Saturday, 14 February 2009

Χάρτινο το φεγγαράκι

Spiders are welcome in this house. We have several. One has made a fine web in a ceiling corner to trap small flies. A couple of shield bugs have got in somehow and after rattling round inside lampshades were caught and released outside. A millipede arrived in the bathroom and a tiny snail on the kitchen window and an earwig was rescued from the log box. In occasional warm spells flies come in, buzz around and leave again, if not caught in a web. I’ve seen a few bees outside. Days go by in pleasant reverie of small tasks, painting, filling, minor joinery, collecting and cutting logs, making up and tending the fire, feeding the cats, cooking, wiping surfaces, dusting, washing up and putting away dishes and cutlery, reading, sweeping, smoking, sleeping, watching a film over a meal, listening to music, practising α Hadjidakis piano piece (Χάρτινο το φεγγαράκι) in Lin’s case on a second hand electronic keyboard I bought her for Christmas (offered for sale in Corfu and bought over the internet before we left) with α sheet music selection bought, with helpful advice, from a big collection at Vrionis Music Store (Φ.Βρυωνη Μουσικος Οικος) at 40 Mantzarou, a side street just east of San Rocco Square; walking; gazing; taking photos, sharing greetings with others in the village; feeding the cats; picking lemons and oranges; dropping in on people and places, to do e-mail and make phone calls and have a drink. This evening a full moon rides high in a clear heaven reflecting off the light clouds to the south west, lighting the sea and the mainland mountains, while the dark mass of the island stretches south speckled with strings of small light, sparkling more with distance. A small but irritatingly bright light seems set up right on the Greek-Albanian border to shine across the strait. Behind us darkened by well lit Democracy Street loom the three crags. The village is especially quiet this time of year, though after lunch the children can be heard coming home from school, and little Leftheris and friends will kick a football up and down the path beside the house for an hour, catching one of us to practice saying “Hullo”, “How are you?” This afternoon their ball got caught in the bougainvillea branches and I sped up to the balcony to release it for them. This afternoon while Lin was finishing filling and painting along the marble skirting, on which I'd done some cutting, but which she had matched and fixed and pointed, I removed the ugly square attempt at coving the previous owners’ builder, John, had fixed round our bedroom’s tongue and groove deal ceiling. Suspicious of ‘Greek builders’, they’d paid all their money to an English one and been, in their words, ripped off. Every time either of us gets close to this man’s work we seek words to express contempt at his botching – in the latest example, fixing square coving to hide a messy join between upstairs bedroom ceiling and wall with self-tappers too long for the job and power drilling out the screwdriver apertures. I used an angle grinder to cut through the wood - smokey and smelly – until with a small burst of sparks I’d cut the screw, so as to ease off the coving and unscrew the headless shanks with a gripper. In the tongue and groove ceiling, instead of staggering joints, he’d, several times, put them in line. He’d made a makeshift hole in this same ceiling and roof for the downstairs stove chimney that we found set up to burn hot directly against woodwork while going through a hole so crudely made in the tiles above, that rain soaked the bedroom, passed through the floor and left puddles round the downstairs stove. Repairing that mess was one of the first things we did. The stove was taken upstairs for the new sitting room, placed on and backed by marble with a new chimney run through the wall. The crude square cut in the bedroom ceiling remained. Now I’ve made a square to fill it, matching the tongue and groove. An ill-fitted door was framed with architrave fixed with unpunched nails to hide Frankenstein joins between frame and stud wall. Mr Unseemly Botcher’s craftless handiwork seems to have spread to the rest of his life. He’s fled the country pursued by creditors who’ve been removing things in lieu of debt from his unsold house - a graceless new construction he tried to sell us back in November 2006, shortly before friends warned us he’d done work on this house. I’ve gently removed a simple but well made pair of iron frame windows from the bathroom, stripped them of years of paint, carefully cleaned up the top-bottom latch and uncovered a marble windowsill matted with white paint. We’ve had the opaque glass part replaced with clear so we can see the mountain, the village, and the cats that bask on our neighbour’s shed roof from there. Lin’s repainted the frames with Hammerite, making good any places where rain might enter and cause rusting – a quite elaborate job that few builders would contemplate, preferring the cost logic of a new plastic window frame. My mother in the Highlands spoke of the diesel freezing in her car as the temperature, amid two feet of snow, fell to 20 degrees, lower than she's known in 40 years living in Strathnairn, while we, amid rain and hail and sunny intervals on Corfu, get an email from John and Annie in Victoria's Bendigo - at the height of the Australian summer. From: Prof John Martin - Wed, 11 Feb 2009 09:53:02 +1100 Subject: RE: Hope you're OK (we, hearing the news, of fires in Oz, had emailed our friends)
Thanks Simon and Lin. We are OK. The fires in Bendigo were on the northern side of the city. We live on the south. Saturday was quite scary. The temp was 46c and the roof was rattling from the strain of a roaring north wind. When you stood outside it was quite unnerving as the hot wind hit your face. Little wonder the fires started and became fire storms burning everything in their path. There are still fires burning, some 9 uncontrolled as I type this. So we have not finished yet. Everyone is on full alert and watching their place. We are all booked to visit you after Denmark. Arriving at Corfu on 9 April ... I plan to have two recorded interviews on my camcorder by the time I leave Aust. I am hoping you and I can edit them together on your Mac while we visit you in Corfu. If we can also plan our November workshops that would be time well spent. Maybe we should have a Skype call next week to discuss how best to spend this time - including celebrating Easter? Regards, John

7 comments:

  1. Simon,

    How unusual I should e-mail you about crafts prior to reading your blog today. I would like to start blogging but I am just thinking about how to start and what to talk about.

    G

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  2. Glad to see that you are enjoying your home in Corfu again.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNNw3XdJ6yc

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  3. Dear Stavros. Thanks so much for that beautiful song on YouTube by Savvina Yannatou. It's chilly but sunny today in Corfu and you can see the snow on the mountains of Epirus and Albania across the Kerkyra Sea.

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  4. Dear Graham. I kept a written diary for thirty years before I started blogging and I still wonder if I should have given up the extra intimacy and truth to oneself that can go in a private diary to the public process of blogging where I must strive for civility and worry what others might think of me - much as I enjoy sharing in a way I did not with a private journal. I also love making links - swinging back and forth like a monkey through cyberspace. I also like the extra discipline that comes with having to think before I write.

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  5. Simon,

    Off post, but just to say that all four of us watched This is England at the weekend, as a result of me reading about it on your blog. We regretted the 18 certificate (and overrode it for our younger daughter ...) because it is a very powerful film that it would be good for teenagers to see. Mine will, of course, now want to show all their friends, precisely because it is forbidden :). Thanks for writing about it.

    Margaret

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  6. Dear Simon.I suppose that you could always keep a private one as well; but that would be so much work. The extent of your posts here and elsewhere are prolific. But none of your words or images are wasted or trivial. I for one am glad that you did start sharing your life experience and thoughts in this way. In this age of biased media and less than mediocre TV it is refreshing to hear from an individual with no agenda, clear condidered unbiased and informed thought and life experience into the bargain.

    Thanks for all that you share

    G

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  7. This is the largest number of comments yet received on 'democracy street'. I am getting ready to welcome my tenth reader! Seriously though, thanks Margaret. Forbidding daughters from doing things - yes indeed. Thanks too Graham for your falltering remarks - though I describe myself as a flaneur, though committed, which does mean a collector of unconsidered trifles - among others things, and explains my love for Jackdaws.

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