Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Winnie with Oscar on the winter plot

Daffodils and crocuses. There's still no snow, hardly even frost; instead warm gales from the Atlantic blowing things over, and more and more rain...
Another green house shattered by wind on the Victoria Jubilee
...until today. Yesterday I continued splitting logs with a spalthammer, using a chain saw to reduce the  size of larger pieces of wood, knots holding the wood together, resisting, while others give way with a satisfying thud, each piece thrown sideways; picked up and split again. The stack grows.

It seems wrong rather than a promise of spring that there's already blossom on the cherry in our front garden...

...It seems to be hurrying me. reminding me of having done too little work on my allotment...
The greenhouse bought in December still sits at the head of the plot

...on my other projects - Out of Town 'Restored to Life'....for which I have cash to spare, for work with Francis and Frazer, after an out of court payment from Kaleidoscope TV, who, last year, so signally failed to fulfil their side of the contract I made with them in early 2015. Extract from my 'letter before action':
My claim is based on a failure by Kaleidoscope TV Ltd to repay me in kind for goods and services they have received from me – this includes the loan of films to broadcast, the broadcasting of my films more than once, contrary to contract, and numerous failures to broadcast, contrary to contract, commercials for published episodes of my films. I own rights in broadcast quality episodes of TV films by my late stepfather, Jack Hargreaves’ – ‘Out of Town’ (OOT) programmes. In February 2015 I loaned DVDs and Digibeta cassettes of these programmes to the local TV company, Kaleidoscope (a.k.a Big Centre TV) to broadcast. At the same time, and in return for allowing the broadcast of these programmes, Kaleidoscope TV Ltd agreed that they would undertake the restoration, to broadcast quality, of at least 30 episodes of OOT in the form of 16mm film and sound-tape – ‘Jack Hargreaves OOT Archive’ – that are stored at my home, as well as airing commercials advertising published DVDs of ‘Out of Town’. The broadcast quality OOT material that I had loaned to Kaleidoscope were broadcast during 2015, but over the last year Kaleidoscope TV have done no work on the film and tape they had agreed to process. The defendant has had DVDs and Digibeta tapes from me to broadcast twice a week on Big Centre TV over 6 months for free, but have not fulfilled their agreement to process my raw material in return...
'Restored to Life' - Francis Niemczyk's home in Hornsey 

'Restored to life' ~ Frazer Ash with my stepfather's work on a Steenbeck at the British Universities Film & Video Council 
...and Handsworth Handsworth Helping Hands '4 Avenues Project', learning more almost by the day on a tiny part of Handsworth...
Oscar and Oliver in the HHH van on another visit to Putney Avenue
...and Black Patch Park where the fly-tipping grows; where we need a bold idea to recreate a place in what's become a border space, urban limbo.
Oliver, Oscar, Phil Crumtpon and Avtar Dhillon on Kitchener Street next to Black Patch Park last Friday morning
This park we've been concerned about for over 14 years - can it be so long? - is a community of interest, those interested in it (Charlie Chaplin, Gypsies, Soho Foundry, football) dispersed. It needs for its future to be also a community of place: for that it needs - close to it - people whose windows and doors open onto the Black Patch. Sandwell MBC's structure plan for the area has the area zoned to prefer light industry. What would it take it to  have the area re-zoned for housing?
The other project, shared with Linda, Richard and Angeliki is the idea of a website for the work of Aristeidis Metallinos, the laic sculptor of Ano Korakiana. We've done as much as can be done on this until we have the agreement of the sculptor's daughter, Maria, to continue...
Woman in new and traditional wear ~ work in stone by Aristeidis Metallinos 1985 (photo: Richard Baddeley)
These last 9 days Arthur, my father-in-law, has been staying with us, going every day with Linda to Stafford Hospital - 26 miles north - to visit Dorothy, my mother-in-law, who fell in her home, broke her wrist, and now struggles to move about. We await a place in a rehabilitation unit close to Handsworth. It's difficult for Lin, so occupied now with the care of her parents. I'm almost peripheral.
I fear the news at times. Not from newspapers. I stopped reading them except as comics years ago, but from the news I select from broad choices on the internet from Australia to the US, Canada to Greece, S.America, China and the rest of Europe - sifting the over opinionated, seeking wise writing. Right now I'm thinking about the New Hampshire Primaries. I wrote to my friend, Tony, in New England. With Helen he visited us in Greece five years ago. I'd not seen him since I was a young man in Philadelphia, working briefly in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966..
Dear Tony and Helen. I imagine your woods lovely, dark and deep amid the snow we seldom see here. I think of you both regularly and wonder how you are. And how the world looks from New England.  We don’t go back to Corfu until the second week of April. Greece seems too far away, but I am now and then assailed, almost assaulted, by news from the rest of the world. One friend’s Christmas greeting included the impression that we live in times that imitate the start of the first world war.
We are enjoying writing on the tabula rasa’s of two grandchildren - Oliver (coming up 4) and Hannah (2). They’ve already been three times to stay with us in Corfu, Here in Birmingham I’m entrusted with explaining to Ollie the world of growing vegetables,...

..walking beside canals, riding on trams and trains and ascending top front of double-decker buses drawing pictures in the condensation on the big windows, ...
...visiting art galleries where, for a child, everything from a floor pattern, banister or a reception counter is as true a work of art as paintings in frames and sculptures on pedestals... 
Oliver beside an unknown Tiki in Birmingham Art Museum
...not to mention the  ‘installations’ you aren’t supposed to touch. All part of of 'every common sight…apparell'd in celestial light…the glory and the freshness of a dream. Meantime we’re also busy with care of Lin’s parents - 91 and 97.
Arthur in the kitchen

They looked after us once. Lin sends her love. We both hope you and your family are well. X
T replied with a happy group photo of his descendants amid American snow...
Dear Simon, Here is a photo  of our family minus O who's currently working for the International Medical Corp (IMC is like Médecins Sans Frontières) H and I are nervous about that but she loves it... we are going over to visit her in late May (not in ... but in Jordan!) As you can see, we are blessed amid all the misfortunes of others.  Snow?  Alas until (literally) as I began to reply to your email we had NONE.  Now it is snowing—we have about 4” on the ground.  We only expect about another 3” but still it is lovely that our climate still knows how to make snow.  We thought it had forgotten how!!!  Now the woods are dark and silent. Lovely. The world from New England?  We are biting our nails to see what the New Hampshire Primary election will bring tomorrow.  Trump is a buffoon and bully but I think he may have over-reached.  I think he would be easier to defeat in November than Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.  It would be awful if we got any of them as President! Cruz with his fanatical religiosity really scares me. As Europe learned in the 30 years’ war, church and state don’t mix. ....
The hanging, one of 18 prints by Jacque Callot' - The Miseries and Misfortunes of War 1633

However, no one is very enthusiastic about Hillary so she might just be defeatable by a Cruz or Rubio.  Analytical arguments by HC just won’t appeal to peoples’ heart strings.  Myself, I am a Bernie Sanders supporter but think it will be very hard for him to beat Hillary in the primaries with all her “experience”.  Bernie has a very agile mind. I used to see him in Vermont when I lived there.  That agility will make up for his alleged lack of experience.
WWI:  Your friend’s thought about the prelude to WWI has passed my mind too.
There are just so many accidental mistakes or misunderstandings that could easily happen and trip off a worldwide conflagration.  Ironic isn’t it in the context of your friend’s thought that the current instability in the Middle East is an outgrowth of the fall of the Ottoman empire in WWI followed by the imposition of the Sykes-Picot agreement by the British and French carving up the region between themselves.
Greece?  I was going to email you and ask how Corfu is doing.  I gather it is  relatively unscathed but the migrant flood but poor Greece.  There it is with an enormous economic recession resulting from Germany’s hard money policies and the rest of the EU doesn’t seem to be lifting a finger to help Greece cope with the flood of refugees on to Lesbos.  The EU could at least write off Greece’s debt. Of course the US is pathetic having only taken in 2,800 refugees in the last year.
Congratulations on your two grandchildren and the clear sense of renewed wonder they are conveying to you and Lin.  Our’s, as you can see, are a bit older but as wondrous and real companions now they are adults. We jaded old folks need to open our minds as you both are evidently doing. I am embarked (barely) on a short book in the form of a letter to my grandchildren about what an incredible experience it has been to be alive at our particular time in history.  Think of it: from cosmology....
2012 Hubble XDF image showing galaxies from 13.2 billion years ago
....to genetic engineering, to plate tectonics , the internet, etc, etc.  It is truly unlike any other time in human history save (maybe) during development of agriculture  beginning 12,000 years ago. The expansion of human consciousness in our lives is unprecedented.  And most of it is due the recognition since the 1700s that human knowledge is intrinsically fallible.  But of course, even with all the opportunities it is a very dangerous time. (see above and WWI) because so many people are frightened of the enormous changes and frightened of the human responsibility for knowledge and its application. So they are recoiling and striking back like the jihadists or the Christian right in the US.
It is so hard seeing one’s parents reach the end.  I hope Lin’s parents are having some fun and laughs out of these remaining moments. It is also hard on Lin and you as I discovered when my mother reached this stage. It can be quite startling. Suddenly you can no longer ask them (your parents) for verification of “what happened when—“  No you can’t—do what has been your resource for your entire life. Now you are the latitude and longitude by which your children and grandchildren position themselves. They come to you.  Best wishes, Lin, for many poignant moments to share with your parents.
I must go now to watch BBC America.  It was wonderful to get your email and glad to hear you both are doing well as are we. Helen is still working part-time at the hospital primarily encouraging mothers with breastfeeding help. I just turned 76!  Life’s a bit more uncertain now - to recollect Andrew Marvell’s thought “Had we but time enough, this coyness madam would be no crime.  But at my back I seem to hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” Otherwise AOK with time enough to enjoy this marvelous landscape and house.  Rather like the Temple at Bassae.

Much love and best wishes for this year to you both. T & H
The Temple of Bassae in Oichalia, Messenia, by Edward Lear 1854

*** *** ***
The earth is so damp I'm reluctant to plant anything, for all the advice on radio and internet about what should be in the earth during January and February. Where I plan to site the greenhouse on my allotment is the bed in which for two years I've grown Jerusalem Artichokes. I've started digging them up.

I delight in the journey of these mucky clay-sticky Jerusalem artichoke tubers forked from the sodden soil of my allotment, washed in a chilly waterbutt, taken home, peeled, chopped, parboiled, drained and sautéed in butter with a dash of minced garlic, bay leaves, white wine vinegar.

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 in 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 MDF – 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, 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 Daysin 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».
**** **** ****
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
*** *** *** ***
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.” 

Back numbers