως βεβαιώνει η Εκκλησία μας.
    «Ουκ έστι θάνατος τοις δούλοις σου Κύριε, εκδημούντων ημών από του σώματος και προς σε τον Θεόν ενδημούντων, αλλά μετάστασις από των λυπηροτέρων επί τα χρηστότερα και θυμηθέστερα και ανάπαυσις και χαρά».Έχουμε το προνόμιο να ζούμε σε ένα από τα ομορφότερα χωριά της Κέρκυρας. Και έχουμε ακόμη ένα προνόμιο μικρότερο μεν, αλλά εξίσου σημαντικό: να συναντιόμαστε μια φορά το χρόνο, στο πανηγύρι της Αγίας Παρασκευής, μόνιμοι κάτοικοι του χωριού, ξενιτεμένοι και όσοι πέρασαν στην απέναντι όχθη και αναπαύονται στο κοιμητήριο της Αγίας. Και να γιορτάζουμε. Όλοι μαζί.
    "We are privileged to live in one of the prettiest villages in Corfu . And we still have a duty smaller but equally important: to meet once a year, during the festival of Agia Paraskevi, permanent residents, expatriates and those who have passed to the other side and rest in the cemetery of of the Saints.. And to celebrate. All together.
    Να θυμόμαστε και να γιορτάζουμε.Μην αφήσουμε να παρακμάσει αυτό το γεγονός, που πιθανόν να είναι μοναδικό στο Νησί μας. Πέρα όμως από τη φροντίδα να συνεχίσουμε αυτή τη σύναξη, δεν πρέπει να μας ξεφεύγει και το ασθενές σημείο της Κορακιανίτικής Κοινωνίας. Τις προβληματικές πολλές φορές σχέσεις μας. Τις τριβές και τις ρήξεις που δημιουργούνται ανάμεσά μας. Στους απλούς κατοίκους, αλλά πολλές φορές και ανάμεσα στους φορείς του χωριού.Στο χωριό έχουμε πετύχει πολλά και η Κορακιάνα κατέχει υψηλή θέση στην Κοινή Γνώμη της Κέρκυρας. Αν δεν είχαμε και το πρόβλημα σχέσεων, θα μπορούσαμε να πετυχαίναμε πολλά περισσότερα.Δεν είμαστε υποχρεωμένοι να αρέσουμε σε όλους. Ούτε είναι απαραίτητο να μας αποδέχονται όλοι. Όμως, χάριν του κοινού καλού και της προόδου της Κορακιάνας (που εμείς θα εισπράξουμε εν τέλει) έχουμε χρέος να κάνουμε πάντα ένα minimum υπέρβασης. Θα είναι μια ανάπαυση και χαρά για όλους μας. Ντόπιους, επισκέπτες, εξ αγχιστείας συγχωριανούς που βρίσκονται συχνά στο χωριό. Θα γίνονται οι μέρες της διαμονής μας στην Κορακιάνα (μόνιμη ή για διακοπές) ανεπανάληπτης ευχαρίστησης και ανεφοδιασμού των ψυχικών μας αντιστάσεων. Ιδίως σε μέρες θλίψεως, όπως αυτές που ζούμε.Όλα αυτά αφορούν περισσότερο τους απαισιόδοξους που νοιώθουν (και δίκαια) απομονωμένοι και αποξενωμένοι.Τέρμα στη θλίψη. Βρισκόμαστε σε φάση αλλαγής σελίδας (πιστεύω) στην ζωή του χωριού, μετά τις πρόσφατες αυτοδιοικητικές εκλογές.Οι νέοι «άρχοντες» θέλουν. Έχουν όμως ανάγκη την βοήθεια ΟΛΩΝ μας. Μη την αρνηθούμε."  ΣΠΥΡΟΣ Π. ΣΑΒΒΑΝΗΣ

    ag_paraskevi2014h.jpg
    Υ.Γ. (του korakiana.gr). Πετυχημένο ήταν και το φετινό πανηγύρι που διοργάνωσε η Φιλαρμονική στο χώρο της Αγίας Παρασκευής. Πολύς ο κόσμος, ωραία η νυχτερινή ατμόσφαιρα, νόστιμα τα ψητά εδέσματα. Μιας πρώτης τάξεως ευκαιρία συνάντησης αλλήλων….Μοναδική παράλειψη, μια καμμένη λάμπα στο μονοπάτι, που οδήγησε τον Πρόεδρο του Συνεταιρισμού…στο σφάλο (έπεσε στη σφαλιά) !!
    ag_parask2014d.jpg ag_parask2014e.jpg
     ag_parask2014f.jpg  ag_paraskevi2014a.jpg
     ag_parask2014i.jpg  ag_parask2014j.jpg
    *** *** *** ***
    "Everyone knows Brassicas bolt in Handsworth"
    "I didn't"
    "More fool you"
    Typical. I was sharing with Linda my apprehensions on my latest planting, after reading in a book about vegetable gardening where someone's talking about compressing the soil to ensure their just-planted cabbages won't bolt. This! After the care I've taken preparing a bed like eiderdown - triple dug, carefully couch-weeded, mingled with topsoil and well damped compost  - for Brussels sprouts, cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. At first I was delighted to see the seedling plugs growing. Then in the last week I begin to worry if they're bunching or bolting. Another lesson, after already losing an earlier crop to bolting.
    "If you've got rabbits they'll like the leaves" said one fellow gardener.

    At least the hooped netting has kept the pigeons at bay. So. Next time I plant brassicas they'll go in harder ground. perhaps the same since it's been so well dug, but walked over. My rhubarb's coming along. My marrow is pregnant; at least four fruits growing lustily.
    So how do I protect them to maturity from the invasion of slugs and other ground creeping denizens? The runner beans are quickly twisting their chaotic way up the bamboos I've raised.


    My six rows of potatoes are coming along well. Four rows of Jerusalem artichokes are above my head.
    *** *** ***
    At home Lin and I have been trimming back shrubbery, loading green sacks ready for this week's green waste collection for which we're one of the 10% who've paid what's being widely called a 'garden tax'. Still in his pyjamas the other morning Oliver helped load sacks with tendrils from our ever spreading Wisteria.

    Yesterday Paul, one of HHH's more recent volunteers, and I cleared the back garden Lin and I'd inspected yesterday. Using sacks in bins, bins alone and builder's bags plus wheelbarrow we worked our way through the place in four hours, carting rubble, dead wood, a settee and sofa, assorted metal, a bedstead, green waste and over 200 old carpet tiles - some of which I'll keep for the allotment - up a narrow alley between houses to the van parked in Stamford Road.


    We've also used Google satellite to locate the premises from which the flytipping into this garden has been coming. We'll explore that later and Linda will phone the housing agency who are landlords of the adjacent mess of a garden to see if she can persuade then to tidy it. Much of the rubbish web cleared has leaked or been chucked from the gardens on either side of it. Paul and I took a ton and half of rubbish to Holford Drive where, on our way to the dry bay, we were entertained by Bob Bennett who's occasionally to be met playing his trumpet ...
    "Do you have a CD?"
    "Yes. And I add backing tracks. If you want one I'll leave it at the office next time you're here"
    "How do I pay you?"
    "No! no. Music's free"
    I dropped Paul at his house and drove home for a shower and a change before we all went out for a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at the Parson & Clerkin Streetly. Guy and Amy, and Oliver, and the new babe are staying with us. Elizabeth and Matt and Sophia came too - an evening out courtesy of my son-in-law.
    "A pint of best, please Guy"
    "Pedigree?"
    That cool pint on this warm evening. So well deserved. Hannah Rowan slept through our meal in a hand cot at the end of our table.

    Oliver and his new sister, Hannah
    Sister and brother

    *** *** ***
    An email from Francis Niemczyk to Dean Hoffman, copied to me:
    Dear Simon / Dean. Thank you for the messages from you both a couple of days' ago: please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you, but have just finished a stint of night shifts and have only just had the chance to catch you on my e-mails.
    Am very happy to collaborate in the way you outline Dean. However, I do not currently have a pc capable of sending the data files for the sound and video transfers. However, perhaps Simon has the facilities to downland from the digibeta tape (i.e. Digital Betacam) transfers that I am currently in the process of making - and sending to Simon - of the 16mm film material and audio recordings of the commentary by Jack (could supply other formats than digibeta tape for Simon to send to Dean - e.g., DV / DVCAM tape or DVD transfers if that's easier for Simon to send). In any case, it's not a bad idea to have 'archive' tape copies of the raw sound and picture material anyway as a 'safety copy' of the original material, digibeta probably being the best format for this, being of full broadcast quality. One other point to mention is that the transfers I am making are of the British PAL 625-line / 50 Hz video standard, as opposed to the American NTSC 525-line / 60 Hz (or 59.94 Hz, to be pedantic) video standard. Possibly this may not be an issue for you Dean as you would be effectively working with data files? Best wishes, Francis 
    Dear Francis and Dean. Can you arrive at an optimal way to proceed? I rather imagined myself collecting a pair of DVDs from you Francis, representing the digitised film and sound tape from one episode, and then being able to send that pair by land-mail to Dean in US or others in the UK.  Is it more complicated? Of course (:)) Best wishes, Simon
    I can certainly make DVDs (or extra DVDs) of the film and sound transfers for you to post to Dean if the two of you are happy with that arrangement Simon: from my point-of view, it would actually be the easiest arrangement.
    As I say, the DVDs would be of the British PAL video system: it is possible to convert PAL to the American NTSC video standard (or vice versa) but there will be some loss of quality in the conversion process. Best wishes, Francis 
    I would certainly like to keep the process as straightforward as possible. DVD transfers passed through the post would work. If I had to make a wish it would be that if the dvd-transfer process in place could be make mpeg2 files instead of vob files, it would simplify things on this end. Here’s an explanation of that. Vob’s would be okay of that’s what’s practicable. The sound file format isn’t that important if it isn’t too lossy. Dean 
    **** **** ****
    Latest plan for Rock Cottage after our friends visited Lydbrook with us:
    Hi Simon. One critical factor at the cottage is going to be the skip. I can organise a skip locally, but prior to Saturday 02Aug14:-
    1) We are going to need to get permission from the owners of the grassed area shown on the attached proposal.
    2) We will need the skip to be co-ordinated with meeting Adam on Saturday morning at 9:00am.
    3) The crockery etc in the kitchen that Lin may wish to keep needs to be boxed up so that it can be put away upstairs.
    4) If you're going down to the cottage to do this, get the name (and number) of the skip hire company that is there at the moment (for the shop) - it's always written on the side of the skip.
    5) Furniture being retained will have to be identified. The mattresses will have to be thrown away. Any items of furniture not required needs to be identified or put outside.
    On the first Saturday morning, the first floor will be swept and vacuumed, the step to the main bedroom repaired, the windows weather-sealed and the furniture being retained will be put upstairs.
    Everything else will be stripped out and discarded.
    Are you & Lin able to do items 1-5 by then ?
    Martin X

    Dear Martin and family! You work fast. I so like that.  Here in Handsworth lots of people accord to the stereotype of olde country ways despite being in the middle of a buzzing city.
    A skip we ordered today for clear up in Handsworth....Deep vexation with the delay and bribe-seeking drivers (“Can’t get in there, mate, more than my job's... etc”).  I decided to dispense with this company's services, but not until the man had unloaded his skip, then I asked for a discount on his whole day charge given his four hour delivery delay on a skip promised at 10.30am, meant we had the skip for less than 2 hours. He said ‘Take or leave it” I said “Leave it” and enjoyed watching him have to back the skip truck into an awkward space and take ti away empty. No work from us ever again.
    Phil at the stores in Lydbrook owns that piece of land. I’ve just phoned him. He happily permits us to have a skip delivered to that spot on that date. He suggests phoning the day before in case there’s been an avalanche or flooding.  (Phil, Central Stores, GL17 9SA phone: 01594 860 302) I will do that.
    The existing skip is one Phil has hired from Bell Waste 01594 542103. I phoned them. They only deliver/collect weekdays. No problem. We will order end of next week once Adam is quite sure 2/8/14 is a confirmed ‘go’. We will pay them over the phone. They say "don’t worry as we have loads of skips"
    Lin and I say “Yes”  to 1-5. We will go down in the week before 2 August  to do the things required as well as being there on 2 August; possibly not on the dot at 9.00am but I will make sure the cottage door is open (prob leave it open after we’ve been there earlier).
    Love Lin Simon 
    That late skip


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  • 08/05/14--00:30: Weekend on Bell Hill
  • We return to Greece in just over a month, but Rock Cottage in Lydbrook weighs on us even there, the place we found in 1981 and bought in days.
    We went to a wedding in south Wales and on the A40, the dual carriageway that extends the M50 into Wales, we glimpsed Ross-on-Wye on the side of a rise above the river, its distinctive church sat as a town almost without sprawl inside Gloucestershire hills.
    "That's a nice place"
    "Lovely"
    It could hardly have been a fortnight later, a weekend in June or July was it? An estate agent sent us descriptions of three places. We visited two. The second was up a narrow rough path far from the road. Lin stood in the waist high meadow grass of the small piece of ground,  attached to the house, on the side of the hill, looking over to a frieze off trees across the valley. There were butterflies and bees.
    "What do you think?"
    "I love it" she said
    We bought it on Monday.
    It was a mess, empty for a good two years, encroached upon by the forest, full of inept furnishing, cold in winter, mouldy in summer. We bought it in the year of the birth of our son Richard.
    It became a place we went for days and weekends and whole weeks over twenty five years. Lin's dad rewired it. We put in central heating; but did most of the improvements ourselves, until we found a builder to add an extension that enlarged the sitting room,

    Then the children grew up.  It was trickier for Lin's parents to climb the barrow's-width path curving 200 steep paces up Bell Hill, where the cottage had been built at the end of the 19th century on a ledge cut of the hillside. No house could be built there now. Regulations require some direct sunlight on a residence all year round. The tall beech trees on its crest and Bell Hill itself takes away direct sun from Rock Cottage six months of the year.
    It's in a wonderful place. Walk out the back and into the Forest of Dean; climb, even clamber up, the deep shaded path up the hill and arrive at a view that on a clear winter's day shows the Brecon Beacons, sometimes snow capped.
    From the windows of Rock Cottage you can gaze down the narrow Lydbrook Valley to Courtfield on a hill above a bend of the River Wye.
    Sunrise in Lydbrook

    We seem to be isolated amid every kind of greenery from the tall trees, oak, beech and ash especially, but proliferating ash and hazel and mounds of brambles, nettles and myriad wild flowers, and meadow grass. Yet just down the path we have a village shop, bus stop and the rest of the village of Lydbrook strung out on the road from the edge of the Wye to the Gloucester-Monmouth road a mile and half up onto the forest plateau - with short journeys into the forest to Cinderford and Coleford.
    For years our family, Amy and Richard and my parents-in-law, Dorothy and Arthur, Lin and I were won't to pack the car in Handsworth and head 75 miles down the M5, passing the Malvern Hills to our south, then west then north as at Strensham Junction we turned west on the M50 and headed for Ross-on-Wye...

    ...then bypass the town and take the narrow turn into Goodrich, cross Kerne Bridge...
    Kerne Bridge
    ...and wind three miles beside the river to the T-junction at lower Lydbrook. Except last weekend, as for the weekend a fortnight ago when we gone down to inspect...
    ...the weather was dire; Lin's car was overheating; and we were rowing. I'd even thought that perhaps we should just put the place up for auction. Get it off our backs. Lin wouldn't hear of it but both of us dreaded taking on the task of recovering the cottage from five years of expensive neglect. I pay full rates. It didn't help that the builder we thought we trusted had left the central heating on at the start of last year and cost me £700, and worse had done work for which we'd paid that turns out not to have solved the problem of 'water ingress' that keeps one of the bedroom ceilings and end walls crumbling. Our builder - seemingly a decent man - working on the cottage between others jobs in ways that seemed to suit him and us - finally placed the straw on the camel's back by installing new windows that were entirely against Lin's most detailed specification - ones that half opened when we wanted them fully opening and didn't fit anyway suggesting he'd off-loaded a job lot.
    "Lost in translation" was his excuse.
    We parted company after he had removed all the bathroom plumbing adding the final touch of complete uninhabitability to the beloved place.
    This last year I did something about the encroaching trees, paying Dave Kenworthy of Evolution Trees, - after Lin and I had spent an August weekend doing some clearing with scythe, saw and loppers - to remove tall ash trees too risky for us to fell, threatening the power line to the house, and cut it up as firewood.  Dave is good; instant phone and email communication; transmitting photos of his work; easy to pay; transparent, professional and conscientious. He also found us another builder who checked over the cottage.
    There are troubles continued; not through incompetence or dishonesty but cost. Shaun, Dave's builder, said the cottage roof needed entirely relining and parts replacing. The cost of going up and down Bell Hill, along with scaffolding, gave us a bill that, on top of what we'd already paid the previous builder, was depressing. I phoned Shaun. I apologised for his trouble. I said we were thinking of washing our hands of the place and going to auction. He returned our keys.
    Last hope. It's always unfair and probably unwise to lean on friends for favours but we shared our worries about Rock Cottage with Martin, and family, Sandra and Adam...
    Sandra and Adam at her wedding to Martin
    Simon, Adam and Martin on Summer Song the first time the family visited us in Greece




    We've all known each other for the greater part of our grown-up lives, and seen each other's children grow up.
    Lin and Sandra in Ano Korakiana
    Two weekends ago Sandra got to the pub bar before me, and paid for a lunch for us all at the Courtfield Arms in Lydbrook. We'd promised to take them for lunch as part of 'a conference on the cottage'. It was grey and wet. The cottage was wet and messy inside and out, smelling of neglect. Yet a sun came out on our apprehensions. Sandra and Martin know the things that Lin and I row about, and Rock Cottage can be a particular focus of strife between us.  Laying a figurative had on our shoulders, Martin was terse; decisive.
    "Clear the ground floor so we can get the kitchen and bathroom back to work. Hire a skip and clear the pile of rubbish in the garden and anything you want rid of in the cottage"
    The windows could be sealed but left for the moment, ditto the problems with the roof "but it must be sorted if possible before the winter. Adam will help with lads to load the skip"
    We agreed that work start on Saturday 2nd August. Lin and I would go down beforehand to start the process of deciding what should be kept and what discarded. She and I were there by midday last Wednesday - arguing most of the time. I wanted to take stuff and skip it, a total cleansing; clean break; tabula rasa. Lin doesn't think that way. We worked carting, carrying, cleaning, folding, wrapping, bagging - barely on speaking terms, as yet another load of smelly bedding material was bagged for me to carry down Bell Hill to put in Lin's car to go home for washing.
    "Yes we may end up taking some of it to the charity shop but lots of this is good bedding!"
    "If you say so"
    A middle sized skip was hired - £198 - for the weekend from Bell Waste, permission given by Phil at Central Stores to place it, on Friday, just where we wanted at the foot of the path up the hill.
    We rose early on Saturday to be in Lydbrook by 9.00am as agreed. It was forecast to pour, in the Midlands and worse in Gloucestershire. It did.
    But on getting to the car park in Lydbrook a patch of blue appeared. Then Martin and, in a works van, Adam and his friend and co-worker Jack. They set to filling the skip. Martin went up to get the WC working and check the kitchen plumbing so the lads could stay overnight. Lin and I, talking carefully to one another, went up the hill to continue the work we were arguing about on Wednesday.
    Rock Cottage on Saturday
    "What's got to go upstairs" Starting the sort
    The rubble in the garden
    Adam and Jack with our skip beginning to fill




    On Sunday morning Ln and I drove down again. The lads made us bacon sarnies -  brown sauce to add, which we ate upstairs, before continuing the sorting and tidying the garden including lopping a couple of branches Dave had missed, one lot already reaching towards our power cable. I laid in with my scythe, eating juicy blackberries from the bramble mounds.

    Sealing round the windows
    Note from Lin after the w/e:
    Hi Martin, Thought you might like to see how hard Adam and Jack worked at the cottage - see photo proof attached. Seriously though, they were fantastic and worked really hard. I was so depressed by the last cottage visit and was dreading going down on Saturday, but we actually had a good time and made a lot of progress, so I'm feeling much more positive now. We're going down again next Saturday. Thanks so much for getting Adam to do this. Please will you give the boys an extra £10 each for a drink in addition to the £x each. Love Lin x
    By Sunday late afternoon we were all tired. The skip was full and Adam and Jack are coming down next weekend and Lin and I are on speaking terms.



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  • 08/13/14--00:43: On the allotment
  • The skies opened on us yesterday afternoon. Oscar and I sheltered under the shed veranda. Oliver decided to stand in the rain amid thunder and lightning and a shower of hail.
    'Come here, Oliver!"

    He refuses shelter. Thunder cracks; trees swirl.
    "Oliver!"
    I suppose he presents a smaller area to the weather. That's a rough speculation. This is about the pleasure of instant mud, puddles and dripping greenery. I must put up guttering on at least two edges of the shed to harvest rain like this. I had the wicked idea when sipping tea...

    ...a nicer version of that frightful father in Yorgos Lanthimos' brilliantly horrid film DogtoothΚυνόδοντας imprinting his isolated children with toxic inaccuracies about the names of common objects.

    Oliver and I will plant some random seeds on Plot 14. A few days later, after I've prepared the ground in his absence, we'll harvest small toys. Maybe not. I like that he sees and helps collect potatoes to eat emerging under my fork from the earth, and sees beans in their pods cut from their stalks to be on his plate in the evening.
    *** *** ***
    To our delight there arrived, a few days ago, a letter from Angeliki, with sweet greetings to the family from Ano Korakiana, including a card congratulating Amy on the birth of Hannah...
    ...and expressing happiness that her grandfather now has a Greek and English Wikipedia entry. "On the 30th June my sister also gave birth to a healthy boy, my first nephew, so I understand your feelings" Of the continued search for Aristeidis Metallinos she writes:
    When you'll be back in Ano Korakiana you can continue your work as you have planned STEP BY STEP. The doors of the 'μουσείο' are and will be always open to you, Linda and whoever you want. My mother respects both of you. You know that!!! You are also free to write on your blog whatever you think it can help my grandfather's recognition.
    Such joy to read these words; also that Angeliki and her family, after Andreas met them on Democracy Street, had been able to welcome Thannasis Spingos and Kostas Apergis - scribes and historians of Ano Korakiana - to the Museum.
    ...Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
    Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
    Aλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξείδι διόλου.
    Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
    και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,
    πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
    μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη...
    In pursuit of those 'steps' I took the train on the three hour journey north to meet Dr Alexandra Moschovi. I'd contacted her back in May to ask if she could share thoughts on the laic sculptor.
    Meeting Alexandra Moschovi in Newcastle to explore the world of Aristeidis Metallinos




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    Eiderdowns hang from our Handsworth washing line. No Ionian wind to sun-dry and ventilate them. Instead I watch carefully to bring them in if the clouds grown darker and heavier.

    They came from Rock Cottage; in sacks of soft things I'd was tempted to skip when Adam and Jack cleared the cottage garden of building waste two weeks ago, but which Lin insisted on bringing here to wash, dry, fold and store, cleansing them of the overwhelming smell of old damp.
    "The eiderdowns are feather-filled. They won't go in the washer" said Lin "Air them"
    I've smelled them. The airing seems to have worked. They're lovely. A crime to throw away. The washing line's supported with one of the two hazel poles with V-ends that I lopped - one for us one for Denise - and brought back to Birmingham from a hazel coppice in our garden at Rock Cottage.

    My attempts to win sympathy on the basis of age-related absentmindedness has no traction with Lin.  She knows very well, that how many milk cartons are in circulation in the kitchen is low on my 'to do' list.
    "What forms of annoyance do you reserve for genocide, people trafficking, child abuse...or Adolf Hitler?" I plead, uselessly.
    These things matter to her, she is Kali of Small Things; in especial abundance while Guy and Amy, Oliver and our new born grand-daughter, live with us as their own home is extended - work, as might be guessed, is lasting longer than their builder projected.
    To choose one of many tasks more or less at random, I'm tidying up the gates and doors at the front of our house, starting with the hefty alleyway door that, after old repairs to an original gate made 80 years ago, is falling apart.
    "Just disassemble the tongue and groove and remake it" says Lin.
    The door fittings are rusting into rot. Lin's part right. It could be recovered, but at what time and effort given all the other jobs to be done? If it were anything but a purely functional gate I'd give restoration consideration. I took the whole door - the flaking paint layered rusty T-hinges cut through with the angle-grinder, the remains levered off until I could get a heft on the old slot screws - to a local carpentry shop. I also removed handles and a couple of cabin hooks I'd added about twenty years ago, and with Guy's help, dragged the old gate to the HHH van and took it to Atlantic Joinery on Hamstead Road. I pay for this use of the project's vehicle with a fuel donation - all registered in the van log.
    "Make me a gate like this but slightly lighter, Mr Bogal"
    The old gate goes as a model to Atlantic Joinery



    A week later, for £182 I have a new raw door made of treated wood, ready to be primed, undercoated, painted and re-hung wit a new pair of sturdy galvanised T-hinges from Doorfit in Hockley

    Once that's in place I'll clean up the garage doors, sand, undercoat and repaint them.
    "£182!" said Lin "They saw you coming"
    I like the feel of the new gate. I like imagining how the whole will look when the work is done. But it'll be at least another week with all the other things we have in hand - not to mention the constant duties of grand-parenting.
    Things are happening at Rock Cottage. The HHH committee agreed to let me borrow the van to collect the 'old' kitchen from Guy and Amy's house and take it down to Lydbrook where Adam and Jack borrowed the relevant parts up Bell Hill to install in the kitchen at the cottage

    At the same time as the kitchen is recovered at Rock Cottage, Martin has been sizing up what needs to be done on the bathroom, left unusable by the previous builder.
    I left this for Martin and Lin to discuss. The old cast iron bath will go back, but the other way round, so we can have a shower installed....

    ...One wall will be dry lined - plaster board fixed to a frame over a sheet of polythene. That will be behind the bath - and tiled. The old WC can go back as also the basin but its plumbing will be replaced
    "I don't know how your bath ever drained itself" said Martin.
    He made other suggestions - a better placed heated towel rail and radiator for instance. Once the kitchen, the bathroom and one upstairs bedroom are made good, we can stay in the place and continue the work. Martin ran through a range of other jobs to be done. Meantime the old kitchen units and tops were taken down Bell Hill to go in the van and, with other rubbish collect from the streets  of Handsworth taken to Holford Drive recycling depot where they will disappear into land-fill or be incinerated - so primitive still are Birmingham's contract locked techniques for dealing with waste.
    Denise and I down-load scavenged rubbish to the dry bay at Holford Drive Recycling Centre


    Meantime I'm getting lessons on the intrusive range and depth of viral marketing as Oliver, while having nappies changed, eating morning toast, sitting on his pot, is allowed to watch one or another laptop or even smart phone, as a supplement to baby-sitting. He watches adults but also children selling global toys, his favourite Lightning McQueen, an animated car from films by Disney. These clips are mainly on Youtube. Some are professional animations. Some are well crafted amateur-looking chats about things, where, in front of a relaxing voice-over, and lift-music, toys are unwrapped from cellophane and various plays with the objects enacted. Often there are animated games advertising software for the actual game that last for minutes at a time, with frenetic voice-overs and sound effects - skidding tyres, gun-fire and crashes. These are in English - US and UK - in Japanese and Russian and I'm sure many more. The repertoire is immense and continuous, as one clip leads conveniently to the next, advertising interspersed with advertising, overlaid with muzak and disarming many-accented commentaries.
    I don't like this one little bit but it's so bloody convenient.
    Oliver is kept entertained while essential domestic tasks get done, but he's being seduced for future consumption. I'm pleased that when we're in Greece our lack of Wifi will have conveniently excised this umbilical. I'm ashamed of relying on it; impressed at its ingenious intrusiveness - the core dynamics of consumerism in the heart of the home, more present then ever via the social web; all things I knew would happen when I wrote about 'micro-marketing' and the 'internal polity' back in the early 90s. Thus capitalism, with its astonishing reach, reproduces its processes even more intimately than when my children were small, or when parents and schools of the 1940s worried about the effect on me of comics.

    I realise that this exposure can also be a vaccination. Much depends on what else Oliver does in his daily life; on the negotiation between him and his family and the global market; about what we will allow to be commodified. Authoritarian regimes seeks non-negotiable ways into a child's mind. At least in a democracy we have choices, but as the truism goes 'the price of freedom is eternal vigilance'. At the moment Oliver's relations with the web is more or less one-way with him as spectator. The wonders, hazards and utility of the social web are yet to come.
    On Plot 14 Hannah made her first visit yesterday.



    I have recruited Winnie to help dig over the plot. She brought her son Dennis who often helps us collecting rubbish on the van with Handsworth Helping Hands.

    Between us we are working over, yet again, ground that needs, weeding and enriching with compost as well as further de-stoning. I've decided to use carpet tiles - recovered in large numbers from where they were fly-tipped into a Handsworth back-garden - to trace out paths that divide the plot into manageable sections. I'd like to make patterns; perhaps a Union Jack. The tiles need not be permanent  if enough of our walking on these paths compresses the ground enough to make new weeds less welcome. I'm also installing gutters to collect rain from the two slopes of the shed roof.
    I have now accepted unashamedly that my allotment is a bourgeois hobby...
    The benefits of allotments are both tangible and intangible and include a space for recreation, exercise and, if desired, an opportunity to network. However, allotments also offer a space for contemplation and/or solitude and the chance to indulge in the hobby of growing one's own food in an idiosyncratic way and for personal reasons. Allotments and other urban agriculture projects also offer an opportunity for excluded groups or individuals to participate and become involved in a project. In this way, allotments can contribute to a sense of self as well as community and, accordingly, they can help to shape lives and encourage social integration. Acton, L 2011. Allotment Gardens: A Reflection of History, Heritage, Community and Self. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 21:46-58, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pia.379
    So feel less guilty about the money I pay for help and the parts I buy, like the 65mm shed guttering from Wickes which is a devil to assemble at the joints.  I eventually gave up trying to 'click' in joiners and end pieces lined with a stiff rubber washer, stripped these out, and substituted silicone from a nozzle; but the whole set of bits and pieces - gutters, down pipes, gutter brackets and the rest - cost me £44. Crazy! The decent thing would be to look out for things that people have discarded and make shift. Scavenging with Handsworth Helping Hands gives as good an opportunity as any to avoid paying at the till from retail superstores.

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    Once again we will miss the music event - Agiotfest - run by our friends Paul and Lula McGovern in Ayios Ioannis every year; this year on Saturday evening 30th August. We've supported the event in small ways - going to it of course, but also making a video some years back; contributing donations and pointing Paul towards the talented Rob Groove, son of Sally who runs the bar in Ipsos. This is a video Rob edited promoting this year's festival...


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  • 08/26/14--02:11: Work
  • As expected the house continues to be full of family. The building work on Amy's and Guy's home is taking longer, going slower than the builder's given dates.
    Our kitchen, August 2014

    Oscar shares dog space with Cookie, the dopiest of bitches, with an irritatingly chirpy bark cued with every doorbell and knock on the door or key turn. Oscar happily joins in. Our waste disposal - for bins and recycling - is increased by a third; soft drink cans, nappies, tissues and more paper and cardboard. Nippled bottles and baby cups and plastic plates and bowls adds to the washing up. Baby and toddler clothes add to the laundry. By and large I enjoy this; now and then suspecting that these days will in retrospect come close to a period of special happiness.
    I helped Amy refitting their bedroom wardrobe the other day, baby-sitting the while




    *** *** ***
    I have hung the hefty gate on the side of our house, the way into the narrow alley between houses on our road. It required three large galvanised T-hinges, two dozen sturdy brass screws, and much propping and awkward lifting into place. After that came a new thumb latch, with a hole drilled for the lifter, and several minutes fiddling the alignment. The gate nearly shut. I used the sander on the angle grinder to widen the gate post near the top of the door. Ideally I should have removed the whole post and copied the plentiful guidance available on the web.


    As it is I left the old post in place, dug out a thin strip of wood to fill the widening gap caused by the hung door's slight angle. To right this I imagined I would have had to adjust a gate post that's still sound - a firm base for the long screws that hold the hinges to it - and deeply embedded in the boundary between mine and my neighbour's house.
    A craftsman would have seen this problem from the start and found a way - perhaps using packing behind the T of the lower hinge - to hang the gate perpendicularly, so its opening edge aligned with the other post - an investment in time and energy that would have saved fiddlefaddling. I shall seek to disguise this with filler and paint, but I know what I did. Explaining myself to Lin who saw the gate once it closed smoothly I made the familiar excuse.
    "The trouble with my do-it-yourself work is that I'm almost always doing a job for the first time - and the only time. There's not enough opportunity for learning. If I hung this gate again of course I'd do it differently"
    I recalled that when we had built our wardrobe and drawers in Ano Korakiana, Martin, staying with us, had made up for our inexperience, with a wealth of tips on hanging the doors for a wardrobe....
    In Corfu Martin gives advice on hinges and how to hang the doors of our wardrobe
    Nearly completed and the doors hang perfectly

    ...and Linda is better than me at setting up a job. It's done now - more or less. I've gone on to complete the tidying up and painting of the garage doors.
    New gate hung; garage doors scraped and sanded before painting


    The problem now - replacing three of the leaded glass panes in the right hand door, plus small filling jobs to be done.
    On the allotment this Sunday. Vanley called me over...
    Christine, Vanley, Oscar on the Victoria Jubilee ~ wet paint from our garage door on Oscar''s shoulder 

    ...as I cycled by. He showed me his 'new' shed; rather more a shack...
    Karen adds finishing touches to the roof of Vanley's shack

    ...in fact a work of art, by Karen Mc Lean, who was on its corrugated iron roof. putting final touches to its reassembly from Eastside, by the city centre. My Richard had visited a few days earlier and told me the shack was going up, but I'd forgotten. Christine was cooking. Vanley offered a bottle of cool Red Stripe and a delicious meal - a peppery burger and corn, salad and a baked spud...He split and buttered the potato, adding a chunk of bread.


    ...We sat and ate.
    "I enjoy this" he said "I may sleep in the shed"
    I'm unsure how I'd differentiate a shed from a shack or a hut, but this was in a different style from other constructions on the Victoria Jubilee. It had been on show at Edible Eastside in 2012. I was entranced by it, as I am both envious and respectful of Vanley's seemingly effortless success in growing vegetables and flowers on his plot.
    Post Colonial-Now by Karen Mc Lean - the one she's rebuilt on Vanley's allotment (© courtesy of the artist)



    Karen said she was worried about the roof.
    "I'm coming over tomorrow to see if the rain comes in"
    Yesterday Guy observed, first thing, "You can tell it's Bank Holiday"
    Outside was overcast, raining as Karen expected. Indeed well set in for the day. Wind blowing up the leaves of the high trees among the gardens. I said that I'd walk Oliver over to the allotments - hardly 10 minutes away. We kitted up with waterproofs and set out with Oliver holding Oscar's lead, noting things like drains, and walls and lamp-posts on the way. All things can be made interesting to a child and his pleasure in peering down a dribbling street drain is equal only to my delight in the moment of recovered innocence, seeing the most ordinary things for the first time.
    TROVE invited artist Karen Mc Lean to reassemble her shack piece, Post Colonial – Now, at Edible Eastside, and decorate their mac birmingham ALLOTMENT plot with her hand made wall paper (© courtesy of the artist)











    (© courtesy of the artist)

    **** ****
    Lamp-posts on our route ring with a tap from my ringed finger. There might be someone living in the thin cable cabinets on nearly every street. We knock and ask of course, and tap on the pavement manhole covers to wake those below. Once through the heavy squeaking iron gate into the allotments I let Oscar and Oliver off their leads. We stroll towards Plot 14, stopping to check the magic shack.
    Oliver with Karen's shack on the Victoria Jubilee ~ August 2014

    Dear Karen. It was good to meet you y’day. In case you didn’t get over to the allotments today, I visited your handiwork on Vanley’s plot with my grandson and can assure you the roof is not leaking. Just some wet driven through the doorway - which Oliver and I trailed in more, inspecting inside. Best wishes, Simon 
    Hi Simon. Thank you for your email, neither Vanley nor myself were able to get down to the allotment yesterday and I have been a bit worried, so it's good to know that all is well. I had visions of the plastic being filled with water sagging on the inside! It was also good to meet you, Oscar and your son Richard. There is such a wonderful community spirit that breaks down all the social hierarchies on the allotment! I am enjoying being there and observing. Hope to see you soon. Much Thanks. Karen
    ...and Danny, on a plot next to Vanley, and a member of the VJAS Committee wrote to me:
    Hello Simon. Thanks for sharing the link to your blog. This shack has arrived in our lives  and raises new thoughts, feelings and discussions all the time. Living next door to it, I'm privileged to be party to most of them. Sitting graciously on the allotment it is now experiencing it's own liberation and is beginning its freedom where it should be, at the heart of community, and lush vegetation. It's adapting to the British weather and putting on a Mac and shoes much as anyone coming from warmer climates. Free at last...
    to which she added a second later...
    Sorry Simon, that galloped off into the ether sooner than intended! I hadn't read or revised what I wrote. It's a funny thing, the shack. I love it but I can see why it's been so unsettling for some. But I may be imagining it, but I can hear it settling it's bones into its boots and breathing a sigh of relief. When the sun's out, it's ready for company and activity. Good luck to Karen if she thinks it will want to move again!
    Thanks for your kind wishes. It's good to see your 2 homes in your blog. I think I have 2, and my second is the allotment!
    All the best to you both
    Danny 
    It hadn't occurred to me that Karen's work might be 'unsettling for some'. I find it enticing, magical and friendly. t'm delighted with my shed. I wonder what it says about me, my class, my ethnicity, my history.
    'Αυτό δεν είναι μια αποθήκη' ~ our shed in Summer
    On that matter the child's eye can cast no light. You have to delve and conjecture and think with a mix of sophistication and innocence. Is Karen Mc Lean's shack still art on the VJA? Would mine be, if placed in a space at Edible Eastside? Ha ha. This was my account in 2004 -  using Luke Unsworth's photos - of the old Victoria Jubilee Allotments, the private ones that were surrendered to the bulldozer for profit.

    Here was a displacement; a veritable destruction of place. Could it be that Vanley and his friends are at the heart of a reconstruction and replacement on the Victoria Jubilee? As we ate I shared some of my memories of the campaign to prevent building on the whole site, to lay out the largest public allotments in the UK since WW2.
    It's a pleasing serendipity I encounter Post Colonial-now with its damp-spotted and fragmented Houses of Parliament Pugin wallpaper - subverted to show the bust of a bound slave -
    Karen Mc Lean's wallpaper - photographed inside the shack on Vanley's plot ((© shown with permission of the artist)
    ...so shortly after Richard Pine publishes The Disappointed Bridge: Ireland and the Post-Colonial World.  It reminds me - on the matter of what is art - that provenance is so important. Objects are not so easily found. Karen's been exploring this subject a long time and has work to show it.
    'Shacks, chattel houses or huts' (© courtesy of the artist)

    'They are putting up my flat at the Ikon Gallery" said Vanley in his quiet way as we ate together. I misheard.
    "Your allotment?"
    He corrected me but the fact is you could do just that,.as they do every year at Chelsea, and it would be superb. His flat I don't know, but someone has seen that there people who make everything and anything into art. It's mysterious to me why, and a source of much ribaldry or quiet amusement if you don't want to see it that way, and why not? It's this ambiguity that slips treason past the gaze of  the beastly tyrant's henchmen. Ha ha! The treachery of images.




    Monday's rain fell steadily. Before going onto the allotments, Oliver and I visited the new children's play area given with the S106A on the VJA and at last completed at the end of a cul-de-sac at south end of Parklands Avenue adjoining the new building site on what was a bowling green. I quite like the space; not full of play equipment, more a mini-park with a stone circle, picnic areas with upturned logs, steps and faux bridge and interesting slopes.

    Children's park at the top of Parklands Avenue
    Someone asked me later if Oliver enjoyed this place. I think he enjoys anywherewe go. He'd be happy in the middle of a busy roundabout. It's parents who like places like this. They feel safe to let a child roam while having a pleasant place to sit.
    Strolling on to Plot 14 we sheltered briefly under the shed veranda while I made myself a mug of tea.

    Oliver, immune to rain, played keenly with the trickle of water that, via my new shed guttering, trickled into a bucket from the overflow pipe of one of my water butts, while I set to with mattock and fork to widen the main path through the allotment as part of my plan to improve its network of paths...
    ...I've decided, having learned from others, that many paths between growing spaces, straight or curved, are essential, since the worked earth won't tolerate being walked on before becoming unworkably packed. Before we left we harvested a bag of runner beans


    Homeward in the wet

    It's August, high-summer but always a rainy month in my experience. I changed; Oscar suffered a good towelling and Oliver was stripped of wet clothes.
    "You were going to bring those beans yesterday" said Lin "Tonight we're having a take-away"
    It was good - from Shazanz on the Lozells Road.
    ** ** ** **
    Our neighbour, Jack, came round to explain how he could repair our central heating boiler...



    ...The thermostat's broken. The water overheats, overflows from the header. leaks onto the landing carpet into a plastic bowl, making a thunderous noise as a warning. We've been heating the water for 15 minutes then turning the boiler off before it overheats. That won't do in winter when we want more heating from our radiators. We could have a new boiler but our old system couldn't cope with a combi. We could have a new condensing boiler with a variety of feedback devices to increase economy "It's the way it is these days" said Jack; or we could find the right part to replace on ebay or direct from Potterton. I checked the part number on the 1986 instruction manual I dug out of the file and then googled the part number and up came 'Potterton Kingfisher 40-150 CF & RS Boiler Thermostat 404456 Ranco CL6-P0100'. I contacted eBay the supplier who emailed me back almost at once and also with Potterton-Baxi in Warwick who came back on Tuesday as we were at the kitchen table.
    Good Afternoon. Thank you for your recent contact in regards to the Kingfisher 100 boiler. The part code you have provided is the correct one for your boiler. I hope this helps please email back if you have any other questions. Kind regards. Tom @ Baxi Genuine Parts
    The part should arrive tomorrow - just under £35. Jack will fit it. Fingers crossed. Amy slept late to make up for staying up late...
    Amy, Hannah, Linda and the top of Oliver's head


    *** *** ***
    Last week I got a Skype invite to London to spend an afternoon with a friend since University, joined by someone with whom I'd been at school and university; Mark - he, a scholar to my dunce. It was exciting, lovely, and very entertaining. I can worry about nostalgia - especially when at 72 I've got so much more past than future.  Not so. We used our septuagenerity. We shared stuff over a delicious easy meal with chilly white wine and Prosecco. Miriam's the same on both sides of the looking glass - her gifted public persona indiscernible from her private. This is the same with all the talents I know. They are just like ordinary people - yet different - most of all because what they do seems done without effort
    Miriam in Clapham

    Also with us was an American relative I'd not met. He grew on me as our meal proceeded. Almost diffident - an American in Europe - he needed gently encouragement to say more about himself. A lot younger than us, he listened to us sharing things that must surely have been outside his ken.
    "You know that the sub-text of every conversation between the English is class"said Miriam as we reminisced about Westminster and Cambridge.
    We discussed homes, relationships, off-spring and then, Gaza - a war between victims. Mark spoke of how some people, becoming more and more publicly successful, become more and more incapable of being truthful, even as their sincerity increases. Mark was as fast as he was fifty years ago; too polite to correct my mistakes or rebut where he disagreed, but, allowing small unintended pauses for me to glimpse familiar inadequacies. This was how it always was. I took the opportunity to speak of Aristeidis Metallinos and show some pictures of his work.
    "Have someone at Sothebys look over those pictures" suggested Mark "It's not about buying or selling. They can be genuinely helpful, Find their sculptor person."
    We reflected on growing old and incapable, "going into that darkness" M put it.
    Talking about death or worse 'dying', even skirting around it is quite as tricky as talking about sex across generations. Miriam's often very funny on that, but her genius for ribaldry doesn't reach here. It's not funny. 'Most things may never happen: this one will' so I imagine how I or she or any of us might 'fumble with the sheets and play with flowers and smile upon (their) fingers' ends'.
    It was an easy cycle home, first across the river over Battersea Bridge - a low tide, mud on either bank; up busy Sloane Street, through Knightsbridge and into Hyde Park, far too full of the new cycling commuters, then up through Marylebone to my favourite station and a crowded Chiltern train to Moor Street, where the platforms were cold and dark. By the time I reached the Hockley flyover, drizzle was shining the road and pavements, seeping into my summer clothes.  
    Name: Sotheby's
    Email: simon@baddeley.be  A friend has suggested someone at Sotheby's might assist me in my research into a laic sculptor, an artisan who took up carving stone and marble in the last 12 years of his life; someone almost unknown outside the village where he was born, lived and died. I have created a Wikipedia article for Aristeidis Metallinos.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristeidis_Metallinos You must have a million enquiries like this, but I wonder if someone who knows far more about sculpture than I could meet me for 15-20 minutes to look at some pictures of this man's work and express an opinion. To the best of knowledge and certainly mine there is no interest in seeking a market for this work. The sculptor's will has been explicit that his work is a gift to his village and must not be divided. I seek an opinion on this man's work and will understand if there simply isn't the time to arrange this. I live in Birmingham and Greece and regularly make the journey to London. My gratitude for your possible interest and attention.
    Dear Mr Baddeley. Thank you for contacting Sotheby’s. Your email request has been forwarded to our European Sculpture Department in London, who will respond to you directly. In the meantime should you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our Client Care Team. Yours sincerely, Vickie Wilkinson, Sotheby's Client Care
    I've also had a letter from Alexandra Moschovi, who I visited a few weeks ago in Newcastle, to pick her brain on the laic sculptor. I will need to go into it in detail. She points me towards events in Greece when Aristeidis MetallinosΑριστείδης Μεταλληνός, was working on an especially large number of carvings. She gives me links to Greek films of the day - many with content that would have been censored a decade earlier - referring me to a spectacular scandal; the basis of a play and subsequent film The Saint of Preveza, Ο Άγιος Πρεβέζης, whose author, Spyros Karatzapherēs Σπύρος Καρατζαφέρης, was regularly in the dock...

    ... over his account of the sexual escapades and corrupt business deals of Metropolitan Stylianos Kornaros Στυλιανός Κορνάρος, revealed in 1978.
    Toledo Blade, 5 Sept 1978
    Preveza is on the mainland less than 90 miles south east of Corfu. One may imagine the impact of such revelations hardly four years after the end of the Junta. Alexandra reminded me that habits of shared self-censorship continued across Greek society into the 1980s, probably even stronger in smaller communities.
    The Saint of Preveza 1982: Spyros Karatzapherēs (director of the film): "I'm waiting for you, I'm ready. Nude my darling ready, I'm going to f**k you" ~ Aristeidis Metallinos (Cat.189)

    Alexandra also points me towards a law that might help me understand other things that happened in Ano Korakiana during the artist's life...'
    ...the law that was introduced in Greece in the 1980s on building permissions...
    Ρυθμίσεις αυθαιρέτων και αδειών δόμησης (building permits) ... Ν.1481/1984 (ΦΕΚ-Α-152/1984) ΟΡΓΑΝΙΣΜΟΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΕΙΟΥ ΔΗΜΟΣΙΑΣ ΤΑΞΗΣ. Unfortunately, I suspect it will only be in Greek.
    I will look into that and seek help from Aleko who has translated for me before. What I need is a lay interpretation of this law and how it could be applied.

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    I'm not nominating anyone to repeat this silliness, but if a drop in the ocean - or on my head and shoulders as I sit in our garden in front of my tiny camera -  gives publicity to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) - what in UK is included in the description Motor Neuron Disease (MND) - a progressive neurodegenerative disease, currently incurable, which wrecks the brain and paralyses the body including lungs so you can't breath unaided, it's worth the small trouble of being wet and chilly for a few seconds this morning. I've also read that lots of people have heard about The Ice Bucket challenge but 'didn't know what it was for and did not give to charity' following a small narcissistic fling with a bucket of water. Well yes! I have given a small sum to the ALS Association.
    *** *** ***
    In Ano Korakiana ~ 28th August:

    Ο ρόλος του Θεάτρου...
    theatro28082014d.jpg
    Μετά την ποίηση, σειρά είχε το θέατρο και ειδικότερα η παιδαγωγική και παιδευτική του λειτουργία, στη δροσερή βραδινή ατμόσφαιρα στον αύλειο χώρο του Άη-Θανάση. Οι προσκεκλημένοι ομιλητές Πέτρος Αυγερινός και Δώρα Παπανικολάου που δραστηριοποιούνται στο «Θέατρο του Ιονίου», καθώς και «δική μας» Δώρα Μεταλληνού που επί σειρά ετών ασχολείται με το σχολικό θέατρο, ανέπτυξαν το θέμα. Την εκδήλωση προλόγισε ο παιδίατρος Σπύρος Σαββανής, ενώ χρήσιμες παρεμβάσεις έκαν οι Γιώργος Σκλαβούνος (Πρόεδρος UNESCO Ιονίου), Βασίλης Μαρτζούκος, Νίκος Μεταλληνός, Νίκος Μάνεσης, Κώστα Ιωνάς κ.ά.
    theatro28082014c.jpg
    (My shaky translation) The role of the theatre ... After poetry, we've enjoyed gatherings on the educational role of drama, in the cool evening air, in the courtyard of Ag. Athanasios. Petros Avgerinos and Dora Papanikalou were our invited speakers; their theme, 'The Ionian Theatre' with 'our' Dora Metallinou, who has, for many years, been involved with drama in schools. The event was introduced by the paediatrician Spyros Savvani, with contributions from George Sklavounos (Chair, Ionian UNESCO), Vasilis Martzoukos, Nikos Metallinos, Nikos Manesis, Costas Jonas, etc.

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    For the last two years I've attached myself to 'The Birmingham 1000 Elders group' linked to Prof Janet Lord'sCentre for Healthy Ageing at the QE Hospital in Birmingham. A few times a year we answer questions following the series of tests - physical and mental - I did at the hospital about two years ago (took three hours) and get tea, coffee cakes and buns in a seminar suite at the new QE Hospital to enjoy Ladybird level lectures on the state of the research and the meaning of our own data for our health. It's great because it takes me underneath headliners in the media and shows what is known and not known about getting old without becoming over-preoccupied with the likely problems of ageing. I love research. I'm egotistical enough to be intrigued with how it applies to me. There's also a useful network of old people equally interested. It's a good way to stay informed about latest findings about one's health without trying to have the kind of chat with my GP that, these days, would be a recipe for being regarded as a bit of a time waster or even a hypochondriac, meanwhile I'm contributing to medical research. I enjoy the suggestion that collecting street rubbish for Handsworth Helping Hands ...

    or digging our allotment is helping to blunt the 'wiry edge of my fretfulness'

    *** *** ***
    The last Sunday in August is the official end of Summer in Ano Korakiana, the date marked by a service with a meal at Saint Isadora Άη-Σίδερο. This tiny church, inside which you could not swing a cat, sits on a rocky outcrop on the ninth of the twenty-nine hairpin bend ascent to Sokraki, the village on Trompetta Ridge above Ano Korakiana. The end point of some of our walks, a lovely way to look down to the village and its surroundings.

    Στον Άη-Σίδερο
    Γράφει ο/η Κβκ 31.08.14
    s_isidoros082014a.jpg
    Κυριακή σήμερα, παραμονή του νέου έτους σύμφωνα με την Ίνδικτο («εκκλησιαστικό έτος»), και στο γραφικό εκκλησάκι του Αγίου Ισιδώρου πραγματοποιήθηκε η Λειτουργία και ακολούθως η αφιερωμένη σε (τοπικό) θαύμα του Αγίου, Λιτανεία. Ιδιαιτέρως πολύς ο κόσμος που συνέρρευσε, κυρίως από την Άνω Κορακιάνα και το γειτονικό Σωκράκι για να παρακολουθήσει την υπαίθρια ιερή τελετή στην επιβλητική  σκιά του πεύκου, με την παρουσία τριών ιερέων.
    s_isidoros082014b.jpg

    Μετά τη Λειρουγία η εικόνα του Αγίου θα λιτανευθεί έως τη Δεξαμενή, όπου θα λάβει χώρα σχετική παράκληση και η πομπή θα επιστρέψει στη μικρή εκκλησία. Εκεί, στους στρωμένους πάγκους θα απλωθούν σπιτικά γλυκίσματα, που με τη συνοδεία καφέ θα προσθέσουν μιαν ευχάριστη ανάσα στους επιτελούντες, αλλά και στον κόσμο που θα παραμείνει μέχρι τέλους.
    Χθες εξάλλου, τηρήθηκε και το έθιμο της φανουρόπιτας.

    Η εορτή σηματοδότησε τυπικά και το τέλος του φετινού καλοκαιριού…
    The last time we were in Ano Korakiana in August we did go to Ag.Isadorus on the last Sunday of the month.  
    Sunday morning we rose earlier and walked through the village while it was cool, heading upwards through the narrows of little Venice. As we approached the seventh bend on the Sokraki road we heard chanting and so came to St Isidoras and to the door of the little church where a narrow mezzanine hangs over the road and we could lean on the sturdy spinach green railings for an hour as people of all ages came, lit candles, made the sign of the triple cross, bustled about the chapel, kissed the pictures of the saints – Isidoras and Fanarios. After the service the priests led a procession a little further up the hill to the boundary of Ano Korakiana and back. Tables and chairs were placed in the little square beside the church, invisible from the road, and cakes and coffee and sweet bread were passed around. A large man beckoned us to sit at the table. Places were made for us; plates brought. Another man who’s face I’d often seen at events in the village fetched us delicious custard pastries. “These are in honour of Saint Fanarios whose day was three days ago.” “Your name is Kirios...?” I asked “I am Mr Savvanis...gradually we are becoming friends." [Liana's translation from the village website tells me that Savannis is a name associated with Ano Korakiana since 1473, and I think I was speaking with Dr. Spiros Savannis, a paediatrician. Later note: Ano Korakiana's President living on the Platea, sitting centre left to the right of Pappas in the B & W picture]

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  • 09/06/14--00:57: Κίνημα του 1935
  • Maria Roussen ~ Η Μαρία Ρουσσέν ~ by Yiannis Moralis ~ Γιάννης Μόραλης
    When my half brother George Pericles Baddeley gave a funeral oration for his mother, my Greek stepmother, Maria Baddeley, née Roussen, at Saint Sophia in Moscow Road in Bayswater in November 2005, he may have repeated a consciously adopted inaccuracy about her father, his grandfather, Admiral Pericles Roussen Ναύαρχος Περικλῆς Ρουσσέν. George said:
    ...However, this picture of a happy family life was rudely interrupted when Pericles Roussen’s principled monarchist beliefs led to his imprisonment for refusing to jeopardize the Greek fleet. This caused his early death and the circumstances of the family changed dramatically....
    As anyone who explores modern Greek history via personal memories and family stories the tendency to make 'map corrections' that brush out certain landmarks in the Greek political landscape is more normal in Greece than I've experienced in England. Comfort, security, the preservation of good manners, revolve around shakier historical constructions than in the United Kingdom - tho' just try to find a single unremaindered primary or even secondary school history book of Great Britain published after the 1960s, and explain in less than a hundred words to one of your overseas students the meaning of the words printed on the front of every British Passport under the words 'European Union' are the words 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Iteland'.

    There's book - or two - there. So George refers, at that solemn moment, in the church, to "Pericles Roussen’s principled monarchist beliefs"
    Nine years later, as a result of occasional sifting through the internet on the subject of Admiral Roussen - without result, and asking delicate - so I thought - questions within the Greek side of my family, equally resultless - I come across two small times in two US newspapers. A librarian in New York State has at last got round, perhaps with the help of a grant, to getting old copies of local newspapers, probably notoriously transferred to microfilm, onto the web. I send one of these stories to George. Can this be your grandfather? I'm confused. He replies, via a Facebook message, almost at once:
    How interesting! To be honest, this was only what I was told as I couldn't find anything at the time when I googled him. Also, I never really attempted to research him before. I'm delighted to see he was anti-monarchist. Probably this was hushed up by my Yiayia and all eh? x
    These were the newspaper items.
    New York Herald Statesman ~ 11 May 1935
    Rome New York Daily Sentinel ~ 11 May 1935
    I replied to my brother:
    So glad you see him as a Republican and a Venezelist! As a senior serving officer he must have been faced with a fateful decision. Some story don't you think? He must have understood the possible consequences and the effect on himself and his family...(I added a link referring briefly to the Movement of 1935, in Greek Κίνημα 1ης Μαρτίου 1935)
    and I added a reference to Nikolaos Plastiras Νικόλαος Πλαστήρας:
    This man was a prime actor - a devoted and honourable republican several times PM of beloved Greece . Your grandfather must surely have known him. There is a fascinating untold story here! 
    Absolutely, it would be great if you find out more about him. I'll let you know if we come across anything - Kate is going to look in the Times archives. x
    The story of the coup and its context are a core part of modern Greek history the National Schism Εθνικός Διχασμός, etc - but of private interest is the 'silence about this in the family. X S
    Maria Baddeley and family 8 June 1986
    Half a day later: As ever with research - and I should have known this - further investigation by George's Kate, reveals a clearer picture of what happened to George's naval grandfather. The conclusion I had been jumping towards - assuming partisanship in Admiral Roussen and an error in George's funeral oration for his mother, Roussen's daughter. The 'silence' I insinuated came, more probably, from painful sadness and respect. The 'crime' for Pericles Roussen was disgraced and imprisoned was an act of conscience:
    Simon. Kate has researched the Times archive and found an article which comes tantalisingly close to completing the events of the time ... as it says that there was a rebellion and the existing government ordered the Greek fleet to fire upon the rebel boats and that they they would also bomb them if they wouldn't surrender. What I've heard through my family - I'm sure from my mother too - is that my Grandfather refused to fire upon fellow Greeks when ordered to do so. Placing what I and other family know with this bit of information suggests that could well be why he got 10 years imprisonment rather than a death sentence. I surmise that he didn't want to support a command under marshall law to kill his own people. So I think this is not inconsistent with him having been a monarchist. Assuming this is all true, whether or not he was a monarchist, I think that he was certainly a hero! 
    George. Fascinating. I am sure that now we will learn more. Thanks so much Kate. Can I have the reference?
    My brother George sent me this picture of his grandfather Pericles Roussen and his grandmother Lilly
    • George Baddeley I have no idea about what my Grandad's motives were at the time but all I can say is that the vague memories I have are, firstly that he was clearly very wronged and, secondly, that he acted in a highly principled way. It was also assumed that he was a royalist - but I have no recollection about how this came to be accepted as a family truth. I drafted my speech at my mother's funeral in collaboration with all my sisters so it seems clear that none of us have been wise to this new very interesting revelation that you've uncovered. It's just like "Who Do You Think You Are"!
      7 hours ago · Unlike · 1
    • Simon Baddeley There is a time for everything. It is good that his family are stewards of the nearest we can get to the truth about this man, husband, father, grandfather, (half-grandfather) and great grandfather. Any chance of a photo? I recall that Maria always had a portrait of her father in uniform near her.
    • George Baddeley Yes - I'll scan you one in the next week.

    I wish I could get a sight of Admiral Roussen's Court Martial transcript. George has forwarded the reference found by Kate, who's a librarian...
    Title: Greek Revolt.
    Author: FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
    Pub: The Times. Detail:(London, England), Monday, Mar 04, 1935
    Page: 14; Issue 47003. (1407 words)
    Gale Document Number: CS235088996
    The Times ~ 4th March 1935
    Thanks, George. I came too early to the conclusion that your g'f was partisan (in a way that I approved) when actually he acted as a man of conscience, not obeying an order - the most difficult of all things for a professional soldier. He must have known the possible consequences. Had he acted in a partisan way as I first thought, then if the coup succeeded he would have been lauded by the winners 'Treason doth never prosper, for if it prospers, none dare call it treason'. But Admiral Pericles Roussen did not act on the basis of loyalty to Venizelos and the rebels (much as you and I may approve their anti-monarchist cause) or rebellious disobedience to the government, but in obedience to his conscience - the loneliest of all decisions. I honour him. OK to blog?
    Yes - it's on the Times archive so this is fine. You can also mention what I've been told over the years by my family, namely: 1. this, my mother told me - and I'm sure it's true - that he refused to accept a command to fire on his fellow Greeks - and I understand that was probably the main - or possibly the only - reason why he was court marshalled and imprisoned and 2. All the family understand that he was a royalist, but clearly not still totally unwilling to obey an unreasonable order. This, alongside his reported defiance of his political masters, would explain why my mother always said that a gross injustice had been committed against him - and it could also explain why he got ten years' imprisonment while the actual organisers of the rebellion got death sentences: if he had been a fellow conspirator I would assume that he would have also received a death sentence. 3. He developed an ulcer while in prison which resulted in his untimely death. 4. I've heard from more than one source that he was highly respected by other navy officers and all the sailors under his command. 5. The lack of detailed information about this whole episode is almost certainly explained by the fact that it was a major family trauma. All things considered, he seems to have been a highly honorable and brave man. G
    With some of the 'Greek side" in 1995 ~ Miranda, Kate, George and Linda

    *** *** *** ***
    Saturday and our last visit to Lydbrook to see and discuss progress on the recovery of Rock Cottage. On the way south we dropped into an industrial estate to pick up a glass shower screen at wholesale prices - a big Chinese owned and managed warehouse. Back to the motorway we saw regular clusters of police motorcyclists, ambulances and police vans travelling north after the NATO Summit in Newport where thousands had been employed to provide security. I carried the shower screen up the narrow path to the cottage, stopping now and then to improve my grip and catch my breath. Rock Cottage's distance from the road has always been one of the things we've liked. We're in the middle of Lydbrook, almost above its thriving shop and the car park of the Social Club in the centre of the village, yet detached, edging into the Forest of Dean, its trees standing on Bell Hill almost overhanging the few other houses around us - all illegal now, since they get no direct sunlight for nearly half the year; sat on the steep slope of the Lydbrook Valley that leads down to the river Wye - the longest village in England. Adam and Jack were already hard at work on the renovation mapped out by Linda with Martin, who joined us with Sandra in the early afternoon.
    Martin, Adam, Linda, Sandra in the sitting room
    Their focus has been on getting the kitchen and bathroom with their plumbing and fitting and walls improved and in working order. The old iron bath will go back with a shower added. The lads were working on cleaning up and pointing one stone wall having drylined the wall over where the bath will go.
    Adam and Jack
    The cottage inside and outside is like an injured patient covered in bruises and bandages but on the mend. Everything's a bit of a mess but the sight and sound of the work proceeding with Martin's neat ink drawn plans of the final result fill me with pleasure, the more so for knowing that Lin is happily in charge deciding how she wants things. Seeing the high quality tools in use is good to. If I started again on the small amount of DIY I'd never buy cheap tools...
    As used by professionals
    ...The kitchen's almost in working order. There'll further dry lining around the front wall.
    We were worried about water leaking into one of the upstairs rooms, our bedroom. A recommended builder had estimated spending over £6000 re-doing the whole roof. Another - Steve Adams - came up Bell Hill around lunchtime; said the roof looked fine, that there had been a very wet spring causing wet to seep in via the chimneys. On those the lead flashing looked good though and your ridge tiles and the slates on the rest of the roof look fine.
    "You need to wire brush that area on your chimney where the paints flaking. Repaint it and perhaps run some silicone round the top of the flashing"
    Steve told us the only completely sure way to stop any leak would be to rebuilds the chimneys inserting a lead 'tray', but that that was hardly worth the cost, when regular painting every couple of years, and using the house with the stove working more, should sort the problem.


    I wandered round the house with the lopper cutting back the hazel and ash that was already springing up again after the clearance of the garden by Evolution Trees in January. Keeping the encroaching forest at bay will require, has always required, regular pottering about with scythe, sickle and secateurs. It's needed too to allow light to dry the building. I plan a bonfire in November, with lots of wood left over for the wood burning stoves. Meanwhile Lin's been boxing up bits and pieces of chins and glass to go upstairs to allow space for Adam and Jack to work in the sitting room. A previous builder, against Lin's wishes, tried to make the interior of the roof of the cottage extension look 'tudorish' with fake unevenness in the skimming and rough timbers.
    "Cover it all!" said Lin to  Martin
    "No problem"
    Lin and I headed home around 5.00pm. Adam had assured us he'd keep us up to date with work as it proceeded - with pictures attached.
    "We could be staying here by next Summer, and the family" I said to Lin. Finger's crossed and our good fortune for having such our friends as these.
    Martin and Sandra in the sitting room in July 1991

    Martin and Sandra in the sitting room in September 2014

    *** *** ***
    Last Thursday's Handsworth Helping Hands committee, the last for quite a while, saw good attendance and me getting it in the neck over the sale of the project's ageing power tools that have sat two plus years unused in the Park compound because none of us is accredited to use them and they're all a brand - Efco - that now has no UK dealer network for spares and maintenance. I set up a bidding operation with a few people, starting with the compound staff (who'd looked after the tools in store),  that brought us in hardly £100, but ten old power tools (mowers, leaf blower, hedge trimmers, chain saw, strimmers) are on their way, and out of our responsibility, with a signed receipt and waiver that they're sold 'as seen'. I thought it was best to be rid of them without the time spent cleaning them up, and doing all the things you have to do to get an item on eBay or some other nearly new bargain site and the responsibility that accrues if anything sold goes wrong or causes harm. Lin and Denise disagreed and said I'd lost us the project money; others backed my argument, so I just won a wavery vote of confidence at least.
    HHH Committee in our kitchen ~ Denise, John, Charles, Lin (Hon Treas), Mike (Chair), Jimoh (photo: Simon, Hon.Sec)
    Lin took the last lot of plants donated by Handsworth Park and along with Oliver tidied the beds on Church Vale.
    Linda and Oliver at work on a planter in Church Vale


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  • 09/09/14--02:59: Lindfield School
  • Hyde End House ~ site of Lindfield, my first boarding school where I went aged 6 with my sister aged 5 in 1948
    Received on 4 Sept 2014: Dear Simon. Thanks very much for your reply and for checking whether I mind my letter being in the public domain. Although I don’t mind being quoted I do prefer to remain anonymous.
    I was quite careful about the wording I used when I first placed comments on the Brimpton site: until I moved house when I retired, five years ago, I worked as a therapist and I didn’t want to reveal too much personal information that just might end up being seen by clients. The Brimpton site seemed a fairly safe bet and, because I had come up against so many dead ends when researching Lindfield, I did, albeit with some reservations, decide to leave a message.
    I have never blogged, twittered or Facebooked in my life! Perhaps I haven’t lived!
    I received two different emails from the Frith website yesterday, both from you but with slightly different formats and slightly different wording. I answered the one that I thought would go directly to you and not on to any public website. I wouldn’t have mentioned xxx’s full name without his permission unless I thought the information would remain private.
    I shall read your DEMOCRACY STREET website with interest. A quick glance tells me you have no reservations about going very public - and good for you!
    This exchange of emails has reawakened many memories; there are so many unanswered questions about those dreadful years and, if you wish, I would be happy to share thoughts and comments through our personal email addresses as and when they arise. Meanwhile, all good wishes. A
    Afterthought: I was very surprised that any therapist would suggest that the best way to deal with the effects of child abuse is to forget the abuser – how does one forget an abuser? 
    Sent 6 Sept 2014: Dear A. Good to hear from you - via email direct rather then the slightly anodyne Francis Frith site. I've edited identifiers out of Democracy Street, but if you do read the entry I linked to you and find one, please let me know.
    I call the blog Democracy Street because we found after we’d begun visiting our second home in the village of Ano Korakiana in Greece, that the road through it had that name and as I’ve been involved with the subject of local democracy all my professional life, it seemed a good title for a public diary. We are not ex-pats. I love Greece and have visited there since my teens and half my family is Greek (dad’s second marriage, and a part of that ancient event that led to our sojourn at Lindfield) but Lin and I have as many irons in the fire back here in the UK as we do in Corfu.
    About fifteen years ago I visited Hyde End House. I saw nothing but a rather beautiful house in a lovely setting. There were no ghosts; no evocations.
    Hyde End House now
    I guess that my understanding of forgetting is that you do not forget the facts; but you ‘forget’ their effects - not by denying or obscuring them, but by working then through and writing the story with perhaps some heroes and villains. I suspect S (the Headmaster's daughter) has written her story, which includes the completely fabricated connection between ‘our’ Lindfield and the one that became Slindon. My version of the aftermath, gleaned from a local who had been at the school, was that the place went bankrupt and that the bursar was wanted for stealing the lead off part of the roof of Hyde End House.
    As someone who’s died no longer brings grief, though you may remember them acutely; someone who was a bully no longer scares you, because you've finally punched them on the nose and made them cry. The trouble with Lindfield - undoubtedly a formative experience (how could two years in the life of a 6-7 year old not be?) - was that I may not have ‘forgotten’ enough, and now I’m in my 70s (:)) I would like to learn more about Lindfield School through exchanges with you. Kindest regards, Simon
    Received 6 Sept 2014: Dear Simon. I was pleased to hear from you again – direct email does seem more civilised somehow. I am so interested in your comments and want to reply to them all – it is strange and rather cathartic to ‘meet’ someone who shares similar feelings and attitudes to LS. I started to reply to your first email yesterday and found myself, as happens when I write, rambling on and on: there is much to say and many threads to explore – I just hope you won’t be bored to tears and that I am not going into more detail than you would wish to read. I shall forward what I’ve already written even though I was going to add more; the rest can follow another day.
    Your life sound happy and interesting; lots of positives and that’s good.
    Must on with the day, lots to do before my youngest daughter collects me so that we can visit our eighty five year old friend who has just undergone a second hip operation. I don’t know many people who listened to Correlli’s sonatas as the surgeon operated under local anaesthetic– apparently Pavlo Beznosiuk’s exquisite violin playing eradicated the sound of the operation very successfully; wonderful. For now, best wishes, A
    Received 6 Sept:  Dear Simon. Thank you for your editing efforts – I’m not too worried about the odd reference if it’s already online but appreciate your refraining from adding more, other than anonymously
    I have never returned to Hyde End. Many moons ago I noticed a signpost to Brimpton when I was on a CND march, near Burfield, but I decided against breaking ranks in case I couldn’t find my way back to the group. I didn’t want to miss the coach back to Suffolk.
    Odd memories keep popping up – soon after arriving at Lindfield some other girls and I went exploring and climbed through the window immediately above the portico at the front of the house - this resulted in great chunks of plaster falling onto the porch below; it was in a bad state of repair and very dangerous; we could have fallen through and we caused quite a bit of panic; the window was subsequently sealed. I quite like the idea of being a nuisance from the word go.
    I broke bounds many times and was frequently given the slipper and the cane; sometimes we were given a choice - the cane or a hundred lines. I always chose lines and purposely never wrote the full amount, something in me sensed they wouldn’t be counted. Of course, we were not always given the choice. I felt cowardly for choosing lines – some of the boys preferred to be caned as it was quicker and I thought them terribly brave – but I now see my choice as a very sensible attempt at self preservation.
    In the end, after two years, I was expelled for stealing strawberries from the farmer’s field, although, at the time, the word expelled wasn’t used. I was middle aged before I cottoned on to the fact that inviting my father to remove me as, ‘perhaps Lindfield isn’t quite suitable for a child like yours’ was an expulsion. Thank goodness my ‘bad’ behaviour resulted in finally leaving what had been such a miserably frightening and unhappy two years. I then went to another boarding school, nearer my home, in south Bucks, where I was very happy. We didn’t learn very much; I think we were supposed to marry well (I didn’t, falling for a totally unsuitable man and walking up the aisle at the age of eighteen) but what it offered was a safe and caring environment, in a beautiful setting, and ne’er a hint of corporal punishment. I was part of a tight knit group with whom I still keep in contact and, given what had gone before, not just at Lindfield, but, prior to that, some very traumatic bereavements and other difficult experiences, it was the haven I needed and possibly more important for my sanity than being pushed academically.
    The strawberry ‘stealing’ incident was truly horrendous. I broke bounds with S (Hart's daughter) and some of the boys. We walked through a strawberry field and, naturally, ate some - what else would children do if they hadn’t been told not to? I would have been far more worried about being caught leaving school grounds than eating the fruit. Anyway, someone saw us and we were in big trouble. The boys were publicly thrashed; the whole school assembled in the big room at the front of the house. I have often wondered whether I would have suffered the same fate if S hadn’t been with us; even Hart might have found it difficult to thrash me and not his daughter; I don’t know. Anyway, it resulted in the aforementioned expulsion so from my point of view stealing fruit was for the best but, inwardly, I carried the feeling of being a wicked thief for many years. Most of the boys cried before the allotted number of strokes had been administered but one boy was determined not to cry (Xd or Yd?), which so infuriated Hart that he just kept going until the boy was broken. I couldn’t bear to watch but heard it all. It is shocking.
    It’s interesting that you remember Hart as having some surface charm; I don’t remember that at all but his wife could be sickly sweet. I recall her being extremely unctuous and ingratiating towards my father and stepmother on the station platform when she handed me over for the last time, positively simpering. I wonder if she, too, suffered behind the scenes.
    I would be interested to know the names of any other pupils and staff that you remember.
    I’m surprised I cannot recall your sister, Bay, she has such an unusual name. You are the only person I’ve ‘met’ who actually realises that girls attended the school as well as boys, which seems odd; didn’t they notice us? There again, it wasn’t until comparatively recently that I realised there were day boys as well; how could that have escaped me? To be continued…. 
    Sent 6 September 2014: Dear A. Just dashing on an errand to Gloucestershire with Lin…
    "... The boys were publicly thrashed; the whole school assembled in the big room at the front of the house. I have often wondered whether I would have suffered the same fate if Sheila hadn’t been with us; even Hart might have found it difficult to thrash me and not his daughter; I don’t know. Anyway, it resulted in the aforementioned expulsion so from my point of view stealing fruit was for the best but, inwardly, I carried the feeling of being a wicked thief for many years. Most of the boys cried before the allotted number of strokes had been administered but one boy was determined not to cry (Xd or Yd?), which so infuriated Hart that he just kept going until the boy was broken. I couldn’t bear to watch but heard it all. It is shocking.
    I was there stood next to S. My guts are wrenching reading your account, Wow! I can still hear those screams from the boys. More later…Thanks so much, A. Simon (in haste)
    Sent 9th Sept after A had sent me some local history notes about Hyde End House:
    Dear A. You should not have gone to such trouble, but thank you anyway. The ‘place’ known as Hyde End is less interesting - beautiful though it is -  than my temporary association with its inhabitants and a minuscule time in the life and history of Hyde End.
    I was pleased and relieved that when I did visit the house sometime in my fifties the school that had occupied it for a few years had no resonance. It had not damaged the place nor, when I peered through the front windows of the room where Mr Hart carried out his crimes, did I ‘see’ anything that affected me in the slightest. It was a vacant home, with its then owners, as the gardener told me, away.  It was reading your account the other day that did shake me a little; a bat squeak of white rage against a man which had I encountered him even as an old man with white hair I think I might have shaken - roughly. You know how the mind makes associations - when I hear the name ‘Hyde End' I think of hiding and in Hart’s case a good ‘hiding’ and an ‘end’. (:)) Best wishes, Simon
    Oliver and his sister Hannah just the other day. 'It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.' Luke 17:2 'λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ εἰ λίθος μυλικὸς περίκειται περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔρριπται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων.' (photo: Amy Hollier)

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  • 07/26/14--06:03: Far to go
  • Hannah Rowan Hollier born at 00.14 the morning of Thursday 24th February (photo: Richard Baddeley)

    After the excitement on Thursday I went to London for the afternoon - Birmingham Snow Hill to Marylebone ... dawdling for my 10.14 train to London, I decided to photo myself alongside the statue between the platforms. A professor of dentistry with a classy camera asked to take a picture of me taking a selfie. He emailed it to me and but edited it with eyes askance in B & W on his Flickr stream.
    With John McKenna's Commuter at Snow Hill Station (photo: Damien Walmsley).
    From Marylebone I cycled north towards Hornsey to see Francis Niemczyk. I wanted a touch-look-talk at his place - to view the kit he's using to synchronise the ageing 16mm film and 1/4" reel-to-reel tape from my stepfather's archive of Out of Town programmes. Round Regents Park it was still sunny but humid. The forecast rain clouds were gathering. Kentish Town Road, Fortress Road, Junction Road to Archway, and urban heat brought the overcast to breaking point. There was lightning and thunder and on Hornsey Rise - a downpour; rivulets riding down the gutters; vehicles fecklessly throwing up sheets of drenching spray I dodged by walking the pavements until I could shelter below a petrol station canopy; dispense myself a milky coffee and choc cookie, before free-wheeling down Crouch End Hill, through the Broadway and along Park Road to Francis' side street. He's on night shift these days, sleeping from about 8.00am to 4.00pm. I followed him through the house to his garden shed so's I could see the kit he's using on the film and tape [links to the back story - the material and my journey to collect it from the West Country in April 2010)

    The process of restoring the material I inherited from my stepfather is taking time. It's nearly a year since the first synchronisation (actually the second, as the restored episode that gave me the original idea of what might be done, was completed in May 2010 by Roger Charlesworth at SWFTA). Although we now have a list of the tapes that go with the films and Lin and I, in June 2013, duct taped a dozen pairs of tapes and film, based on the numbers pasted on them at SWFTA, and had five of these pairs taken to London for Francis to work on, only one pair has yet been synchronised. This sample, just over for four minutes, has been done perfectly, and gives an idea of what's involved.


    The restoration process is nothing if not tricky, painstaking; even tedious.
    "The atmos sound's not a problem but the spot sounds - like a hammer blow or a gate shutting - are"said Francis. He's lots of other film work, hitches with his machines, and he needs to work nights ... We discussed the possibility that after he's synchronised the next two pairs of sound tapes and film over the next fortnight, he focus on digitising sound tape and film and leaves the synchronisation for the moment. Then I suggested we see if it's possible to enlist additional helpers - people who might not have the technology or the skills to transfer the delicate 16mm film and the reel-to-reel sound tapes to DVDs, but do have the craft and perseverance required to work on synchronising the digitised sound to the digitised image on the archive material if provided with pairs of DVDs for each episode. One volunteer has described this in an email to Francis:
    Hello Francis. My name is ***. I live in Maryland and became acquainted with Simon Baddeley and his efforts to rescue heretofore neglected and forgotten Out of Town material through his group on Facebook
    One of the obvious problems Simon faces is the enormous amount of time and potential expense of stitching back together Stan Bréhaut’s MOS material with Jack’s extant recorded narratives. While Simon has made us aware of some of the technical challenges (e.g. sometimes having to time compress or dilate the narrative to match the flow of the picture), much of the effort appears to be the grunt work of cleaning up noise and persistently fiddling with the timing to get a good match.
    Several of us in the circle of Jack’s fans have the digital tools and experience to be able to help with this on a volunteer basis, once the original digitalizations  are made. I suggested to Simon that he might farm out some of this raw material to us to accomplish some of the tedium. The would be little risk in trying this as all that would be passed to us are working copies of the original rips – and they can easily be passed to and worked on anywhere in the world. 
    For myself, I was involved with website production for about 15 years which did involve a fair bit of video and sound editing & have use of a fairly powerful machine and the complete Adobe CS6 suite of software. For sound I move back & forth between Sony & Adobe, depending on the tools needed.
    You are the one in the position to digitalize the precious originals and to judge which pieces require your technical expertise and which can be passed on to patient and reasonably capable enthusiasts. 
    I am suggesting the following process for yours and Simon’s comment and discussion:
    1. Proceed with mass digitalization of material before getting involved with the editing of individual pieces.
    2. Do whatever tape to picture pairing can be done or identify a range of possibilities.
    3. Provide reasonably detailed technical specifications for the finished product,
    4. Send out pairs of rips to potential volunteers & let us do an “apprentice pieces” to see if further cooperation with this or that volunteer has potential.
    Perhaps this will free you up to do the most challenging work and let the project progress in a more timely and economical way.
    Thanks for your attention & I look forward to your reply. If you think it a go, we can arrange a telephone chat. Cheers, ***
    From Hornsey I cycled south - knowing I can never get lost in London - ending up on the Holloway Road, then Camden Road where the rain returned more persistently and I had to shelter in a bus stop where I continued reading my Harris on Dreyfus, pondering the character of George Piquard, the author's interesting narrator,  as successive buses loaded and unloaded wet passengers until a let up...

    ...in the rain allowed me to continue into Friday evening Camden Town where the one way system fooled me into nearly cycling north again towards Chalk Farm and no-one I asked knew the way south
    Passing through Camden Town on Friday evening
    I had a sweet supper with family just off the Edgware Road and later cycled fast - the conversation difficult to break off - to Euston to catch a fast train back to New Street.
    *** ***
    I had a bizarre exchange about a hair-split on the difference between a primary and a secondary source. A didact let fly on a letter copied me by Richard Pine that he''d received from Seamus Heaney. The dialogue on a Wiki Talk page, its owner insisting the letter be removed at once. I disagreed - suggesting the letter was in the public domain permitted by the Heaney estate, quoted by Pine's publisher. This editor replied:

    You asked for my suggestions; I replied. If you don't want the facts don't ask for them. Obviously, you are way out of your depth. I find it sad that someone whom claims to have degrees resorts to a website to publish their thoughts. If you can't contribute according to our norms, take your ball and go home. Chris Troutman (talk) 23:44, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
    Chris, Such an intemperate and, frankly rude response is unacceptable. You owe Simon an apology. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to AndyAndy's edits 13:38, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
    Chris, you have a reputation for speaking bluntly, but I have not seen you behave rudely before. I ask you to consider your words to Simon and make proper overtures to him regarding them and your behaviour in this thread. Even when we have a strongly held opinion we may not express it rudely. Fiddle Faddle 13:56, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
    @Pigsonthewing: @Timtrent: So you two have been called upon because my "rather didactic advice" offends someone? Here's some more didactic advice for everyone: WP:PRIMARY and WP:SPS describe this letter as a primary source of questionable verifiability. Without provenance, I think the letter is problematic at best. My degree is in history. The study of history teaches us that a letter written contemporaneously to the subject period is a primary source. Primary sources are not to be used in tertiary sources because they require secondary source analysis, which is meant for qualified individuals, not hobbyists.
    On wiki all editors are hobbyists; no one here is an expert even if they really are. Wikipedia is not set up with "verified" accounts; therefore, editors cannot argue from a position of authority. I don't take the word of anyone online, anyway. On Wikipedia we argue the facts independent of users.
    Sibadd came to my talk page and asked for my advice. I provided it. That user chose to then argue with me about same and complain when my response was brusque. I didn't nominate anything for deletion or threaten to interfere. I didn't even raise an issue on the article's talk page. I registered an opinion and I wasn't degrading, demeaning, or hostile when doing so (in my opinion). And yes, Timtrent, I will be just as vehement in person; I find such intimation otherwise to be insulting. Sibadd's argument about the letter holds no water with me and I don't understand why a user that's been registered since 2006 doesn't understand these policies, guidelines, and essays or my reaction to their argument. While I have been trying to attract academics to Wikipedia as a Campus Ambassador, I reinforce the clear understanding that Wikipedia is functionally different. I don't care if you hold the Lucasian chair, you're just another editor cobbling together secondary sources on wiki. I do find it sad when academics mistake Wikipedia as an alternative. Adrianne Wadewitz never did that; she contributed encyclopedic knowledge and adhered to our rules, as we all should.
    I am disappointed that for the amount of time I take considering how to respond, toning-down my initial response, and assuming good faith that I'm still perceived as some kind of reckless bomb-thrower. So, if my response doesn't meet your needs, take it to a noticeboard. I'd be content with an IBAN from all interested parties.Chris Troutman (talk) 02:22, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
    I had not expected a rationale for rudeness to be attempted. I have no issue with your opinion being held strongly, nor with that opinion being expressed assertively. I have an issue with your rudeness to the editor. You can be as blunt as you wish up to but not passing the point of rudeness. I don't care one fig for anyone's degrees. I don't care whether the letter is out or in. I don't care about the article, though I care about articles. I do care about the way people behave towards others. I very much doubt I will say more on the matter in a timely manner, I am travelling today and tomorrow. After that the matter will have cooled and not be helped by being re-raised, so I think any further response form me will be unwarranted. I simply express my surprise and distaste for your behaviour, and for your reinforcing it. It is not your message I quarrel with; it is one you are entitled to deliver. It is your mode of delivery. Fiddle Faddle 05:05, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
    Good to find out about Adrianne Wadewitz, and I'm glad other Wikipedia editors responded, reminding me of Jimmy Wales' and Andrea Wekerle's 2009 article on 'keeping a civil cybertongue...
    ...we need to create an online culture in which every person can participate in an open and rational exchange of ideas and information without fear of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment or lies. 
    *** *** ***
    Ah! The troubles of the bourgeoisie in peaceful Britain, as fire rains on Palestine, we are in the absurd situation of having such a backlog at Birmingham Registry Office that Guy and Amy cannot register the birth of Hannah Rowan, our grand-daughter, within the legal time limit for registering a new birth. The first available appointment is 28th August - a date Guy found after finally finding an unengaged phone slot on Monday morning - constantly ringing and ringing for nearly 40 minutes - will not allow time to get Hannah her compulsory passport, an application for which a birth certificate is essential. So will Amy be able to stay with us in Greece in September or even October?  I've written - via Facebook - to our MP, Khalid Mahmood, who's replied swiftly asking for details and saying he's on the case.
    These delays on papers, the trickiness of proving you exist in the matrix...reminds me of Richard Pine's response on reading the wikipedia editors' exchanges about the letter from Seamus Heaney (SH):
    Simon - not clear who the authors are, but obviously Chris Trouthead is a nasty person.
    The stuff about the letter is BOLLOX - it's tantamount to saying the latter is a forgery, or never existed in the first place. Especially since SH is no longer with us to verify it.... What pathetic small-minded hypocrisy. RP
    Now that's interesting. Is Richard's incivility, in a private email, that I've made public in a blog, a tertiary, secondary or primary source?  Is it possible I faked the letter and this email?  Is Seamus Heaney a real person? (continued on p.94)
    **** **** ****
    Lin and I went round to inspect a garden in Stamford Road that seems a fair candidate for Handsworth Helping Hand's assistance. There's been flytipping into the end of the garden from premises on Putney Road. We need to see if we can stop that, as well as contacting the Housing Agency responsible for the garden next door - get that tidied at the same time if possible.



    *** *** ***
    I'm as entranced as anyone by some stories in which animals are made like people - The Wind in the Willows especially - but I'm vexed by endless smiles and animals that look nothing like animals.

    When I was six, Jack, who'd just started living with us, gave me a Christmas present laced with a treasury of illustration - Richard Lydekker's Royal Natural History in 6 volumes, published in 1896.

    Now and then I've immersed myself, and my children and now my grandson in this magical bestiary in which the animals don't speak human, don't smile cheerfully and are, irrefutably, denizens of a feral universe...


    Oliver's hardly two and half, for goodness sake, but I wanted some imprinting of images to compete with patronised animals, animated cars and Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, for all my tender spot for railways and steam trains; indeed any trains.
    Lightning McQueen


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  • 09/15/14--03:21: The village sculptor at work
  • Aristeidis Metallinos of Ano Korakiana by Jan Bowman (Sept 2014)
    As a generous present for a small favour my friend Jan has sketched the laic sculptor Aristeidis Metallinos, working from a photo lent by Angeliki Metallinos, his grand-daughter. It’s been good to get a note from the academic who wrote about him in 1985 – now Dr. Eurydice Antzoulatou-Retsila, since 2009 professor and Dean of the School of Cultural Studies of the University of Peloponnese in Kalamata – 300 kilometres south east of here. Her email spoke of meeting the sculptor in early 1982 ‘during my scientific fieldwork’. She thanked me for my interest and asked me to please let her know ‘if you think I could be of help in your research about Metallinos and his work.’...
    I had felt, at that time, very lucky to have discovered him. At that period I was curator at the State Museum of Greek Folk Art in Athens and I had thought that his work could be the subject of a monographic museum, which actually his family created. I have not visited the village since then, although I was professor at the Ionian University for several years…speaking to my students about his work.
    From me: …I am so delighted that I have heard from you as I can always imagine that sheer hard work in academia these days (I am semi-retired from Birmingham University aged 72) makes it almost impossible to respond to questions that are not about the work of the moment.
    I have been trying to assist the family, in particular Angeliki Metallinos, the laic sculptor’s grand-daughter, to help put her grandfather a little more on the map.
    But for your essay about him, Aristeidis Metallinos is more or less unknown even in Corfu; even in Ano Korakiana. That may be because his work, as you may know, was not only a commentary on the history and fast-changing pastoral economy of Corfu and his village but also involved strong, even pungent, illustrations of his contempt for the establishment – everywhere in the world but also closer to home.
    This is perhaps still a sensitive matter long after the artist’s death…
    I love the village where we now stay for under half the year. I am Philhellene, infected by my dad via his second marriage in 1949 to Maria Roussen, an Athenian… I lived with my mother and stepfather, but dad invited me to Greece in 1957 - a callow 16 year old. I made a four day train journey via Venice to Athens to be met by the lovely relatives; then sent on a tour of the great sacred places with a young Greek guide whose joy and pride and enthusiasm in what she showed us, is with me always. Except the Acropolis I’ve never returned. They live in my imagination free of the resented attentions of a million other admiring sight-seers.
    The help I sought from you, if I may be allowed to pursue this, is whether the ribald, Chaucerian, erotic and subversive element of Metallinos’ work fitted with your impressions of him in 1982 as a laic sculptor associated with Corfiot folklore. There seem to have been two sides to the man as he admits in that ’double-faced' self-portrait
    You saw his relief satirising the 'Saint of Preveza’ and perhaps some other pictures of his work...in this area that I am treading  softly.
    That’s me - the double faced (cat.92) ~ Aristeidis Metallinos 1980
    I’ve had helpful advice from Dr Alexandra Moschovi at Sunderland University. I spent a half-day with her in Newcastle a few weeks ago. She showed me how Aristeidis’ work could in several cases be linked to contemporary events in the 1970s and 1980s. She reminded me that, especially in the 70s, there was still the memory of censorship from the Stone Years and that the sculptor may have been perceived as being a dangerous rule breaker, even risking the reputation of his village and family and others.
    On the precautionary principle, I am assuming all this is not entirely in the past. The sculptor lies with his second wife Eleni in the churchyard of Eklisia Paraskevi just below the village, his ‘ museum' just visible through the cypress trees between the church and the village above.
    The current plan I have agreed with Angeliki who has the support of her parents Andreas (son of the sculptor) and Anna…is to work on a catalogue describing each of the works. At some time in the next two years I would greatly appreciate being able to share our progress on this with you and in the meantime I hope our research into Aristeidis Zach. Metallinos has your blessing.
    I hope you will forgive me using your first name. There is no disrespect intended and I am well aware that without your academic reputation we would not even have been able to get a small piece about the sculptor in Wikipedia. Thank you so much for coming back to me. Kindest regards…
    *** ***
    We ate a late supper in Handsworth on Wednesday evening, Guy, Emma, Amy, Richard, Lin and I around our kitchen table...
    ...Oliver has finally gone to sleep upstairs in our room. In the morning he’ll wake to climb from his cot and into our bed. But nanny and grandpa will have left. Downstairs new Hannah, is for the moment in the centre, before Amy gets her to sleep in the bouncing cradle, one with a battery that makes it vibrate. When that’s not enough Guy puts his smartphone playing a modern lullaby – white noise - beside the cradle - the same comes from radio telescopes probing galaxies.
    Supper over, all packing done and case weighed to regulation 20 kilos, tickets and passports checked, we with Guy to Digbeth coach station. Two hours to Luton. A crowded wait in long queues of familiar strangers. A flight at dawn and a landing through cloud into a rain-swept world where we picked up a car and drove up, via Lidl, to blessed Ano Korakiana. It rained and rained. The second night I woke to thunder and lightning. Lin stood at the French windows - a woman in black against its constant flicker. Rain pounded our tiles, brimming the gutters, flowing over their length in shining streams, flowing over the balconies to splash on plaka and concrete below.
    In the sunny morning we continued tidying the garden; pruning and bagging a three month spread of Bougainvillaea and Wisteria, and, with extending loppers bought from Technomart near Gouvia, cutting back the tops of the lemon and orange tree where they grew higher than the balcony.
    That wood balcony that affords such views of Corfu, the sea and mainland Greece, is crumbling.
    Morning in Corfu
    .No Greek would regard it as anything but a temporary structure. To halt the effects of time we've bought Resoltech - a kind of archaeological wood treatment that demands careful application.
    Resoltech1010 and hardener 1014
    Instructions are on the internet and we've consulted friends here who have used it.


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  • 09/27/14--03:16: Late September
  • On our balcony


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  • 10/06/14--01:15: A universe of children
  • (Photo: Lin Baddeley)

    Once upon a time in a universe of children, we direct their sagas; stories full of half-human noises – a script of monosyllables, mingled with wailing and laughing. Late evening, the stars at last in their trailers, cossetted, coaxed, fitfully dreaming tomorrow’s lines, the crew eat, drink, talk and play cards, tired from another long day on set.



    Another morning. Our stars don’t, like Achilles, sulk in their tents. They rise early to stir their staff, invade their beds, prise open their eyelids. The canteen is fired up. The house creaks. Shooting recommences at dawn. Nappies, potties, bottles, toast and cereal on plastic plates and dishes. Breasts pressed into service; sacred objects clutched. Somewhere in the long morning the scene shifters, grips and gaffers; take a breather, a smoke and a chat about their encounters with particular actors – a mix of bemoaning, boasting and largely unheeded advice. 
    “But she’s always sweet with me!”
     “You’re joking. I get it like this every morning” 
    “Just don’t let him get away with it.” 
    “I don’t but I think he had a bad night” 
    “Yes but you’ve got to let them know the limits” 
    I’m an assistant, of little importance on set, with fantasies of how I’d direct the situation; a roadie goffer making cheese toasties, tea and coffee for colleagues, washing up, carrying trays, bagging the extra rubbish, wiping surfaces, straining at my traces, longing for my own place in the sun between the shadows cast by this trio of stars. The work is constant, prolonged, detailed and tedious with much standing around, much sentry duty. To get these children from the house into the car takes several hours. There’s the complicated business of assembling clothes, shoes, beachwear, sun cream – factor 50, hats, picnic things. For days until now the weather has been sublime, the far mountains hazed above a gently ruffled sea – scuffed blue velvet. In the foreground, green lemons, green oranges just above the balcony, with wisteria and bougainvillea; with silver and green of olives and cypress stretching to the near horizon. I’m assembling things for others, things that have little to do with me. It’s a lesson in humility; a lesson in what is for me the ill-practised art of caring for others.


    I could be off walking, cycling, sailing, reading, even writing. It takes this family, this household – four grown-ups, my wife, my daughter – mother to Oliver in his third year, and Hannah two months – Liz, Amy’s best friend and mother to one year old Sophia, all morning and into the early afternoon, to be ready for “what we’ll do today” – go to the grassy beach at Dassia....
    ....have a swim in the lovely empty - end of season - pool at Dominoes in Analipsi, 

    walk on the cricket ground opposite the Liston...
    Oliver, Sophia. Liz and Hannah on the cricket pitch in Corfu
    ...stroll in the evening by the pebbled shore below Faliraki in the city...
    Gazing towards Mother Greece from Faliraki
    ...find this early October and almost empty beach near Canal D’Amour at Sidari. 


    The actual shoot is hardly a quarter of the day. I want to start my story, my once upon a time at dawn and let it run until I sleep, waited on as I wait now, my grandchildren’s sentry. 
    (Photo: Lin Baddeley)

    Did Hitler ever rise early to make someone’s breakfast? I know Heracles, followed by paparazzi, diverted a river to clear the Augean stables but did he ever just bag domestic rubbish and take it daily to the wheelie bins – unsung – or ever change a nappy? Did Voltaire ever have to oversee the assembling of the shoes needed by four adults and a toddler planning a couple of hours on the beach? 

    Robespierre. Did he empty a potty and clean it? "Great Alexander! Hold this baby. Can you calm her as you did Bucephalus?" Shakespeare knew what I’m going on about; knew about mewling and puking. I’d trust him above Rousseau for all his influential theories about raising children.

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  • 10/16/14--06:36: A family visit to the Museum
  • Angeliki arranged for the family including Liz and Sophia, to see inside the Aristeidis Metallinos Museum one Wednesday morning
    “My parent's house is full of children. Let me take you all for a coffee at Stamati’s after your visit” she suggested
    Given the logistics, I was delighted we were all ready just before noon. At the door of the museum Angeliki let us in.
    Liz and Sophia in the Aristeidis Metallinos museum
    It was a short visit – maintaining the connection – but I learned a little more. Liz had never seen the place. She harboured ideas of 'naughty carvings'. I liked her reaction to the laic sculptor's sequence ‘from the history of women'. Aristeidis, without, so far as I know, a scintilla of reading about feminism, has traced, in five carvings, his view of a puzzling, but most definite path from beast of burden via male symbols made androgynous, breasted flightless cockerel, an intercontinental missile guided by its rider, to the power source – a fecund bud and breasts. Whence came these images? First stolid and grounded, then springing, soaring?
    Aristeidis Metallinos, his gaze - 'from the history of woman' (1978)
    Imagine them placed and lit by a skilled curator. There are more direct works...
    Aristeidis' take on Eve and original sin 1982



    Aristeidis Metallinos The Queen of the World 1983 (Cat 46) "who will bring peace and love to the world"
    ...but that sequence seems most original, sticking in my mind, ringing no bells of connection to similar images from other hands. Alexandra Moschovi has encouraged me to run these works beside events of the artist's time. Angeliki told me over coffee at Piatsa, that her grandfather, having taken a bus from Ano Korakiana to the city, went to watch films there. Some would, like The Saint of Preveza,  from a non-fiction novel by Spyros Karatzapherēs Σπύρος Καρατζαφέρηςbeen erotic and sexually explicit, while disappointing the eye of an audience seeking pornography.  Mark told me that there was also a drive-in cinema on the outskirts of the city which showed porn films, but these at the Oasis were films breaking rules of imposed and self-imposed censorship before and after the departure of the Colonels; in this case the director Dimitris Kollatos Δημήτρης Κολλάτος testing the limits then and now (see also)
    "My grandfather went on his own, on the bus" said Angeliki
    "Not with Eleni?"
    "No he was a typical Greek man in that respect. His wife stayed at home, with the children, doing the cooking..." She smiled at this.
    The family with Angeliki Metallinos (centre) at Piatsa the other day (photo: Stamatis Savannis)

    Later Stamatis told me that in those days Ano Korakiana was served by more buses taking villagers and visitors in and out of the city.
    "Many people from here would go there for the day, the evening. There was an open air cinema near Sa'Rocco called Oasis (Stamatis pronounced it with a short 'a' ... O- as - is). You could sit and have food and drink watching a film."
    "Ah!" I thought; the self-taught sculptor's anticipation on the bus from the village; the watching, perhaps discussion - or did he sit alone? And afterwards...reflection, as the bus wound back to his village, Aristeidis' already sketching on a split-open cigarette packet, itching to set-to on marble with chisel and mallet.
    The Saint of Preveza

    I asked Stamatis about reaction to the showing in the 1980s of the film about Stylianos Kornaros, the bishop who'd had a scandalous affair with the wife of another bishop.
    "In the town there were demonstrations against the showing;" Stamatis told me "Priests and religious people protested."
    *** *** ***
    Just caught the bus to Ano Korakiana - "€2 to the village please"
    We’ve made ourselves car free; concentrating on the local circumference encourages walking. Amid rain I dropped off the car at the airport, unloaded my folding bicycle; scurried into town between downpours. Awaiting my 12.15 bus to the village I sat with a diplo skirto and a brandy beneath an awning. Rain washed the city, scouring gutters, clearing downpipes, sweeping the marble paving, pouring into bubbling drains. Waterlogged waist down, I sat with one other passenger on the green bus back to the village with a towel over my knees. One more day the rain continued. Mist occluded our space. Washing accumulated. Two evenings I lit our stove, to Lin’s protests. On the third afternoon a long margin crossed the sky – its precise cloudless side, ours for the rest of a hot drying afternoon. These salady October days have run for twelve days,  welcoming our mornings with bright slivers and sharp shadows, even as the evenings draw in, and I add a long-sleeve shirt over my daily T-shirt and shorts.
    Walking below Ano Korakiana with my beloveds

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    From a stroll around the summit of Mount Pantocrator, a ascent via Sokraki, Zigos, Sgourades and Strinilas, we descended a kilometer to a place in sight of the mountain top and spread ourselves a picnic on a grazing just off the road in the company of all those things that keep people away from such lovely places – two varieties of ant, a dung beetle, wasps, a lone mantis, a bumble bee, butterflies and day moths.

    *** *** ***
    Yesterday we went as usual when we have a car to the Lighthouse - O Foros – table-top sale at Kontokali, then after the usual humming and haaing with arguments and indecision to a pebbled beach near the old Venetian Arsenal where the Corfu Rowing Club have made three wooden rafts into a jetty.

    We’d bought souvlaki and giros from Spiridoula, working as ever over the turning spit at George’s.

    “Did you get chips for Guy and Amy?” asked Lin

    “No! I got what people ordered” (I made the list as I thought agreed)

    Lin shrugged to Amy “You didn’t tell your father to get chips as well”

    “Shall I go back?”

    “No don’t bother”

    We sat in the sun on two picnic rugs I’d remembered to bring this time. I sat on the jetty, jeans rolled up, and dangled my feet in the mild sea. A slight breeze blew from the north. A few locals shared the shore. 
    Gouvia pier

    Planes came high overhead now and then. After a while Guy and Amy took Hannah and Oliver further along the shore for shade. Lin lay to read. Sophia slept. Liz and I leapt off the jetty; drying and warming and swimming again. As the sun lost some of its strength Amy and Guy came back with the grandchildren. Oliver dislikes water at the moment and clung to Guy up to his waist. Liz dipped Sophia.

    “There’s a pervert over there.” said Liz “He's watching the women. I don’t think it’s at the kids”

    “He had his hand in his underpants feeling himself…Doing it” said Amy

    I saw this gaunt featured elderly man, lean and bronzed, in the distance. I strolled over crunching gravel and for an hour stood between him and his glassy stare, standing by him in the water when he rose unsteadily and swam a few listless strokes; resting my shadow across him, as muttering soundlessly he tried to stare at women on the beach with the rusty focus of a spent torpedo. Peering at his watch he picked himself up and doddered from the beach.
    Amy joined me jumping in again ...

    ...and so we spent the rest of the afternoon, before going into town and watching the sun set from the Faliraki cornice before a long supper at Strapunto– delicious grilled meats (some boxed to take home for Sunday supper), breads, feta and salad, grilled mushrooms, chips and the children not embarrassing us too much with sudden complaints, as we sat across from a model family, father and uncle, mother, three small slim daughters and yiayia smiling benignly.

    Home again in the cool of the evening

    “Don’t bring the washing in now” said Lin “It’ll be fine in the morning”

    The children disappeared into the soundest sleep.


    “I’ll shower off this salt in the morning” I thought heading for slumber nearing the end of Geoffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex– wonderful book about Greeks in America starting - almost - with the destruction of Smyrna; the massacres of 1922.

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  • 08/13/14--00:43: On the allotment
  • The skies opened on us yesterday afternoon. Oscar and I sheltered under the shed veranda. Oliver decided to stand in the rain amid thunder and lightning and a shower of hail.
    'Come here, Oliver!"

    He refuses shelter. Thunder cracks; trees swirl.
    "Oliver!"
    I suppose he presents a smaller area to the weather. That's a rough speculation. This is about the pleasure of instant mud, puddles and dripping greenery. I must put up guttering on at least two edges of the shed to harvest rain like this. I had the wicked idea when sipping tea...

    ...a nicer version of that frightful father in Yorgos Lanthimos' brilliantly horrid film DogtoothΚυνόδοντας imprinting his isolated children with toxic inaccuracies about the names of common objects.

    Oliver and I will plant some random seeds on Plot 14. A few days later, after I've prepared the ground in his absence, we'll harvest small toys. Maybe not. I like that he sees and helps collect potatoes to eat emerging under my fork from the earth, and sees beans in their pods cut from their stalks to be on his plate in the evening.
    *** *** ***
    To our delight there arrived, a few days ago, a letter from Angeliki, with sweet greetings to the family from Ano Korakiana, including a card congratulating Amy on the birth of Hannah...
    ...and expressing happiness that her grandfather now has a Greek and English Wikipedia entry. "On the 30th June my sister also gave birth to a healthy boy, my first nephew, so I understand your feelings" Of the continued search for Aristeidis Metallinos she writes:
    When you'll be back in Ano Korakiana you can continue your work as you have planned STEP BY STEP. The doors of the 'μουσείο' are and will be always open to you, Linda and whoever you want. My mother respects both of you. You know that!!! You are also free to write on your blog whatever you think it can help my grandfather's recognition.
    Such joy to read these words; also that Angeliki and her family, after Andreas met them on Democracy Street, had been able to welcome Thannasis Spingos and Kostas Apergis - scribes and historians of Ano Korakiana - to the Museum.
    ...Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
    Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
    Aλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξείδι διόλου.
    Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
    και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,
    πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
    μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη...
    In pursuit of those 'steps' I took the train on the three hour journey north to meet Dr Alexandra Moschovi. I'd contacted her back in May to ask if she could share thoughts on the laic sculptor. I'm digesting our discussion, working through Alexandra's many insights on Aristeidis.
    Meeting Alexandra Moschovi in Newcastle to explore the world of Aristeidis Metallinos



    8th August from Birmingham:
    Dear Alexandra. What a fascinating visit for me, with lots of new ideas and encouragement on the subject of our - now I dare hope - shared interest in the laic sculptor of Ano Korakiana. I have this morning posted you two DVDs containing images from my visits to the Aristeidis Metallinos ‘Museum’ - some are my photos or Linda’s, but mainly they are by Angeliki Metallinos of the works of her grandfather, which she does not claim as adequate representations. ...As we agree the images are in no special order and so represent rather ‘raw’ data. Yes! A catalogue is vital.
     You have encouraged me in the important task of giving a context to AM’s work (I just noticed the coincidence of initials!) by checking the historical time-line that accompanies the sculptor's working, especially the significance of the year 1981.
    I am also alerted to his likely exposure to a number of popular Greek films...more alert to the impact of some of AM’s themes within a village, especially if there are even more sensitive issues of his relationships with others in the village...Given that AM said he took up hammer and chisel 'to bear witness to human nature and its weaknesses'«να παρουσιάσω τον άνθρωπο και τα ελαττώματά του» I am unsure whether he himself is involved in these adventures ... or whether AM's work is observational - which could also bring animosity, even spite upon him....  As we discussed, many more things will emerge.
    Archbishop Makarios carved in 1974 by Aristeidis Metallinos
    I was told by Angeliki that her grandfather sketched his planned works on unfolded cigarette boxes. I hope to see his actual tools and more personal possessions. I hope I may be trusted to see and handle these - with kid gloves.
     Meanwhile I'm delighted you are curious and interested in the same subject. For me it is about the struggle to improve my Greek, but also about my relationship with Ano Korakiana.
    I am pleased that you do not see AM's work as pornographic or sexist. I think there are others who may be repelled by some of it; who would wish to censor some of the more ‘grotesque’ or ‘horrifying’ pieces. But is AM a feminist? What novel view of women emerges from this Greek man in his seventies brought up more or less all his life in a pastoral economy.
    What did he learn in Albania in the war? What mix of fascination, admiration and excitement, anxiety and even anger and contempt informs Metallinos' experience of the changes in the condition of women during his life - and especially in the 70s and 80s with the great tourist invasion of Greece?

    There are aspects of AM’s depiction of sexuality and gendered work that my own maleness may disqualify me from understanding. This is why I am interested in Lin’s views. I know Angeliki is as close to her as she is to me - the English couple!
    Your gaze and critical view as a woman is an addition to your academic perspective on Aristeidis Metallinos.

    There is also the matter of how his relations with his children and family, and especially Eleni, influenced him. I have the believe that he was passionately and sensually in love with her. Or was he, like some artists, more and more egotistical and preoccupied with his marble. His work seems to be a burden on his son Andrea.
    Perhaps I fix on some of these matters because I’m an old man.
    There’s also the matter of many other sculptures and the lovely reliefs depicting a world that has all but been forgotten, and was passing away with immense rapidity in the last decades of the sculptor’s life.
     In a recent Greek film Lin and enjoyed - Attenberg - the young woman’s father, an architect, observes “We never had an industrial revolution. We built an industrial colony on sheep pens”. All over the world the Greek diaspora partakes and leads in projects of modernisation but in Ano Korakiana there are still remnants of pre-industrial enchantment (about which I am not sentimental any more than I am about ‘democracy').
    Thanks again for your interest, your advice and your company in Newcastle. I’m glad the rain held off. 'Σὰ βγεῖς στὸν πηγαιμὸ γιὰ τὴν 'Ιθάκη, νὰ εὔχεσαι νἆναι μακρὺς ὀ δρόμος, γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις….'
    Kindest regards and my best wishes to your dear family Simon
    Αριστείδης Μεταλληνός (1908-1987) ~ his gaze? Are these stone women 'passive'?
    In July I asked Jim Potts for his reflections. Jim has seen only photos of AM's but I've greatly valued his and Maria Pott's opinion of the sculptor's work...Jim also said he might try to seek his daughter's reaction. Ditto I, the women in my family:
    13th July from Zagori (an extract): Re Metallinos, I feel I need to see his work in situ to really understand his take or stance on women. From the images I have seen, there are works that seem to explore quite different aspects of human relations, and the nature of men and women. I don't feel able to judge which is the dominant strand of his thinking, but he was certainly pushing back the boundaries, and that makes his work unusual and interesting.
    At the moment I am struggling with a chapter on Tourism for an American book. Corfu is one of my case studies. I have been gathering information, statistics and anecdotes dealing with the development of tourism since the early 1950s. Like everything else, there are a lot of ambiguities and contradictions, making generalisations very difficult. I have found a theoretical sociological book The Tourist Gaze 3.0 by John Urry and Jonas Larsen very helpful, athough it doesn't deal with Corfu.
    What was the nature of the Metallinos "Gaze"?
    Did AM's work change and evolve over a period of years, are there various "periods" when he depicts women in one way or another?
    His 'gaze'? I need images of Metallinos looking. Not the 'women' but him.
    'Αυτός είμαι εγώ ~ That's me' (1980)
    *** *** ***
    Earlier this month Lin and I went to a BBQ organised by Aftab Rahman - 'quintessential Englishman' - of Legacy WM, in the secret spaces behind terrace houses on the Hamstead Road.
    Colin Simms tells how he came to be involved in the re-creation of these handsome terrace houses...

    The evening was going to be a little expensive.
    "I'd love too come, Aftab. It's a bit dear for us"
    "Come anyway and give a talk about Handsworth Park"
    So I came with Lin with a brief to sing for my supper.
    Photo: David Ash

    David Ash was taking pictures. We explored - in and out - a small group of attached gardens behind Colin's houses. The court where we ate was warm from the sun that had followed rain in the early afternoon while Lin and were still 75 miles south working at Rock Cottage. I'd showered, changed, cooled a bottle of wine; still aching from the climbs up Bell Hill, nursing an appetite. Around eight I spoke for about twenty five minutes about the Founding of Handsworth Park.
    Photo: David Ash

    "You were fine at first" said Lin after "but you read too much from your history"
    "I know, it was when I was going over the script of the public meeting where the decision  was made to proceed with Handsworth Park"
    I find the past in the present so fascinating. I get carried away. But it was just alright. I rehearsed my account of the political work required to create a park - one that was not a philanthropic gift; which had to be paid for with taxes. I earned us supper.
    Photo: David Ash


    *** *** ***
    While they seem busy, often anything but carefree, with alway more to do than there are hours in the day, we shall recall these weeks, while Amy and Guy stay here with their children, our grandson and new born granddaughter, plus the two dogs, Oscar and Cookie (with her irritating bark), as the happiest of times.
    Hannah with her great grand parents
    Oliver and his new sister

    *** *** ***
    Greece's economy - worst since the worst depressions 'in recent memory'.
    Greece’s GDP shrank by a mere 0.2% in the second quarter. While still a decline, it’s the smallest drop since the third quarter of 2008—which means that after 24 consecutive quarters of economic contraction, the Greek recession’s end might finally be at a hand. Don’t expect any wild celebrations in the streets of Athens anytime soon, though. The Greek economy has been through hell over the last few years. Unemployment is an atrocious 27%. And roughly 25% of the economy has been destroyed since the peak in late 2007. That collapse in economic output puts the Greek recession right up there with the worst depressions in recent memory.
    In Ano Korakiana, in the courtyard of Saint Athanasios; Anastasia Metallinou and Sakis Karanikolas gave villagers a recital of beautiful melodies from the repertoire of Manos Hadjidakis.


    anastasia_m082014.jpg
    Υπό το αδιάκοπο θρόισμα της παλιάς νεσπολιάς, στον αύλειο χώρο του Άη-Θανάση, η Αναστασία Μεταλληνού και ο Σάκης Καρανικόλας μας χάρισαν χθες το βράδυ υπέροχες μελωδίες από το ρεπερτόριο του Μάνου Χατζιδάκι.
    Inside the church on another evening there poetry was read
    «Η τέχνη είναι ένα μέσο να συγκινεί κανείς το μεγαλύτερο αριθμό ανθρώπων, με το να τους προσφέρει μια προνομιακή εικόνα των κοινών πόνων και ευχαριστίσεων» (Albert Camus – «Ο Λογοτέχνης και η εποχή του»).
    Έτσι λοιπόν, απόψε, στην εκκλησία του Αγίου Αθανασίου, σε μιαν ατμοσφαιρική αύρα, οι εκλεκτοί προσκεκλημένοι Δημοσθένης Δαββέτας, Δημήτρης Κονιδάρης, Μαρία Πρεντουλή, Σωτήρης Τριβιζάς, Νάσος Μαρτίνος και ιερ. Βαλέριος, μας μίλησαν για «ποίηση», αποδίδοντας το διπλό της χαρακτήρα, του «εμπνευσμένου» και του «σοφού». Η αιώνια και δραστήρια φιλοσοφία της σκέψης, αντιθετικές σχέσεις με την υποκειμενική φύση, μια εξαιρετική δύναμη αφαίρεσης και ανάλυσης. Η βραδυά «έκλεισε» με την ανάγνωση ποιήματος του Δημοσθένη Δαββέτα και με την υπόσχεση της συνέχειας…
    poems06082014.jpg
    Poetry evening in St Athanasios, Ano Korakiana

    (My hopeless translation)...So, an atmospheric night in the church of St. Athanasius, the distinguished guests Demosthenes Davvetas, Dimitris Konidaris, Maria Prentouli, Sotiris Trivizas, Nasos Martin and rep. Valerios, we talked about 'poetry', debating the dual character of the 'inspirational' and the 'wise'; the eternal and dynamic philosophy of thought, contrasting relationships with subjective nature, a fine celebration of strength and resolution.  The evening 'closed' with the reading of a poem by Demosthenes Davvetas and the promise of a return in the future...

    On 11th August Ano Korakiana's orchestra marched in the annual procession celebrating Saint Spyridon Ἅγιος Σπυρίδων - Corfu's patron saint.
    11august2014a.jpg
    11 Aυγούστου σήμερα και η πόλη της  Κέρκυρας θα φορέσει τα γιορτινά της για τη λιτάνευση του Ιερού σκηνώματος του Αγίου Σ πυρίδωνα, σε ανάμνηση της σωτηρίας του νησιού απο τους Τούρκους το 1716. Ο κόσμος, αρκετός, κερκυραίοι και μη, θα κατακλύσει απο νωρίς τους κεντρικούς δρόμους της πόλης απ'όπου θα περάσει η πομπή. Ξεχωριστό χρώμα όπως πάντα θα δώσουν οι φιλαρμονικές, 8 στο σύνολο, αναμεσα τους και η δική μας αποτελούμενηη απο 60 μουσικούς, οι οποίες θα συνοδεύσουν το σκήνωμα με αρχή και τέλος της διαδρομής, την εκκλησία του Αγίου...
    *** *** ****

    Francis Niemczyk has at last completed the second exercise in synchronising one of the hundreds of episodes of Out of Town from my archive. It arrived a few days ago - as a Digibeta tape, a DVD of sound, a DVD of film, and the one I could view and hear, a DVD of sound and image synchronised. Of course the film of Jack in the studio, as we know, is missing. The challenge is finding ways of having more than a dark space over his introduction. Ever helpful, Ian Wegg has suggested this, adding the theme tune and introductory titles. He moves from a fuzzy image of my stepfather in his shed at Raven Cottage in Dorset. This fades into black and white with greater clarity -  a picture of Jack with recovered film boxes on shelves, that dissolves into colour ribbon titles dissolving into Stan's location film...

    Ian has edited out some of the talk that referred to an unidentified object. I like what he's done. Being able to sustain chat about this project among several hundred people on Facebook is encouraging and useful.
    **** ****
    Συγχωριανού μας Σάïμον Μπάντλεϊ  2012 (Αυτός είμαι εγώ με το μπαστούνι)


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    Winnie has sent me pictures of her labours Plot 14 on the Victoria Jubilee; my winter onions surfacing; Brussels sprouts coming along; Jerusalem artichokes doing fine. What also pleases me is the appearance of the soil as a result of our continued weeding and mixing with compost, and the neat work Winnie’s done with weed suppressant and the flowers she's planted on some of the borders.
    The soil on my allotment is getting closer to how I want it to be



    From W: its coming along I still got so much to do up there  it will all be done by the time u come back  everyone up there keeps walking past n saying its coming along so well I think they would love to nick me to do theres - hahah  - yours is looking the best hahah  I love it up there I had to get some more gas coz the one run out...how's it over there?
    We are full up with family - Amy and the baby plus Oliver and Amy's friend Liz and her one year old Sophia. Lovely weather this last week. Shirtsleeves, swimming but also endless nappies! And constant sentry duty on babs. What you are doing makes me so pleased and happy. X S
    don't worry simon u be home soon back up there  having tea hahah...all the big stones will be moved I get the pins and all the sides will be done to I put up feed for the littie birds blue tits we get now and I planted a plant that the bees love Denise gave it me for the bees haha u have a place for ya bike n van when it all done
    Winnie's stone garden
    It is – rightly – forbidden to use artificial pesticides on all Birmingham CC allotments; ditto nutrients. Getting the soil right now feels to me the priority to an extent I hadn’t grasped as I kicked off with digging and weeding – especially the extraction of couch grass roots – the new plot in 2010. The developer treated us all too casually, hence the lack of proper topsoil when we took over the plot, and the plethora of old bricks, glass, bits of plastic, wire, chunks of wood and seemingly endless stones.
    Weed suppressing cover on Plot 14
    ***** *****
    From Martin:
    Hi Simon. Progress report - when we arrived at the cottage yesterday (Saturday), the chimney breast had dried out somewhat - but the bedroom above is damp still on the outer wall, and that drain is definitely blocked. I've diverted the down pipe shoe at the bottom to temporarily divert rainwater away from the structure, but I really need to get that guttering fixed urgently. I'll see if I can find a roofer to do it. Getting to it is the problem though.
    I lit a log fire all day Saturday, and this helped dry things out. The heating is drained down at the moment.
    We went to remove the furniture, and had a grisly discovery;
    The rat that lived in our sofa

    It appears 'Roland' had been living in the sofa! - the furniture has now been burned in the garden, along with the ruined cupboards.
    I've got the radiators back on, and have the phone number of the man who installed the boiler - so I was going to try and get him back the charge, refill, service, and re-commission the gas boiler - if that's OK with you. After so long being unused there could be corrosion and dangerous fumes from the heat-exchanger. It could be dangerous.
    The bathroom is coming on:-

    Adam and Jack are back there today, I have fully briefed them on what to do. Regards, Martin x
    **** ****
    Meanwhile, in the village, students from the architecture department at the University of Patras are using Ano Korakiana's churches and connected building as case material for their studies in design and restoration...
    Αρχιτεκτονική Σχολή...επί το έργον
    Γράφει ο/η Κβκ   
    19.10.14
    Ξεχωριστό το χθεσινό σαββατιάτικο πρωϊνό για το χωριό μας…και αυτό χάρη στην παρουσία φοιτητών και φοιτητριών του Τμήματος Αρχιτεκτονικής του Πανεπιστημίου Πατρών με επικεφαλής τον επικ. Καθηγητή Σταύρο Μαμαλούκο (με σημαντική επιστημονική δραστηριότητα στους τομείς της έρευνας της εκκλησιαστικής αρχιτεκτονικής, της συντήρησης και αποκατάστασης μνημείων κ.ά.). Το χωριό επιλέχτηκε για την πρακτική άσκηση των φοιτητών σε εκκλησίες και παλαιά χαρακτηριστικά οικήματα και η παρουσία τους θα διαρκέσει έως την Δευτέρα.
    Λίγο μετά την άφιξή τους και τη συνάντηση με την εκπρόσωπο της Δημοτικής μας Κοινότητας Αγγέλα Θύμη και τα μέλη του εκκλησιαστικού συμβουλίου του Άη-Γιώργη, Σπύρου Βλάχου και Χρήστου Ζερβόπουλου, θα χωριστούν σε δύο ομάδες για να αναλάβουν δράση στο εκκλησάκι του Αγίου Στεφάνου στην πλαγιά του βουνού και σε κατοικία στο μεσαίο δρόμο του χωριού.
    mamalouk102014a.jpg
    Η εργασία της ομάδας και του επικεφαλής της είναι αξιέπαινη και ελπιδοφόροα για το νέο επιστημονικό δυναμικό του τόπου μας, που παρά τη δύσκολη συγκυρία, αποκτάει τις βάσεις για να κρατήσει ζωντανή την ομορφιά και την ταυτότητα, που μας κληροδότησαν οι προηγούμενες γεννιές και την οποία συχνά και υπό την πίεση της ανάγκης, καταναλώνουμε.
    Το μεσημέρι η «ομάδα» θα βρεθεί να απολαμβάνει τον ίσκιο και το κρασί (φανταζόμαστε) στην περγουλιά του Γιώργου Μεταλληνού, στο μεσαίο δρόμο, ενώ η εργασία της αποτύπωσης θα κρατήσει έως αργά το σούρουπο, για να συνεχιστεί τις επόμενες δύο ημέρες…
    Υ.Γ. Το πόσο δύσκολο και απαταιτικό είναι να διατηρήσουμε τα στοιχεία της αρχιτεκτονικής (και όχι μόνο) παράδοσής μας, φάνηκε στο διάβα της «ομάδας» από την συνοικία του Άη-Γιώργη, όπου δόθηκε η αφορμή για μία ολιγόλεπτη, πλην όμως γεμάτη πάθος και αγάπη για το έργο του, υπαίθρια «διάλεξη» του κου καθηγητή, προς όλους τους ακολουθούντες…φοιτητές και μη.

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  • 10/31/14--03:13: Late October in the village
  • Dawn over the mainland - an October morning in Ano Korakiana

    As the time to leave the village and return to the distant city grows closer I find myself playing down here; playing up there. It’s the same for those long departed swallows. As they assembled on village power lines beside their fledglings, emptied nests growing stale under tiled eaves of a village in Greece, twitching for the flight south; reversing the excitement of Easter’s arrival, fretting for a village in Africa.
     “You’ll like it”
     “Are we there yet?”
    I’m balancing regret and anticipation; a slight time vacuum that matches this weather; poised between late summer and gentle autumn; sounds and smells evoking life as a planet in a universe of parents, their story my sun, sensations and images evoked by wood smoke, slight chill, misty evenings, lit windows into glimpsed interiors; the quiet of this village strewn along a mile of mountainside with its wide precise focus on the scrubbed mainland hills of Epirus. Here is a warmed space in which to be absorbed uninterrupted by clues to the present; so the click of burning wood in the stove is both now, and long ago, a reminder to feed the fire. I roam in time, occupied by beloved presences long gone from the earth, places past, still ineffaceable. So will we be for our children I hope - an indelible frieze. I’ve been employing my imagination on the recovery of Rock Cottage, assisted by Martin’s regularly forwarded pictures from Gloucestershire. He and Sandra and Adam have been travelling down to the Forest of Dean at weekends from their home near Worcester - equipped with first aid for our first second home, plus Jack and other helpers – ‘Team Ward’ Martin calls them. I’m nearly ready to imagine us being able to stay again in the Forest of Dean – but there’s tiling, painting, carpeting yet, and the hope that the problem of upstairs damp will be solved, by adding gutters, burning logs, clearing drains, living there…
    Hi Simon. Paul examined the heating system today, re-filled and charged the system, and got it all up-and-running. The boiler has withstood the ravages of time and lack of use quite well. There is only one issue and this is some corrosion on the diverter valve and pipework.
    He estimates the boiler is ten years old, and has a lifespan of 15 years. He estimates this corrosion will last the life of the boiler, and messing about with it at this stage in its life would only cause more problems.
    I have been discussing the damp problems with Paul, and he has had similar problems with a cottage in Wales. After many surveys and so-call expert advice - most of the problems turned out to be condensation. I note the new windows have no trickle vents, and other than the chimney flue upstairs - there is no ventilation at all. When we got there this morning, the windows were steamed up on the inside !
    I've opened all the windows one tiny gap, and left the heating on for the week, turned down to 15°C - so it will only come on at night. I'll see how it goes for just this week, and note any improvements. Talk more about this when I see you both next. Regards, Martin X
    Adam mending the guttering
    Sandra on the windows 
    Martin's lit the fire to help dry the house ~ 'Team Ward' at work
    There’s the allotment, plot 14 on the Victoria Jubilee, from which I’ve pledged these last years, I’ll supply vegetables for our next Christmas lunch. Winnie’s been sending reassuring pictures of well prepared soil, sprouting winter onions…
    Plot 14 England (photo: Winnie Hall)


    There’s walking and cycling on the canals with dog Oscar, who, while we’ve been away, has been shared between our neighbours and Amy. There’s a host of work to be done on the house in Handsworth; continuing work on the Jack Hargreaves archive sat in that slatternly lock-up on the Tyburn Road; see what Francis in London has done by way of further digitising film and tape, synchronising sound and image. Second day home – Monday after next – I’m giving an evening talk about the history of Handsworth Park to Barr and Aston Local History Society in Great Barr Memorial Hall. And there’ll be seeing the grandchildren again; familiar after an interval of just a fortnight since they were with us in Corfu...
    Lin, Hannah, Amy, Oliver at Ipsos

    ... a fortnight since Guy and I went out on Summer Song; Dave our guardian.
    “Let’s go to Lazaretto Λαζαρέτο
    “Where?”
    “Gouvinon Island”
    He was still puzzled.
    “Execution Island”
    I’m averse to the name. A cloud shadowed the mountains. We motored out of Ipsos into a calm sunlight sea. No chance to sail…
    ”Unless those two big clouds come together, then we might need Gouvia as a bolt hole” said Dave as we passed close by Cape Kommeno.
    But the sun shone on us between them. The island came closer.

    We slowed near the old jetty, took a second pass to avoid shallows, and went in nose first, Dave mooring us with a knot shoved into a slot between a pair of rough stones, our bow covered in fenders touching the water. The clouds moved across the sun.

    I’d been here a over four years ago, expecting now to see the museum announced in 2007 completed; a place to tell the story behind the walls scarred by the impact of many bullets; serried ranks of crosses a few yards up a slope from the jetty; memorials for young men and women shot during the Civil War - bearing dates between 1947 and 1949.
    A Museum of Medical History and National Reconciliation is to be built on the historic islet of Lazaretto, Corfu. The old leprosy hospital, which has been listed for preservation, is set for restoration and the surrounding area will be refurbished and made fully accessible to the public, according to a Corfu Municipality architectural study that has the approval of Deputy Environment Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis.[Long history of Corfu isle honoured with a Museum February 24, 2007]
    But someone and something doesn’t want the history yet. Can’t tell it. Won't tell it. The Occupation executions perhaps yes, but not the fratricidal killings that came after. When I was here in May 2009, the new building looked smart, ready to be used for visits, lectures, exhibitions. The older buildings including the old and perfectly shaped small church, were readied for restoration, scaffolding erected, walls being stripped, some re-plastered. Now the whole place lay besmirched with neglect, mossed, mildewed, rusting, streaked with gutter dripping. In a clearing was a large stack of hardened sacks of cement, paper peeled.


    “There’s a €1000 of cement gone to waste there” said Dave.
    "It could have been stored under cover surely?"
    The notice I’d seen before showed the starred Euro-symbol and the amount dedicated to creating this memorial - €314,000
    “That’s gone somewhere else” we muttered.
     “There’s some rain” I said, feeling speckles between the pines. Someone had been strimming and lopping recently or all would have been disappearing into the shrubs, saplings and trees decorating the rest of the island. There were also roughly squared boards bearing more names, listed without dates or other identification. We'd been going to sit and eat our sandwiches. Instead we headed back to Summer Song, passing another notice, the only one that speaks a little of what happened here.

    “What a great place for a taverna!” said Dave “A proper jetty. You could have a to-and-fro ferryboat from Gouvia”
    “Yes. An open air grill. Souvlaki  lamb, pork, kokoretsi, chicken breasts and legs and beer and wine” “It would be a cracker of a place”
    "Singing, dancing..."
    Remembering. Someone told us an old man they knew saw soldiers with rifles bringing prisoners to the harbour.
    “Young men and women from the prison marched to the old port to board a boat to the island. They were shouting and singing as they walked!”
    We got back on Summer Song and motored around the island before heading back to Gouvia Bay. Guy had phoned Amy.
    “They’ll meet us at the jetty there in an hour”
    The clouds passed as we closed the shore by the old Venetian shipyard, tied up beside the caïque moored there and strolled ashore as Lin drove up with Amy, Liz, Sophia, Hannah and Oliver. Dave had brought small life jackets, and fitted one to Oliver.
    “We’ll meet you at Ipsos” said Amy.
    Liz and Oliver came with us on Summer Song, clambering over the decks of the caïque to board the old yacht.
    Summer Song leaving Gouvia Pier (photo: Linda Baddeley)








    Oliver with his dad "What's that noise?"
    With Oliver aboard the 'Boyhood of Raleigh' flashed in my mind...an image nursed in imagination since I was a boy, lived in my youth...the model ship, the arm pointing to the Spanish Main, so so long before I was - with thousands of others who need to know their history - grappling with post-colonialism.

    A breeze got up off Kommeno again. For a quiet half hour, before calm returned, we sailed under the foresail, Liz at the helm. Moored again in Ipsos, tidying the boat, turning the handle that pumps grease into the stern gland, I thanked Dave
     “That was such good outing. Your reassurance made it so”
    Oliver had spent most of our return journey exploring inside the cabin, observing as we approached Ipsos “Look at the lovely water” A boy's memory of the sea.
    Meeting up at the harbour in Ipsos

    *** *** ***
    The Co-op is gearing up for this winter's olives. On a walk with the family, we dropped in on Sebastiano Metallinos, and his helper Harry, overseeing the oil processing machinery. Sebastiano gave Amy and Liz a tour of the plant from the delivery of olives, twigs and leaves, to the cleaning washing hopper, to the oil tap at the other end
    One of the two olive oil centrifuges in the village co-op

    Douglas Adams would have used the name of a town, Roget might have a clue for me, and the Germans, a suitable compound adjective to describe the bitter-sweet experience of having the house to ourselves, now Liz, Sophia, Guy, Amy, Oliver and little Hannah have flown back to England. They left - eventually - in wet grey weather, which is always better, except the plane that should have taken them home was struck by lightning somewhere on its approach to Kapodistria. It landed with everyone safe, but sat on the runway effectively unusable, while Easyjet announced they were sending a replacement jet, which would mean everyone waiting in the airport for the rest of the day. (Other travellers fared worse). I was grandpa childminder helping with the children until at last they trooped into security just before nine in the evening and I headed back to Ano Korakiana in the dark.

    "I don't see how they can get any compensation" said Lin later, reading the cancellation and delay leaflet everyone had been been given at the airport "It's hardly Easyjet's fault if they get struck by lightning"
    “When we get home…”
    “Home?” I’m of two minds on this, at least two, thinking of a way to return in January when the internet – outside the popular months for travel - becomes useless and Lin and I rely on local knowledge.
    “Do you know anyone who knows about travelling to and from Albania?” I asked Pastor Miltiades at the Lighthouse.
    I do”
    “Wow! We’d like to go to Dubrovnik, perhaps Split and on to Albania without having to go back to Italy first”
    The crow flight from the bottom of Croatia to the top of Albania is hardly 100 kilometres. No coach or ferry is promoted between the countries…
    “Not that we can see”
    “From Dubrovnik there is a coach or ferry to Durrës. From Durrës - in Greek we call it Dyrrhachion Δυρράχιον - you take a coach to Saranda” said Pastor Militiades
    “Right opposite us!”
    “From Saranda you take a ferry direct to Corfu. I will give you some places to stay in Albania next Saturday”
    So then I’m trying to work out how to get to Dubrovnik for under the ridiculous £1000 price three change 12 hour flights thrown up by flightscanners.
    “They’re useless for economy flights in Europe.” says Lin “They’re for cheap tickets to Thailand, Hawaii, Australia…I’ll do some searching on Ryanair, Easyjet, Whizzair
    Meantime I’m phoning Viamare in London for their access to winter ferry routes to Croatia from Italy.
    Says Alina “Bari-Dubrovnik? Wait a mo’…checks her computer...they start in April”
    “Anything in January?”
    “Wait a mo’…Ancona-Split. I’ll email details”
    Dear Mr Baddeley. Further to our telephone conversation with regards to a ferry crossing from Italy to Croatia or Albania. Please note that I can offer a ferry crossing from Ancona – Split , Jan 2015 however time table is still not available, it should be available in mid/end November 2014. At the moment I can offer: Bari-Durrës – 10 Jan 15 – 23:00 arrives 08:00
    2 passengers in seats = €116
    2 passengers in 2 bed inside cabin with shower and wc = €168
    Please note the ferry runs every day at 23.00
    Best regards. Alina. Viamare Ltd. Reservations Dept.
    ***** *****
    Kobanê...Just when the politicians and military of the West have learned about fighting assymetric war they find themselves confronting a force claiming aspirations to fighting symmetrically in the style of the warrior prophet. Kobani an undoubted place, a concept avoided in asymmetric conflict, is being fought over these last weeks. I suspect the 'West', working the old military option of patience - if only they'd done this after 9/11 - will, with the learning of the last 10 years, out-manoeuvre this unwieldy occupation of ravaged middle eastern deserts. As for the Kurdish diaspora - this must be a moment in history.
    *** ***
    By incomparable Tolstoy’s first line in Anna Karenina, his response to Madame Bovary perhaps, we ought, in order to be interesting, to be less than fully happy. Yet to avoid too much derivative plotting, clichés even, I wouldn’t want to paint a picture of enviable harmony masking an emerging tale of depravity…(from the prompt box – frantic rotations of fingers and a finger slashing the throat)
    No no, seriously tho’, don’t bloody do those fake gaping yawns, you know how real writers can compress time; painters define foliage with hardly two deft strokes or composers hit a three note phrase that says it all…
    The trouble with all this is that I try to agree with my stepfather, a master of the television anecdote. He didn’t think you should ever take your audience behind the proscenium; “Don’t share the tricks of the trade”…
    I suspect that these last few weeks will show up on our tree rings, or whatever Lysenko projected was the physiological medium by which experience attached itself to genes, as a time of richly harvested joys. Yet didn’t Tolstoy also show that his hero Levin – same novel – in even his happiest moments contemplated suicide. It’s something about mixing; an alchemy in which grown-up joy is the more real through being spiced with homoeopathic dilutions of misery, depravity, despair, extinction and failure. These are dreams I have, waking to find myself among my children, beside my wife, in my home bed. Koestler implied it with the image of a walled cottage garden orchestrating an array of gentle perfumes and colours, sounds and lovely things to touch and taste, surrounded, if you lift your gaze, by a panorama of barbed wire, where Homer’s rosy fingered dawn is become a blood streamed firmament.  Wasn’t I right to cry out with revulsion when Uncle Mac on Children’s Hour sang about the bells with that finale...
    Here comes a chopper to chop off your head
    Chip chop chip chop - the last man's dead.
    ...or Strewwelpeter’s to little Conrad suck-a-thumb … ‘he comes he comes’ –  the big red scissor man.
    Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
    And Conrad cries out - Oh! Oh! Oh!
    Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
    That both his thumbs are off at last.


    ...just little red stumps - in that famous cautionary children’s book.
    “Oh! The crying and the wailing of children!” I smiled in mock despair to our neighbours Vasiliki and Lefteri and family around their table for Sunday lunch. Foti smiled at me
    “You need King Herod” he muttered with a grin.
    I missed his meaning for a moment
    “Massacre of the Innocents!” said Natasha to cries of horrified laughter. Ah yes indeed.
    The children in Corfu 
    *** ***
    A new shop - for goods, coffee and drinks - has opened in the village's last kafeneon καφενείου Κεφαλλωνίτη. Crescendo run by Spiro and his brother Dimitri Vlachos, opened with the blessing of Pappa Kostas last week...
    Εγκαίνια στο "Κρεσεντο" - 26/10/14
    Χθες, παραμονή του Αγίου Δημητρίου, το σούρουπο, πραγματοποιήθηκαν τα εγκαίνια ενός νέου καταστήματος στο χωριό, από δύο νέους ανθρώπους, τα αδέλφια Σπύρο και Δημήτρη Βλάχο. Το κατάστημα άνοιξε στο χώρο του πρώην «καφενείου Κεφαλλωνίτη» επί του κεντρικού δρόμου, έναντι του Δημοτικού Σχολείου του χωριού και είναι πλέον πανέτοιμο να προσφέρει τρόφιμα, καφέ και γλυκά, στον ειδικά διαρρυθμισμένο χώρο του.
    crecendo102014a.jpg

    Τα εγκαίνια έγιναν με τον συνηθισμένο για την περίσταση αγιασμό από τον παπα-Κώστα, με την παρουσία της οικογένειας των ιδιοκτητών, φιλικών τους προσώπων και αρκετών χωριανών, ενώ μπροστά από την είσοδο υπήρχε μπουφές με κεράσματα.

    Ευχόμαστε καλές δουλειές…και προπάντων με «κρεσέντο»!!!

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