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Monday, 31 May 2010

Bicycle Lanes and Paths in Corfu Town

I wonder how many of the new cycle lanes will still exist when I return to Corfu later in the summer.

As a cyclist I was delighted to discover that this far-sighted project had been funded and partially implemented, but after listening to angry Greek friends and watching tonight's heated Logos-Antilogos programme on the Corfu TV Channel, I came to realise that the project had not been properly planned, but was submitted to the Municipal Council for comment and possible amendment only 24 hours before the cut off date for submission to the European Union. Will much of this two million Euro funding go to waste? Was the initial study done by people with sufficient expertise?

Parts of the cycle lane near the new port have already been destroyed. It won't be long before the section outside the hospital is dismantled or destroyed, because the lane has been made too wide. Rather than destroy it, this section should be narrowed immediately.

Even a one-line cycle path is better than nothing. One cyclist will simply have to give way to another. That would be safer than the present arrangement. Few Greek parents are prepared to allow their children to use these cycle lanes.

A compromise can surely be reached; but car-owners (and motor-cyclists) should respect the principle of cycle-lanes and stop blocking the lanes with parked cars, and they should stop ripping out the bendable plastic upright lane markers.

The alternative will be to build high pavements for the cycle paths, too high for the average car to ascend without damage to the vehicle.

The path leading up past the Laiki Agora
is a great success, the off-road paths being far more successful than some of the shared-road lanes on stretches where the width of the road cannot really accommodate a two-way cycle path.

More people need to start using their bikes, and leaving their cars at home! It's by far the best and quickest way to get around town.

So let's all make the best of the podilatodromoi !

Corfu- and the rest of Greece- can hardly afford more abortive projects or wasted EU funding.

See John's Corfu World for a more optimistic and well-illustrated take on developments:

http://johncorfuworld.blogspot.com/2010/05/bike-paths-arrived-in-centre-of-corfu.html

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Gardening Blues





Unlike Corfucius, I don't usually suffer from the gardening blues.

Having just returned to Corfu from the Zagori (the upper part of rear garden is pictured above), I felt grateful that a Corfiot and an Albanian friend both take a great interest in helping. I'm not great shakes with a scythe, especially with a (convenient, computer-caused?) back-ache which limited my ability to cut down the long grass and weeds which shoot up at this time of year. To be fair, I was tackling it with a small sickle.

I shall miss it when I'm away (flying the day after tomorrow). I was lucky to be here for the Ambassador's reception at the Palace of St. Michael and St. George. It was a great opportunity to catch up with some old friends and to meet some interesting new people. It could almost have been a reception during the British Protectorate! There was even a game of cricket in the plateia in the afternoon.

The Corfu social life is hugely enjoyable, but most of all I enjoy the peace and quiet down in the Vikos Gorge, at the source of the Voidomatis River, or up in a closed Zagori courtyard or garden.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Iron Age (Found Art, Vitsa)

Dr. Anthony Hirst



Congratulations to Dr. Anthony Hirst, on being appointed the new Academic Director of the Durrell School of Corfu.

It was a brilliant seminar (The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands), a real turning point.

University of Birmingham Summer School (update)

ALONI (Threshing Floor, Epirus)




As hard as marble, copper, iron,
The threshing floor
Where Charon waits.

(Back in Corfu, in one piece).

ENOSIS (1864-2010)





Here today, gone tomorrow. I think they're celebrating our departure!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

VITSA: Paschalia kai Kiparissia

Strange happenings in the village of Vitsa.

Someone cut down the cypress trees in the cemetery.

Now someone has pruned the wisteria which adorned the main square and the railings of the old school building.


UPDATE May 2012: I have to admit I was too hasty in my judgement. I have added another photo (second below) to show the pruning did no harm, it may in fact have been the right thing to do. Apologies! Mea culpa.

This was one of the great beauty spots of the village, which always aroused the admiration of visitors and residents alike. Everyone took photographs of the wisteria in bloom (it was a variety which bloomed three times a year).



May 2012

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Bob Dylan in Athens

Bob Dylan performs in Athens next Saturday, 29 May, at Terra Vibe in Malakasa.

It's the first European capital he's playing this time round.

An expression of confidence in the Greek economy?

He must know he's going to get paid.

In Athens with Van Morrison.

Bravo Bob! Has he got blood in his eyes? 

Will he sing "Desolation Row", as in Japan?

The newspaper Eleftherotypia gave away "Modern Times" on Sunday.

Is that a sign of the changing times?

The Ionian Islands and Epirus, revised order form/flyer



Please note revised postal address if you wish to order this book direct from the publisher.

Friday, 21 May 2010

IONIAN ISLANDS SEMINAR

Today is the last day of the full and fascinating seminar on The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands, at the Durrell School of Corfu.

Some of the highlights have been presentations by younger Greek, Italian and Cypriot scholars, like Athanasios (Sakis) Gekas, Kostas Kardamis, Benedetta Bessi, Eleni Calligas and Evangelia Skoufari.

The excellent programme organisation and academic direction by Anthony Hirst and moderation by Peter Mackridge have made the whole week extremely worthwhile, and the papers by Peter Mackridge, Robert Holland and others convinced me that it was the right decision to come to Corfu now especially for this event.

The external visits and walking tours were also extremely informative and enjoyable, and we managed to avoid the worst of the rain.

It would be good if this theme could become a regular fixture.

Postscript, Saturday 22 May:

The last day included an informative illustrated lecture on Heptanesian painting in the eighteenth century, given by Anastassios Koutsouris, and a performance by a large number of the participants of a project based on Solomos' The Free Besieged.
This performance project, devised by Sean McCrum and Paddy Salmon, proved to be an extraordinarily moving experience, which deserves to be performed and recorded professionally, and which should one day be enacted on the spot in Zakynthos where Solomos listened to the cannon-fire from Missolonghi (which inspired the first draft of this magnificent but fragmentary and unfinished work).

I look forward to the publication of the seminar papers in book form, and to future seminars on specific periods of the history and culture of the Ionian Islands.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Cohen in Corfu








This isn't about Leonard Cohen; he hasn't changed islands, from Hydra to Corfu, but I'm sure he would have been pleased to be in Corfu for this international conference and commemoration of the life and work of the writer Albert Cohen (1895 – 1981), who was born in Corfu and who felt lifelong nostalgia for the island.

The Municipality of Corfu, the Mayor Mr. Sotiris Mikalef, and Dr. Spiros Giourgas and his committee, the local community and international supporters are to be congratulated on this significant event. Unfortunately I missed most of it, as I was unable to obtain a programme in time, after my recent return to Corfu. Participants appear to have been delighted, and I heard high praise of some of the films and concerts and of the lecture by Dr. Anthony Stevens, amongst others.

I did manage to attend the unveiling of the commemorative plaque this morning, and the well-attended Service of Remembrance, which revealed how beautifully Corfu's surviving synagogue has been restored. The singing of the Adonai hymn of prayer to God by the Jewish Community Choir of Thessaloniki was very moving. Speeches in front of the ruins of the Cohen family house (the lower two storeys) were also of great interest, offering hope for the restoration of the building and the creation of an Albert Cohen museum there (this and many other buildings were destroyed during the 1943 bombardment).

From tonight the focus will be on the Durrells again, and on other Corfiot writers like Theotokis, at the Durrell School of Corfu seminar on The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands. It is hoped that participants will have the opportunity to visit the Jewish Quarter, the Philharmonia Society, as well as Vido and Mandouki.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

KONTOKALI BLUES




Kontokali was the first place I ever stayed in Corfu (in a tiny tent at a camping-site in 1967). In those days it was a rare thing to find a Stones 45 on a juke-box (or any foreign record).

I was back again last night to hear a great blues-gig and to have some enjoyable chats.

"Baby don't you want to go, back to that same old place, sweet home... Kontokali".

The singer (Steffi) knocked me out, and there was some mighty mean guitar work too.

Thanks to Corfucius for the picture of the poster, and for the photo of an engrossed reader, apparently oblivious to the blues.

HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE IONIAN ISLANDS SEMINAR PROGRAMME NEXT WEEK



The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands
THE DURRELL SCHOOL OF CORFU • SEMINAR • 16–21 MAY 2010


UPDATE, October 2014: Now published


PROGRAMME


Monday 17 May
LITERATURE IN THE IONIAN ISLANDS AND THE IONIAN ISLANDS IN LITERATURE
10.00 – 11.30 a.m. Session 1
Introduction by the Academic Director of the Seminar, ANTHONY HIRST
Keynote lecture by the Moderator of the Seminar, PETER MACKRIDGE
Seven Bards for Seven Islands: poetry and language in the 19th-century Ionian Islands
Followed by questions and discussion.
11.30 a.m. – 12.15 p.m. Break for coffee
12.15–1.45 p.m. Session 2
ELENI TSOUGARAKI
British travellers in Greece
SEÁN McCRUM & PADDY SAMMON will introduce their performance project — in which we are all invited to participate — based on The free besieged (Οι ελεύθεροι πολιορκισμένοι) by Dionysios Solomos. (The performance will be on Friday.)
1.45 – 3.30 p.m. Break for lunch
3.30 – 5.00 p.m. Excursion 1 (unconfirmed)
A visit to the old JEWISH QUARTER of the town
5.00–7.15 p.m. Session 3
JOSEPH WILSON
Using Corfu: the island in the Homeric epics and Apollonius Rhodius
BENEDETTA BESSI
The Ionian Islands in the Liber Insularum of Cristoforo Buondelmonti
RICHARD PINE
Corfu in the writings of Gerald and Lawrence Durrell
7.30 – 9.00 p.m. Film

Tuesday 18 May
THE HISTORY OF THE ISLANDS DURING THE PROTECTORATE: GREEK & BRITISH PERSPECTIVES
10.00 – 11.00 a.m. Session 4
ROBERT HOLLAND
Via or Vita? — The British in the Mediterranean since 1800
11.00 – 11.30 a.m. Break for coffee
11.30–4.30 p.m. p.m. Excursion 2
A visit to the SERBIAN MUSEUM followed by a boat trip (1.30 p.m.) to VIDOS ISLAND where we can see the Serbian Mausoleum, have lunch (2.30 p.m.) and go swimming (optional!). The meze lunch is included for those paying the full registration fee; 12 euros each for others; buy your own drinks).
4.30 – 6.00 p.m. Opportunity to return to your hotel
6.00–8.00 p.m. Session 5
ANTHONY SEYMOUR (paper read in his absence by Anthony Hirst)
How to work the system and thrive: Ionians and pseudo-Ionians in the Levant 1815–1864
GEORGE LEONTSINIS
The Ionian Islands and the Greek Revolution
ELENI CALLIGAS
‘A history of the peasants printed in gaol’ and other unknown texts by the
1849 Cephalonian rebels imprisoned at Argostoli: a first presentation.


Wednesday 19 May
PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION, BYZANTINE CHURCHES AND OTHER MONUMENTS
10.00 a.m. – 1.30 p.m. Excursion 3
A guided tour of the Classical and Byzantine monuments of the Kanoni peninsula, the site of the original ancient city of Kerkyra. The tour will be led by MARIA NAKOU from the 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and ANNA AMYGDALA from the 8th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities.
1.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. Break for lunch
4.00–5.30 p.m. Session 6
ATHANASIA GLYCOFRYDI-LEONTSINI
Reception of Scottish Philosophy in the Ionian Islands during the British Protectorate
EVANGELIA SKOUFARI
Aspects of the coexistence of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in the Ionian Islands during Venetian rule, as seen through Greek and Italian historiography
5.30 – 7.0 p.m. Excursion 3
A visit to the PHILHARMONIA SOCIETY, with KOSTAS KARDAMIS will show us round the not-yet-opened museum there, and then take us on to the Town Hall (formerly a theatre and venue for musical performances), and the bandstand on the Spianada. All within five minutes walk of the Durrell School.

7.00 – 8.30... p.m. Book Launch
An informal social gathering with short talks, featuring the recently published book The Ionian Islands and Epirus: a cultural history, introduced by the author, JIM POTTS. Richard Pine will say something of the forthcoming volume Autumn Gleanings: Corfu Memoirs and Poems by Theodore Stephanides, mentor of Gerald and Lawrence Durrell. Anthony Hirst will say speak about Mark Davies’ forthcoming translation of Constantine Theotokis’ Slaves in their Chains. Other participants in the seminar with recent publications are invited to bring them along (with copies for sale if possible) and introduce them.

Thursday 20 May
LOCAL MUSIC & LOCAL HISTORY
10.00 – 11.30 a.m. Session 7
KOSTAS KARDAMIS
Music in the Ionian Islands: an extended lecture with recordings
11.30 a.m. – 12.15 p.m. Break for coffee
12.15–1.45 p.m. Session 8
JIM POTTS
The Suliots in Suli and Corfu
ATHANASIOS GEKAS
“Thalassoviotoi” – Living off the Sea. Corfu port workers and the district of Mandouki in the nineteenth century.
1.45 – 3.30 p.m. Break for lunch
3.30 — 6.00 p.m. Excursion 4
A walking tour of the Mandouki district led by Jim Potts and Athanasios Gekas.

6.00 — 8.00 p.m. (or 9.30 p.m.) Session 9
MARK DAVIES
Constantine Theotokis and Giuseppe di Lampedusa: Literary responses to turbulent times
(This paper will be read by Anthony Hirst; Mark Davies has been unable to get here from Australia.)
The paper will be followed by the screening of VISCONTI’S FILM IL GATOPARDO (THE LEOPARD), the film version of one of the two novels to which Mark Davies’ paper principally refers. The film lasts three hours; we can either see the whole film now (ending about 9.30 p.m.), or postpone the second half until some time (to be agreed) on Friday.


Friday 21 May
ART AND CELEBRATION
The 21st of May is a public holiday in Corfu — the anniversary of the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece on this day in 1864. The day's sessions of the seminar will be organized to allow us to attend some of the celebrations. No times can be given until we have more information about the celebrations.
Session 10
ANASTASIOS KOUTSOURIS (co-author DENISE ALEVIZOU will not be present)
Influences and interactions of imperial and indigenous cultures in Heptanese painting
of the 18th century
ADAM SMITH
Corfu canes: olive wood companions from the groves of the Phaeacians
Session 11
Performance of the project based on Solomos The free besieged (see Monday)

Anthony Hirst

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Mysterious End of Fotos Tzavellas in Corfu




The main reason I am in Corfu right now is to give a paper on the Suliots in Corfu at an important seminar on the History and Culture of the Ionian Islands, and to listen to noted researchers and academics like Peter Mackridge, Anthony Hirst, Robert Holland, Eleni Calligas, Kostas Kardamis, Athanasios Gekas, Mark Davies and many others.

One section of my own paper deals with the mystery surrounding the death, in Corfu, of the Suliot warrior and hero Fotos Tzavellas (Foto or Photo Tzavella).

Did he die in 1809, as it states on his tomb in Platytera Monastery, or in 1813, as it states on the memorial plaque attached to the Black Cat cafe in Spilia? Die he die from natural causes, or was he murdered by "Turko-Albanian" assassins, or perhaps by members of a rival Suliot clan?

UPDATE, October, 2014: now published as a chapter in this book.

On Markos Botsaris, anemourion blog

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Monteverdi in Corfu


Back in Corfu! In spite of lack of sleep, greatly enjoyed Monteverdi's Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary presented by the Early Music Laboratory of the Ionian University at the Church of St. George in the Old Fortress.

Conducted by Peter Seymour, the vocal ensemble and the Ionian Ensemble of Early Music & Brass created an altogether impressive and moving experience.

People who arrived a little late had to stand for nearly two hours, which must have been uncomfortable.

For popular free events like this, it would be sensible to issue tickets or to provide additional stand-by seating arrangements (small folding chairs, mats, squares of polystyrene, or cushions).

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Corfiot, April 2010



Just received a book review from The Corfiot.

I usually never miss a copy. It's 20 years old this Spring.

Congratulations, Hilary!

PLOUS Bookshop, Nik. Theotoki Street, Corfu

I'm delighted to be able to inform readers in Corfu that "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History" is now stocked and available at PLOUS Bookshop in Nik. Theotoki Street.

It's a great little bookshop, recently refurbished, and it also has a cafe.

Πλους Βιβλιοπωλειον καφε

Plous Bookstore,
2nd Parodos N. Theotoki 14, CORFU TOWN
0030 2661042126

Dimosthenis also loves the blues. You can't go wrong. It could soon become the really cool place to hang out.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Back to Greece (Truth Will Triumph)



It looks as if the volcanic ash is dispersing and will permit people to fly this week.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Or vice versa?

Having just watched Gordon Brown make a statement in front of Downing Street (5pm), I imagine the British public is utterly bewildered.

My 30 page chapter in "Greece and Britain Since 1945" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) deals, in part, with the subject of truth and trust in international and bilateral relations.

Here's something I have just written, on the subject of truth:


Truth Will Triumph

“Cheer up, take courage, do not falter,
Truth will triumph by and by…”

C. B. Harman (1905)


It’s in the Book of Esdras
That Zorobabel said
“Truth bears away the victory”.
King Darius concurred:
“The truth is great,
It’s stronger than all things.
Above all, the truth endures,
It lives and conquers evermore”.

It’s in the Book of Esdras.

A pity it’s apocryphal.
---------------------------------------------------------------

Pravda vítězí!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Greece and Britain Since 1945




I am expecting to receive a copy of "Greece and Britain Since 1945" today.

It's a pity that it will not contain a chapter about the developments of the last few months in both countries. They will soon need another book of their own.

NB Book received and recommended!

Suliots (Souliots) in Corfu: More







Aris posted a helpful comment on my previous blog on this topic, and referred me to these two paintings:

Callet's "The Embarkation of the Inhabitants of Parga" and Hayez's "The Inhabitants of Parga Leaving their Country".

He says that they are dressed in the Souliot style.

I am grateful for this information.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Charles Street Project Development, Dorchester





Environmental issues are a concern to many people, and misguided and undemocratic development decisions made by local or district councils, whether in Greece or the UK, naturally lead to fierce opposition and public protest.

One case which concerns the population of Dorset is the proposed Charles Street development plan for the centre of Dorchester.

It is an important issue which does not need to be politicised, because common sense, budgetary and archaeological concerns should be sufficient in themselves to ensure that planning consent is not given to the application, which has just been lodged with West Dorset District Council.

The plan (not the detailed application) can be read as a pdf file at
http://www.dorsetforyou.com/media.jsp?mediaid=89872&filetype=pdf

It claims that it reflects local aspirations as expressed through an on-going commitment to local consultation, and that there is strong local support for a redevelopment of the Charles Street site.

Recent public meetings and a Dorchester Parish Poll suggest that this is not the case. See www.dorchesterforum.com

There is overwhelming (but ignored and dismissed) popular feeling that the budget for such a project is bound to over-run, that many people want to keep the car-parking area much as it is (including the trees and nearby avenues of trees) in spite of the commercial value of the site, that this is not the ideal place for new District Council offices when other more affordable sites are available, and considering that this is a site of considerable archaeological value (Roman remains).

People are not only concerned about escalating costs in a time of recession, they question the need for such expensive new Council offices, for a new hotel and a new library. One can only imagine the chaos and disruption for citizens trying to park in Dorchester if the project goes ahead, even if building work is phased.

There are many other issues. At stake is a site of 1.7 hectares (4.15 acres).

It is as if the central plateia of Corfu, opposite the Liston, were to be handed "on a plate" to developers to build a new town hall, a hotel and a supermarket.

This is what the West Dorset District Council has to say about the project on its web-page:

Charles Street, Dorchester

It is a priority task to seek to implement local planning policy for a retail-led, mixed-use development of the Charles Street car park site in Dorchester.

The redevelopment of the Charles Street car park is a key priority for the district council. It should enhance the vibrancy of Dorchester's town centre by providing additional quality facilities including a mix of shopping and community facilities, housing, car parking, public toilets and a bus interchange.

The council is promoting the development of this important town centre site by selecting a suitable developer who will then take the lead in designing and progressing a scheme through public consultation, planning and construction.

The site

The site is at Charles Street in Dorchester, just to the east of the main retail area of South Street, the prime shopping area of this historic market town. The site, primarily used for public car parking, extends to approximately 1.7 ha (4.0 acres).

Previous archaeological investigations have revealed significant finds, and indications are that these may be best preserved in-situ. The site is in a designated Conservation Area.

The Adopted Local Plan (adopted in 1998) states that the Charles Street site is a key site where shopping and community uses will be permitted. A planning brief for the site was also adopted at this time.

A town centre health check, which gives a measure of a town's vitality and variety, was carried out for Dorchester in 2000 / 2001. This was used when writing the Revised Deposit Plan, which was published in March 2004 and is currently awaiting the outcome of the Inspector's report. The deposit plan states that the Charles Street site should be developed by a comprehensive mixed use scheme, to include a food store, residential development (including a range of tenures and affordable housing), car parking sufficient to serve the town centre, a bus interchange facility, and new public conveniences. The site should be developed in a comprehensive manner and should include appropriate pedestrian links to South Street and the rest of the town centre together with improved public transport facilities. The development will be expected to maximise the use of previously developed land.

The selection process

In 2005 companies across the country were invited to bid for the work, with particular emphasis on their track record of successfully delivering similar schemes.

Four developers were then short-listed and further assessed through written statements and presentations. Councillors and specialist staff visited schemes that the developers have led elsewhere.

The district council chose property development and construction group Simons as its preferred developer. Simons will work up a scheme in consultation with the public and will have to gain planning permission.

More information about progress will be provided by Simons via a special website.


Concerned friends of Dorchester are also advised to consider the many valid points made on www.dorchesterforum.com

Three Old Friends

Yesterday three old friends voted for three different political parties.

The three old friends are all the same age. The first is a publisher, the second is a columnist and the third is a blogger. All of them are, or have been, writers.

The columnist was once a teacher, too.

Recently he wrote (in one of the magazines owned by the publisher):

“Two nations. The divide is worse than ever. Class is still destiny. Poverty is often fate…We don’t need workhouses. We need small classes.”

All three are certainly in favour of small classes, whichever way they may have voted.

Guess which party each of the three old friends supported.

I am not surprised about the outcome of the election.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Oh, to be in England on Election Day!






It's a pity one can't hide out in the woods forever!

In just one hour the polling stations close.

The bluebells and primroses may not look the same tomorrow.

London Book Launch: The Ionian Islands and Epirus






I really enjoyed my London book launch last night. It was organised by the Hellenic Centre, Marylebone, with the Ionian Society and Signal Books.

There must have been around 80 people in the audience in the Great Hall, and some beautiful songs from Epirus and the Ionian Islands were performed by very talented musicians and singers who are members of the Choir of the School of Byzantine Music in London.

My thanks to Evangelia Roussou, Agatha Kalisperas, Maria Andipa, James Ferguson, Father Joseph Paliouras and the choir for making it a memorable evening. A note about Father Joseph follows:

Fr Joseph Paliouras was born in Trikala, Greece in 1961. He began his musical studies at an early age graduating with diplomas from the University of Athens in not only Byzantine but also European music. He later achieved a degree in Theology from the University of Salonica.

In 1986 he moved to London where he now resides. He is the founder and also director of the School of Byzantine Music in London and is the conductor of its choir. Fr. Paliouras was ordained as a Priest, on Christmas Eve 1988 and currently serves as the parish priest of the Holy Church of the Twelve Apostles in Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire.

For the last ten years he is presented weekly, the radio programme 'From the Hymns of the Church' on London Greek Radio. In addition to this, he also contributes to the weekly broadcasts 'Window to the Blue' and 'The Voice of the Church'. Father Joseph further presents weekly at the Hellenic Television the programme 'Tomorrow is Sunday'.

He has also released various audio CDs containing religious hymns and songs such as: 'Hymns of Christmas Day', 'The Service of the Bridegroom', 'Holy Passion', 'Double Celebration', 'Christmas and New Year Song', 'Ethnic Songs' plus many more.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Manchester Guardian, Then and Now







I recall something that Anthony Burgess once wrote about The Guardian:

"At the time of my birth, Manchester was a great city, Cottonopolis, the mother of liberalism and the cradle of the entire industrial system. It had the greatest newspaper in the world, meaning the only independent one. The Manchester Guardian debased itself when it grew ashamed of its city of origin: a superb liberal organ was turned into an irritable rag dedicated...to the wrong kind of radicalism." Anthony Burgess (born 1917), Little Wilson and Big God, 1987.

I certainly don't agree with Burgess about it being an "irritable rag", but I do have in front of me the Centenary Number of The Manchester Guardian, 1821-1921. One of my grandfathers, James Richardson Potts was employed by the newspaper for over 35 years, from the age of 14 in 1886 (he was born in 1872) until his untimely death in January 1922.





My father was also employed by The Manchester Guardian for seven years, from around 1927 until 1934.

The front cover quotes from the Prospectus announcing the first number of The Manchester Guardian on the 5th of May 1821:

"...It will zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious Liberty, in the most comprehensive sense of those terms; it will warmly advocate the cause of Reform; it will endeavour to assist in the diffusion of just principles of Political Economy; and support, without reference to the party from which they emanate, whatever measures may, according to the matured and unbiassed judgement of its Conductors, tend to promote the moral advantage, or the political welfare, of the Community..."

How many newspapers can claim to live up to, or even to aspire to, such ideals nowadays?

I've no idea if it's true that The Guardian is losing £100,000 a day. I hope not. But would it make a difference if they started charging for news on the website? I doubt it.

My grandfather would have sorted them out!

An update on The Guardian and Wikileaks (from Vanity Fair)