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Saturday, 6 September 2008

Double and Trouble

With a nurse's perceptiveness Valerie has noticed a way of distinguishing between Bubble's tabby twins. It's obvious once you look at their faces. The clue is in the names we've given them - Double and Trouble.. T * * * D helped me change the mainsail halliard on Summer Song. Sewing an end of the old halliard on to the new. The job was done in seconds. Then he helped me try out reefing the main. As Norman, Summer Song’s previous owner had warned, the new main on a roller reefing boom that’s 40 years old, wound so unevenly the only way to stop the boom dropping on the mainhatch after a few turns was to stuff the reefing sail with towels - tricky on a sunny day in harbour let alone when you need to reef. “This is hopeless” said D. I agreed. We pondered adjusting to slab reefing. A bit complicated. Might mean waiting on a good second hand sail with slab reefing eyelets and and attachments. “Why not go for reefing lines? Do it the old way?” I said. “OK. We can raise the main and mark the best points to sew them in with a bit of reinforcing canvas”. Later I said to Lin “instead of having reefing lines why not sew in some brass rings on both sides of the sail instead of reef points?” D, when I asked him, doubted they could take the strain. I think it's a job for Astrid and Maria at Kontokali. Lin and Val turned up on the digue as we were fiddling on the boat. Dave suggested a drink at Dominoes at Analypsi. “OK. We’ll go on there. Join us”. I don’t really approve of sitting by a blue pool sipping cold drinks – glasses frosted in the freezer before serving. But I forced myself to stay there until the end of the afternoon. Yianni, like a good businessman, got me talking about myself and I was two Mythos into a discussion about why Corfu won’t recycle and why on earth there had been a need for so violent a response, during May and June, by police brought from the mainland to deal with Lefkimmi villagers’ demonstrations against a new landfill. I played the cowards’ card - “no comment on what’s happening in someone else’s country”. This month's Corfiot editorial (Sept 08, p 4) – Greek authored - is angry at MAT being called out to deal with a local protest calling for recycling instead of dumping. A young man on a motorbike, now paralysed, reportedly ran into a woman, who died of injuries, amid the violent confusion that resulted. Protests continue. Earlier last month a local priest was arrested, charged with inciting terrorism – case to be heard in January '09 (The Corfiot, Sept 08, p. 6). I was reciting my understanding of the economics of recycling and the reasons for delaying something so sensible when Lin dragged me off to the pool. * * * An unnattractive humpbacked freighter’s been anchored well away from shore and out of ferry lanes north east of Vido for ages [a grey shape on the horizon above my head between the shrouds] - or at least since the fighting in Georgia. One of her US ratings, asked - in a bar in town by young K - her cargo, replied “toilet rolls”. D told me no-one in a boat is allowed near her. From one of the SE facing seaview villas below Pantokrator, an acquaintance of D was gazing, in daylight, through a tripod steadied night-view telescope at this vessel, about 8 miles away. Looking down from his eyepiece for an instant, he saw four red dots on his chest. D said he raised his hands in surrender stepping swiftly back from his scope. What did I think. Letting a casual watcher know they are observed sounds disproportionate, a shipboard techie showing off – but we’re living in an age of asymmetric war. A Corfu baywatcher could be as likely a threat to a NATO intelligence gathering unit as the easily detected approach of a vessel, aircraft or missile of matching cost and scale. Current enemies, lacking equivalent weaponry, are more likely, after prior reconnaissance from shore, to pose a leisure run to Saiyada in a small explosive packed speedboat steered by someone ready to die at the controls, or a commandeered tourist caique filled with hostage trippers that diverts, like a duck with a hang wing, calculating a defender’s hesitancy. I'm not amazed at the technology, given that millions can, for instance, view Summer Song in Ipsos Harbour, from anywhere in the world, using Google Earth We just don't get the professionals' real-time pictures. * * * As we – Valerie, Linda and me - sat out on the veranda this morning having tea and biscuits I was stung by a wasp caught in the curl of my little toe. I took an anti-histamine, applied sting relief and we continued chatting. Years ago I'd have been off to A & E for a jab to save my life. * * * I so like the way this house combines the intimacy of neighbouring alley and courtyard with - from its balcony and upper windows - a panorama of the sea, the mainland and island southwards – spinach green woods of olive, myrtle, cypress and the Ionian sea towards Ithaka - even as the building sits, tightly surrounded by other houses, beneath the craggy scrub covered heights of Trompetta. Democracy Street passes close by, but along the path a little and up several steps, while the alley beside us turns into a track that winds 100 metres down to the bus stop on the villages’ lower road. There are two grocers 50 metres along Democracy Street past the small church of the Archangel Michael almost directly across the street. Further west about 200 metres is the Medical Centre; further east is the platea – a diminutive elongated space fronted by the Metallinos Museum – a private house – and the kafeneon, into which we are hesitant to venture, and the school. Beyond these landmarks are parked two large hinge-lidded wheelie bins for daily trash and enough parking spaces for us to be able to leave a car within 100 metres of the house – though sometimes we rely on the car park another 100 metres up the street by the bandstand. What else do I like? I like it that the shower is a good one; that the lavatory flushes easily and reliably; that our wood stove upstairs gives us a large warm room when its cold out - with the cypress wood floor we’ve repaired - to walk into out of our bedroom in winter; that the guest bedroom downstairs combines privacy with being close to the kitchen and bathroom and has it’s own outside stable door; that we have a separate utility room for the washer with a sink, draining board, and cupboards and drawers – and the shelf – I’ve just put up - for a good set of household tools; that the small kitchen window faces the rising sun and gives an enticing glimpse of the sea over adjoining walls and roofs; that we can store wood for joinery and fuel in the apothiki; that we have neighbours with vines and a rich vegetable plot as well as flowers on terraces and balconies; that they hang their daily washing out to dry in the sun and flutter in the breezes; that their neighbours keep chickens; that cats live in and around these houses; that Ano Korakiana was built above valley mists and below mountain fogs; that we have a regular bus service; that we have a famous band; that we have a village historian and an Ano Korakiana website which I can partly understand. * * * On Thursday we drove Val to Kassiopi for a picnic by the sea – finding a nitch on the rocky shore reached by steps to chew on fresh bread with cheese and large juicy tomatoes, gaze over the blue sea straits to the hazy mountains of Albania cooled by a gentle north breeze and enjoy paddling. It almost took my mind off the ever-present remains of human mess making and brand makers that don't help the problem. Then we headed up to the summit of Mount Pantocrator from which, after coffee and baklava gazing down on a sailing barque working to windward up the straits I set off back to Ano Korakiana on my bicycle – a lovely descent of 20 kilometres first by road, then after turning west above Spartillas, through a valley of quiet vineyards, to the rough track that cuts across the mountain above Ano Korakiana, by the radio masts, and so down to the village.

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