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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Summer in Ano Korakiana - 'the delicious song of the Sirens'

We’re home in Ano Korakiana – for a couple of weeks. Strolling in the heat of the evening through the village, where last we’d walked in warm clothes as a chill wind blew through the tall trees, we spy families sat around a table beneath a vine canopy dim lit in the surrounding dark as if showing through old varnish. Our neighbours were sat in a circle by their front door – grandfather to grandchildren in the cooler evening. “Simon” “Leftheri”. We exchanged quiet greetings as if we’d left the day before instead of being away since early May. The sun rises high up the mountain’s shoulder heating the heat from yesterday. Needing to do things like tidying, gardening, carrying stuff while the sun is up makes air-conditioning tempting. I dislike our units with their ugly boxes churning hot air out to cool indoors. We leave windows open, insect screened, to catch the warm breezes convecting between sea and land, sit about reading with a fan gently revolving, sipping iced lemon, cool wine. Alan came round with Honey. We thanked him and paid for the work he’s done while we’ve been away. 208 is made up of two dwellings. The roof on one was properly completed this February, leaving problems with the newer roof between Leftheris and the former. Alan has sealed, with sturdy lead, the leaking seams at either end. Before we arrived he and H had also seen to ventilating away the heat brewed mustiness caused by continuing damp in the three foot walls of a house empty for twenty years and then so ill-improved it continued to leak. They also washed mildewed bed linen and left us a vase of flowers and a fridge stocked with ice cubes. Two bills, for water and electricity had been collected from the shop and pushed under our door by Mark and Sally. I went into town on Monday to pay the electric - €122 – returning, via Ipsos, to pay the water - €28 – at the Faiakon Municipal offices. No queuing, swift service and English spoken. Car hire was nearly a problem. The lot by the airport concourse where we’d been used to finding a car left with ‘Mr Simon’ in the window has become ‘pay and display’. Late on Friday evening Georgia found me waiting outside arrivals and pointed out where she’d left us a vehicle. That free long term parking couldn’t last. Tourists have been arriving in diminishing numbers. Some believe, according to the Corfiot, that the local economy should adapt to fewer more bountiful visitors. Late Monday night I went to sit with Lin outside the house enjoying the murmerous chat of the village; but I’d locked us out. Groping in the apothiki I fished out a ladder and, while Lin held it, clambered up and through one of our open upstairs windows. Monday morning, before it got too hot, I put sails on ‘Summer Song’. The tricky foresail, its leech sprayed with silicone lubricant, went up easily. I even remembered to fix the up-haul steel cable to the bracket on top of the furling gear, so that when I pulled from the cockpit, sail, forestay and halyard revolved neatly away. The engine started first turn. The main was almost simple, though it was hot enough by the time I’d inserted battens and fixed the cockpit awning that, sweating, I was glad of A/C on the drive back to Ano Korakiana where Lin had hung out washing, cleared the garden, bagged the waste to avoid fire risk, swept the veranda, and fed the spindly brindle cat – now with two sandy kittens. * * * Worried mobile call from Amy. “There are no flights to Athens from Gatwick, mum” “Are you in the right terminal?” “Oh!” Meantime Richard’s missed his train and caught one following. He phones “Amy’s at Gatwick. She just phoned me to say there are no flights to Athens”. Yeah yeah. Mobile phones can erode initiative and spread anxiety. Minutes later Amy tells me she’s checked in, but Richard is still on a train and the gate close in 30 minutes…then later another call saying the flight’s delayed at least three hours. When I was their age I communicated by postcards every other fortnight collected from a local poste restante. * * * I got an email from Australia containing a comment from a Mayor, who’s also an academic, on her working relationship with her Chief Executive:
‘… having pondered this and tried to analyse it - I think it is 'the luck of the draw' as to how well it works. There is no exact recipe for success ... I think you can work at it and get results, but what M… and I can do is because we have a 'good mix' of the qualities that ensure success. Random chance... which may make others looking on feel despondent. Good news is that you can work on relationships and they can be great if both are committed to learning about how to make it work. And are able to do the job. The relationship is only one part ... each then has do be competent (at least) at the actual work they are employed to do and be able to manage that as well.’
John Martin is planning to film several Mayor-CEO relationships using the same questions as I use in UK. He and I will use these to supplement a series of workshops on political-management leadership I'm hoping to do with him during a longer stay in Australia in 2009. * * * Leaving the windows open hasn’t meant mosquitoes or any other insects bothering us. A few flies, a rare wasp, come and, as quickly, go. Outside swallows dash to and fro. At noon the cicadas are busy. Lin saw a grasshopper in the garden. Yellow brown and white butterflies wander through the greenery. * * * This evening we went down to a beach backed by rocks, trees and shrubs beyond the landfall by the harbour. The sea was warm and gentle and we had pebbly stretch to ourselves below an overhanging eucalyptus. The place was rimed with detritus – gobbets of polystyrene, plastic water bottles, a tangled shroud of transparent plastic, a propane gas cylinder, nylon netting, cigarette wrappers, crisp packets, a biscuit box part of a line of such rubbish stretching round the coast of what for certain privileged northern visitors was once their paradise. I note Allen Johnson on the Modern Ecological Crisis quoting Phillip Sherrard: This is part of a European blue flag beach, but some in government recognise the problem - hence the front-page picture in Athens News along with the depressing headline. Under the photo of the beach at Ipsos - posted on Flickr - I've written: This is not a criticism of Greece or Corfu. It is a criticism of human behaviour. The phenomenon of flytipping is global but its effects seem worse in once beautiful places like this. Irresponsible dumping of trash is a universal problem - the product of human habits and values within economies that encourage waste, and make its illegal disposal too tempting. Philip Sherrard who died in Greece in 1995 spoke out urgently and passionately in an attempt 'to avert a cosmic catastrophe caused by man's soulless exploitation of our planet's natural resources...he saw the world ecological crisis as evidence of a spiritual crisis, in which European civilisation has deliberately blinded itself to the spiritual dimension of life: we see ourselves, and our entire planet, in an inhuman, godforsaken way and we treat nature as though it consists simply of materials for us to exploit.'

3 comments:

  1. Hello

    I'm feeling bad that I have got behind with 'Shouting at the Radio' recently.

    What's happened, is this:-

    I started a blog called ESTHER IN THE GARDEN under the name 'Esther Montgomery' and it took off - and took more work than I had been expecting too!

    I hadn't expected this would interfere with 'Shouting at the Radio' but it has.

    I have now started a sort of 'sequel' blog to it called LOOSE AND LEAFY under the name 'Lucy Corrander'.

    This has a pretty substantial blogroll and I have included 'Democracy Street' in it.

    I hope this is alright.

    If not, let me know.

    They are totally different kinds of blog from 'Shouting at the Radio' and hardly any readers know it is by the same person - me!

    However, I decided I would like to let you know.

    Best wishes

    Susan Harwood

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Dear Susan. I'm flattered. Sorry to take so long responding. Regards Simon

    ReplyDelete

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