Saturday, 26 November 2011

A wedding in the village

Άη-Γιώργη, Άνω Κορακιάνα 
Today Epameinonta Kentarchy and Elinas Doyi - του Επαμεινώντα Κένταρχου και της Ελίνας Δούη - were to be married in Ano Korakiana.

Σήμερα λάμπει η γειτονιά
Σήμερα λάμπει η μέρα
σήμερα στεφανώνεται
ο αετός την περιστέρα

Today shines the neighbourhood
Today shines the day
Today crowns
The eagle and the dove

...and the evening before the groom hosted a surprise party for the bride and his neighbours in Mourgathes, Μουργάδες (the west part of Ano Korakiana) - his guests playing violins and guitars (and an accordion and lute)... (AK website 26:11:11)
Η απαραίτητη για την περίσταση «προθέρμανση» έγινε στο πατρικό σπίτι της οικογένειας Τζαβέλα στην Πλαγιά και από εκεί η «πομπή» με επικεφαλής τον γαμπρό και τον κουμπάρο Μιχάλη Πουλημά πορεύτηκε λίγο πριν τα μεσάνυχτα προς το σπίτι της νύφης, για ένα σερί από καντάδες. Και μετά από ένα τρατάρισμα με γλυκό σύκου «δια χειρός Κασσιανής» και κοκκινέλι κρασί από «τ’ αμπέλι του Λαού», η παρέα συνέχισε την περατζάδα στη γειτονιά…μέχρι τελικής πτώσεως.

The traditional warm-up for the wedding was held at the paternal household of the Tzavela family on the ascent into Mougathes, after which a procession led by the Groom and the Best Man Michael Poylima walked just before midnight to the Bride's house for a serenade. And after a tratarisma - an offering including sweet figs from 'the hand of Kassianis' - and wine from 'the vineyards of the village', the company continued their celebrations till dawn.

How I wish we could hear the music; see the event! And writing of that  I've finally Youtube streamed the film I made of Carnival in Ano Korakiana, the year before last...

...and, yes, it comes with advertisements. Rather sluggishly I've yielded to people - Lin included - urging me to 'monetize' the films I stream on Youtube. My reluctance stems from squeamishness about commodifying memories, especially the films my step-father made for television twenty-five years ago. I tell myself I must be sensible about money; do more to secure income in these more fragile times. Jack was never a BBC person. For 28 years he broadcast on Southern Television, left before it lost its franchise in 1981, and at the invitation of Jeremy Isaacs continued on Channel 4, which though described as a public service broadcaster is commercially funded. My other reservation is wondering whether the process of monetizing on YouTube actually works. It's simple to set up but when I will earn any money is another matter. I suspect you have to go viral to be a contender for even pocket money. Meantime Charles Webster at Delta who I've been talking to about the DVD compilation of Jack's films originally owned by Primetime, who begat Southern Star, who begat Endemol (who...? etc) says that Delta, who are already the main distributors of the DVDs  for Endemol's previous agent Contender, now Entertainment One (E1) has purchased the licence abandoned by E1. Lin and I hope Delta will improve the sales of these DVDs increasing royalties which last year were almost nil.
Meantime I learn that Dovecote Press who publish two of Jack's books - Out of Town and Old Country - are thinking of transferring them to Kindle, and issuing re-prints. The sale of these books has also gone down in the last two years but David Burnett, Dovecote's founder is optimistic about increased sales. Medlar Press who sell - or try to sell Jack's first book - Fishing for a Year - sold so few last year that my royalties have been held over.
"All the better for you to claim your State Pension now and avoid 40% tax!" says Linda, as my accountant.
*** ***
Friday I took Oscar for a ride and a walk into town, deposited a refund from Scottish Power at my bank handing a deposit slip to a human being who filled it in for me. A rare event now I and a million others do this most of the time on-line.  At the Rag Market I got a crusty skinned baked spud , salted with butter.
"What type of potato is this?'
"Marfona, mostly. Yours is an Estima."
Later I checked seed potatoes on the net. I like those. Bought bird nuts on the market then cycled home via the Mainline, a rising west wind and a popple on the Soho Loop...
...I bought a tray of chips with curry sauce; enjoyed my tea walking about in the paved piazza below the Hockley flyover while Oscar searched for rats in the stunted plantings on its sloping banks; then through the north eastern subway past an absurd 4 x 4 against whose massive front tyre I gently lent the end of my handlebar to take a picture that later I'd used to compare the divergent fortunes of the Hummer - declining - as compared to the Brompton - ascending...
On Soho Hill ~ who's BB05 BOY?
- a frieze of graffiti onto the pavement past the tired buildings edging Soho Hill.
On Soho Hill
Saturday I spent a couple of hours picking up litter in and around Haughton Road - chatting to fellow volunteers about Hands on Handsworth, our proposed name for a revived Central Handsworth Practical Care Project. 
Most of the litter we collected - about twenty five black bags - in a street hardly 100 yards long, plus an acre of orphan green space at the corner of Heathfield and Birchfield Roads, was individually disposed fast-food wrappers, plastic bags, drink cans and plastic bottles. I'd like to say the street turned out in generous numbers, but all the helpers were the usual suspects but for an amiable old bloke who followed us around, but didn't actually pick up any litter, and two conscientious kids who, armed with litter-pickers and a black bag each, actually did some work - oh, and me, not a resident of the road. The others there were two PCSOs, a new friend Rajinder Rattu, Managing Director of Neighbourhood Consultancy Ltd based at Lozells Methodist Church, three managers from Midland Heart Housing Association including Jo Burrill, their Regeneration Project Officer in Brum who's also Director of Changekitchen Community Interest Co, and Yvonne Wager our Neighbourhood Manager, recently made redundant through cut-backs. I'd estimate over a hundred people at least live in this street. As I strolled along, Oscar exploring, sniffing nooks and crannies, my animus against a host of anonymous litterers shifted a gear "This is public sector - in this case a handful of employees and citizens - picking up after the private sector - consumers and corporations." It's a futile and inaccurate grumble but I've become weary of the twenty five year narrative that goes "Private sector good; public sector bad" when all at St Custards are aware - as any fule kno - and as Sir Michael Lyons reiterated at the 45th anniversary lecture for Inlogov at the Barber Institute on 23 Nov - a robust and thriving economy requires a robust and thriving relationship between both sectors, with enthusiastic intermingling of all involved so that as Michael said local government 'does less, does it better and does it together''
Then I'm off to Plot 14, to plant some of the smaller potatoes left over in our kitchen already sprouting. I'm noting Vanley's advice "Don't clear and dig until you've something to plant." Oscar tried as usual to pull a fast one on me digging under the iron fence to get into the park - to scuffle with a dog or hit on a bitch. I'd covered all his routes with stones and branches giving  me time to catch him as he rooted with paws and nose behind my back. "Aaah Simon's gone and blocked all Oscar's escape routes!" It was Jill and Lin strolling in the park coming over to the fence for a chat, peering through at me and my neighbouring gardener Robin who's brought me some red and black currant shrubs for the orchard I want along the bottom end of the plot.
Linda and Jill in the Park. Robin on the allotments
*** ***
So Lin's at last been able to get an appointment for an examination of her dad's eye. It involved a complicated drive to Sheffield (made easier by the loan of Jill's sat-nav) to the eye hospital there, with an overnight stay in a Travelodge for her, Arthur and Dot. The consultant was likable and helpful but not best pleased at how long it had taken Arthur's GP to get him to see a specialist ("When Lin mentioned the several times she's had to push her parents' GP for a hospital appointment, the consultant said "You'll have to take that up with your GP". The initial diagnosis - Squamous Carcinoma of the eye - caused by exposure to the sun. Arthur's worked outdoors for much of his life. Lin will take him back to Sheffield in the next 10 days for a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and if, as we are pretty certain it is, Arthur will go for five days to a clinic in Cheshire for treatment - chemo rather than an operation at his age. The consultant seemed reassuring; confident this is a cancer caught at a stage early enough to avoid its spreading.
*** *** ***
Sunday and our best friend Martin came over from Droitwich to do Lin the kind of favours he's been doing us technical-illiterates for over three decades - in this case checking Lin's latest car for her. She bought it in a hurry. The same kind as the one that blew its head gasket month ago; but she'd decided she'd been sold a pup after hearing various noises and remarks from a  local mechanic.
Like a first rate horse vet Martin probes, tugs, listens, takes a run round the block, does a few more checks and tells Lin to her great relief
"Bottom ball joints on the front suspension is all."
We go to admire his Triumph Rocket 3 parked opposite the house.



As we were having coffee Martin told us how he'd just passed the Institute of Advanced Motorists Motorcycle Test on the Rocket - a two and half hour practical road test and examination of knowledge is intense. The level of detailed anticipation, and capacity to work at high and slow speeds as well as the knowledge of road lore and of the motorbike is something else. The test draws on the skill and judgement required of a police motorcyclist - to get as fast as possible to a particular place without putting themselves or anyone else at risk. After Martin had left we looked at that viral ad for the Rocket.


*** ***
Not unexpected Lin got an e-mail from Silver Dreams Fund
Dear Ms Baddeley. Silver Dreams Fund: 3766 - Central Handsworth Practical Care Project. Thank you for submitting an idea to the Silver Dreams Fund. Our short listing panel carefully considered your entry but I am sorry to tell you that we have decided not to invite you to apply. Our decision on this entry is final and the entry stage for the fund is now closed. We received many excellent entries, far more than we could fund, so competition for funds was very strong. Our panel looked at 1,401 ideas. As we can only support 30 ideas we had to make some difficult decisions and were only able to support those ideas that best demonstrated the strongest fit with the challenge and themes....The Big Advice Line will be able to provide you with advice about the other lottery options that are available to you. Please visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk, call us on 0845 4 10 20 30 or e-mail Silverdreams.enquiries@biglotteryfund.org.uk to find out more.Yours sincerely, Cathy Bowler, Head of Programme Management
*** ***
We seem to be completing a lot of forms - for the Pensions Service, for HMRC, for the US Pensions Office (I worked at universities there in the 60s and 70s) and now, Handsworth Breakthrough Credit Union (HBCU) [I know. 'Forbidden.You don't have permission to access / on this server'], on whose supervising committee I've volunteered to serve, needs me to complete a form under their Approved Persons Regime - sensible but another chore. John Rose will help me with the boxed I can't just tick while Rachel Chiu is dropping in Wednesday morning to go over, with Linda, some alternative grant applications for Handsworth Helping Hands.

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