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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Atlantic Records and Oxford University

Some really heartwarming news!

An appropriate anthem

Greece: Rhetoric or Reality?

This? The Way Greeks Live Now (seven-page New York Times Magazine feature by Russell Shorto)

or this? Greece is Changing (campaign website)

The Guardian, commentary on the campaign  (Rupert Neate)

Definitely NOT funny

Moody's Latest Downgrade (BBC News, 3 March)

Haris Alexiou (Kathimerini, 28 February):
"Northerners don’t understand our mentality. I was on Paros with a group of foreign friends who seemed surprised: ‘Are Greeks still going on vacation?’ they asked. Greeks are proud people. They no longer go away on vacation for 20 days, but on the four days they will be away they will be dignified. They will not get by on just a salad and a sandwich per day. It’s hard for foreigners to grasp the idea of offering to pay for someone’s meal, and they will never race you to pay the bill first. If an uninvited guest came round, our parents would have shared their meal with them."

Greek Antiquities, Smuggling Ring

Update: Greek arms purchases (Bild)

Update (Telegraph) Schaeuble on Eurozone membership

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tomorrow Is Still The Question

'Ornette' Allen- jazzman, journalist, hepcat, publisher- 

Old friend from way down yonder, mastering a mellow tone! I'm impressed.




Here's some you'll like:
 Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, Blues for Yolande
 Charlie Parker, Funky Blues
Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges, Jeep's Blues
Lester Young, Blue Lester
Illinois Jacquet, Blues
Jimmy Forrest, Night Train

Monday, 27 February 2012

Lawrence Durrell, Centenary Today


Lawrence Durrell, born 27 February, 1912


Corfu, The Enchanted Isle (1952)

Thanks to John's Corfu World, for locating  and posting this old travelogue (produced 1952). It shows Dassia as it was, at the very beginning of its post-war mass tourism development period, with the opening of the Club Med.

Let's hope that the current economic problems don't lead to more exploitation of the environment and even greater gashes in the mountains and deeper holes in the ground, as you can see in this photo of  Horepiskopoi. The quarry was photographed from the air by Spiros Salvanos (a photo he sent to me in December 2010).

Swedish Food in the UK

The BBC reports on the increasing popularity of Scandinavian food in the United Kingdom

Economic Policy (Anglo-Saxon v. European?)

Things are turning nasty.

In a letter published in Kathimerini’s online English edition on 27 February 2012- in response to a Bloomberg article by Clive Crooke (Greek deal leaves Europe on the road to disaster), Heinz Stiller writes from Berne, Switzerland:

“Mr. Crook’s article fits well within the barrage of doom and gloom press articles about Europe from American and British sources which pretend to analyze problems, but in reality are nothing but expressions of irrational chauvinist Anglo arrogance toward Europe. Britain and the US have been highly successful in one thing: They have turned capital markets into a casino-style gambling system which has taken the world to the brink of catastrophe by having blown up the ”funny money” supply to absurd proportions. By relying excessively on Keynesian economics, they have neglected structural economic policies and almost ruined their respective ”real economy” bases. The internet bubble (already forgotten?), the housing (ABS) crisis, and Lehman -- all nice gifts to the world by our Anglo economic expert friends…

When hares, hunted by dogs, get tired of running away, they sometimes push other hares out of their holes so that these are now hunted by the dogs and they can take a rest.

Anglo coverage of European problems reminds me of this behaviour.

But, as they say, you can’t fool all the people all the time…Europe will not go down the drain, no matter if Greece stays in or not. But in due time, financial markets will center in on the real problem economies of the world, the US and Britain, as these do not even try to tackle their problems.”

Ο ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ ΣΟΥ Η ΖΩΗ ΜΟΥ

Den enes bröd är den andres död!


From another perspective, The 5 Tests (Telegraph)

Before we lecture others on their tax systems...Jeremy Warner (The Telegraph) 1 March 2012


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Weymouth Port, Condor Ferries, Olympic Games

The Dorset Echo reports on the implications of the damaged harbour wall and ferry berth, as Condor Ferries have extended the switch of services from Weymouth to Poole.

Dorset Echo update.
Further update 14 March

Just when I was planning a day trip to the Channel Islands from Weymouth!

Let's hope Weymouth services resume soon, for the sake of the Weymouth and Portland economies, in this Olympic year:

Nina-Maria, Report on Weymouth/Portland (1)

Nina-Maria, Report on Weymouth (2)

Comment from View Online

Update, Dorset Echo, June 2, 2012

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Despatches from Greece

Nina-Maria reports from Central Zagori, Epirus 

More from Zagori and Ioannina

Dorchester, Happy Town :)

Dorchester, one of the top ten happiest places to live in England :)

Two more good reasons:

The Dorset Blues Society, Blues Nights at the Arts Centre

Live Opera (Satellite Broadcasts) at the Plaza Cinema

Something for all tastes.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Greece: Creditors' Demands

The FT today (24 February) carries an article on 38 specific "State-Building" changes demanded urgently of Greece by creditors.

They include centralising health insurance and completing an accurate land registry as well as reducing state spending on pharmaceuticals by Euro1.1bn; and the liberalising of professions such as tour guides.

One risk-consultancy analyst considers the speed and scope of the changes and demands almost impossible to achieve.


What then?


Kathimerini reports.

Richard Pine, Irish Times Opinion Piece

Bloomberg

NB There is an increasing number of uninsured cars on the roads in Greece.

Who works the hardest? BBC

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

BBC Hard Talk, George Papandreou Interview

An excerpt from Hard Talk: George Papandreou (on BBC News), 3 minutes from the 30 minute programme
currently available on BBC I-Player. The full programme is essential viewing, especially for the doom-sayers!

After Greece's second financial bailout, Zeinab Badawi talks exclusively to the country's former prime minister, George Papandreou, and asks if bankruptcy is inevitable.


'Inside Greece' on the Athens Euro/Drachma Debate, with Zeinab Badawi.

Sweet Home Chicago, with President Barack Obama

Thanks, Ian, for this hot item by Downhome Bluesman Barack O-B

Vladimír Merta (wonderful Czech singer, http://www.vladimirmerta.cz/ ) once wrote in an email:


 "During the Velvet Revolution I insisted that any candidate for any function should sing a song. Just to be controlled from the un-political side of the brain. You pass for the President!"


Time for aspiring Greek politicians to sing some rebetika?

Troika: Greece Debt Sustainability Report

The Troika's Debt Sustainability Report, courtesy The Telegraph

FULL REPORT (pdf), February 15, 2012, courtesy The FT

FT, Brussels Blog on the Report

and zerohedge.com comments

A 'shocking prescription', Jeremy Warner, The Telegraph

Bloomberg

On the EU Financial Firewall (The Telegraph)

A small note of cautious but welcome optimism from the Corfu Blog

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Back to the Roots, Ma Rainey, See See Rider Blues


See See Rider

Origins of song (Wikipedia)

I keep going back to it, and to Ma's Grievin' Hearted Blues

Ma Rainey, Dream Blues

Big Bill Broonzy C C Rider

Another great roots song, Matchbox Blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson

The classic Carl Perkins version, one of the best of all rockabilly blues,

Carl 'Live' on the Town Hall Party

Eurogroup Statement on Greece, Full Text and Reactions

From Reuters The text

NB:
"We deem essential a further strengthening of Greece's institutional capacity. We therefore invite the Commission to significantly strengthen its Task Force for Greece, in particular through an enhanced and permanent presence on the ground in Greece, in order to bolster its capacity to provide and coordinate technical assistance.

Euro area Member States stand ready to provide experts to be integrated into the Task Force. The Eurogroup also welcomes the stronger on site-monitoring capacity by the Commission to work in close and continuous cooperation with the Greek government in order to assist the Troika in assessing the conformity of measures that will be taken by the Greek government, thereby ensuring the timely and full implementation of the programme."



Charlemagne (The Economist): The End of the Marathon?

Charlemagne: Wolfgang's Woes

MSN: 'Bailout Good for Britain' (Osborne)

The Guardian

BBC

The most sensible, objective and responsible assessment of the situation in Greece (to my mind) came from Elena Panaritis, on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme at around 5.15-5.25 pm , today, 21st February.

See also her entry on Wikipedia

We need to hear more from people like her.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Greece on Sunday, 19 February- Monday, 20 February

The situation as reported by Bloomberg.

The Telegraph

The New Athenian, 20 February:an excellent posting by John Psaropoulos. Read!


Gavin Hewitt, BBC

Tsipouradiko, Corfu Town



It may not be everyone's glass of tsipouro, but I enjoyed some great food and conversation (accompanied by tsipouro or retsina) on two or three occasions in Corfu recently, at the Tsipouradiko, just behind the Court House.

Very popular with students (it's always packed out after 8.30pm), it does get very smoky from the wood-burning stove and the cigarettes, but the variety of tasty dishes and meze (mezedhes) is both tempting and impressive, and the prices very reasonable. No signs of recession here. The decor is pretty authentic 1950s-1960s Greece.



Other favourite haunts for excellent traditional Greek cooking in Corfu Town are Rouvas (lunchtime) and O Bekios in Mandouki. Nothing fancy, but that's half the appeal.

Darwin, 1942

BBC News, on Remembering Darwin, 1942

Saturday, 18 February 2012

We Are All Greeks: Shelley's 'Hellas'

The full text of Shelley's Hellas, (composed 1821, published 1822just so we all know what we are talking about- or what Percy Bysshe Shelley had in mind.

From the Preface:

"We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece."


He goes on to say:

"In fact, the Greeks...have undergone most important changes; the flower of their youth, returning to their country from the universities of Italy, Germany, and France, have communicated to their fellow-citizens the latest results of that social perfection of which their ancestors were the original source."


The origins of the European Union idea?


Shelley might well have joined the rallies. Maybe he would have recycled and adapted another of his revolutionary poems, as

"Song to the Men of Hellas"

Men of Hellas, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?

Wherefore feed and clothe and save,
From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat -nay, drink your blood?

Wherefore, Bees of Hellas, forge
Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil?

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?
Or what is it ye buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow another reaps;
The wealth ye find another keeps;
The robes ye weave another wears;
The arms ye forge another bears.

Sow seed, -but let no tyrant reap;
Find wealth, -let no imposter heap;
Weave robes, -let not the idle wear;
Forge arms, in your defence to bear.

Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;
In halls ye deck another dwells.
Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see
The steel ye tempered glance on ye.

With plough and spade and hoe and loom,
Trace your grave, and build your tomb,
And weave your winding-sheet, till fair
Hellas be your sepulchre!

Roderick Beaton, From Ancient to Modern, The Idea of Greece

A useful paper by Roderick Beaton:

FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN: BYRON, SHELLEY, AND THE IDEA OF GREECE
The Romantic poets' ideological development culminated in their support of and participation in the Greek Revolution of 1821.

UK Sailing Olympics, Portland, Dorset, Preparations

Nina-Maria reporting for China Central Television (CCTV), from Portland, Dorset (an excerpt from her report).

Full story (YouTube)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Blues to Beat the Corfu Blues (Corfu, Saturday 18 February)

I'd love to have been there in Kontokali, Roy and Steffi, but I'm leaving.
I'm cuttin' out  (join John Lee).
Heading North to find the sun.
I'll be back in Blighty. I could have done with some rocking blues.
Tear it up! (join Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n'Roll Trio).

See you in May or June. Rock the Joint! (join Jimmy Preston).

"It's Saturday night but I ain't been paid...
Gonna rip it up!"(join Little Richard)


That cheered me up. Almost as good as your live show:



Sources of up-to-date news on Greece

This Guardian Business Blog seems as good a place as anywhere to get the latest Greek economic news (if your nerves can stand any more). Switch the automatic update ON.

And the good old BBC

Relevant updates and views:

International Herald Tribune

A Czech view from Corfu

Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph (has it really come to this? Surely not)

Who's smearing whom? (Bild)

Kathimerini: one way to give Greece a partial rebate

Athens News, The Memorandum Documents (Final Versions)

And a thoughtful view from Democracy Street, the blog authored by Simon Baddeley, currently in Corfu (I am sure he will not mind me quoting some extracts from his February 15 letter to a friend/posting):

"You ask 'how did it get like this?'. Explanation risks sounding like excuse. Greece is an extreme victim of the credit-pushers, corrupt politicians the portal for their access to the people who, over the last 15-20 years, went mad with plastic in a country that produces mainly tourism, now in weak competition with many other tourist destinations...The same leadership used the new credit to compete in buying voters instead of investing it in advanced tourist infrastructure, hi-tech industrialisation, improvements in the built environment of cities, green spaces and traffic management that cities in other parts of the world have carried out to attract white collar professionals. They failed failed to make higher educational institutions competitive with the universities to which bright Greeks head in droves in US, Australia and northern Europe. Why did wiser voices not prevail as this great failure of vision occurred? That’s because the arrogant, male-dominated, queue-jumping, bribe-ridden, clientelist, patronage culture of Greece, especially Athens, was never flushed from its corridors. (see my friend Richard Pine's latest op-ed Letter from Corfu for the Irish Times) The legacy of Ottoman occupation, like colonialism in Africa, is forever cited as explanation and excuse for a dependency in Greece that was continued by her role as post-war pawn of Britain and later America. A weakened US and now a weakened Europe makes that dependency unfruitful, and now new ideas and capital are beginning, as in Africa, to arrive from China; a new global ball-game…Even now Greece’s political leaders, aware of a General Election planned in April, might be said to be playing on fears in the rest of Europe of what will happen if the country descends into some sort of Argentinian chaos. I’m reminded of the old maxim about 'bacon and eggs’ ‘pigs and chickens'. Greece’s highly privileged politicians (in terms of income, expenses and other benefits) are the chickens with their eyes on the ballot box while proclaiming their enthusiasm for Greece to change through greater and more prolonged austerity. The ordinary people are the pigs who are, when it comes to bacon and eggs, committed in a rather more serious way. "

Nikos Kavadias (1913-1975)

Time to shift attention away from the economy and back towards the arts.

What better place to go than to the poetry of Nikos Kavadias (also spelt with a double 'v')? He takes us on some wonderful, exotic voyages and journeys out of ourselves and far from our comfort zones.

Many of his poems have been set to music by composers such as Thanos Mikroutsikos.

Kuro Siwo, paintings by George Kordis.

One of his best poems, for me, is Mavri Lista (Black List), about  blacklisted or decommissioned English sea-captains, stranded on dry land, stuck back home where they came from, their heads still full of their knowledge of seamanship. Bitter, heavy-drinking and quarrelsome individuals, they still live only for the sea.



The Collected Poems of Nikos Kavadias have been translated by Gail Horst-Warhaft. Bilingual edition, Cosmos Publishing, 2006. Recommended.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Greece Promises, Eurogroup Prevaricates (until 20 February)

BBC report

Reuters

and an exclusive

Guardian Business Blog on Greece (regular updates)

Bloomberg: A decision on February 20...

In Greek (in.gr)

Bloomberg Video, "Drachma would be a goldmine"

One thinks of the old English proverb, "Lend your money and lose your friend".

One explanation of the proverb: "You should not lend money to your friends; if you do, either you will have to bother your friend to repay the loan, which will make your friend resent you, or your friend will not repay the loan, which will make you resent your friend".

Greek students of English idioms and proverbs may also recall another old saying, which seems to have been adopted by some of the less friendly and more overcautious voices in the Eurozone:

"Don't throw good money after bad"

i.e.  Don't waste additional money after wasting money once.

Such pearls of folk wisdom are not much help in this day and age. We might do well to remember the old Greek proverb:  Ο ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ ΣΟΥ Η ΖΩΗ ΜΟΥ

Kazantzides' song

Swedish saying:

Den enes bröd är den andres död!



"Dorset Voices", from Roving Press, April 2012

Dorset Voices

Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales


A collection of new prose, poetry and photographs

Due to be published late April 2012.

Roving Press Website, Upcoming Books



A thought-provoking selection of contemporary writing and photographs reflecting Dorset’s variety – a changing modern county, yet still a traditional rural place beloved by so many.

Dorset Voices includes work from new and established writers and photographers, which you can dip into and enjoy – rather like finding nuggets of sea-glass on a beach. It represents the diversity of people, places and talents and is set against a backdrop of the beautiful Dorset landscape. It explores the county through the eyes of local people, with something for everyone: stunning images, poems and verse, intriguing short stories and reminiscences.

This ambitious project was brought to fruition by Poundbury Voices – three established authors with a strong track record for seeking out and promoting artistic talent. The book provides a voice for different forms of writing – dark, imaginative and socially aware – as a celebration of local talent.

Due to be published late April 2012.


'Amateurs in Eden', the Corfu Connection


This book, Amateurs in Eden, by Joanna Hodgkin, has been recommended by Corfiot friends.

Here's a review from The Independent

and one from The Guardian

Conversation with the author (Durrell 2012 website)

Update: I have just read it, and I also recommend it most highly. Here's one of the rarer items illustrated and cited in the book, a limerick about Corfu:



Durrell's friend, George Seferis, seems to have had a similar sense of humour, to judge by this wooden cabinet, hand-painted by Seferis:

To be, or not to be: the earliest recorded sounds

The Economist has this story of the earliest recorded sounds.

YouTube

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Greek Economy, 1959-1964

A snapshot from the book "Greece", Studio Vista, 1959 (1964 edition):



Back in 1961, Greece received 350,000 foreign visitors. In 1964, agriculture employed 43% of manual workers.

"Greece remains as always a paradise for retired soldiers...The economic transformation which gives the country its air of opulence. Crowded restaurants, tempting window displays, well-dressed people...How can this leisure be maintained, now, in the midst of the rigorous discipline made necessary by an organised, Western European way of life? How can they run with the hares and hunt with the hounds?" (p. 87)

Conclusion? It would seem that for around half a century, a number of European countries have been living beyond their means, and, dare one say it, punching above their weight?

See also, The Greek Economy Before EU Accession

and The Greek Economy, March 1970

C. M. Woodhouse writes, in A Short History of Greece (Heurtley, Darby, Crawley and Woodhouse, Cambridge Univeristy Press, 1965):

"Greece's economic weakness was brought into prominence by the government's desire to join the European Economic Community, or Common Market, created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The chronic deficit on the balance of payments combined with an unbalanced budget, of which nearly one-third was devoted to defence, made it seem unlikely that the national economy could stand the strain of participating in the Common Market on equal terms. Moreover, in 1960 the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation reported that Greece's recovery was slowing down."

A rather different picture emerges from Nicholas Gage's "Hellas" (p.89):

"By 1960 the Greek economy was growing at the impressive rate of 8 percent a year".

Dickens in America

A good read on a rainy day (BBC item) 

And an early film featuring a Dickens character

Greece, Continuing Pressure, No Let-Up

Pledges of commitment to reforms required by Wednesday (Reuters),

but, the Commission is still waiting, and calls off the Wednesday meeting (Kathimerini)

BBC on the cancelled meeting

All conditions to be met for Greece to stay in Eurozone (Reuters)

Update from Reuters  "European Union's patience with Greece close to breaking point"


From Kathimerini


An article which attempts to put things in some historical and cultural perspective, by Richard Pine, writing in today's Irish Times (February 14).

The Telegraph presents another gloomy picture.

Reuters again

Promises and missed targets

Teleconference compromise

The media everywhere, as well as most bloggers and Twitters, are open to the accusation that George Osborne has just made about the BBC (for its coverage of the UK economy) that it is "in the front row of the tumbrils, doing its knitting".

Moody's Adjusts Ratings

Moody's Press Release

How come we have all become so obsessed with these ratings in the last few years?

Put your headphones on and listen to Moody Blue

It is Valentine's Day, after all.

Monday, 13 February 2012

On the Art and Challenge of Rebranding Geece

Athens News feature on Peter Economides and the art of rebranding Greece (10 February, 2012).

On changing foreign perceptions and an image survey

A brand in need of renewal

Update (March 2012): plea from Tour Operators, and in Athens News

An example of a past campaign to modernise perceptions of the UK in Australia (and vice versa)

Not sure if I agree with all the ideas of Peter Economides, but he certainly has an impressive track record and a lot of experience in this field.

I come from a cultural relations and public/cultural diplomacy background, not from the commercial world of PR and advertising, so I am not tempted by terms like "Brand-DNA" or by the need 'to extol the work of Greek heroes.' I have worked closely on campaigns with companies like Saatchi and Saatchi (Australia) and similar Swedish agencies; they certainly add value and help to define objectives, strategies and they do understand the target audiences and markets. They're good at building the essential "Pillars" of a wide-reaching campaign.

Greece certainly has considerable 'soft power' assets (a term currently in academic fashion), whether it's the Ancient Greek heritage, the landscape, the poetry (Seferis, Elytis etc) and music, the sea, the mountains, the climate, the hospitality etc; all of these are a huge attraction. These assets should never be underestimated or undervalued.

But as I said in an earlier posting- and it's a truism-
"It is not just a question of rebranding. In order to change perceptions, the reality has to change first, and there have to be some compelling, true stories to tell..."

There are certainly plenty of wonderful stories to tell about Greece, Ancient and Modern. But it may be a little too early to spend large sums of scarce public money on  rebranding exercises aimed at tackling the current negative perceptions in various countries (I'm not sure how well this new campaign will work, but public money is not involved; see also "Join Us in Greece", Times Square animated billboard).

The research and planning could well start now.

But who constitutes the priority target audience? The foreign politicians and opinion-leaders? The potential tourists and the tourist trade? The media? Those interested in Greek culture and the arts? Those interested in ecological and specialised tourism (trekking, diving, wildlife etc)? Young people, middle-aged or retired people? New countries or established markets?

Personally I wouldn't go down the commercial rebranding route at this stage. I would recruit a group pf PhD students at Greek universities, such as the History Department of the Ionian University, to undertake some serious academic research into the attitudes of natural allies and long-term friends of Greece, self-declared Philhellenes and Grecophiles, to try to discover why their love and admiration for the country is tempered by exasperation and elements of the famous Love/Hate Syndrome. What are its root causes? Try to discover the nature of any feelings of ambivalence and negative perceptions.

Then start to develop a strategy or a series of campaigns to change both  internal (ie Greek) practices, policies and bureaucratic behaviour (where, and if, found necessary) and external (ie foreign) attitudes or (false?) perceptions.

If there is a Love/Hate Syndrome to be found even within the closest and most committed foreign friends of Greece, why not try, first and foremost, to get rid of the reasons for the "Hate" part of the equation?

Some other views on changing the image of Greece.

See YouTube video: All My Friends From Greece , for starters and the 2009 version

Specific regions with clear objectives (increased numbers of tourists, educational exchanges etc) can adopt a more targeted and country-specific approach, such as the forthcoming "Ionian inspires Australians" see slide show

To end, some problematic perceptions:
A link to a thoughtful piece in English by Corfiot Peter Papageorgiou
and to Keep Talking Greece. on how the rioters demanded money NOT to burn down shops and buildings in Athens
The Press Association on further hitches and hurdles

George Seferis on The Art of Poetry

The Paris Review, Fall 1970:

Edmund Keeley interview with George Seferis

Η ΓΑΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΟΡΤΟΒΕΚΙΟ, Corfu Novel in English and Greek editions



According to Kedros, the publisher of the Greek translation of "The Cat of Portovecchio, Corfu Tales", the novel is still selling extremely well, in spite of the recession, difficult economic circumstances and crisis in the publishing and bookselling sectors in Greece. See Kathimerini, 12 February, 2012



Maria's Greek School, You Tube Video


Greek Government Plans to sell State Land on Corfu?

Bloomberg reports that the Greek Government plans to sell off some of its state-owned assets, in the form of  half a million square metres of land on Corfu, and more elsewhere (eg on Rhodes).

Where is all this public land? I'd be surprised if there was any left, with every single olive tree accounted for by individuals and families. There are derelict and abandoned municipal properties like Villa Rossa, or the former Old People's Home on top of the Hill of Avramiou in Corfu Town.

Difficult to comment on the plans without having more detail, but  an argument can certainly be made for selling off (or leasing for suitable development) ruined, redundant, often dangerous and largely unrestorable factories (such as the old olive oil factory with the tall chimney in Mandouki) or collapsing monasteries (I can think of quite a few on the mainland). The problem is, they belong to private interests or to the Church.

Time for some compulsory purchases?

An Artist in Corfu, Sophie Atkinson, 1911

The text of  "An Artist in Corfu", by Sophie Atkinson (1911).


Sophie Atkinson was one of Lawrence Durrell's sources for "Prospero's Cell".


For more of her Corfu art works, click here

Greece: this time no heroic 'March of the Spirit'

What else can one post?

March of the Spirit: Sikelianos/Theodorakis (first part)

It's a work that once inspired hope for the future.

The (mediated) reality, last night, while Evangelos Venizelos warned of the dangers of a "March Towards Catastrophe":

BBC Report and video

Sky Photographs

The Telegraph

The New Athenian

Implications for the young and jobless (Athens News)

In Corfu, MP's offices vandalised

A reminder of the salaries and privileges of MPs, according to "The Irate Greek"

Mikis Theodorakis in gas mask, Keep Talking Greece

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Whitney Houston

Just read the sad news of her death on 11 February

BBC 

Greece: The Big Gamble (Laiko Lacheio and Laikismos)

The controversial Memorandum (Pdf file)

Unlike many Greek acquaintances who seem to have the courage to gamble for high stakes, I'm definitely not a gambling man, although I did try my luck and make a small supplementary contribution to the economy by spending ten Euros on this strip of lottery tickets the other day.



The seller of the Laiko Lacheio tickets is called the Lacheiopolis in Greek.

The seller of lottery tickets I chose, as in the past when I've had a flutter (once every decade) is Kirios Mantzaros, the grandson of the composer of the National Anthem, Nikolaos Mantzaros (1795-1872)..

From Corfu Blues (the book):

O Lacheopolis


The grandson of the great composer
Sells tickets
For Life's lottery.


Let's hope that the national lottery in Parliament  later today proves to bring more good luck and better results than I had with the "laiko" lottery. At stake today is the future of the whole nation, so it's important for everyone to refrain from Laikismos


More music by Mantzaros


For those who still like to gamble, here's Gambling Man
For those who don't (or won't after today), Sotiria Bellou sings "Dhen xanapezo zaria pia"- "I won't play a game of dice ever again". 


ΔΕΝ ΞΑΝΑΠΑΙΖΩ ΖΑΡΙΑ! But of course, she did.


Definitions of Laikismos, Pdf file, in Greek

Keep Talking Greece today

Kathimerini: Schaeuble warning

Reuters

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Denise Harvey (Publisher) Books Now in Stock at Plous Bookshop, Corfu

I was delighted to see a good range of books published by Evia-based Denise Harvey on sale at Plous Bookshop in Corfu Town, at Nikiforou Theotoki 91.

Hurry before they disappear!

Among the essential titles:

Edward Lear, The Corfu Years (ed. Philip Sherrard)

George Seferis, On the Greek Style, tr. Rex Warner

Road to Rembetika, Gail Holst (watch a YouTube interview with Gail)

The Pursuit of Greece, ed. Philip Sherrard

From The Pursuit of Greece

Dionysius Solomos, by Romilly Jenkins

and the first volume of the short stories of  Alexander Papadiamantis

...and many more, including translations of the poetry of Sikelianos and other outstanding Greek poets.

Support PLOUS, support independent publishers of quality books like Denise Harvey! Get on your bikes!

Plous is gradually expanding its selection of  quality English language books, and it has a great coffee bar as well as really helpful English-speaking owners, Demo and Dina.

ΠΛΟΥΣ Βιβλιοπωλείο στην πόλη της Κέρκυρας

ΠΛΟΥΣ  Βιβλιοπωλείο στην πόλη της ΚέρκυραςΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΗ 91
49100 ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ
ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ
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Κατηγορία: Καφετερίες | Καφέ Μπάρ - Cafe Bar | Βιβλιοπωλεία

ΒΙΒΛΙΟΠΩΛΕΙΟ - ΚΑΦΕΠΩΛΕΙΟ ΠΛΟΥΣ
Ο «Πλους» ξεκίνησε το 1987 ως το πρώτο αμιγές βιβλιοπωλείο της Κέρκυρας.
Ύφος και ατμόσφαιρα από παλιά χρόνια, καθώς και τα έπιπλα, ηλικίας πάνω από 100 χρόνων.
Η πολιτιστική δραστηριότητα του Πλου ξεκινά το 1992 με βιβλιοπαρουσιάσεις και αφιερώματα σε συγγραφείς, λογοτέχνες και προσωπικότητες της τέχνης και του πολιτισμού όπως ο Θόδωρος Αγγελόπουλος, ο Βασίλης Ραφαηλίδης, ο Φρέντυ Γερμανός, ενώ επεκτάθηκε στην έκδοση βιβλίων κερκυραίων δημιουργών και πολιτιστικού περιοδικού.
Στις προθήκες του βρίσκει κανείς βιβλία όλων των ειδών, ελληνική και ξένη λογοτεχνία, επιστημονικά, ιστορικά, πολιτικά, φιλοσοφικά, δοκίμια, παιδικά, λευκώματα, ξενόγλωσσα κ.α.
Τελευταία, στο Πλους δημιουργήθηκε χώρος καφετέριας.
Ο Πλους λειτουργεί από τις 10.00 πρωί μέχρι τις 12.00 το βραδύ στην Νικιφόρου Θεοτόκη 91

Greek Prime Minister Addresses the Nation

The Prime Minister addressed the nation on television about half an hour ago.

He made a very somber and serious statement about the compelling reasons for Parliament and the people to accept and implement the new loan memorandum and the conditions attached to it.

The alternative, he said, would be a catastrophe, and spell chaos and untold misery.

It might have helped the situation if he had given such a clear, direct address many weeks ago.

BBC

Kathimerini (Greek)

Kathimerini (English)


On the other hand...

Keep Talking Greece

and Keep Talking some more

The Laughing Boy (To Yelasto Paidi), Brendan Behan, Mikis Theodorakis

Paddy Sammon asked me to provide this link, which I do gladly.

I still have a reel-to-reel tape recording of Maria Farantouri's concert on 11 June 1971, at the Overseas Students Centre, Portland Place, when I requested her to sing "To Yelasto Paidi."



Here she is singing the same song at a rather larger gathering in October 1974





Mac Con Uladh Damian

News editor, EnetEnglish
Originally from the west of Ireland, Damian has lived in Greece since 2004, which he blames on having pursued a PhD on the history of East Germany. While doing archival work in Berlin, he met a Greek who would later become his wife. He cut his journalistic teeth at the much-lamented English-language weekly Athens News, for which he juggled numerous beats, including running the online version, from 2008 to 2012. He reports from Greece for the Irish Times and, when he's got the time, blogs at damomac.wordpress.com.
Twitter: @damomac

Sinead O'Connor sings

The Cross, Artform of Ethiopia (film)

I'm pleased to see that my documentary film, "The Cross, Artform of Ethiopia", has just passed 1000 viewings since I posted it on YouTube.

Greece, The Dangerous Choice

Reuters update

The Diaspora responds to the crisis: Global Greek World

Peter Papageorgiou on some home-grown solutions. Let's live more simply, he says (in Greek).

New York Times editorial: Greek Tragedy

Byzantine Blues: If Kevin Andrews had been alive today...



After a visit to Stockholm, Amy Mims (translator of Kazantzakis and Ritsos, etc) kindly sent me a photocopy of Kevin Andrews' poem "Byzantine Blues" (Nicosia, 1980) and other works ("First Will and Testament", Athens 1974) and "Byron in a Capsule for a Coffee Break" (Athens 1990). I already had two books, "The Flight of Ikaros, Travels in Greece During a Civil War" (1959) and "Greece in the Dark" (Amsterdam, 1980), as well as his essay "Expatriation to Excess: No Blame" (The Southeastern Review, Athens, vol 1, no 1).

'Byzantine Blues, a Cradle-Song for Neodemocracy', was written in Athens in May 1979.

What sort of sequel to Byzantine Blues might Kevin Andrews have written if he'd been alive today?

Kevin Andrews (1924-1989) made the choice to become a naturalized Greek citizen (in 1975). He was drowned off Kythira, while swimming to Avgo islet, on 1 September, 1989.

His satrirical poem, Byzantine Blues, was about Prime Minister Karamanlis (this is a short extract):

"And for Greece's gentility total stability -
   who (I ask you!) can give it but he?
For our freedom from tanks, plus the health of our banks
   no one else is 'The Sole Guarantee'.
We read it in headlines, we see it on film,
   we hear it all day on TV,
and electoral posters of him at the helm
   (that are seldom removed) all agree
with the praise in the Press, and the priests as they bless
   both us and the Powers-that-Be
that - to balance our budget of national pride -
a liberal lather of OMO and TIDE
   has washed all our brains out to sea....

with a programme to pinch where it's heartily felt,
and Austerity Plans for uncritical fans,
and his message to Management: Loosen the belt...

The voice of the people, the voice of God,
   a whisper in somebody's ear....
will remind how in Greece an election, or friend,
can sometimes be won and may often depend
    on generous help from abroad."


No prizes for a 2012 update of Byzantine Blues, but why not have a go?

On Kevin Andrews, Elizabeth Boleman-Herring  - A Farewell to Ikaros


Greek Island, February


Drawing by Nancy Dignan, from "Peel Me a Lotus", by Charmian Clift (Collins 1959, 1969)

About Charmian (1923-1969)

John Lucas on her son Martin Johnston, a fine poet and translator of Greek poetry and folksong.

Lawrence Durrell Centenary, Guardian Podcast, with Jan Morris

The Guardian podcast on the achievement of Lawrence Durrell.

Joice Nankivell Loch, Ouranoupolis, Halkidiki

My favourite spot in Halkidiki, when escaping from Thessaloniki in the early 1980s, was Ouranoupolis, on the border with Athos, the Holy Mountain. I very nearly bought a small house there, but the call of Corfu proved too strong.

The most beautiful spot of all was the Byzantine Tower by the sea, where I once had the pleasure of visiting Joice NanKivell Loch, who lived in it (the village was called Prosforion before it became Ouranoupolis).


If there are three women with both Greek and Australian associations whose names deserve to be better known internationally, I would suggest the following: Lady Bowen (Countess Diamantina Roma); Joice NanKivell Loch; and Charmian Clift.

Joice Loch (1887-1982), a legend to travellers to the monasteries of Mount Athos, wrote her own inspiring and highly recommended autobiography, A Fringe of Blue, An Autobiography (John Murray, 1968).


A collection of her poems was published in 1980.


An important biography, Blue Ribbons, Bitter Bread, The Life of Joice Nankivell Loch, by Susanna de Vries (Pirgos Press, Brisbane, 2000, and updated editions), helped to make her name and achievements better known to Australians.


I won't attempt to summarise or relate the fascinating story of the rich and varied life of Joice NanKivell Loch, or of her husband, Sydney Loch, but I do wish to draw attention to the autobiography and the biography.
An unforgettable woman.

About Ouranoupolis