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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Self-Exile (On Leaving Corfu)


We’ve sent the last (?) five cubic meters to England, and I’ve just dismantled my office desk and the bookcases. The ‘Corfu Blues’ proved to be a self-prophetic title.

Cavafy's poem, The City, always comes to mind at such times of regret and imminent departure :

Καινούριους τόπους δεν θα βρεις, δεν θάβρεις άλλες θάλασσες.
Η πόλις θα σε ακολουθεί. Στους δρόμους θα γυρνάς
τους ίδιους. Και στες γειτονιές τες ίδιες θα γερνάς·
και μες στα ίδια σπίτια αυτά θ' ασπρίζεις.
Πάντα στην πόλι αυτή θα φθάνεις. Για τα αλλού -- μη ελπίζεις --
δεν έχει πλοίο για σε, δεν έχει οδό.
Ετσι που τη ζωή σου ρήμαξες εδώ
στην κώχη τούτη την μικρή, σ' όλην την γή την χάλασες.



"Since that I
Must die at last, 'tis best
To use myself in jest
Thus by feign'd deaths to die".

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sea Turtle


On Sunday I was invited on board a friend's motor yacht, for a trip across to the shores of Epirus, directly opposite the Gouvia marina. We saw the fish farms close up, and then a sad casualty: a dead caretta, or Loggerhead sea turtle. It was missing one of its front flippers.

Later I read about conservation efforts in the booklet published by Archelon, The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. The author of "Caretta, The Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Greece" is Anna Kremezi-Margaritouli.

"Another major threat is the incidental capture of sea turtles in nets or on fishing lines. If they do not drown, it is probable that they are killed by the fishermen, who often regard them as pests or competitors."

Update, November 2016 - EC Takes Legal Action Against Greece for Failure to Protect Caretta Caretta. Greek Observer

See Island in the Sun

listen to "My Island Home" ("I'm holding that long turtle spear")








Thursday, 20 September 2012

Nick Clegg, I'm Sorry, Spoof



Not quite Brenda Lee, but very clever: I'm sorry video (if you haven't already seen it). BBC

Rocking the Joint


From the Canterbury Psalter

"Little Mama", 1955

On My Way!




Portland, 789 AD, Viking Raid


789. The first three ships of Norwegians arrived at Portland. This was the first time that Viking pirates had landed in England, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

"The reeve rode thither and tried to compel them to go to the royal manor, for he did not know what they were: and then they slew him".

In 982 AD, Portland was ravaged by another raid made by three pirate crews.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Travel Writing, Patrick Leigh Fermor Commemoration, 20 November


Sounds of the Greek World and Beyond: The travel writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor

A COMMEMORATION BY THE SOCIETY FOR MODERN GREEK STUDIES AND THE CENTRE FOR HELLENIC STUDIES, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON

Venue: Anatomy Theatre and Museum, King's College London, Strand Campus, The Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Date and time: Tuesday 20 November 2012, 6.30pm followed by a reception from 8.15pm

PRELIMINARY INFORMATION

In conjunction with the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London, the Society for Modern Greek Studies will hold a commemoration of the travel writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor on Tuesday 20 November.

Contributors include Prof. Tim Youngs (Director: Centre for Travel Writing Studies, Nottingham Trent University), Prof. David Roessel (Interdisciplinary Centre for Hellenic Studies, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey), Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith (Visiting Professor: King’s College London), Dr David Wills (Treasurer-elect: Society for Modern Greek Studies) and Artemis Cooper (Patrick Leigh Fermor's biographer).

The event will begin at 6.30pm in the Anatomy Theatre and be followed by a reception at 8.15pm in the Anatomy Museum. The event is open to all and is free. Prior registration is not necessary.

Thessaloniki International Symposium on World Affairs

For those who can make it to Thessaloniki, 28-30 September 2012

Greece, Illegal Logging and the Need for Heating

Kathimerini reports on an increasing problem, and a moral dilemma

The wider issues (New York Times)

Dorchester-Bayeux, Twinned Towns

I wonder if I'm young enough to join?

Aboriginal Art Directory

This is a very useful website for those interested in Aboriginal art from Australia.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Reynolds Stone, engraver and artist, Litton Cheney, Dorset

A talk (YouTube) about the great engraver Reynolds Stone (1909-2009), who lived at the Old Rectory, Litton Cheney, Dorset. Speaker: Humphrey Stone.

Photograph of The Old Rectory

Beached Whale near Weymouth?


I thought twice before going for a swim at Overcombe Bay yesterday, because of what looked like a distressed or stranded whale. I soon discovered that it was a very realistic plastic inflatable whale, about to be rescued by divers undergoing training by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity (www.bdmlr.org.uk). Have a look at the website if you care about marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, porpoises or seals.




Oxford University Alumni Society of Greece, Literary Event in Nafplion, 29 September



On Saturday, September 29th, 2012 the Oxford University Alumni Society of Greece will be holding, for a second consecutive year, a series of readings by Oxford graduates who are also practising poets and creative prose-writers in Greek, English or both. As last year, the event will be hosted by Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece in Nafplion (The Iatrou Building, Philellinon Square & Othonos, 1).

This year’s participants will include the award-winning North American poet Alicia Stallings, an Oxford alumna resident in Greece, who will read from her work.*

The programme is below:

10.00 a.m. – 1.30 p.m. 1st Session: Readings by five members of the Oxford Society, Cindy Camatsos, Aris Koutoungos, Charalampos Psarras, Nikolas Farantouris, Petros Stefaneas, and invited guests (poet-translator John Tripoulas and possibly one or two others).

2.00- 4.45: Luncheon and break

5.00-6.30: 2nd Session: A reading by Alicia Stallings (to be introduced by Ioannis Petropoulos)

Members of the public are very welcome. Coffee and refreshments will be offered at the Center in the morning and afternoon.

* A. E. STALLINGS has published two books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award, and Hapax (Northwestern University Press, 2006), which won the Poets’ Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Benjamin H. Danks Award. She has also published a verse translation of  Lucretius, The Nature of Things(2007). Ms. Stallings is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.

** In order to show some support for kids and schools through these difficult times, we will be collecting school supplies from anyone who wishes, in order to donate to "Chamogelo Tou Paidiou".


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hazlegrove House Park, Somerset




(The Hazlegrove Dolphin, Summer 1958)






Bottom row, 3rd from left

Yesterday  a group of us had a most enjoyable tour of Hazlegrove House park and school; I was comparing the buildings and landscape I remember from the 1950s and the environment and impressive developments since that period. Of course I went back regularly in the 1980s, when the second generation of the family was equally fortunate to be able to enjoy such an environment and outstanding facilities, which seem to get bigger and better with every passing year.

It was difficult (impossible?) to retrace the path through the park from the Sparkford Inn which I used to take every morning.

The playing fields and the main house brought back the most vivid memories, but this wasn't just a nostalgia trip.


My grandson, now in America, really liked the look of the school when we drove into the grounds a few months ago.

Here's an interesting Cultural Heritage Survey  of the park, produced by the Highways Agency in August 2006.

The King John Oak (which was over 1000 years old) finally died, alas, about eight years ago.




The King John Oak (above, the dead trunk, now; below, still thriving in the 1950s)


Looking to the present and the future, here's the school's website.

Tatler's Schools Guides report.

Two poems from The Hazlegrove Dolphin, Summer 1958:


My son loved it there in his day.


Unsure about going to school (at Brooklands, West Bay):


 Alex at Grandmother's Home, Brooklands (top right room)




Hazlegrove portraits.





Britain and Europe (John Major's view)

John Major in The Telegraph

Major John Forte (Corfu), Telegraph Obituary

From The Telegraph today


Cartoon reproduced in John Forte's "Corfu, Venus of the Isles" (1963; cartoon originally published in the Evening Standard, early 1960s).



Cricket in Corfu, over the years

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Greece: A Third Bail-Out?

The Telegraph, quoting Thanos Catsambos  and the Wall Street Journal

More on this story

Greece rejects it (Kathimerini) - I suppose that means the story, not extra time or money.

Update: it looks like Greece will get the time...

Mark Lowen report (BBC)

The Fall of the Berlin Wall; Flashback to East Berlin, November 9, 1989



From my journal:


Visit to the German Democratic Republic, 4-12 November 1989.

4.11.1989

I depart for the German Democratic Republic. I’ll be in East Berlin on 9th November.

(At the end of August East German refugees were beginning to arrive in Prague in large numbers: one of the first things that the West German Cultural Attaché did was to arrange to meet the refugees’ demand for English lessons. He approached my office for teaching materials, which were willingly supplied. Conditions in the German Embassy’s muddy garden and overcrowded tents soon became too bad for such educational activities, and blankets took priority over English Language Teaching books. It was against this background of ever-increasing numbers of GDR refugees deserting their country that I flew to East Berlin).

The hard-liners are still in control, allowing no contact with Westerners, unless with approved fellow travellers.

On November 3rd half a million people demonstrated in favour of change.

On November 5th I visited the Wilhelm Pieck University in Rostock. Professor Dr.sc. Horst Hőhne, the distinguished Shelley scholar once wrote, in “Literature as Liberation: On the Work of Arnold Kettle (1916-1986), Teacher, Critic, Communist”:

“To my generation of Germans who, after 1945, had come out of war and fascism and who grasped for human values in an atmosphere of material and ideological loss, experienced and devoted British communists like Leslie Morton, Alick West and Arnold Kettle were like father-figures…They did not start a ‘re-education’ programme but just set to work together with us to build a future which to them was as urgent as to us. So we had to rise to the level of their expectation”.

Prof Dr habil Rolf Berndt, an elderly linguistic scientist and English grammar expert, had had to fight in the war at he age of 17. He became a Prisoner of War, and interested in English. He’s sad and uncertain about the future, ill with cancer and lacking the energy to participate in the current changes. He wishes it had happened ten years earlier but he’s worried whether it means “a return to capitalism”, as he is sure will happen in Hungary. He’s saddened by the sight of young people leaving in such numbers. He says he was always sincerely motivated by his generation’s determination (having been betrayed by Fascism and Nazi-ism) “never to let it happen again.” English Studies became a tool never to let it happen again, a “tool for peaceful understanding and socialist idealism”. “The younger people take much for granted, they are unaware of the amount of progress made and the struggles endured; they want English for the normal reasons of an international youth culture, for computers and travel, and perhaps for a materialistic future in the West.” But, Professor Berndt insisted, “There are other things than material goods to live for”; he admitted it was easy for intellectuals to say so, they prefer (highly subsidised) books and LPs to fashionable things and gadgets: perhaps books were not what the common people wanted? This was “the second tragedy” in his life. The first tragedy was the betrayal by Fascism, and the second – not the protest and demonstrations – the mass exodus to the West by fine young people with their babies and youngsters, the effect on their families. One fairly typical lady in the department was sure her offspring would never leave; one day she woke up to find her son gone, too, a tragic blow.

Professor Berndt’s greatest anxiety is that “Socialism may turn out to be just an intellectual’s utopia, never realisable by human beings”. He seems to be a sad and broken man, who has just realised that for the last forty years he has been ‘living a lie’ or that all his ideals may have been based on false foundations.

Their text books on English history, by the likes of Leslie Morton and Dave Morgan, underpin the traditional GDR presentation of the British as the “klassenfeind” (class-enemy), a nation experiencing the “crisis of capitalism” from Neolithic times to the present, and of English as an “imperialistic language”.

8.11.89

Potsdam.

Met Professor Dr. Wolfgang Wicht at the Pedagogische Hochschule. His wife works for educational television. She was once told to “find examples of the misery of the English working-class”, when filming in England. She apparently looked hard, and couldn’t find examples. Eventually she found a tramp who lived in a miserable basement and filmed him, as a typical worker. This series is still shown on GDR TV (“English for You”).

9.11.89

Leipzig and East Berlin.

An historic day, a date that future historians may use to symbolise the end of the Cold War or of the Second World War, even, the day on which East Germany’s borders were to be declared open.

The British Cultural Attaché kindly took me to see West Berlin in the evening. The Wall looked just like it had always done. There was a rather bored-looking West German TV crew with cranes and cameras located directly in front of the Brandenburg Gate. We assumed that they were preparing to film a location scene for a TV drama. There were few other people showing any interest in the area on a cold, drizzly evening. It was the greatest irony that while my colleague was driving me the “long way round” to re-enter East Berlin from East Germany rather than from West Berlin (because we do not recognise East Berlin as the capital of the GDR, and cannot recognise their right to put stamps in our passports, which would imply recognition of such often-claimed status), it was announced on the radio that the Wall would be opened, and that all GDR citizens could henceforth leave the country and travel freely to West Berlin!

I was glad to have the chance to inspect the Wall from both sides that historic night. The TV crew on the West Berlin side was soon in action. They had clearly been tipped off, well in advance. The Wall was opened; thousands crossed to West Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie. West Berliners called, “Come Over! Come over!” East Berliners headed for the Kurfurstendam. New Forum demanded a reform of the education system amongst demands for free elections and a separation of the Party from the State. “A step towards a Europe that is whole and free”, said President Bush. “Eventual reunification?” asked the BBC.

10.11.89

An unforgettable experience to see East Berliners pouring over to West Berlin and returning in the evening with their plastic bags from Herties, with oranges, cassette radios and budget-priced Johnny Cash LPs, all bought with their 100 DM “Begrussungsgeld”.

11.11.89

A source of amazement to diplomats in East Berlin to see the daily changes in the newspaper “Neues Deutschland”.

As Volker Braun wrote in the supplement of 11/12 November:

“Wir erleben die grősste demokratische Bewegung in Deutschland seit 1918…Sie (die Massen) verabschieden sich aus dem zentralischtischen Sozialismus”.

Only a few days earlier, the famous novelist Christa Wolf had made a moving appeal on GDR-TV (8.11.89):

“Wir alle sind tief beunruhigt. Wir sehen die Tausende, die täglich unser Land verlassen…Wir bitten Sie, bleiben Sie doch in Ihrer Heimat, bleiben Sie bei uns!”

Postscript

A Great Day for Freedom, Pink Floyd

A year earlier, Bruce Springsteen in East Germany - 19/07/88 - EAST GERMANY - BERLIN, RADRENNBAHN WEISSENSEE

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Reminiscence of Prague, 24 October 1989 (Foreword to "Sixteen Poems", Ladislav Verecký )





Ladislav Verecký (25 June 1955 - 21 April 2010)
Ladislav was an outstanding journalist, columnist, translator and writer

******

Prague before the thaw

The title of the foreword to this "special surprise" samizdat tribute, a bilingual limited edition of "16 Poems" (which three Czech poets and translators had selected)?

 "Diplomat with a secret mission". You'll have to be able to read Czech to find out more.

“Diplomat  s tajným posláním...A James Potts tak dokázal, že jeho tajná pražská mise byla úspěšná.”

From my journal:

Last night, 24 October, my poetry reading at the Karel Čapek Bookshop. Apart from the three poet-translators Pavel Šrut, Ivo Šmoldas and Ladislav (“Dennis”) Verecký, and the “publishers” Petr Koháček and Mr Trnka, among those present at the reading were Marcela Pánková and her husband Jiři, Zdeněk Hron and Hanka Hronová, Miroslav Holub, Dana Habová, Vladimír Janovic, Jaroslav Kořán, Jan Vodňanský, Alois Bejblík, Ian and Jarmila Milner, Zdeněk Stříbrný, Marketa Kolíbalová, Jaroslav Veis, Jiři Josek, Helena Berková,Anna Pilátová and Ian Whitwham, and a British journalist from the TLS.

A great evening, still remembered! I felt really honoured by my Czech friends, in those still difficult times.







House in Smichov

Staff in Prague:




Hrabal