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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Franz Schubert Celebration


BBC Radio 3  (23-31 March) is currently broadcasting all the music of Franz Schubert (who died at the age of 31).

A few of his greatest hits from YouTube. Ready, Steady, GO!

One
Two
Three
Four


Nähe des Geliebten (YouTube) - ANNELIESE ROTHENBERGER "NÄHE DES GELIEBTEN" D.162

Ich denke dein, wenn mir der Sonne Schimmer
vom Meere strahlt;
Ich denke dein, wenn sich des Mondes Flimmer
In Quellen malt.

Ich sehe dich, wenn auf dem fernen Wege
Der Staub sich hebt;
In tiefer Nacht, wenn auf dem schmalen Stege
Der Wandrer bebt.

Ich höre dich, wenn dort mit dumpfem Rauschen
Die Welle steigt.
Im stillen Haine geh' ich oft zu lauschen,
Wenn alles schweigt.

Ich bin bei dir; du seist auch noch so ferne,
Du bist mir nah!
Die Sonne sinkt, bald leuchten mir die Sterne.
O, wärst du da!


(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)


And to finish, my own little lied, which could well have been for Franz, on reaching the age of 31.



Greek Welfare Organisations in Crisis

Keep Talking Greece reports  on the funding crisis in social welfare bodies.

Patrick White, new novel with a Greek theme

Australian Nobel Prize winner Patrick White's unfinished novel The Hanging Garden has just been published. Thanks to Sydney friend Jeremy for alerting me to this review.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Ian Whitwham still at the chalkface (metaphysically)

A couple of Ian's recent SecEd articles did make me laugh:

This one, on teaching poetry ("Turning the Tots On")

and "Charlie Brown" (great minds think alike).

Get on with the novel, Ian, we're all waiting.

Antique Brass Furniture Etched Inscriptions, Marks and Stamps

Any experts out there with knowledge of  antique European etched brass furniture inscriptions, marks or stamps?



March 25 , Greek Independence Day Celebrations

Keep Talking Greece has some coverage of events in Greece today

Kathimerini report

A different story from Corfu, John's Corfu World

Watermelon Slim


Perhaps I was expecting too much from a blues-singer and former truck-driver called Watermelon Slim (yes, that's his stage name).

He has the image, the life-experience and the credentials (he's won many blues awards), but his slide guitar-playing was a little too heavy and repetitive, for my taste, and his versions of songs by Howlin' Wolf and Mississippi Fred McDowell didn't quite cut it for me, in terms of subtlety. Here is Watermelon Slim's Smokestack Lightnin'.

A charming man, real name Bill Homans, he lives in Clarksdale, Mississippi (formerly in North Carolina and Oklahoma), and he seemed pleased to chat to someone who knows the town a little, places like Hopson's Plantation Commissariat and the Riverside Hotel (still run by Rat Hill), where Bessie Smith died (it was once a hospital). He played to a full house, and was warmly received by a Dorset audience last night.

On Segues and Non-Sequiturs

Some people's minds seem to work in segues.


"In journalism, a segue is a method of smoothly transitioning from one topic to another. A segue allows the host or writer to naturally proceed to another topic without jarring the audience. A good segue makes the subject change seem like a natural extension of the discussion" (Wikipedia).

Some blogs (eg Corfu Blues) are a series of segues, or changes of subject, or  jarring jump-cuts; not all can be described as featuring smooth transitions. Maybe it all makes for a perplexing kind of mosaic, or a mélange of random non-sequiturs?

Is this a typical symptom of magpie minds, of a low boredom threshold, or of a plain lack of focus and attention-deficit syndrome?

I used to long for more jarring segues (but not red herrings) in boring office meetings. Impatient divergent/lateral thinkers want to accelerate the segues. In any event, I digress.

At least musicians understand the principle.

***

Some useful phrases for conversational seques and changes of subject:
German: irgendwie, jedenfalls, sowieso, trotzdem
Swedish: hur som helst
Greek: ούτως ή άλλως ,  όπως κι' να έχειεν πάσει περιπτώσει , έτσι κι' αλλοιώς

A "Long-Forgotten" Painter of Greece

I'd never heard of Georg von Peschke until today. He seems to have been adept at capturing the colours, architecture and customs of Greece.

How do such fine artists become "long-forgotten"?

Don't forget the Edward Lear exhibition opening in Corfu Town in May!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

UK Budget 2012 and the British Economy

Here for convenience (pdf file)

Nina-Maria on the British Economy, for Deutsche Welle

Bagehot (The Economist) on the "Granny Tax"

As discussed on the Andrew Marr show (25 March), if the government had made some real cuts in public expenditure, it wouldn't have needed to put a tax on hot cakes and pies, on grannies or nannies, for that matter.

Rock 'n' Roll and Racism: the first rock 'n' roll concert

BBC report on the first rock 'n' roll concert in the USA.

If you want more of the truth about the early history of rock 'n' roll (and racism), listen to my "rapping"  interview with Big Jay McNeely, which covers some of these topics, and much more.

See also my earlier posting on the legendary Big Jay.


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Greece: Benefits Fraud- and Greek Despair

Kathimerini reports

Snap! Almost simultaneous posting by Keep Talking Greece

Richard Pine in The Irish Times, on the mood of despair he observes in Greece

Kathimerini, on the 2009 deficit figures, and more details

The Law and "Assisted Suicide" - and the Safety of Grannies

I haven't thought about this matter deeply enough to know how one might draw up a foolproof law on this controversial issue, but I did take note of Anne Widdecombe's soundbite:

"If assisted suicide was put into law no granny would be safe"

and of this February 2002 interview, when she said more or less the same thing:

Do you think that there will ever be a law allowing euthanasia in the United Kingdom?

"I think there is a serious danger. I very much hope we will not do that because our consistent experience of laws is they grow legs and they walk and run away.... I think if you introduce the euthanasia law in this country, however tightly you drew it, however good your intentions might be, in 10 years time no granny would be safe."

I'm not a fan of most of her views, and nor is this blogger

"Meanwhile Ann Widdecombe, whose views on assisted suicide are well known, had a headlined comment " If assisted suicide was put into law no granny would be safe" [Financial Times Magazine 10/11 March]. This reaches a new low in emotive distortion of the truth. She does not have a shred of evidence for that assertion. On the contrary all the evidence from countries, where the law is more sensible and compassionate than Widdecombe would allow, shows that her scaremongering is the opposite of the reality. The time is long overdue for the Law to recognise the consequences of advances in medicine over the last 50yrs and come up with a realistic mechanism giving freedom of choice to all."

I don't actually know what to think, but my instinct tells me that it's not just some grannies who might not feel safe. Update, see shocking video of care home assault case, BBC.

I've been re-reading George Orwell's "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937) and, in particular, his description of the appalling lodging house run by a couple called the Brookers, and of their two elderly permanent lodgers.

"The Brookers had insured the lives of both old-age pensioners with one of the tanner-a-week companies. It was said that they were overheard anxiously asking the insurance-tout "how long people lived when they'd got  cancer."

"The thing that really tormented them was the thought of the two old-age pensioners living in the house, usurping floor-space, devouring food and paying only ten shillings a week...in their eyes the two old men were a kind of dreadful parasite who had fastened on them and were living on their charity...they really hated the bedridden one, Hooker by name...What tales I heard about old Hooker...his endless ingratitude and, above all, the selfish obstinacy with which he refused to die! The Brookers were quite openly pining for him to die. When that happened they could at least draw the insurance money."


Is there a moral here? It couldn't happen nowadays, could it?

With what one reads every day about the treatment meted out to elderly people in some UK "care homes", or even in their own homes, one should perhaps take time to reflect on Anne Widdecombe's 'emotive' warning.

What control does anyone have when overworked nursing or medical staff can decide whether or when it's "appropriate" to try to prolong the life of - let alone resuscitate- elderly hospital patients?

I don't think that elderly people are treated like this in Greece, or on Corfu, in spite of the country's economic problems.

Hooker, Death Valley Blues

The Frustrations of Family History

Having a sporadic but far from obsessive interest in family history (a casual interest acquired during my time in Australia, where many people want to trace their roots), I have had a couple of sessions on Ancestry.com at the local history centre.

I also have quite a comprehensive  archive of old family photographs, certificates and papers, but sadly I never took the opportunity to ask questions when it was still possible to do so. At the time I simply wasn't very interested or curious.

My mother and her grandfather, mid 1920s

As more and more information becomes available online, such as the 1911 Census, there are many more tools available than in the period when E.M.Forster published "Two Cheers for Democracy" (1951).

In an essay or article written in 1939, Forster asks:

"Can you give the names of your eight great grandparents?"

"The betting is at least eight to one against...We can often get six or seven, seldom the whole eight. And the human mind is so dishonest and so snobby, that we instinctively reject the eighth as not mattering, and as playing no part in our biological make-up. As each of us looks back into his or her past, doors open upon darkness. Two doors at first- the father and the mother- through each of these two more, then the eight great-grandparents, the sixteen great-greats, then thirty-two ancestors...sixty-four...one hundred and twenty-eight...until the researcher reels."

Forster predicted that "in a couple of hundred years millions will belong to Old Families", but he also points out that much of the past is unknown and unknowable: "It depends upon who went to bed with whom in the year 1400...and what historian will ever discover that?"

The age of the internet and genealogical web-sites has changed all that, perhaps. I'm not even sure if I have the names of all my eight great grandparents. I'd better get out the files and check.

Forster was really concerned with attacking the pernicious racist policies of  dictators and Fascist/Totalitarian governments. The essay was called "Racial Exercise". "Europe is mongrel for ever, and so is America", he writes, with a sense of relief.

Monday, 19 March 2012

THE DURRELL SCHOOL OF CORFU’S LAWRENCE DURRELL CENTENARY SEMINAR, JUNE 2012 (PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME)





Lawrence Durrell in Corfu: A Centenary Reappraisal
20–27 June 2012

PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME
(Issued 28 February 2012, and liable to further revision before the date of the seminar.)

WEDNESDAY 20 JUNE
6.30 – 8.30 p.m. — Welcome Reception in the Library of the Durrell School
THURSDAY 21 JUNE
10.00 a.m. – 12.00 noon — Session 1 — Introducing the Themes
Opening Remarks by Anthony Hirst (Academic Director, Durrell School of Corfu)
Keynote Lecture by Richard Pine (Director Emeritus, Durrell School of Corfu, author of
Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape), addressing the main themes of the seminar:


LAWRENCE DURRELL IN CORFU, and REAPPRAISING DURRELL AT A HUNDRED.
12.30 – 2.30 p.m. — Session 2 — Travel Writing
Martha Klironomos (Professor of English and Modern Greek Studies, San Francisco State
University)
TRAVEL WRITING, PHOTOGRAPHY AND PRACTICE: COMPARING THE WORK OF LAWRENCE DURRELL
AND PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
David Roessel (Professor of Greek Language and Literature, Stockton College)
REFLECTIONS ON REFLECTIONS AT 60: A REASSESSMENT OF LAWRENCE DURRELL’S REFLECTIONS ON
A MARINE VENUS: A COMPANION TO THE LANDSCAPE OF RHODES.
6.00 – 8.00 p.m. — Book Launch
Joanna Hodgkin will present her new book,
AMATEURS IN EDEN: THE STORY OF A BOHEMIAN MARRIAGE: NANCY AND LAWRENCE DURRELL,
a biography of her mother, born Nancy Myers, who later became Nancy Durrell, and then Nancy
Hodgkin. The author also publishes as Joanna Hines.
In addition, Richard Pine and Anthony Hirst will introduce some recent Lawrence Durrell volumes
whose authors can’t be present. These will include THE STRONGER SEX: THE FICTIONAL WOMEN OF
LAWRENCE DURRELL by James R. Nichols (Chair until 2011 of the Advisory Board of the Durrell
School), and LAWRENCE DURRELL: DANS L’OMBRE DU SOLEIL GREC by Corinne Alexandre-
Garner.
FRIDAY 22 JUNE
A day at the White House, Kalami, once the home of Lawrence and Nancy Durrell, and where
Lawrence wrote Panic Spring and The Black Book. We shall travel by caïque from Corfu Town. The
day will include Session 3 of the Seminar [details to be announced later] as well as a visit to the
Shrine of St Arsenios, an opportunity for swimming, and lunch.
THE DURRELL SCHOOL OF CORFU’S LAWRENCE DURRELL CENTENARY SEMINAR
SATURDAY 23 JUNE
10.00 a.m. –12.00 noon — Session 4 — Durrell’s contemporaries writing in English
Emilie Pine (University College Dublin)
THE ITINERANT WRITER: SPAIN, IRELAND AND KATE O’BRIEN
Eve Patten (Trinity College Dublin)
‘COCKCROWS AND SHEEP BELLS’: LOUIS MACNEICE’S LETTERS FROM GREECE
12.30 – 2.30 p.m. — Session 5 — Corfu, Real and Imagined
Leonie Hodkevitch (University of Vienna, writer and journalist)
LAWRENCE & GERALD DURRELL: A MAP OF PERSONAL RECEPTION
[A second speaker to be announced later]
6.00 – 8.00 p.m. — Double Book Launch
Eve Patten will introduce her new book
IMPERIAL REFUGEE: OLIVIA MANNING’S FICTIONS OF WAR
Donald P. Kaczvinsky will introduce the recent volume that he edited,
DURRELL AND THE CITY: COLLECTED ESSAYS ON PLACE
SUNDAY 24 JUNE
All-day excursion to Butrint
This excursion is an optional extra, not covered by the Registration Fee; an additional charge will be
payable. The provisional idea is to go by boat from the New Harbour in Corfu Town to Sarande in
Albania, and from there by coach to Butrint, one of the most important archaeological sites in the
Adriatic region. Alternative ideas are under discussion. This Sunday is a rest day for those choosing
not to come to Butrint.
MONDAY 25 JUNE
10.00 a.m. –12.00 noon — Session 6 — Durrell and his Greek friends
Roderick Beaton (Koraes Professer of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and
Literature, King’s College London).
DURRELL AND SEFERIS, OR HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE
[A second speaker to be announced later]
12.30 – 2.30 p.m. — Session 7 — The Alexandria Quartet
P. Meena Grace Melbourne (Oman and India)
THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET: AN INTERFACE BETWEEN LIFE AND ART
Anthony Hirst (Academic Director, Durrell School of Corfu)
‘WHERE TIME DOESN’T COUNT’: THE IMPOSSIBLE CHRONOLOGY OF JUSTINE AND BALTHAZAR —
SCIENCE FICTION OR THE REALISM OF FALLIBLE MEMORY?
6.00 – 8.00 p.m. — Film Screening
LAWRENCE DURRELL — A SMILE IN THE MIND’S EYE (BBC documentary, 1998)
TUESDAY 26: JUNE
10.00 a.m. –12.00 noon — Session 8 — Durrell and other cultures
Marjeta Gostin!ar Cerar (Professor of English Language and Literature, translator, Ljubljana)
LAWRENCE DURRELL AND SLOVENIA
Foteini Dimirouli (Keble College, Oxford)
PARADISE LOST? LAWRENCE DURRELL’S ‘ROMANCE’ WITH THE HELLENIC WORLD
THE DURRELL SCHOOL OF CORFU’S LAWRENCE DURRELL CENTENARY SEMINAR
TUESDAY 26 JUNE, CONTINUED
12.30 – 2.30 p.m. — Session 9 — Durrell and contemporary Greek writers
Helena González Vaquerizo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
STRONG WOMEN AND INCOMPLETE MALES: PARALLEL CHARACTERS IN DURRELL AND
KAZANTZAKIS
Vassilis Letsios (Ionian University)
PARALLEL THEMES IN STRATIS TSIRKAS’ TRILOGY DRIFTING CITIES AND THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET
5.00 – 7.00 p.m. — Film Screening
JUDITH (1966), based on a story by Lawrence Durrell, and starring Sophia Loren, Peter Finch and
Jack Hawkins.
7.30 – 9.00 p.m. Lecture by Roderick Beaton (Koraes Professer of Modern Greek and Byzantine
History, Language and Literature, King’s College London).
THE NEW PROMETHEUS: WHY BYRON WENT TO FIGHT IN THE GREEK REVOLUTION
Joint session with the Friends of the Durrell Library, who meet on the last Tuesday of each month.
WEDNESDAY 27 JUNE
10.00 a.m. — 12.00 noon Session 10 — Interractions with Lawrence Durrell
Geraldine Green (Lancaster University & Liverpool John Moores University)
A NOTE OF AFFIRMATION: MEETING AND CORRESPONDING WITH DURRELL — A TURNING POINT
Mike Diboll (until recently at the University of Bahrain)
UNTIL THEIR PAIN BECOME A LITERATURE: EXPATRIATE RESIDENCE WRITING AND MIDDLE EAST
ISLAND CONFLICTS — DURRELL ON CYPRUS, DIBOLL ON BAHRAIN
12.30 – 2.30 — Final Session
Brief introductory comments by various participants in the seminar, leading to a general discussion
of the themes, followed by closing remarks by Richard Pine and Anthony Hirst.
8.00 p.m. Farewell Dinner
———————————————————
It is hoped that the following will speakers will also be present:
Anthony Condos (Malaga), son of Leslie Durrell, to speak about his researches into family history.
Mark Davies (Literary translator from German and Greek, including Corfiot novelist Konstantinos
Theotokis’ Slaves in their Chains, due for publication this year.)
Avi Sharon (Independent researcher, USA) to speak about Lawrence Durrell’s friend, George
Katsimbalis.
Joseph Smith (Independent researcher, Cumbria, UK) to speak on MISSING PERSONS, STRANGE
BEDFELLOWS AND SOFT TARGETS: LAWRENCE DURRELL, PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR, STEVEN
RUNCIMAN AND BRITISH-COUNCIL-RELATED NETWORKS IN GREECE AND EGYPT (1939–1955).
Excursions in and around Corfu Town will also be fitted into the programme, in the afternoons.
Other films which could be shown include:
JUSTINE (1969), based on The Alexandria Quartet and starring Anouk Aimée, Dirk Bogarde and
Michael York
MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS (BBC, 2005), starring Imelda Staunton as Mrs Durrell

The Durrell Centenary in London (poster, pdf)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Dannie Abse, CBE



With Dannie Abse in Stockholm

My belated congratulations on the award of CBE to Dr. Dannie Abse, Britain's greatest living poet.

From his website:

 Dannie Abse was awarded a gong in the 2012 New Years' Honours list. His CBE for services to poetry and literature was somewhat reluctantly accepted.

“It’s a compliment, and one should always say thank you,” he said from his home in Golders Green. “Yes, I did think whether to accept it. But then I realised that Harold Pinter, far more left-wing than me, and others too have accepted honours.”

He added: “You start writing poetry as a gentle pursuit, but it can be tough in many ways too. You have to go into the darkness of oneself, as it were, to come back with some light.”

Oxfam Reading (YouTube)

From As I Was Saying


I'll not compete with those nature poets you advance,
some in country dialect, and some in dialogue 
with the country- few as calm as their words:
Wordsworth, Barnes, sad John Clare who ate grass.



From The Listener, 10 November, 1988

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Lady Holmes (1920-2012), The Times Obituary

For the benefit of those who are unable to find a copy of The Times (Saturday 17 March) on Corfu:





My apologies for the poor scanning. 

YouTube: The Art of Marjorie Holmes

IMF, "Bleak Picture for Greece"

Wall Street Journal Report, yesterday

IMF Staff latest Country Report for Greece (Pdf)


Wall Street Journal report further excerpts:

By Ian Talley of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

"The International Monetary Fund warned Friday Greece's loan program faces "exceptionally high" risks, and said Athens may need further debt restructuring and additional financing that Europe should cover.

"A disorderly euro exit would be unavoidable" without continued support, fund staff said.

IMF economists painted the bleakest picture yet of Greece's outlook just a day after the fund's executive board approved a EUR28 billion ($36.9 billion) loan for the country...

A 231-page staff report on the new loan program outlines the fund's strategies and risks involved in returning Greece back to economic health, providing the basis for IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde's Thursday warning, "there is no room for slippages."

IMF staff said Greece can't absorb any adverse shocks or program failures, otherwise risking much higher debt levels. Officials are particularly concerned about the ability of Athens to politically deliver on the tough economic-overhaul policies Greece promised to win more than EUR200 billion in loans and debt forgiveness. In the near term, fund staff are concerned upcoming elections in Athens may mean new leaders aren't as committed to overhaul policies.

"Materialization of these risks would most likely require additional debt relief by the official sector and, short of that, lead to a sovereign default," IMF staff said...

Given the challenges and Athens's track record of failing to meet targets under its old loan program, the new loan package "is subject to exceptional risks," they said. "Greece will remain accident prone," with debt expected to remain so high for such a long time, they added...

The IMF warned even if Greece implements the program fully, it could take more than a decade for the country to fix its competitiveness problem..."

ian.talley@dowjones.com
--Stelios Bouras in Athens contributed to this article.

UPDATE Interesting comments from Democracy Street

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Brothers, Farther Along (Doc Watson; Hank Williams)


Brothers at a wedding (in Bristol, beginning of the 1960s;
my brother was 20 or 21; I was 17 or 18).

An amusing photo (from over fifty years ago)- if only for the hats, and hair.

As we are meeting up tomorrow, some more photos of the early years:

My brother, aged 6 months, with Uncle Hubert













Above, July 1960


"Ah Nature, framed in fault,
There's comfort then, there's salt".
(Hopkins, Brothers)


"Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by."

(Farther Along, hear the great Doc Watson version again)


June 1945, with paternal grandmother

Simon Armitage, from the poem Afterword, some lines that could apply to brothers as much as to twins who travel through life in different directions, before returning to their childhood home:

"And they see for themselves,
each eyeing the other

through a telescope now
which had once been a mirror."

Walking and Inspiration

Sir Andrew Motion makes some persuasive points about walking and inspiration in this BBC Radio programme (I Player)

I keep meaning to buy a book on walking and the art of meditation. There are several Zen guidebooks available.

Perhaps I should simply go walking more often. Reading books and listening to the radio is not quite the same thing. Hearing somebody else striding out and getting short of breath doesn't really do the trick!

Henry Moore in the Kremlin

A very positive story by Rosie Goldsmith about the Henry Moore Exhibition in the Kremlin, BBC Radio this morning.

The Moscow Times

Paul de Quincey, British Council

Andrea Rose, Mary Moore Interview

Surely this is not the first time that there has been a Henry Moore exhibition in Moscow?

What about 1991?


I was fortunate to visit the Henry Moore Exhibition in Beihai Park, Beijing, back in 2000:



I wasn't there in Australia in 1947-1948:


Animal Protection in Greece

A prosecutor has been appointed, according to Keep Talking Greece

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Traffic and Road Safety Issues, Queen Mother Square, Dorchester

The Dorset Echo reports on a topic which has been causing much discussion and controversy in Dorchester.

HRH The Prince of Wales (far right, below) successfully crosses Queen Mother Square, while Master-planner Leon Krier looks on with consternation and considers the practical implications of shared spaces in the wider context of New Urbanism :



Update on Queen Mother Square (July 2012), Dorset Echo

The concept of "Shared Space"

Monday, 12 March 2012

Bermuda Dreaming



A couple of shots I really like!
 Not recent, but they capture the spirit.
Greetings, Alex!







Greeks Compete to Buy Up London Property

A very interesting report from Nina-Maria, for China Central Television

Watch the embedded video in the link above, 22 minutes into the CCTV news programme.

Also, on the bail-out agreement and reform programme more generally, an interview with Schaeuble in To Vima (in Greek)

More austerity cuts on their way (Reuters)

Confirmed by Kathimerini

A new Greek loan programme is inevitable, according to Eurointelligence, citing an unedited (censored?) copy of the Troika report.

On the leaked report (Telegraph)

Young Greek girl sold to a Pasha by a slave dealer

Shocking!
Outrageous Orientalism!

Never fear, it's the basic plot of the famous ballet, Le Corsaire, inspired by Lord Byron's poem The Corsair.

Yesterday I saw a splendid production by the Bolshoi Ballet, transmitted live to the local cinema direct from Moscow.

Edward Said might have disapproved, but Byron would have been absolutely delighted.
Still, there was some unnecessary ethnic stereotyping in this production...

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Why go abroad in 2012?

I went to see the enjoyable The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night, a John Madden film which seems to be inviting us to live life to the full, far from our normal comfort zones, in an 'exotic' environment such as India. I can't think of any hotels quite like that in Corfu.

One of the advertisements shown before the feature film was this one (addressed to UK-based TV and cinema audiences), exhorting us all to stay at home in Britain in 2012. Fine, up to a point, given that it's the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics- and that we are apt to forget what stunning beauty spots there are to be discovered all around us in the UK.

Stephen Fry, Julie Walters and the others did a good job, but did the National Tourist Boards of England, Wales and Scotland need to target tavernas and holidays on Corfu, Crete, beaches in the Med and Bondi Beach etc, as part of the campaign? Wordsworth may well have wandered around the Lake District  rather than into a Greek taverna, but for those who can afford it, there is something to be said for enjoying the best of both/all worlds.

Some quotes and reasons given for not going abroad this year:

"It's just not worth it!"

"Why on earth would anyone want to go abroad in 2012?"

"Wordsworth didn't wander into the nearest taverna"

Do watch the advertisement!
"NO PASSPORTS, NO JABS, NO VISAS, NO EUROS!"


Update May 2012, from The Corfu Blog

As a bonus, Thomas Hardy's West-of-Wessex Girl  (on Casterbridge.blogspot.com)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

It serves me right to suffer!

One of John Lee's great blues

Rare recording

Listen again to John Lee addressing a soulful message to Oxford University students and academics:

"The flesh is weak".

Another outstanding performance from the same period:

The Night Time is the Right Time

Britain's Contribution to IMF Support for Greece

The Telegraph reports on the c. four billion pounds which Britain is in line to contribute towards IMF support for Greece.

It's as well to remember that one day our own turn may come.

But perhaps Greece could reciprocate by providing around 300 brave Spartan policemen as a quid pro quo contribution, as additional security for the Olympic Games this summer? That should do the trick, based on the impressive Spartan track record. An alternative contribution might be 300 tons of  good Greek yoghurt, which seems to serve a variety of unethical alternative purposes these days (cf recent George Dalaras concert, Rhodes parade, Venizelos  and Zakynthos)

As we all predicted, the UK Olympics  budget calculations and projections left out some pretty major items.

Could have told you so.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

DORSET VOICES, Roving Press, April 2012


Dorset Voices, full cover (back and front) proof


Where we began (the original flier)

For further details, see Roving Press

Details of DORSET VOICES April book launch events:

21 April
Waterstones, Dorchester, 11 am onwards
Be the first to buy copies of Dorset Voices.

21–27 April, various venues 
Bournemouth Festival of Words (BFoW)
21–27 April, various venues
http://www.bournemouthfestivalofwords.co.uk/

BFoW celebrates the written and spoken word and invites everyone who loves words to take part in this non-commercial literary festival, offering a full programme of events spread over 7 days.

Dorset Voices book launch, exhibition of poetry, prose and photographs from the book, and readings by contributors
23 April, 6–8 pm

Bournemouth Library, 22 The Triangle, Bournemouth, BH2 5RQ

Roving Press is proud to launch Dorset Voices on World Book Night, as part of the BFoW programme of events. Come and listen to some of the poets and writers perform their work, view the photography and buy the book at special discount. While there, join in the fun of World Book Night, with special Library events and displays of local heritage.

28 April
WAND Dorset Women’s Day, Dorford Centre, Dorchester, 10.30–16.00
As part of the programme, Julie Musk of Roving Press (www.rovingpress.co.uk) is giving a workshop on Getting Published and showcasing their latest publication Dorset Voices.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Prague Harpischord: Zuzana Růžičková; Prague Guitar: Vladimír Merta

This is the music I hear when I think back to my days in Prague, played by an old friend, Zuzana Růžičková

More sublime music by Bach

Music by another Czech friend, Vladimír Merta; music of a very different sort.

CORFU, Greek State Land For Sale (Kassiopi)

This sale of land near Kassiopi is very upsetting to many Corfiots and environmentalists. I've seen comments such as "Another Barbati in Avlaki?" I don't have any details about the precise location of the state land to be sold.

See earlier posting, about a Bloomberg report

I was surprised that planning permission was ever given in the past for the building of houses and villas beneath the site of the ancient castle of Kassiopi. In the 1960s that would have been inconceivable.

Surely there are a host of other Greek State assets that could be sold which are far less sensitive or controversial?

It's almost as if this proposal is deliberately designed to invite outrage and opposition.

Whatever happened to the Greek National Trust?

Must it all be down to individual citizens of Corfu, to contribute 100 Euros each to try to buy the land for the benefit of future generations? Unfortunately, that would never be enough.

John Mackie, Castle Cary (Somerset) Dialect Poet; William Barnes Society



A member for 25 years

The William Barnes Society organised a very convivial evening last night (6 March), thanks to the initiative of  Christopher Heath: a poetry reading with a difference, inspired by the example of William Barnes- but nobody was allowed to read a poem by Barnes himself! It was an "Un-Barnes Evening".

There were some excellent renditions of poems by Clare, Hardy, Milton, Browning, Heaney, Campion, Edward Thomas and the Wiltshire poet Edward Slow (from Wilton), amongst others, as well as some songs and ballads, both sung and recited.

It so happened that it fell to me to kick off the readings, so I was delighted to be able to introduce the work of little-known Somerset dialect poet, John Mackie. Here is my introduction:

"The Somerset dialect poet John Mackie was of Scottish descent (the Mackie family came originally from Dumfries, Scotland). He was the son of James Mackie, one of the original directors of Boyd’s. John Boyd established his horse-hair business in South Cary in 1837. “He identified with Castle Cary and its well-being” (Castle Cary, Michael McGarvie, FSA, Avalon Industries, 1980). John Mackie joined the firm about 1887 and was associated with it for more than 50 years (McGarvie).

There were three infuential, enterprising and public-spirited Castle Cary Scottish families: the Boyds, the Mackies and the Macmillans. The Boyd and Macmillan families came from Ayrshire.

Many Scots had first come to Wincanton, centre of the linen trade (McGarvie). Douglas Macmillan was born in Wincanton in 1884.

As a poet, John Mackie shows the influence of Barnes (as well as of Kipling and perhaps Burns).

We should not forget the proximity to Castle Cary of Barnes’ school in Mere; Barnes also gave lectures in Wincanton.

The Somerset Folk Press was most active in the years 1922-1926. The Press published poems and drama in dialect, for recitation, plus local history and local interest titles, including folklore and folk guides. Douglas Macmillan, a “keen antiquary and an authority on natural history” was a regular author. He founded the Castle Cary Visitor in 1895. The last issue was in December 1915.

John Mackie’s “Dialect Poems and a Play” appeared as number 23 in the Somerset Folk Series. His foreword is dated Hampstead, 25 November, 1925:

“Some of the happiest hours of my life have been spent in the delightful company of sons of the soil in Somerset, under whose homespun coats beat some of the truest and noblest hearts in Christendom; nature’s real gentlemen.”

(Introduction followed by a reading of three short verses from the first poem in the book, called  “ZOMERZET”, which mentions Lodge Hill in Castle Cary, and my favourite poem, or rather a song, “THERE’S A CALL FROM CASTLE CARY”).

SEE ALSO my earlier posting on Mackie and Castle Cary


John Mackie, The Poet William Barnes, and Mackie's poem "Pa'son"
Southern Times, April 21, 1923



"Mr. Mackie is a native of Castle Cary...Mr. Mackie not infrequently delights a London audience with is dialect recitations" ("Selected Poems in Somerset Dialect", 1921)..

Molly Mackie, left; Bee Baker, right, Castle Cary


Moll Mackie (left), Castle Cary

Edward Lucas on his new book, Deception

Economist Audio Interview with Ed Lucas

Deception, details

A review by Democratist

And a strange exchange (Democratist)

I haven't read the book yet, but I do know the author, and I enjoyed his previous book.

The new one sounds interesting!

A New Generation of Technology (and Talent)



Nina-Maria behind the camera at the Olympic Park, and in Monte Carlo
Two photos for International Women's Day (tomorrow)

Nina-Maria, Feature Story News (FSN):
UK correspondent, TV and radio (shoot, edit, report); 2005-2010 Brussels bureau chief, covering the EU and NATO; previously based in DC, Beijing and Sydney. London, UK · http://featurestorynews.com