Monday, 11 July 2011

Scything between the daisies

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I've not had so much hayfever for years. I'm giving vent to those explosive eye-watering sneezes I recall from my youth, which is when I was last mowing meadow grass. My symptoms are soon removed with an allergy pill but such sneezing bouts are almost a pleasure, enhancing appetite. It's because I've been doing more mowing on the Victoria Jubilee Allotments; this time at the request of Phil Rose, our Chair, who said it was the Allotment Association's job to clear plots that the City Council Allotments Department was going to relet as their present tenants were not cultivating them. I said I'd be happy to agree a quid pro quo - such as a few sacks of compost. I set to using my shorter scythe blade watched by my plot neighbour Robin. As I mowed we discussed not cutting certain plants - especially flowers that might be favoured by bees, but our ignorance was mutual.
 I realised how little I grasped of the character of this variety, let alone the propinquity of one plant to another, the possibility of order in what had been designated neglected ground. Would my crudely selected leavings be acceptable to the city allotments officer when he inspects the site in readiness for reducing the current waiting list for plots on the VJA?
There's plenty of common mallow - the perfect plant - in violet flower veined purple:
Mallow - the perfect plant (photo: Jeevan Singh)
What was this majestic lone bush like plant that looked as if it might have escaped from someone's border?
Caper Spurge?
And what might this be - the tall delicate leaved plant with small pink petals between the violet mallow and a clump of daisies?
Pink or Moroccan toadflax?
Fescue, dock, thistle and nettles fell before my well whetted blade along with a close matted plant spread like a carpet of chickweed, checking my scythe,  carpeting most of the plot and altogether larger with little yellow flowers? What of these tall elegant plants still in bud, emerging yellow, which I've left standing?
Reseda Lutea or Wild Mignonette, also called Weld, Dyer's or Bastard Rocket
...or these pair, next to Anna's well hoed African millet?
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris )
"Put them on the internet" said Robin, who'd taken the photos while I mowed, "I'll look them up and let you know." Thus we do our homework; learning grassland grammar, declining weeds.
Andrew S sent me a note:
Hi Simon. I think the last photo is of Mugwort, which has a very distinctive smell, and the long tall plant looks like Weld or Dyer's Rocket which as the name implies was used to produce a yellow dye. I'll take a closer look at the other two plants the next time I'm at the allotment. Some allotment holders have chosen to keep patches of Mayweed and Common Mallow on their plots to add colour. I made a note of some of the plants on plot 25 before we cleared it. This is just opposite the plot you scythed. The list was as follows: Fat Hen, Groundsel, Common Sorrel, Redleg, Spear Thistle, Broadleaved Dock, Evening Primrose, Broadleaved Willowherb, Shepherds Purse, Apple of Peru, Common Nettle, Common Mallow, Black Meddick, Clover, Horsetail, Lupin. Best Wishes Andrew
This job finished I went to our own plot and continued brushing wood preserver over the still separated sides of our shed, splinting the roof, another of the sections we'd had to saw apart to load them on the van that bought them to the site. From a skip Lin had noticed we've recovered turf, that will go nicely in front of the completed shed.
and though it stopped me working I was glad of the evening rain that came to damp it down. But why are we not making hay? Why do we seem to have no obvious use for the vegetation scythed, other than as future compost? Why no pitchfork or raking? No haycocks set by my wife in the field?
Medieval labours of the month - July
** ** **
Even as people in Ano Korakiana express their apprehension, in statistics describing the awesome scale of this new still unfamiliar technology, about the next stage in permission for twelve wind turbines above the village on Trompetta...
Παρά τις αντιδράσεις των κατοίκων και του Δημοτικού Συμβουλίου Κέρκυρας, ένα ακόμη βήμα προς την δημιουργία του πάρκου ανεμογεννητριών στον Παντοκράτορα (και κατ’ επέκταση στην περιοχή του χωριού μας) αποτελεί η χορηγηθείσα άδεια εγκατάστασης την οποία υπέγραψε στις 30 Ιουνίου 2011 ο Γενικός Γραμματέας Αποκεντρωμένης Διοίκησης. Η άδεια αφορά στην  εγκατάσταση αιολικού σταθμού παραγωγής ηλεκτρικής ενέργειας ισχύος 24 MW, από την εταιρεία «ENOVA Hellas Windenergie A.E.» . Σύμφωνα με την άδεια, «Ο ανωτέρω Σταθμός αποτελείται από δώδεκα (12) ανεμογεννήτριες τύπου ENERCON E-82, ονομαστικής ισχύος 2 MW η κάθε μία, ελέγχου ισχύος με τη μέθοδο pitch control, αριθμού πτερυγίων 3, ύψους πυλώνα 98 m, διάμετρο πτερωτής 82 m, τάσης παραγόμενης ενέργειας 460 V υπό συχνότητα 50 Hz, ισάριθμους με τις ανεμογεννήτριες μετασχηματιστές ονομαστικής ισχύος 2000 kVA, ενσωματωμένους, σχέσης ανύψωσης 0.46/20 kV, κτίριο ελέγχου εμβαδού 80 m2 περίπου και λοιπές αναγκαίες συσκευές, κατασκευές. H σύνδεση του έργου με τα δίκτυα της Δ.Ε.Η. θα γίνει σύμφωνα με τους τεχνικούς όρους της ΔΕΗ».
...our neighbours John and Gill Rose have invested in photo-voltaic roof panels, the first in our street to take the risk of benefiting from the government's Feed-in Tariff Scheme (FITs) introduced on 1 April 2010, under the UK Energy Act 2008. I say 'risk' because although such panels can now be installed with the expense lessened by government grant, the investment is unlikely to be repaid in under 15 years.
That's the current situation. In a few years economies of scale will have made the process of generating electricity and selling what's unused at home - 'feed-in' - back to the national grid look far more affordable. I first encountered this technology in 2009 in Australia. I recall my friend John Martin, who'd organised a conference in Bendigo on energy futures remarking that energy companies were unused to buying energy from consumers; their rationale being to sell it.  For the moment most UK householders prefer to wear more jerseys in the winter or install more roof, wall and window insulation. In twenty years or less, as energy gets dearer and dearer and the ostriches who won't believe there's an energy crisis caused by dependence on fossil fuels die off, there'll not be a building whose owners aren't doing something like this. We've also discussed photovoltaic (PV)  panels, with a Solar Consultant from EvoEnergy on the phone scanning our roof via Google maps, finding our house - 'the one with the white front gable end"; doing a virtual crawl over our tiles to assess the amount of sun we might harvest. Our home is for the moment a less than an ideal candidate when it comes to harvesting the sun.
Dear Mr.B. I have taken some rough measurements of your roof...
** ** **
...Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things...


It is Greek. Here was hubris, overwheening banal contamination of our public life, invasion of mine and a million other's interior lives. For me it began with that ominous MacTaggart Lecture delivered by Rupert Murdoch at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on 25 August 1989.
In an atmosphere of imminent change, New Television is to be the theme of this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival. It will kick off on August 25 with Rupert Murdoch giving the MacTaggart Memorial Lecture on Freedom in Broadcasting...The Herald 26 July 1989
I didn't even have to read his words in detail. I just knew this charming affable Australian stood for something pernicious. Robert Fisk, on 11 July '11, put it well, speaking from far more direct experience than I of the phenomenon of self-censorship - not Fisk's forte by the way:
I don't believe Murdoch personally interfered ... He didn't need to. He had turned The Times into a tame, pro-Tory, pro-Israeli paper shorn of all editorial independence. If I hadn't been living in the Middle East, of course, it might have taken me longer to grasp all this. But I worked in a region where almost every Arab journalist knows the importance of self-censorship – or direct censorship – and where kings and dictators do not need to give orders. They have satraps and ministers and senior police officers – and "democratic" governments – who know their wishes, their likes and dislikes. And they do what they believe their master wants. Of course, they all told me this was not true and went on to assert that their king/president was always right. These past two weeks, I have been thinking of what it was like to work for Murdoch, what was wrong about it, about the use of power by proxy. For Murdoch could never be blamed. Murdoch was more caliph than ever, no more responsible for an editorial or a "news" story than a president of Syria is for a massacre – the latter would be carried out on the orders of governors who could always be tried or sacked or sent off as adviser to a prime minister – and the leader would invariably anoint his son as his successor. Think of Hafez and Bashar Assad or Hosni and Gamal Mubarak or Rupert and James. In the Middle East, Arab journalists knew what their masters wanted, and helped to create a journalistic desert without the water of freedom, an utterly skewed version of reality. So, too, within the Murdoch empire. In the sterile world of the Murdochs, new technology was used to deprive the people of their freedom of speech and privacy. In the Arab world, surviving potentates had no problem in appointing tame prime ministers...
Private Eye ~ 22 July '11
No doubt Murdoch will appear before the public garbed in the poise and using language of Uriah Heap, shocked and saddened by what has happened, profoundly sorry at being let down, nay betrayed, by people the News International imperium recruited and paid, making his excuses and leaving.  It will be impossible for any of these moguls to stand again on a public forum touting the superiority of pure market forces in broadcasting, damning all regulation as interference. Hovering over their heads will be the phantom of a 13 year old girl abducted and murdered in 2002 - a parent's worst fear, so of course of interest to journalists; a child's technical umbilical to her parents was already, by then,  a mobile phone. Driven by the 'Caliph's' remorseless desire for his version of 'freedom in broadcasting', his minions saw fit to listen to the missing child's voice-mail, eavesdropping messages to her after she was murdered.
As her friends and parents called and left messages imploring Milly to get in touch with them, the News of the World was listening and recording their every private word. But the journalists at the News of the World then encountered a problem. Milly's voicemail box filled up and would accept no more messages. Apparently thirsty for more information from more voicemails, the paper intervened – and deleted the messages that had been left in the first few days after her disappearance. According to one source, this had a devastating effect: when her friends and family called again and discovered that her voicemail had been cleared, they concluded that this must have been done by Milly herself and, therefore, that she must still be alive. Guardian 4 July '11
Amanda Dowler's cruel fate has served, posthumously, as Murdoch's nemesis, Νέμεσις - giving him and his what they are due, remorseless is as remorseless does.

1 comment:

  1. It is incredible to think a solar pv installation quote can be based on a tool such as Google Maps. We really do live in quite the technology age. There's a lot of money being thrown at renewable energy and I think it will be only a matter of time before that tipping point moves closer and closer for the masses within the next 4 years.

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