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Thursday, 26 January 2012

By the fire

...I shall be found by the fire, suppose,
O’er a great wise book as beseemeth age,
While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows,
And I turn the page, and I turn the page,
Not verse now only prose!

Till the young ones whisper, finger on lip,
“There he is at it, deep in Greek:
Now, then, or never, out we slip
To cut from the hazels by the creek
A mainmast for our ship!”

I shall be at it indeed, my friends!
Greek puts already on either side
Such a branch-work forth as soon extends
To a vista opening far and wide,
And I pass out where it ends.

I have wondered why I hear so little about the social and economic crisis in the rest of Eastern Europe – why so little wider news spreads from Romania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia - former Yugoslav republic of, Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic. We get a programme mocking Greek misdeeds “Go Greek for a Week” – but why not the same for Romania or Slovenia? It lacks the ring, or perhaps these other European nations have found a way out - their governments accepting; their citizens resigned to deep austerity as the price of ECB or IMF support, or as likely they’ve discovered oil, copper, gold and diamonds outside Budapest, or Chişinău in Moldova, in the Carpathian mountains north west of Bucharest, in the plains between Black Sea Burgas and riverless Sofia, in the eastern Adriatic archipelago’s of old Yugoslavia under the Dinaric slopes, in the pebbles of the Drina’s many tributaries, beneath Lake Prespa or Lake Scutari near the coast of Montenegro. Unlike Greece these are small European countries that nobody quite knows, while Greece is a great public fantasy, in George Soros’ recent analysis in the NYRB, a ‘fantastic object’, at the core of another such object of desire – The European Union. “Except the blind forces of nature, nothing moves in this world that is not Greek in origin” said my great great grandfather. In this fantasy, this northern dream, Greece’s strength brought her into the Eurozone; yet now her threat to that larger fantasy would have her expelled. Europe, Ευρώπη, Europa’s eponym – Ευρώπα. Greece lied to join the Eurozone, but who else lent themselves to Pases’ florin; allowed  themselves to be deceived. “How can we exclude the land of Socrates?” said one of Brussel’s great-and-good. The 'small' nations of eastern Europe - as Nevillae Chamberlain once described Czechoslovakia - are outside the fantasy of Greece but not its present circumstances. Global voices, as ever, affords a view of the world not dominated by what editors judge makes the news. In hock they are as much as beloved Greece; a ‘tsunami’ of rioting is reported in Romania; in Skopje too; the government of Hungary is giving itself autocratic powers; my friend Danica in Belgrade says things are worse in Serbia than in Greece. These unfamed populations are suffering the effects of the same recession, riven with varying degrees of corruption and ill-balanced relations between public and private sectors, bearing unemployment, insolvency, bankruptcy, personal hopelessness, greater incidence of suicide, depression, domestic strife, personal desperation, xenophobia, extremism, rejecting the great European fantasy.
Realms of gold, rosy-fingered dawn - Keats', Chapman's, Butler's or Homer's?
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Last Sunday evening Ano Korakiana welcomed the New Year with the cutting of the New Year cake - Vassilopita, a crowd at Luna D'Argento below the village. There were dances from all the Ionian Islands - Kerkyra of course, but Cephalonia, Levkada and Zakinthos too - all with changes into local costumes, involving every age. The leading light in developing the event was Nike Kedarkou, introduced on the village website as the new teacher - της νέας δασκάλας.
Πραγματοποιήθηκε την Κυριακή 22 Ιανουαρίου 2012 η εκδήλωση της Φιλαρμονικής Κορακιάνας για την κοπή της πρωτοχρονιάτικης πίτας του Συλλόγου, στην αίθουσα του «Luna d’ Argento». Στο πλαίσιο της εκδήλωσης έλαβε χώρο μια ωραία παράσταση του χορευτικού συγκροτήματος του Συλλόγου υπό τη διεύθυνση της νέας δασκάλας Νίκης Κεντάρχου και με γενικό τίτλο «Του Γενάρη το φεγγάρι παρά ώρα μέρα μοιάζει». Η παράσταση περιείχε αναφορές στις εορτές του μήνα, συνοδευόμενες από τοπικούς και γενικότερα επτανησιακούς χορούς

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And yesterday I succumbed to firewood. Instead of collecting and cutting it all myself, I ordered a ton delivered to the top of the steps off Democracy Street - €120's worth. The truck blocked the street for less than ten minutes as two Albanian lads threw down my logs. I transferred these with help from little Katerina and her yia-yia, to a neat space below the now rain-proofed veranda. The smell of this heap of olive wood which burns so hot, cut from the biannual copsing, and split to fit our stove, makes me feel secure, though when I spoke to her yesterday afternoon by skype, I could see Linda grimace 'Why buy when we can collect?'

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