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Friday, 21 January 2011


My train home from Watford Junction
I'd been to Watford - on some local government work in a nearby council - and back. Heading there again I'd teased the Pendolino guard "I hope the driver won't forget to stop at Watford again." He smiled and started to explain why my train, the other day, had missed Watford. "In 25 years on the railways I've never known it" "It's OK. I bet that driver's getting a ribbing."
 It was chilly cycling back from New Street. In the house my glasses steamed up. "Hold it!" cried Lin grabbing her camera. "Yeah yeah yeah." She and Jill had been to see The King's Speech "Did you like it Lin?" "It was alright. Don't know what the fuss was about tho'" "Jill?" "I thought it was very good." "Cup of tea?" says Lin "Ooh yes please" After a bit I realised I'd let too much time pass. "Lin. Can I borrow your car?" "I thought you disapproved of cars." "I do, but just this time. I'm going to be late to my meeting" "You be careful with it" "OK OK. Key's?" "In my bag" "Where's the de-icer?" "In the seatwell" "See you" I left her doing my tax returns and drove over to Soho Road, then down Queens Head Road to Foundry Lane where it's misty like Victorian films; white street lights well apart adding to the dark of the Black Patch on one side, reflecting off the hard old bricks of the Foundry on the other. Connection between these places may one day bring more public attention. In the pub were the Friends of Black Patch Park, our evening's agenda - planning how to celebrate the Park's centenary on 18 June '11. There's less than no money around to pay for insurance, hiring a stage and and tents, an electric supply, publicity, security, amplification and and and...I bought myself a pint of Worthingtons - not especially good but nice to hold a pint glass and snack crisps.
We broke up around 9.30 with quite a few tasks allocated, relying on our main asset - optimism - for the cash that'll be needed. Back home, after dropping Phil Crumpton off at the nearest station, I fed information to Lin from transactions between 6 April '09-5 Apr '10, then she makes supper. Fish and chips. Cup of tea. Warm house.
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Night before last I was at St Francis Centre in Wretham Road at Lozells and East Handsworth Ward meeting. As usual five members of the public, two councillors, five officers. It was useful to learn the names of two local websites Life in Lozells and Hands on Handsworth started and maintained by two of them, Gillian Lloyd and Tracy Thorne, with help from Nick Booth. I had the impression neither of these ward officers expected to be around much longer. I've been attending these meetings for years.
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La Niña causing opposite effects to El Niño. continues deluging rain on south eastern Australia, overflowing the rivers Wimmera, Avoca, Loddon, Campaspe flowing inland into the Murray Basin suffering, until La Niña, the effects of thirteen years' drought, moving sheets of water toward yet more places I know in the vast space of Australia; flood relief centres opening closer to my friends' home in Bendigo, the whole made stranger by the remote intimacy of contemporary communication; the elephant in the room which no-one whose opinion matters dares mention except in coded form - that this isn't an oxymoronic 'normal extreme', rather a crisis made worse by feckless contributions to climate dislocation. If we can't get out a spade and bucket or provide a refuge for a flooded family we can keep that lantern lit. La Niña's brings floods to places that get less mention.
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Richard Pine, based in Perithia, has circulated a link to his op-ed - Corfu Letter - in The Irish Times as Theodoros Pangalos presses the deregulation of ‘closed’ professions:
Θεόδωρος Πάγκαλος
....‘HAPPY NEW FEAR' proclaims a graffito in Corfu town. Another reads: 'Do some good – kill a cop.' But, despite the recent renewal of terrorist activity in Greece, those who have most to fear in the coming months are not the security forces but the members of 'closed' professions – those self-regulating, self-contained occupations ranging from lawyers and accountants to taxi drivers and electricians. A condition of the IMF-EU bailout for Greece is the deregulation of these professions – reckoned to number more than 70 – and opening them up to competition, since their existence violates the principle of free movement of goods and services. Legislation was prepared by government before Christmas, but was postponed due to apprehension that the backlash from the vested interests would add to the already unstable political and social situation...Deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos, who is responsible for co-ordinating the reforms of the key ministries, acknowledges that Greece’s 'original sin' can be traced back to the founding of the Greek state in the 1830s. In a traditionally rural society, peasants became the 'clients' of landowners and local government officials. Just as successive governments in the 1970s and ’80s 'bought' votes through protectionism, so these historical 'patrons' bought obedience and adherence from the land. So Greek society is permeated by the idea of dependence.
**** **** try this with two wheels
YouTube have just sent me a message saying I can upload films lasting longer than 15 minutes, so I took the opportunity of posting a 24 minute recording, filmed for Channel 4 at least twenty years ago, captured off TV by a fan and sent me several years ago as a CD. This was one of my stepfather's favourite projects - the reconstruction, with the help of Jeff Mitchell, in Dorset of the two wheel South African Cape-cart - the only two horse cross country cart that really worked, was safe and could tackle the two rut tracks of the African veldt. The success of the invention, giving it the advantage over the Indian Tonga, the Regency Curricle, lay with the Cape Cart's yoke called 'the bugle' and other ingenious elements of its harness described in the programme. [Also posted on Vimeo]

The Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity (IAA) and The Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at my university is running a conference on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 June 2011 - Re-imagining the Past: Antiquity and Modern Greek Culture.
Over two days it will offer perspectives on the relationship between Modern Greece and Antiquity; re-examine Greek perceptions of the ancient past from the 15thC; re-consider cultural and ideological uses of this past; re-assess the contribution of antiquity to the emergence and development of modern Greek culture.  I'd like to see a larger copy of the picture that appears on the advertisement of this event, with the caryatids upstairs and the παντοπωλείου below...Enquiries about the conference should also be addressed to Professor Dimitris Tziovas
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At 7.00pm this coming Sunday evening there'll be a meeting in Ano Korakiana about the planned wind turbines on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator.
Αύριο, Κυριακή 23 Ιανουαρίου 2011, στις 7 το απόγευμα, θα πραγματοποιηθεί στην αίθουσα κάτω από το γραφείο του Τοπικού Συμβουλίου Άνω Κορακιάνας, ενημέρωση από τον Σεβαστιανό Μεταλληνό, για το προσφάτως  και "εν νυκτί" αδειοδοτηθέν, πάρκο ανεμογεννητριών Παντοκράτορα, που αφορά και το χωριό μας...
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Continuing uploading Jack's films - this about bantams - in particular the exquisite Belgian Mille Fleurs.

It's a film that I'd show anyone, but especially someone suggesting that JH was an early geographer of the dwindling space left for blokes in an increasingly feminised world. Jack's agenda - for Out of Town and Old Country - was to comment, from a studio 'shed', without nostalgia or sentimentality on accelerating distortions in relations between the city and the countryside and be entertaining. He described the remnants of a world gone - actually, though not psychologically - across the US, the UK and most of northern Europe by the 1950s. By the time he was broadcasting, our countryside - widely viewed as a recreation area for cities - was offering employment to a tiny percentage of the population. Jack was well aware that divisions of labour in pre-industrial agricultural economies gave more interdependent but separate space for men and woman, spaces which in an urbanised world have to be negotiated - constantly and excitingly - rather than set in amber (Students! Pick up a copy of White, Burton and Brudner's paper Entailment Theory and Method: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Sexual Division of Labour, before leaving. Be ready to answer questions next class):

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