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Monday, 25 February 2008

Monday morning in Birmingham

Up early to get through my mail. The citron scent of several kilos of lemons from the garden at Democracy Street fills our kitchen in Handsworth. "Are you allowed to carry things like lemons?" asked Richard. "No problem, but for the efficiency of Greek airline security we'd have lost your aftershave!" Having cleverly discovered a 125ml bottle and a small silverplate knife, fork and spoon set, which Lin had unthinkingly packed in her hand baggage as gifts, they transferred them, with swiftly completed paperwork, to our hold baggage, to be collected from the carousel in Birmingham. I get news in Corfu via the internet when I do my e-mail - while sitting in a bar, but here - as in Greece it must for Greeks - the television, the newspapers and the radio spread the news in a modern version of the penetrating style of a village crier. Police searching a former Jersey care home, where a child's remains were found the other day, are searching six more sites. In the north a child has been missing for over 5 days. The Speaker of the House of Commons is being accused of improper use of his expenses. On TV last night there was a fascinating and ghastly documentary about a French mass murderer which we didn't have to watch, but we did, as we went through the mail collected while we'd been away. This morning on BBC Radio 4, an agronomist speaks about the extinction of crop variety and the building, on a remote island near the North Pole, of the Svalbard International Seed Vault to safeguard the world's agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change. I suppose this is good news. The big lenders are jumpy. Op-ed pieces focus on 'chain-gang economics', 'disaster capitalism' and 'Keynesian military expenditure' as ways of delaying capitalism's apocalypse. To cheer myself I use the internet to find stories like one about the TV serial Yabanci Damat (Foreign Groom) that was a popular hit of the 2005 Greek summer television season. It told the story of the trans-Aegean love affair of Nazli and Nikos, the family diplomacy involved in bringing them to the altar and the charged political context of their marriage.- 26 June 07 Greek News:

On Saturday, Panteios professor Martha Mihailidou and Bilgi professor Asli Tunc presented survey results collected from roughly 500 Panteios and Bilgi college students’ regarding their views about Turks and Turkish society and Greeks and Greek society, respectively, along with their television viewing habits vis-a-vis the series. Additionally, the respondents were queried, via 40 or so questions, about the personal attitudes towards a possible romance with a member of the opposite sex who happened to be from the other country. The specific television series, entitled “Yabanc Damat” (Foreign Groom) in Turkish and “Ta Sinora tis Agapis” (Borders of Love) in Greek, was produced for and aired by Turkey’s Kanal-D network beginning in November 2004. It was later broadcast throughout Greece by the private Mega channel, generating phenomenal TV ratings in a 'football-less' summer season in the country. According to the survey paper, the series deals with the relationship between a young Greek man and a young Turkish woman and the problems -- and especially the prejudices -- encountered in an inter-cultural relationship (and later marriage). Its comedic tone and play on historic Greco-Turkish antagonism made it a huge hit in both Turkey and Greece, as well as making stars out of the leading actors.

It's not so difficult to find good news if you search for it. I know something like this is being re-enacted for real much closer to home. Waging peace. This is Romeo and Juliet as a comedy with a happy ending... (see this from Modern Greek, University of Michigan)

and Lin has saved me a fee to my accountant by filling in my form herself and actually saving me some tax as well. In Corfu we met a really good and pleasant accountant who's submitted our Corfu tax forms - for which daunting looking 6 pages she needed our 'pink slips' attesting the transfer of cash from UK for house purchase, our local tax numbers from our house contract and our passports - all done for a most reasonable fee, as we chatted in her office near the Ionian University. The sun is sparkling off the little windmills in our garden. Our dog Oscar was all over us, and the cat Flea allowed herself to be stroked several times and I've got two interesting assignments coming up this week and more next, and Amy got 'Recognition of Good Work' from West Midlands Police for helping with the arrest of youths spraying grafitti in the city centre and I've already had photographs from our friend M in Ano Korakiana about a project to build the same kind of wild fowling punt that my stepfather built with Colin Willock in 1957. I've passed M's sequence of photos on to Jack's biographer, Paul Peacock.

The coincidence of finding we have as close neighbours in Ano Korakiana, someone who rides, owns a stable, cooks brilliantly, sharing her life with a boatbuilder - versed in the use of marine ply and GRP construction - who's followed my stepfather's TV programmes and enjoyed his books (I saw some on a shelf, beside Paul's biography of him, when we strolled over to their house for supper the other evening) is, to a struggling rationalist, more than astonishing, especially when I think of the happenstance of having a home in Democracy Street in the first place. M diffidently remarked that he was less sceptical than me about such eventualities being fortuitous.

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