Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Hannah and Oliver at our house

We have recovered wood turned out by householders when Handsworth Helping Hands (HHH) were doing a Skip-it Don't Tip-it day in Putney Avenue.

It was full of staples, bolts and nails but once cut up, and stacked, burned well. On eBay Lin discovered a palette manufacturer not far from us who regularly give away kiln dried off-cuts. A few days ago, a neighbour messaged me 'I'm having a dead tree removed. Collect?' Contractors loaded parts of her felled tree into the borrowed HHH van. I stacked them in front of the house.
This afternoon, just back from Gloucestershire, I began cutting up the lesser girths with an electric chain-saw.

This timber, though from a poplar already dead, is too young to split. In a year it may be ready.
Earlier in the - around 8.00 this morning - Lin and I were in bed in Rock Cottage, in Lydbrook. The phone rang. Dot, her mum, was calling from her kitchen floor in Cannock.
"I've fallen in the kitchen, and I can't wake Arthur"
Lin dialled 999
"I'm 100 miles away in Gloucestershire" she told the operator.
"Is your mother bleeding?"
"I don't know I'm a hundred miles..."
"How does she look?"
The ambulance was on its way to Cannock in 15 minutes. Lin rang Wilf, next door, to unlock the front door, so the crew wouldn't have to break in. Then Arthur was awake. Lin was patched to the ambulance dispatcher.
Lin on the phone to her mum, waiting at her home for an ambulance

"Mum may have broken her wrist or her arm. It's badly bruised. I'm going to collect dad and take him to the hospital. Mum doesn't half pick her times. I'll bring them home."
We'd been working on tidying up Rock Cottage. Enjoying seeing Lydbrook again. Making the place ready for the family to enjoy again after Martin and Sandra and their son Adam have done so much restoration since August 2014.
Traveller's Joy on the path up to Rock Cottage - looking over towards Courtfield

In an hour we were packed up, tidying and heading back to the Midlands, Oscar in the back, We ate a picnic in the car, mackerel pâté sandwiches from a brown bloomer; wedges of pork pie.
*** *** ***
Handsworth Helping Hands has slightly changed direction.  Gaelle Finley included my thoughts on the futility of doing the same thing over and over....

What’s abandoned and not abandoned tells much about local and global economies. Once upon a time it was worth it for sellers of bottled drinks to pay people (often children) to return empty bottles. It meant fewer soft drinks containers littering the streets. One of the things that strikes anyone collecting street waste is the sheer amount of alcohol being consumed in the area – not beer but liquors of every kind.
Right now far less discarded metal is collected from the street. Why all these fridges? Disposing of them is no longer free to householders. The manufacturers encourage consumers to change fridges more frequently. There’s money to be made from the metal innards of fridges, especially the copper coil in the motor. Now that’s less likely to be the case and though people are still dumping fridges, we find fewer ‘gutted’ ones. Why do we see far fewer discarded ovens or washing machines? Because suppliers at point of sale are throwing disposal of your old model in return for delivery and installation, which entails plumbing for washers and wiring in direct for all but very small stoves. Fridges and freezers are just plugged in.
Why so many clothes and other soft materials left lying around clothes recycling bins? There’s a market for old clothes often discarded in good condition, and people just want free clothes for themselves and their families. Going through discarded clothes, people select what they want and leave the rest on the pavement.
In our area, not many people want wood. I have delivered wood cut by Railtrack maintenance workers to a wood-stove owner in Handsworth. I use such wood for our wood stove, but there are not many wood stoves around – getting ones efficient enough for accreditation in a smokeless zone tend to make gas cheaper.
We wonder at how much expensive baby equipment is either dumped or given to Handsworth Helping Hands (HHH) as donations. This stuff is not cheap, but even less well-off people like to pay for new things for a baby. We got second hand push chairs for our children but we met friends who are shocked we did this.
Birmingham City Council Fleet and Waste managers attribute the volume of dumped furniture – sofas, armchairs, beds, shelves, sideboards, wardrobes and other items made of chipboard and MDS – to the high turnover of tenancies and the tendency to buy furniture that doesn’t last long. When a new tenant arrives they also want to clear out everything in close contact with previous tenants. A lot of that ends up on pavements. We know that more of this should be paid for by landlords, but it’s an extra too many seek to avoid.
Rarer items thrown in the street but which HHH has encountered are the big polystyrene blocks that cannabis growers have used to insulate their growing spaces, serving also to hide their activities from the heat sensor in the police helicopter.
Very large accumulations of black bags – a familiar sight in the whole inner ring of the city – suggest the waste disposal methods of tenants a landlord doesn’t wish to be recorded for tax, so that their premises get no, or far too few, wheelie bins.
Add to these issues the vast messiness of trade waste and the low attention given to regulating trade waste licences in our area and you have another major source of rubbish.
We can no longer expect to leave out metal to be collected by the scrap men who roam around HHH street cleaning events – quote from an article in the Guardian last November ‘the bottom dropped out of the recyclable materials market. The global economic downturn means that the global response to “any old UK iron?” is a big fat “no” as scrap metal reputedly plummets from £175 a tonne to a mere £25, plastic prices falling by a reputed £100 a tonne and copper by a huge £1,500 a tonne’. 
Nick, Mike (Chair), Flea (cat) and Lin (Treasurer) ~ HHH committee (photo: Simon, Secretary)

Members of our voluntary group – Handsworth Helping Hands – enjoy what they do. We live in Handsworth. We care about Handsworth. We work hard and we work as a team. We are even used to thinking that we, our partners and residents, are having a real impact in the area. But more and more we’ve had to recognise that we find ourselves doing the same street clean-ups over and over. We are vexed at how many people seem impervious to change; at how our neighbourhood seems stuck in a rut, remaining an obstinate and notorious mess.  For example, HHH carries out one of its regular ‘Skip-it Don’t Tip-it Days’ in one road, with partners and residents. Afterwards things looks great – for a while. We’re all very pleased – for a while. A job well done – for a while. A few days later, we find the same street that looked briefly as a street ought to look, is again as bad as before people got stuck in cleaning it up.
Picking up Bogan's 12m³ skip - hire charge £240 paid for by Neighbourhood Funds 

The same fly-tipping and littering has occurred again, in the same places we picked it up a few days before. We are a small group – 7 of us. We take pride in our local reputation, but we aren’t regulators. We have no authority. We see the same rubbish reappearing and we collect some if it. We resort to the repetitive and often futile labour of reporting it to an overloaded local council.  Knowing all this, experiencing it over three years, the HHH committee decided a few weeks ago to experiment with a shift in approach. We won a grant of £2140 from Birmingham Community Safety Partnership ‘Mobilising Communities Small Grants Fund’.  We selected four avenues – Putney, Brackley, Poplar and Crompton, each with fewer than 20 households, and have named it the ‘4 Avenues Project’. We will strive to engage people in these small places.
We continue to involve our Neighbourhood Office, Birchfield Residents’ Action Group, Midland Heart and Fleet & Waste, .....
Fleet & Waste bring sweeper and compactor truck to Putney Avenue

...but want to do things WITH rather than TO or FOR people. We are learning. So are residents. So, maybe, is everyone involved; learning together about the same intractable challenges that exist in longer streets, in larger areas, but with – just perhaps – a greater chance of doing something about them.
We would really like to balance the disproportionate emphasis on blaming feckless neighbours. There are such people, but just as with crime and health there is more to it. We need to continue to be hard on littering but harder on its causes.
Fish and chips break in Putney Avenue - Nick, Ruth, Oscar, Lin, John and Jimoh 
*** *** *** ***
Last week I donated blood for the 119th time. As a long term donor I'm allowed to continue after age 70, and as a volunteer for the Intervals Study, I'm giving blood more frequently. This time my appointment was 8 in the morning, dawn breaking ...
Cycling down Constitution Hill into Birmingham city centre

65 New Street - Blood donor centre is on the second floor

..On the way home on Constitution Hill I passed a clothes mannequins shop, including a dog mannequin - Tradelines. These give me an idea for a scarecrow on the allotment, especially as the shop has second hand models

** ** ** ** **
I offered to child-mind Oliver, instead of waiting for Amy to ask us as a favour. Oliver is just at the stage that ought to go on forever, where he's always asking "Why?" about things and I just love inventing the answers I don't know. We were strolling with Oscar down Gibson Road. The old car has been slowly bio-degrading for as long as we've lived nearby.
Gibson Road ~ Oscar and Oliver walking in Handsworth
Looking at this venerable Vauxhall Cresta Oscar asked "Why?"
"It is owned by the man in that house. Fifty years ago when he was a young man, about your age, he was given that car by his mum who had bought it second hand from the Queen. He was so excited he decided to drive it round the world via America, Russia, South America, China, across Greece to England where the engine exploded, so he bought a house and parked his beloved car in the drive..." "Why?"
"Because he'd driven so far and the car had looked after him he loved it. He could not even think of getting rid of it. So there it's stood for near 60 years!"
We walk on. Later I met up with Amy and Liz and Henry James and Hannah at One Stop. We had a meal at Wetherspoons.
Oliver, Liz with Henry James, Amy and Hannah at The Arthur Robertson (JD Wetherspoon), Perry Barr

...after which Oliver and I took a train from Perry Barr into New Street where I had a coffee and Oliver a choc ice-cream cone...
Oliver in Grand Central, Birmingham
...after which I cycled and walked  - Oliver sat on my cycle rack, Oscar in the handlebar basket - down to Fazeley Street where we slipped down an alleyway onto the Grand Union Canal...
 ...we headed through dark tunnels, under bridges and up locks to the junction at Aston Top Lock with the Birmingham & Fazeley. We followed that all the way to Spaghetti Junction where the canal turned east towards Minworth and Amy's home
Just east of Spaghetti Junction on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal

...Oliver rode, walked and sometimes ran up and down the slopes of locks and hump bridges where a siding canal joins the main, keeping up a running conversation. We stopped at the KFC on Kingsbury Road backing onto the towpath - orange juice and a chicken leg for Oliver and corn-on-the-cob for me - then on in the gathering dusk to where after Minworth locks the towpath deteriorates and we were picking our way through puddles and mud until we came to Minworth Green Bridge hardly a 100 yards from Oliver's home on Summer Lane.
"You realise we've covered nearly 8 miles. All the way from the city centre to your house!"
We were hardly a minute waiting outside the house when Liz turned up, and soon after that Guy and Amy and, a good bit later. Linda. We had an Indian take-away.

****** ******
Dora Metallinos, on the Ano Korakiana website, praises the city of Corfu, το Πόλη - which seems so far away at the moment....

Πόλη, Κέρκυρα 
Γράφει ο/η Δώρα Μεταλληνού   01.02.16
Κάτω απ' αυτό το κομμάτι ουρανού είδα το πρώτο φως!Μέσα σε χρώματα,ευωδιέςκαι μνήμες!Τύχη μεγάλη το θεωρώ! Ευωδιάζει η ομορφιά εδώ και καθρεφτίζαται παντού. Μέσα στα σοκάκια περπάτησα τους πρώτους εφηβικούς έρωτες, Με μπλε ποδιά και άσπρο γιακαδάκι αγνάντευα κομμάτια σύννεφου...Οσο μου επέτρεπε το κενό ανάμεσα στα στενά σοκάκια. Πάνω στους υγρούς τοίχους,μουσκεμένα αποτυπώματαοι ολοφυρμοί ανθρώπων που γνώρισαν τη βία των κατακτητών. Κι ήταν πολλόι....Σε κάθε γωνιά οι σφραγίδες τους πάνω στα μνημεία. Αναμφίβολα υψιλής αισθητικής.

 Ρούχα να κρέμονται σαν σε ικρίωμα, από τη μια μεριά στην άλλη στα καντούνια ,να περιμένουν να στεγνώσουν κάτω από όσες αχτίδες μπορούσαν να τρυπωσουν. Και εμείς να γελάμε με τα κρεμασμένα εσώρουχα των κυράδων. Σκάλες ξύλινες ατέλειωτες να οδηγούν μέσα στα σύννεφα! Ετριζαν καθώς τις ανεβοκατεβαίναμε κι έκαναν τη φαντασία μου να οργιάζει. Κυράδες με κρινολίνα και ομπρελίνα, κύριοι με ''μπαουλίνα'' και καπέλο ,να κοσμούν τους δρόμους.Κι εκεί σε κάποια τραπεζάκια του "Λιστόν"  η διανόηση να συσκέπτεται με αγωνία για τη γλώσσα και την ελευθερία.

Και οι χωριάτες στη λαική ,εικόνα κι αυτή ,στου νου μου τα κιτάπια, να κάνει εμφανή την κοινωνική διαφορά. Να φαντάζομαι πάντα την αδικία του να μη μπορούν να σεριανίσουν στο δρόμο των ''ευγενών''.

Και οι δυο κορφές της πόλης να αγκαλιάζουν σα δυο μεγάλες φτερούγες τους κατοίκους και τα σπίτια. Αιώνες ζωής πέρασαν από πάνω της...Η υγρασία, η αδιαφορία, η έκπτωση των αξιών,η αλλάγή προτεραιοτήτων, μόνιμο επίχρεισμα, έφερε τη φθορά στους τοίχους, στα μνημεία, στους ανθρώπους...

 Οξειδώθηκαν όλα....Μόνο μια παρηκμασμένη αρχοντιά έμεινε..Μια εκπνοή μεγαλείου.... Η περηφάνεια των κτηρίων μόνο,που στέκουν περήφανα,ευθυτενή.....μα τραυματισμένα.... 
On the Liston on my Brompton (photo: Linda Baddeley)

Friday, 22 January 2016

'Κορακιανίτες και Ένωση'

I've just seen an intriguing post on the website of Ano Korakiana quoting the current Mayor of Corfu, John Kourkoulas, throwing light on a puzzle presented near the time Linda and I first arrived in Corfu in December 2007. Knowing how much the matter interested me, Thanassis Spingos, artist and author of the village website, and Kostas Apergis, Ano Korakiana's historian posted the following letter:
Dear Simon. It is said that before the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece (1864), inhabitants of Ano Korakiana signed a 'paper' asking the British Government to keep the islands under Britain ... We have been looking for this paper for years at the Greek archives without result. We wonder if you can help us by searching this paper in British archives (Parliament, Colonies archives, Foreign Office etc). We are sure that one of the names that signed the paper is Panos, Panayiotis or Panagiotis Metallinos (Μετταλινος). He was the 'leader'. A similar paper has been signed by inhabitants of Kinopiastes (another village in Corfu) and one village in Zakynthos island...
Discussing village history on the balcony

I searched in the British National Archives.  Fascinating; with many insights on the period of British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands, Ἡνωμένον Κράτος τῶν Ἰονίων Νήσων (1815-1864), but I found no trace of that 'paper'.
Searching the Ionian Protectorate archives at Kew

I knew that, until only the last few years, the philharmonia bands of Kinopiastes and Ano Korakiana did not go into the city to play and march at the annual enosis celebrations every 26th May. I have heard, in the village, that it was not that Ano Korakianas and others in Corfu and throughout the Ionian Islands (the Heptanisi*) wanted to stay under British Protection. While many did support enosis with Mother Greece, there were a significant number of radicals - rizopastis - who did not want the islands to be 'transferred' to Greece and the notoriously corrupt seat of national government in Athens. They wanted an Independent Ionian Republic, Επτάνησος Πολιτεία - like the brief Septinsular State that lasted seven years from 1800. They resented the almost casual, pragmatic way the British washed their hands of their Protectorate and more or less handed the islands over to Greece as a bargaining pawn, knowing that Athens was an easier focus of British interest than the volatile Ionians when it came to pursuing British interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.

See...the words of the Ionian rizopasti Ilias Zervos, contemplating the consequences for the seven islands - the Septinsular Republic as might have been - embracing enosis with a Greece governed from Athens....Zervos’ of Cephalonia believed Britain's power over lonian affairs did not decrease with the end of the Ionian Protectorate in 1864, instead the islands became ‘a Pandora's Box’ for British influence on Hellenic politics [Eleni Calligas (1994), Rizospastai' (Radical-Unionists): politics and nationalism in the British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands, 1815-1964, A9m British Library Shelfmark DX187456 Ph.D., London, London School of Economics, 44-9204. p.300]. Zervos found himself opposing his radicalism to that of Zante's Constantinos Lombardos with his popular and nationalistic triumphing enosis with 'Mother Greece'. Instead of ‘freedom’, Athens had given Corfu and her sisters:
...the pollutant of political corruption, which has brought this miserable nation to its present deterioration and produced as many unscrupulous exploiters as a decaying corpse produces worms.
Eleni Calligas on p.301 of her thesis, quoting from Elia Zervos’ autobiography Βιογραθία Ηλία Ζερβού Ιαχωβάτου Συντεθείσα παρ αυτού (1880) edited by Ch. S. Theodoratos, Athens 1974
Ano Korakiana's village lawyer,  John Kourkoulas, Mayor of Corfu, since the 2014 elections, has been assembling an album of historical notes, including press cuttings, which he's shared with friends in the village. It includes an account of the much debated subject of the reaction of the village to the ending of the British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands and union - enosis - with Greece in 1864...
'Κορακιανίτες και Ένωση' Korakiana and Union 22.01.16              
Ο χωριανός μας δικηγόρος Γιάννης Κούρκουλος, π. Δήμαρχος Κερκυραίων, εδώ και αρκετούς μήνες «συνθέτει» σε περιορισμένο αριθμό και διανέμει σε γνωστούς και φίλους ένα ολιγοσέλιδο «αυτοσχέδιο» έντυπο που περιέχει δικές του σημειώσεις και απόψεις, καθώς και αποκόματα εφημερίδων με ευρέως ενδιαφέροντος θέματα της επικαιρότητας, αλλά και της ιστορίας. Έχοντας τη χαρά να είμαστε ανάμεσα στους αποδέκτες αυτού του υλικού, αντλήσαμε από την πρόσφατη έκδοση μία αναφορά στο πολυσυζητημένο και συνάμα ενδιαφέρον θέμα που αφορά στην «Κορακιάνα και την Ένωση με την Ελλάδα».
«Κορακιανίτες και η Ένωση» είναι ο τίτλος του σχετικού έρθρου στο οποίο ο Γιάννη Κούρκουλος αναφέρει τα εξής:
"Βρήκα επιτέλους ένα δημοσίευμα που είχα διαβάσει πριν από 34 χρόνια, το οποίο είχε χαθεί μέσα στο αχανές προσωπικό μου αρχείο. Πρόκειται για ένα κείμενο του μακαρίτη δημοσιογράφου και ιστορικού Κώστα Δαφνή δημοσιευμένο στα φύλλα της 8ης και 15ης Μαρτίου 1971 της εφημερίδας του «Κερκυραϊκά Νέα», με τίτλο «Ο Γλάδστων, οι Κοινοπιάτες και η Κορακιάνα». Και παρά το ότι έχω αποφασίσει να σταματήσω τη σύνταξη χειρογράφων (μετ’ αποκομμάτων εφημερίδων) φυλλαδίων, δεν μπορώ να το στερήσω από όσους από τους φίλους και γνωστούς μου έκαμαν την τιμή να διαβάσουν το τελευταίο μου φυλλάδιο. Πολύ περισσότερο, που το κείμενο αυτό αποτελεί συνέχεια των όσων εκθέτω για το ίδιο θέμα.
Γράφει λοιπόν ο Κώστας Δαφνής:
«Ακόμη και σήμερα η λαϊκή παράδοση θέλει ότι οι Κορακιανίτες και οι Κοινοπιαστινοί δεν ψήφισαν υπέρ της Ενώσεως της Επτανήσου με την Ελλάδα... Κατά πόσον η παράδοση αυτή στηρίζεται σε πραγματικά γεγονότα δεν θα το ερευνήσουμε σήμερα. Άλλη αιτία, σχετική βέβαια μας οδηγεί στο ίδιο θέμα. Τοποθετείται 5 χρόνια πριν από την Ένωση και έχει σχέση με την αποστολή του Γλάδστωνος στα Επτάνησα. Βρισκόμαστε στα τέλη του 1958 (SB note: 1858?), ο άγγλος απεσταλμένος περιοδεύει στα νησιά και στην κερκυραϊκή ύπαιθρο για να σχηματίσει άμεση αντίληψη για τις πραγματικές διαθέσεις του λαού και να σφυγμομετρήσει το λαϊκό φρόνημα. Μεταξύ άλλων επισκέπτεται τους Κοινοπιάστες και την Κορακιάνα. Για την πρώτη επίσκεψη γράφει σχετικά η εφημερίδα «ΝΕΑ ΕΠΟΧΗ» της 13ης Ιανουαρίου 1859 με την περιγραφή της επισκέψεως στους Κοινοπιάστες, όπου και εμφανίζεται ότι οι Κοινοπιαστινοί σε ερώτηση του Γλάδστωνος «τι θέλουσι: μεταρρύθμισιν ή ένωσιν», απάντησαν «μεταρρύθμιση», γεγονός που προφανώς τον ευχαρίστησε.
Συνεχίζοντας ο Κ. Δαφνής αναφέρει ότι «τα σημειώματα αυτά (της εφημερίδας) δεν έμειναν χωρίς απάντηση, αφού  στο επόμενο φύλλο της, η «ΝΕΑ ΕΠΟΧΗ» δημοσιεύει τα εξής:
 «Ελάβομεν επιστολήν υπό του Προεστώτος του χωρίου Σταυρού κ. Αντωνίου Ραρή, δι ής καταψεύδει λόσα δια του Παραρτήματος είπομεν. Ελάβομεν ετέραν επιστολήν υπό του κ. Χ.Γ. Εμμανουήλ Πουλημένου και άλλων προς κατάψευσιν όσων εν τω παραρτήματι είπομεν περό Κυνοπιαστών. Άπαντα ταύτα θέλομεν καταχωρίση προσεχώς»
Και πραγματικά στο φύλλο 49/2-2-1859 δημοσιεύονταν η απάντησις. Τη μεταγράφομεν ολόκληρη:
«Κυνοπιάστες, τη 21η Ιανουαρίου 1859: Υπό των υποφαινομένων κατοίκων του χω­ρίου Κυνοπιάστες, παρακαλείσθε να καταχώρισητε εις το φύλλον σας τα ακόλουθα: Δια του παραρτήματος ύπ’ άριθ. 46 της εφημερίδος, τινές εις ημάς άγνωστοι, επρόσβαλαν και ημάς και τον κ. Γλάδστωνα, ότι ερχόμενος εις το χωρίον μας του επαρρησιάσθησαν πολλοί των κατοίκων και ότι ο κ. Γλάδστων μας ηρώτησεν τί θέλομεν, μεταρρύθμισιν ή ένωσιν; και ότι ημείς τω απηντήσαμεν μεταρρύθμισιν και εις την απόκρισιν ταύτην ευχαριστήθη τα μέγιστα και ότι ο υπασπιστής του έγραψεν εις Κυνοπιάστες (και όχι Κυνοπιάστρες) θέλουν μεταρρύθμισιν και ότι έδωκεν εις δια­φόρους από ολίγα χρήματα και ανεχώρησε, και άλλα όπου αν δώσωμε την απάντησιν αμαυρόνωμεν τον εαυτόν μας. Ούτε μία αλήθεια εγγράφθη περί του αντικειμένου και ημείς στοχαζόμεθα τα αυτά άτομα ως ανόητα, κηρύττοντα ουχί ως φυσικά τέκνα των Ελλήνων, αλλά ως αφύσικα και συκοφάντας. Η δε αλήθεια έχει ούτω: «Την ημέραν των Χριστουγέννων, τας τέσσαρας ώρας μ.μ. εξερχόμενοι πολλοί εκ του ιερού μετά τον εσπερινόν, έφθασε με την άμαξαν και ο κ. Γλάδστων εις την πλατείαν της πρωτευούσης της ιδίας Εκκλησί­ας, και ευθύς εισήλθεν εντός της Εκκλησίας, με την συνοδίαν του και θεωρήσας με περιέργειαν εφιλοδώρησε τον εφημέριον και τον υπηρέτην. Ημείς, χάριν περιεργείας, ερωτήσαμεν τον αμαξηλάτη, τις είναι; και είπεν, ο κ. Γλάδστων... Ευθύς όλοι όσοι παρευρέθησαν παρόντες (διότι οι κάτοικοι του χωρίου αριθμούν έως οκτακόσιοι και ουχί τριάκοντα), τω επεδώσαμεν τον πρεπούμενον χαιρετισμόν και τον συνωδεύσαμεν μέχρι των οσπητίων της κληρονομίας κ. Βιλέτα, όπου θεωρήσας την θέσιν, πολύ ευχαριστήθη. Ακολούθως, πάλιν ήλθαμεν εις την Εκκλησί­αν, όπου είχαν διάφορα γλυκά, (κατά την συνήθειαν της ημέρας), εκ των οποίων έλαβεν ο κ. Γλάδστων και έδωκε πολλών παιδιών εκεί ευρεθέντων, επλήρωσε και κατόπιν αμοιβαίων χαιρετισμών ανεχώρησε... ΄Οχι μόνον όπου ούτε ωμιλήσαμεν δι’ όλου διά ένωσιν ή μεταρρύθμισιν! άλλα ούτε το είχομεν κατά νουν! Εκ του άλλου ημείς είμεθα απόγονοι των Ελλήνων και το επιθυμούμεν πολύ περισσότερον από κάποιους όπου πλαστά λέγουν, θέλουν την ένωσιν... Πλην κατά το παρόν, ο άνθρωπος πρέπει να συμμορφώνεται με τον ορθόν λόγον καί όχι με λόγους ατάκτους και ο­πού δεν έχουν ισχύν» Τέλος ημείς εφέρθημεν εις τον κ. Γλάδστωνα με εξευμενισμόν, τον ευχαριστούμεν δια τον εδώ ερχομόν του και θέλει τω αποδώσωμεν προσωπικώς εν τω δωματίω, όπου κατοικεί, τας ευχαριστήσεις μας καθ’ ο εντιμοτάτω υποκειμένω».
Ταύτα και υποσημειούμεθα I. π. Γεωργίου Χριστόδουλος I. Έμμανουήλ Πουλημένος
Τη δημοσίευση της επιστολής η εφημερίς συνώδευσε με την εξής υποσημείωση: «Συγχαιρόμεθα τους κυρίους τούτους και το χωρίον Κυνοπιάστες και επειδή ημείς δεν έχομεν σκοπόν ουδένα να προσβάλλωμεν, δημοσιεύομεν ευχαρίστως την δήλωσιν των κυρίων τούτων»....
Συνεχίζοντας ο Κ. Δαφνής αναφέρει ότι, ακολούθως, στο φύλλο 51 της 13ης Φεβρ. 1859 (της ΝΕΑΣ ΕΠΟΧΗΣ) βλέπουμε να δημοσιεύεται επιστολή του «εκ Κορακιάνας συνδρομητού» Σταυράκη Μεταλληνού του Σπυρίδωνος, στην όποια ο επιστολογράφος εξιστορεί με λεπτομέρειες τα της συναντήσεώς του με τον Γλάδστωνα, όταν επεσκέφθη το χωριό του και τα όσα ελέχθησαν μεταξύ των. Ο Σταυράκης Μεταλληνός διερμή­νευσε με παρρησία στον ΄Αγγλο απεσταλμένο τα παράπονα των κατοίκων εναντίον της Προστασίας, για να επαναλάβη στο τέλος ότι αίτημα των κατοίκων ήταν η ΄Ενωσις με την Ελλάδα. «Ημείς, είπεν ο Μεταλληνός, είμεθα ΄Ελληνες και Χριστιανοί Όρθόδοξοι, τουτέστιν έχομεν κοινά με τους δούλους και ελευθέρους αδελφούς μας κατά την καταγωγήν και την γλώσσαν και την θρησκείαν, και ως εκ τούτου έπιθυμούμεν να ενωθώμεν με το ΄Εθνος μας. Το εθνικόν τούτο αίσθημά μας καμμία δύναμις δεν δύναται να το εκριζώση εκ της καρδίας μας». Και, έκλεισε την επιστολήν του ο Σταυράκης Μεταλληνός: «Ταύτα είναι, κ. Συντάκτα, τα διατρέξαντα εν Κορακιάνα, τα όποια και σας παρακαλώ να δημοσιεύ­σετε όσον τάχιστα όπως καταψευσθή πας ος τα εναντίον διατεινόμενος και σπερμολογών».
Από όλα αυτά, (αναρωτιέται ο Κ. Δαφνής) τί συνάγεται; Τό απλό συμπέρασμα ότι η ύλη της ιστορίας δεν προσφέρεται πάντοτε καθαρή και αποτοξινωμένη από τα πάθη και τις προσωπικές συχνά αντιθέσεις της στιγμής. Και ότι χρειάζεται μεγάλη προσπά­θεια στον ιστορικό για να ξεκαθαρίση το ιστορικώς αληθινό από τα επιστρώματα, που το έχουν αλλοιώσει".
* The Heptanisis or the Ionian Islands are an archipelago of different-sized islands. The largest are Zakynthos or Zante, Corfu, Ithaca, Kephalonia, Lefkada, Corfu, Paxos and, far further south, Kythera; the smaller ones, Antipaxos, Anti-Kythera, the Strofades archipelago, and the Diapontian isles of Erikoussa, Mathraki, Othoni, and Meganisi. 

We may never be sure about this matter. It is obviously a sensitive issue - with the imputation, quite unfair, that these villages were somehow less patriotic than the rest of Corfu. It circumvents the powerful story captured in her thesis, by the scholar Eleni Calligas, of the rival visions of those two Ionian politicians - the rizopasti Ilias Zervos lakovatos (1814-1894) with his hope for an independent Ionian Republic, and the populist Constantinos Lombardos (1820-1888) who pursued union with Greece. I would like to see the primary source evidence surrounding the imputation that the reasons the Philharmonia's of these two villages - Ano Korakiana and Kinopiastes - did not, for more than a century since 1864, attend the celebrations of enosis with Mother Greece - was no more than a matter of speculation and scuttlebutt «...τα εναντίον διατεινόμενος και σπερμολογών».
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A letter from The Gunmakers Arms, Gun Quarter, Birmingham City centre
Hi Simon. I am interested in potentially booking you as a speaker. Could you give me some more information on the Birmingham-related talks you have please.
We are planning to host a series of science-based talks in addition to a series of talks based around an historical theme at our pub, the Gunmakers Arms. We have a loose theme of topics including anything related to Birmingham, alcohol (and related industries) and sport. If you or any of your colleagues could deliver talks which would be suitable please let me know.
The speakers we have lined up so far are listed below.
Darren, Office Manager
Historical Talk Series. Kay Hunter – ‘The Last Public Hanging in Birmingham’, Tuesday 26th JanuaryRuth Cherrington, Club Historians – ‘The Social History of Working Men’s Clubs’, Thursday 18th FebruaryDr Malcolm Dick, University of Birmingham – ‘The Industrial Enlightenment and the Luner Men in the 18th Century’, Wednesday 30th March Professor David Williams, Loughborough University – ‘The Early Days of the Birmingham Gun Quarter, Tuesday 17th May 0121 439 7253 Two Towers Brewery, Unit 1 Mott Street Industrial Estate, Hockley B19 3HE

Dear Darren
Interesting to hear from you, and so glad to see The Gunmakers back in business.
You enquire about my ‘colleagues'. As a local speaker I’m a one-man band. I talk only about the 'Founding of Handsworth Park' towards the end of the 19th century, based on the research for my story of our local park -  I have film, texts, maps, postcards and photographs to illustrate a talk that can be between 20 minutes and an hour, with space for discussion and questions. I charge £30, but if there’s a favourite local charity at The Gunmakers I encourage my hosts to have a collection to pass on themselves. You can buy me a choice of Baskerville Bitter and Hockley Gold (:))
As a founder member of the Friends of Handsworth Park in 1994 I was among a small group lobbying to save Handsworth Park, helping organise a campaign which finally brought about a ceremonial re-opening in Summer 2006, I contributed to Birmingham City Council’s winning £9,000,000 lottery grant that funded the park's restoration during the early years of this century.
I’ve lived with my family in Handsworth, 300 yards from the Park’s main gate, for forty years. I was a lecturer at Birmingham University’s School of Public Policy between 1973 and 2010. I am Hon.Sec of a local charity ‘Handsworth Helping Hands’ (find us on Facebook).
To support the winning lottery bid to restore Handsworth Park I wrote a history of the founding of the Park. First paragraph:
"As the civic gospel of municipal improvement spread from Birmingham into the estates of Handsworth, its local government leaders saw a public park as a benefit for the district. Following the setting up of an education board and a free library, the adoption and proper kerbing of roads, street lighting, tramways and the construction of sewers,influential voices in the district began to speak of the need for a “lung” in the city. They did not pursue the idea simply out of expediency or to raise the value of their properties. Such self-interest was present - used unashamedly to strengthen their case among the practically minded citizens of Handsworth - but opposition to the Park from that quarter was at times so intense that calculative motives alone would not have carried the project through.” p.1, Baddeley, S (1997) The Founding of Handsworth Park 1882-1898, Birmingham University
I tell the story of how our local park was founded, despite opposition from rurally minded people, who could not imagine how the Staffordshire countryside would in a few decades become a suburb of the great working city, its populace grateful for the foresight that saved a few fields to create a public park - now just 2.1 miles from the Gunmakers Arms, or 15 minutes on my bicycle. The idea of a park in Handsworth was also opposed by people who didn’t want ‘the roughs of Birmingham’, as they saw them, ‘despoiling' the attractive suburb to which they’d escaped from the city in whose industrial quarters they were making their money. Here’s me talking about my enthusiasm for the park a few years ago

If I can answer any more questions do get in touch.
I tend to be in and out of the UK for just under half the year but I’m easy enough on to contact and would be delighted to speak on my favourite subject.
Kindest regards
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It was the best of years, it was the worst of years
Richard Pine, The Irish Times, 26th Jan 2016
It was (to paraphrase Dickens) the best of years, it was the worst of years. On January 25th last year Greeks elected their first ever left-wing (as distinct from socialist) government. This, Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, was both A Good Thing and Not Quite Such A Good Thing. Dickens continues the opening of A Tale of Two Cities by pairing wisdom/foolishness, belief/incredulity, light/darkness and hope/despair. In the past year Greeks have had all of these in excess. The jubilation at the (apparent) rejection of the bailout in the July referendum, followed by the realisation that nothing, but nothing, had changed, underlined how fragile and fickle the democratic process can be...
...And the past year has emphasised that there are two Greeces. Not the us-and- them, have-and-have not division, but the underlying causes that are, apparently, indelible. On one side the cancerous corruption favouring the oligarchs and plutocrats, and on the other what Myles na gCopaleen would have called “the Plain People of Greece” who just want to get on with their lives.
The corrupt state is the result of decades of Plain People innocently, blindly and stupidly trusting politicians, and one year of well-meaning but naive policies cannot undo that corruption. Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said (in Kilkenny, interviewed by RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan): “The oligarchs were completely untouched by the troika”. And he said Syriza’s surrender to the troika “makes them absolutely incapable of effecting change”...
...The past year has been wake-up time for everyone. The international financial community is waking up to the fact that for so long it denied that the Greek debt could be restructured; it’s now admitting that the austerity programme was a textbook remedy for an as yet undiagnosed problem which they didn’t understand.
The EU negotiators are beginning to admit that most of the figures bandied about are in fact illusory and that most of the negotiations have been a cosmetic job to obscure the fact that neither side has any faith in the figures.
Tsipras is waking up to realise that, in order to stay in power, he has to rely on big business, which is represented in his cabinet by ministers who, like some of the county councillors named in the recent RTÉ Investigates programme, had “overlooked” their declaration of interests and understated their assets.
Greeks would have watched the RTÉ programme and said “So what? What’s new? What’s there to shout about?” Clientelism and bribery are so endemic that these blips would never have got air time in Greece, not least because most media are controlled by the plutocrats....As journalist Nick Malkoutzis says, Greeks are “torn between love for their country and hate for what it has become”. Throughout my book Greece Through Irish Eyes (SB note: my review of RP's book) I emphasised the need to both love and mourn Greece: to recognise that within everything lovable there is also something to mourn, and vice versa. I mourn the events and circumstances that created the past year of triumphs and defeats.
But I love what I see in the village where I live: the way parents cherish their children and want to give them the best chance in life. I love the sight of truckloads of olives going to the oilery at the end of the village street; the way I can barter fruit for eggs with my neighbour. And I love it that a retired telephone engineer will fix my phone when it’s struck by lightning, and refuse any payment, saying, “Give me a copy of your book instead. It’ll be valuable when you’re dead.” 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A greenhouse

Every morning. Rain. Grey clouds and rain and gusting wind. This grisly weather has been going on since we came back to England seven weeks ago. Our plane took us away from daily blue skies, blue seas, gentle breezes; warmth that had lasted longer than usual, even in Greece.
November dawn in Corfu

A few nights before we left we'd walked down to Sally's stables below Ano Korakiana to stand around a fierce fire, sparks spiralling into the dark.
We sat with friends around a large grilling rack  - 5 feet across - on which we'd brought meat to cook - chicken, village sausages, liver, pork, souvlaki; beside the grill, trestle tables of bread, salads and drink. Well fed, we gathered round the fire. When its first fierce heat dispersed. Some of us gathered more wood from a loose heap some yards away, braving the heat to push large palm logs to smoulder further into the fire. Lin and I walked home along the Ano-Kato road, climbing steeper alleyways and steps to home on Democracy Street.
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To stop having to grow seedlings from retailers and to extend the growing season and perhaps grow what will not survive wholly out of doors I'd like a greenhouse - a good one, wood not plastic or metal.
Preloved ~ Details 
Description: one eight foot x eight foot Canadian western red cedarwood green house, with one eight foot shelf and one eight foot staging, having concrete plinths.
in reasonable condition one roof panel needs repairing. all dismantled awaiting collection.
I have the original erection details and parts list. buyer to collect and pay cash price of two hundred and seventy five pounds, to buy new approx. twenty eight hundred pounds.
Before I can put up a greenhouse on Plot 14 I need four tanalised rail sleepers on which it can sit. My after-Christmas sally to a vast builder's yard in Wolverhampton, Carvers, using Lin's sat-nav I ended up in a cul-de-sac - a fragment of narrow Littler Street severed by city centre redevelopment - gazing through the drizzle at my destination beyond a dual carriageway that took 15 minutes to get across, via successive traffic lights and roundabouts. Through check-points, two lads in yellow wet suits lifted a 3 metre x 120mm X 240mm beam onto the roof of the HHH* van after struggling to get more than three inside. The rain sweeps across the yard - still part cobbled, old Littler Street. I pay at the timber office and head back by wet windy motorway to Birmingham...

...to unload the heavy wood on plot 14, beside to the greenhouse pieces Winnie and I had collected from a seller in Halesowen who'd advertised a 20 year old 8' x 8' Alton Amateur Greenhouse for £275 (including spare parts, concrete base, instructions, disassembled ready to collect) on Preloved. New it would have cost over £2000.

John Buckley, vendor, sees Winnie securing the largest greenhouse panel for transport to plot 14

Feeling the wind as it hurled itself across the allotments, having wrecked structures all over the site I changed my mind about siting the greenhouse at the top of the plot.

"Behind the fruit cage" I said to Winnie "It'll be protected from a lot of wind there"
"No. That'll get over shaded in summer. Why not where you've had the Jerusalem Artichoke forest front and right of the shed?"

Now it's a matter of studying instructions, getting any extra spare parts needed, solving a complicated puzzle, laying firm level foundations; getting the greenhouse put together and used.

*used for personal work with HHH committee permission, fuel paid for.
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Notwithstanding Andrew's and Judy's Christmas card...

...my memory of this Christmas? Amy's best friend, Liz and her baby son, Henry and four generations of us at table on Boxing Day, the oldest, Arthur, saved from a 'pie' in the face - a game brought to the table by my son, Richard - followed by me, who gets a squirty cream splat, to the laughter of all - loudest from my three and a half year old grandson, Oliver. Dorothy, his great grandma, my mother-in-law, more interested in a photo album of her grand-daughter's wedding to Guy.

...and seeing this Alex, who lives with her family in France near the border with Spain, shared this with the message "Simon! Where you lead the dog world follows"
...and another memory of Christmas, just before Amy, Richard, Oliver, Hannah and I went to Lichfield - Richard and I by train from the new New Street Station embedded in the new Grand Central Development of Birmingham, which I like, not least for our new reflections...
Path from The Bull Ring to  Stephenson Street via the facade of  New Street Station under construction ~ 4th July 2015

... in the once pebble-dashed cliff that fronted the ugliest concrete warren of a rail station in Europe, which pleases Oliver gazing up at an big selfie in the stainless steel reflections of Alejandro Zaera-Polo's and Maider Llaguno's construction.

Lichfield offered us a small town with easy enough ways to get about and know where we were, but few finds when it came to buying Christmas presents - even from charity shops. Best places were pound shops filled from China.
I said to Richard "I wish we could have a drama series about life in Yiwu or any of the thousand and one Chinese factory estates producing all this stuff for every corner of the rest of the world!"
It was good to be in company with family, with Liz and her new son Henry James joining us for afternoon tea in the Tudor of Lichfield.
Richard, Hannah, Oliver and Amy in Bore Street, Lichfield

A lull in the weather ended. From mid-afternoon rain and wind advanced from the west.
"You take Oliver home?" asked Amy "Guy'll collect him tonight"
I knew she wanted time to chat with Liz.
Richard and I walked back through wet streets to what must once have been an attractive railway station for the city. Despite the wet and the chill the waiting room was closed. I enquired at the ticket office.
"It's been urinated all over" grumbled the man behind the glass, almost resenting us for asking.
"Might have helped if the station toilets hadn't been closed" muttered Richard as we stood on the windy platform.
In 45 minutes we're back in Birmingham. During the journey Ollie had asked to go to the lavatory which was not only available but surprisingly clean. Thank goodness. Richard headed home on foot. I and Oliver walked to a bus stop on Station Street; the 16 bus pleasingly re-routed in only the last few months to a stop opposite the Old Repertory Theatre, a matter of hardly 50 yards from lifts into the new concourse. Oliver, holding tight, climbs to the top deck to sit at the very front where, as the bus stutters stop-start, through packed traffic moving below walking pace until at last we're past the St Chads Queensway lights heading out of the city centre down Old Snow Hill Street. He entertains himself and me drawing a mural in the condensation of the bus window...
Ollie top deck front on the 16 bus

...giving commentary as he draws. A sweeping curve on the right with small dots is "Corfu - a beach" I take it "the dots are people?"
"Yes" he says
I'm unsure how much we are inventing in his tracing.
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In Ano Korakiana...Η Χριστουγεννιάτικη Συναυλία της Φιλαρμονικής μας πραγματοποιήθηκε την Τετάρτη 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2015 στην εκκλησία του Άη-Γιώργη.Πολύ καλή η εμφάνιση των μικρών «συνόλων», της μπαντίνας με τη συμμετοχή αρκετών μικρών μουσικών και φυσικά της μπάντας, υπό τη διεύθυνση του Κώστα Ζερβόπουλου, ο οποίος μαζί με τον Πρόεδρο της Φιλαρμονικής Γιώργο Μεταλληνό προλόγισαν την εκδήλωση με αναφορές στο μήνυμα των εορτών και την προσπάθεια των (ιδιαίτερα των μικρών) μουσικών.
The Philharmonia's Christmas Concert in St.George's Church, Ano Korakiana

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