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Sunday, 31 March 2013

From Bach to Elvis and the Blues


Some good music programmes on BBC last night. Now on IPlayer:

Elvis Presley's First Album (Classic Albums) Hear the full album (YouTube)

Bach: A Passionate Life, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner (born Fontmell Magna), Dorset farmer - and conductor.

Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?

Blues at the BBC (with John Lee Hooker, Champion Jack Dupree, T-Bone Walker, Son House, B B King, Pops Staples, Buddy Guy and others)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Money Stuck in Cyprus? Savings at risk elsewhere?


A sad insight into the perils of expat life (Telegraph)

An excerpt from the article:

"Mr Bodega said the situation in Cyprus had worried clients in other 'at risk' eurozone countries.

"We haven't had any calls from France or Germany – it's Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal where people are beginning to get spooked and look at the alternatives," he said.

More than 60pc of respondents to a HiFX survey said the situation in Cyprus had made them more nervous about holding money in overseas bank accounts.

Almost a third said they were considering bringing some or all of their funds back to the UK, while 7pc had already done so.

Only 10pc of more than 600 respondents said they did not plan to take action".

Big depositors could lose up to 60% (BBC News)

The Telegraph, on confirmation of this development

Kathimerini has more details

Updates, Keep Talking Greece

and Hellas Frappe

Haircut exemptions for Greek depositors? Cyprus Mail

A Safe Place for your money (UK)

Expats of The Old School


One of Stevie Smith's wonderful poems is called Bandol (Var).

Although it's about retired expats in France, there was a time when you could find similar characters in Corfu. Maybe you've met a few? Click on poem to enlarge.



From The Collected Poems of Stevie Smith, Penguin Books, 1975 (highly recommended). Originally published in A Good Time Was Had By All (1937).

Another poem, on a related theme, is George Seferis's In the Kyrenia District, about expats on Cyprus.

"You're becoming sad, Margaret. But it's so beautiful:
the sun, the sea, an everlasting summer...
this world isn't ours, it's Homer's..."

(from George Seferis, Complete Poems, tr. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)



Stevie Smith introduces her poem, Not Waving But Drowning.

Glenda Jackson as Stevie

Greece: The Crisis Observatory


New website of interest The Crisis Observatory

Supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation



Greece, Civil War, Instilling Aggressiveness (US-Greece)


Thanks to June Samaras for this link

Also German invasion of Greece, 1941

Quite separately, an excerpt from a documentary on the Liberation of Athens, 1944

Απόσπασμα από τοντοκιμαντέρ του Ροβήρου Μανθούλη "Βίοι παράλληλοι του Εμφυλίου"
( Το απόσπασμα περιλαμβάνει τα Κινηματογραφημένα επίκαιρα του 1944 παραγωγή της Φίνος Φιλμ που έχουν θέμα την απελευθέρωση της Αθήνας από το Γερμανικό στρατό. Δεν προβλήθηκαν ποτέ στην Ελλάδα.

Direct from YouTube

Green Corfu, Alternative Tourism?


The Guardian, article on Corfu, and other islands

East Coker, Somerset: 2500 New Homes on Agricultural Land near Yeovil?


Farming Today (BBC Radio 4) this morning featured the case of East Coker, Somerset (listen from around the 2.18 mark) and proposals to build 2,500 new homes on agricultural land around East Coker, connecting it to Yeovil.

Associations with T. S. Eliot have rallied the opposition to this plan, just as proposals to build new houses near Thomas Hardy's Max Gate and William Barnes' Old Rectory have sparked protests in Dorchester.

Farming Today, programme information:

"On Farming Today This Week, Charlotte Smith is in Somerset to see how new government planning rules could affect the countryside. She visits the village of East Coker, last resting place of T S Eliot, which is at the centre of a controversial planning dispute. The District Council is proposing to build 2500 houses on agricultural land connecting the village to Yeovil as part of a local development plan. Under the National Policy Planning Framework, local authorities are required to draw up plans for housing expansion. If they don't do this, developers can appeal and go over their heads to get the go-ahead. Charlotte Smith hears from both sides and the Planning Mnister, Nick Boles. Presented by Charlotte Smith. Produced by Anna Varle".

In The Times today, there is an interview (pp 40-41) with Sir Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Rachel Sylvester writes:

'Sir Andrew fears that the National Planning Policy Framework is turning into a builder's charter, with profit being put before beauty and history. "You go to Dorchester and somebody wants to build on the field that Thomas Hardy walked across to go to William Barnes' funeral."'

The writer of the lead article agrees, up to a point:

'Sir Andrew is quite right to express horror that anybody should wish to "build on the field that Thomas Hardy walked across to go to William Barnes' funeral"....But he is wrong on the far more prosaic matter of rural second homes.'

Greece: Property Tax, Electrity Bills


Kathimerini reports that property tax will continue to be collected through the electricity bills for another year.

"The troika has insisted that any other method will not be as effective and that the country’s lenders would calculate a 1-billion-euro loss in revenues, which would have to be covered by other measures, if the government chooses to collect the tax through other means. The troika already believes that Greece will experience a 2.7-billion-euro shortfall this year and next".

Friday, 29 March 2013

Beaches in Britain, and Dorset, Water Quality Standards


BBC News on beaches good and bad for water quality

Dorset Echo on the poor ratings of a number of Dorset beaches

Good Beach Guide 2013

Full Results

The impact of torrential rain

It's really disappointing to read that Kimmeridge Bay failed the tests, that the following only met mandatory minimum standards: Lulworth Cove, Lyme Regis Church Cliff Beach, Bowleaze Cove and Portland beaches, and that the following lost their recommended status: The Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock, West Bay West beach, Eype's Mouth and Seatown.

Where is there left to go swimming?

In the words of Philip Larkin, Going Going:

Things are tougher than we are, just
As earth will always respond
However we mess it about;
Chuck filth in the sea, if you must:
The tides will be clean beyond.
- But what do I feel now? Doubt?

Shepton Mallet Prison


How little one knows about such institutions...

...even though Shepton Mallet was just "down the road" from Castle Cary.

Edward Dodwell and Simone Pomardi, Panoramic View of Corfu Town, 1806, British Museum, In Search of Classical Greece


British Museum Exhibition, In Search of Classical Greece

Not to be missed, the 360 degree panorama of Corfu Town and Harbour in 1806, by Edward Dodwell and Simone Pomardi.

Catalogue

Kindly lent by the Packard Humanities Institute, these works have never been seen in public before.


A hasty snapshot of a portion of the Corfu panorama (apologies for fuzzy focus):



Two official publicity photos:




View of Bathy Town and Harbour on Ithaka, 
Simone Pomardi (1757-1830), 1806, 
Watercolour. Packard Humanities Institute.





Turkish village on the Acropolis, 
Simone Pomardi (1757-1830), c. 1805,
Watercolour. Packard Humanities Institute.




Two Faces at The British Museum




Landslides in Epirus


Metsovo landslides (EnetEnglish)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Grinling Gibbons, Master Woodcarver, and William Blake, Poet; St. James's Church, Piccadilly


Fascinating documentary about Grinling Gibbons


 Altar, St James's Church, Piccadilly



The church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
BBC Radio 4 Profile of  Revd. Lucy Winkett




Font, St. James's Church, Piccadilly.
Adam and Eve with the Tree of Life.

The Font where William Blake was baptised.

Infant Joy

I have no name
I am but two days old.—
What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name,—
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy but two days old,
Sweet joy I call thee;
Thou dost smile.
I sing the while
Sweet joy befall thee.

William Blake


Holy Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see.
In a rich and fruitful land.
Babes reduced to misery.
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak & bare.
And their ways are fill'd with thorns
It is eternal winter there.

For where-e'er the sun does shine.
And where-e'er the rain does fall:
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.

William Blake


London

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

William Blake 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Dorchester and Weymouth: Among the Best Places to Live in the UK



Best Places to Live in Britain, The Sunday Times, 24.3.2013:

Dorchester is placed at Number 4 in the "For Those in the Know" section. The county town would suit those "looking for comfort, culture and proximity to the coast, which is eight miles away".

Thirty Best Places By The Sea, The Times, 23.3.2013:

Weymouth is placed Number 8 in Britain. "Why is it go great? This resort is on the up, in part because of the Olympic sailing events that took place here last year. The town has an elegant seafront and activities for 'real sailors'..."


"Narrative Templates" for Simple Journalists



"There are narrative templates into which simple journalism fits".

A bit of a put-down? Heard on BBC Radio 4 this morning (Alan Little's comment).

I think he meant most journalism.

I can imagine what he thinks about blogs.

Let us be grateful for templates, in terms of both ease of lay-out and narrative simplicity/brevity/immediacy.

They cut the waffle.

Cyprus Deal and "Humanitarian" Capital Flight? Sunday Night and Monday Morning

Frankfurter Allgemeine

"Trotz geschlossener Banken und einer Sperre für den Zahlungsverkehr ist in der vergangenen Woche deutlich mehr Geld aus Zypern abgeflossen als in den Wochen zuvor, berichten Frankfurter Fachleute für den Zahlungsverkehr".

Eurointelligence:

"Money outflows from Cyprus have more than doubled last week, to an estimate level of well over €1bn, despite the imposition of capital controls according to a news report; one suggestion is that the central bank may have been flexible in the way it interpreted the sole exemption from the ban – which is to exempt systemically relevant payment".

Reuters: Money fled country's closed banks as exceptional transfers of "humanitarian aid"

Sunday, 24 March 2013

City Costs Barometer, 2013, UK Post Office


Helpful comparative city cost guide

Holiday Costs Barometer

Cyprus, Responsibilities of Bank Investors, Schäuble


Welt am Sonntag

An extract (in German) from the interview with Herr Schäuble (for the full interview, click above):

Welt am Sonntag: Zypern geht es nicht so gut. Was erwarten Sie von der Regierung in Nikosia?

Schäuble: Die verantwortlichen Politiker in Zypern sollten der Bevölkerung die Wahrheit sagen. Unser Vorschlag war nie, die Sparer zu beteiligen. Die deutsche Position war die gleiche wie die des Internationalen Währungsfonds: Wenn die beiden großen Banken kein lebensfähiges Geschäftsmodell haben, müssen die Lasten von deren Anlegern getragen werden. Natürlich unter Berücksichtigung der 100.000 Euro, die durch die zyprische Anlagensicherung nach dem EU-Recht gesichert sind.

Aber darüber wollten die Verantwortlichen nicht einmal reden. Sie wollten, dass wir ihr offensichtlich nicht mehr tragfähiges Geschäftsmodell finanzieren. Das ist jenseits des Vorstellbaren. Und dann haben wir in einer sehr langen Nacht einen Kompromiss gefunden. Jetzt regen sich die Menschen auf und schimpfen: Aaah, die Frau Merkel! Und dieser sture Finanzminister! Damit kann ich leben. Aber ich bedauere, dass das Parlament in Nikosia den europäischen Rettungsplan abgelehnt hat. Denn diese Entscheidung war sicherlich nicht zum Besten Zyperns.

Welt am Sonntag: Inzwischen hat das zyprische Parlament erste Teile eines neuen Plans gebilligt. Dazu gehört ein Solidaritätsfonds, der auch mit Mitteln aus der Rentenkasse gefüllt werden soll. Beschlossen wurden auch eine Aufspaltung von Banken und Einschränkungen im Kapitalverkehr. Die Abstimmung über eine Zwangsabgabe auf Spareinlagen wurde dagegen vertagt. Kann die EU auf dieser Basis helfen?

Schäuble: Hier und jetzt, wenn wir dieses Gespräch führen, kann ich das noch nicht abschließend bewerten, da ja die Gespräche in Zypern andauern und auch die Gespräche der Troika mit der zyprischen Regierung noch geführt werden müssen. Erst wenn die Troika danach zum Schluss käme, dass jetzt ein Programm vorliegt, welches die zyprischen Probleme löst und auch den Regeln entspricht, würde es wieder Sinn machen, dass sich die Euro-Gruppe darüberbeugt.

Daher kann ich zurzeit nur sagen, dass Dreh- und Angelpunkt bei einem Hilfsprogramm für Zypern die Schuldentragfähigkeit und die Verringerung der Risiken sein muss, die für den Staat aus dem überdimensionierten Bankensektor resultieren. Ob dies mit der Lösung, von der man in den letzten Stunden lesen durfte, gewährleistet wäre und ob dadurch die Schuldenlast des Staates ausreichend verringert würde, wird man sehen müssen. Eines ist sicher …

Welt am Sonntag: … nämlich?

Schäuble: Die Länder der Euro-Zone wollen den Zyprern helfen, aber die Regeln müssen respektiert werden, die Hilfe muss Sinn machen, und das Programm muss die Probleme an der Wurzel packen. Und dabei die Guthaben bis 100.000 Euro außen vor lassen. Die Idee, die Probleme der Banken mit den Rentenfonds zu lösen, habe ich bereits bei dem Treffen der Euro-Gruppe letzten Freitag/Samstag klar abgelehnt. Wenn wir dann in der Euro-Gruppe dazu kämen, dass ein Vorschlag auf dem Tisch liegt, der all diesen Kriterien genügt, würden wir den Antrag stellen, dass der Bundestag diesem Weg zustimmt.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Corfu's New Sister City


Read all about it!

In case you've never heard of this Bethlehem, in Pennsylvania, USA, here's some help

A brief portrait of my father



My father would have been 102 this month.
He died forty years ago this Spring.






Cricket, from team photos





 1937



1938







Dec 1941 or January 1942









See also: A brief portrait of my mother

Exploring Aspects of Family History (some repetition of photos):

Bristol Roots

Castle Cary

Brothers

Work in progress (re grandparents and great grandparents):

Henry Callander

Poynton

UK, South West Coast Path Improvement Plan


BBC News on funding for South West Coast Path improvements

A Song of Cyprus




I was reminded today of the song lyric above, from a concert given by Phaedros Kavallaris
in London on 9 May, 1978.

Photograph, Nicosia, 1953, by David Potts (no relation)

A poem from Greece, for good measure, by Titos Patrikios, English translation by Peter Mackridge.

The Mountains

First there was the sea.
I was born among islands.
I too an island have temporarily emerged
until I see a light – that too like a stone –
and sink again.
The mountains came later.
I chose them.
I somehow had to share the weight
that had crushed my country for centuries.




Photograph, Nicosia, 1953, by David Potts (no relation)
Ph

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Alan Bennett, 'People'


Loved it!

Guardian review

More comment from The Guardian

YouTube trailer

BBC item on Bennett and the National Trust


Running the Gauntlet
(Historic House, National Trust)



All these eager volunteers

Want to chat and fill us in.

Thanks; no thanks!



World Poetry Day, 21 March, 2013; Niki Marangou.


Today UNESCO celebrates World Poetry Day and a message from UNESCO's Director-General

I propose that it should be dedicated to the memory of Niki Marangou, the Cypriot poet and artist who tragically died in a car accident in Egypt on 7th February, 2013.







From "Roses" by Niki Marangou,
 translated by Stephanos Stephanides (Selections from the Divan, 2001):

"In company with the aphid and the grasshopper
I have planted roses in the garden this year
instead of writing poems...

we shall be sharing leaves, petals, sky,
in this incredible garden,
both they and I are transitory".


Παρέα με τov γεωμέτρη και τov κηρoπλάστη
φύτεψα φέτoς τριαvταφυλλιές στov κήπo
αvτι vα γράφω πoιήματα...

θα μoιραστoύμε φύλλα, πέταλα, oυραvό,
στov αφάvταστo αυτό κήπo
κι αυτoί κι εγώ περαστικoί.


***


My own liitle contribution:

Dodona Oracle, Easter 2000 


The leaves are not rustling,

The pigeons don't fly -

But the wild flowers are saying

"You'll live till you die."

***

I have just discovered that an In Memoriam video has already been posted on YouTube

Cyprus Crisis and Eurozone Alarm

A quick round up of relevant reports:

Wall Street Journal report

Spiegel Online report

Eurozone Alarm (Reuters)

The Economist

John Psaropoulos, EnetEnglish

New York Times

Cyprus drowns, the sharks circle

New Plans (Kathimerini)

Cyprus Mail

Key Players, EnetEnglish

Piraeus Bank buys local branches in Greece

BBC Update

Analysis by Chris Morris, BBC News, Nicosia

"The eurozone is really turning the screw on Cyprus, and it's being led by Germany.

The message is crystal clear - your economic model has to change. They will no longer accept the idea of a national economy within the eurozone that is dependent on its reputation as an offshore tax haven.

There is huge irritation with the way the Cypriots have handled things, and that has led to the imposition of deadlines which mean big decisions need to be taken very quickly.

The cost of cleaning up the Cypriot banking system must be borne by investors in the Cypriot banking system - like it or lump it".

And from the Keep Talking Greece blog:

"I have the feeling Greece tries to steal the media focus currently busy with Cyprus...Maybe Greek authorities were alarmed to hear all these Cypriot citizens demanding “catharsis” for those who threw the country into such an economic crisis".

Ninety Years Ago in Greece, Greek Independence Day, 25 March


I've posted this faded old postcard photograph before,
 but here's a clearer copy with a little more contrast:


The Greek Army in Kiretsiler 
(now Chryssa, near Xanthi) 
on 25 March, 1923

Well, it was a national holiday,
 Greek Independence Day 
(historical and religious holiday).



Praise for A Journalist


I was pleased to read this praise of David Rennie.

I know the amount of effort and dedication that goes into writing those weekly columns.

Queen Mother Square Developments


Dorset Echo, artist's impression of the next phase

Wednesday, 20 March 2013