Thursday, 16 February 2012

The road at night

Yesterday evening after various morose chats at Sally’s Taverna in Ipsos, while I did email, having again bailed Summersong’s cover and checked her mooring lines, I treated myself to several euro’s worth of prosciutto at AB and bought a bottle of Tequila to make the puddings I’ll serve my guests next Wednesday.
Christopher at the bar in Sally’s said he hoped Greece would revert to the drachma, that indeed the whole Eurozone project should dissolve and everyone go back to their own currencies. I disagreed, though that could well be the succession of events if Greece defaults.
“Angela Merkel’s tied her place in history to Germany saving the eurozone” I said
“And she’ll be out soon along with Sarkozy” replied Christopher "and then things’ll start to happen”
“And what will happen to the poor and dispossessed of Europe?”
“They’ll go to the wall” muttered Scot George, sat next to Christopher at the bar.
“The family will return to its own, and the villages” said Christopher
“They’ll go to the wall” repeated George, who’d been complaining how the UK government keeps extending his pension date.
In the dark I began the ascent from Pirgi to Ano Korakiana, a route I've come to know by signs, shrines, buildings, particular stretches of fence and bends, dividing up my journey in my head to spread my pedalling energy. The Kandylakia which mark halfway and completion of the main hill to Ag Markos are, Sophia told me last Sunday, not shrines for road victims, but mark churches at the end of steep paths. Up and up I went, until the road became black, lit by the dim light of my cycle dynamo’s headlamp.
Panorama Bar
In Ag. Markos I stopped at the Panorama Bar, a small warm oasis. I greeted three men in there, ordered a glass of wine and sat on a sturdy dark varnished bench close to a wood stove. We stared up at a TV screen over the door, relaying pictures of a seriously concerned news announcer, ribbon titles running across the bottom of the screen as clips came from the European Parliament, from the Bundestag, and the chamber of the Hellenic Parliament, earnest Greek, German and Italian politicians sub-titled in Greek, interspersed with serious groups of men holding folders walking in bunches in and out of glass foyers, a shot of Venizelos speaking over a bouquet of logoed sponges on sticks...
...with cut-backs to studio conversation, with repeated shots of Athens police in riot gear dashing about Syntagma targeted with missiles, fireman hosing smoking burning buildings, glass strewn streets and a shopkeeper wringing her hands over the wreck of her shop. Now and again one of the men in the Panorama would make a laconic comment on what we were viewing. The others would smile and shrug resignedly, observing shared dismay. A long-haired terrier wandered out from behind the bar, its coat matching the tawny floor. I stroked and scratched its back as it sniffed my feet. Someone spoke to it in a friendly way. It settled by the fire as a woman came out, the owner’s wife, to join the taciturn company. The owner wandered over, hefted the round stove lid with a neat tool, peered into the glowing fire and added a log. The TV switched to a weather report on deep snow in Macedonia, pictures of snow ploughs in narrow streets, sheep and goats herded into byres, a well scarfed woman telling us it was cold and snowy, with subtitles saying it was cold and snowy. I said 'goodnight' and headed on up the darker road to the village..
The road to Ano Korakiana
..glad to see the street lights that start around the road up to Venetia. At the shop I asked Stammatis about 'the news'.
“The football?”
“No no. Greece!”
“I only get football on this set”
"Goodnight Stammati"
"Goodnight Simon"
*** ***
Jim Potts on Corfu Blues has had a go - quoting some telling passages in Greek and English, in support and refutation - at answering my first  'exam' question to him and Maria when we were lunching at Rouvas the other day:
1. Is the architectural, environmental and spiritual desecration of Corfu offset by the alleviation of the material and mental poverty of its population? 
This is one from Augustus Sordinas on The Corfiot Peasant:
*** ***
Our ward councillor Waseem Zaffar in Birmingham Handsworth, has asked as many of as can to contact as many others about the second conference for the ward on 3 March:
Dear Colleague. You are cordially invited to attend the second annual Lozells & East Handsworth Ward People's Conference 2012. The Conference will be held at 10.00 - 1.00 pm on Saturday March 3 2012 at City College Birmingham (Soho Road Handsworth Campus B21 9DP).
The Conference continues the theme 'communities coming together' - how, with fewer resources, residents, third sector and public sector organisations can work together to make Lozells, Handsworth and Birchfield better places in which to live and work.
People's Conference 2011 succeeded in raising key themes and putting forward recommendations for addressing them.  We have been acting on those recommendations and are organising this Conference as a way of sharing with you what we have been doing as well as illustrating some of the exciting initiatives occurring across the ward.
On behalf of the Conference planning group, I would like to express our genuine enthusiasm for this Conference. As a community we have so much to celebrate and yet so much more to achieve. I hope you will be able to join us for the Conference and help us continue the momentum that has developed.I hope you will also be able to pass this information to family, friends and colleagues who might not have been included in the mail-shot. It would be helpful for catering purposes if you could indicate the likelihood of your attendance. For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me or Michael Brown of the North West Birmingham Development Agency on 0844 870 7982 or by email Michael Brown michael.brown@nwbda.org.ukYours truly, Waseem Zaffar 
Councillor for Lozells & East Handsworth Ward
Lin's copied me her letter to members of the voluntary advisory group for Handsworth Helping Hands (HHH), previously Central Handsworth Practical Care Project (CHPCP)
Dear All, I've renewed our free tipping permit, though it won't be for long. Attachment is description of our status and intended activities that I sent Bridget Kearney, Birmingham City Council, Fleet & Waste Management, for their records.I've advertised the chipper on the Preloved website. I'll put it on more sites when I have time. I'm hoping to get to the meeting at Mayfield on Thursday re. Heathfield Neighbourhood Forum. Might see some of you there. Lin
And again Waseem has sent this round to kick off a new forum more specific to our area within his ward:
The launch of Heathfield Neighbourhood Forum is taking place on Thursday 16th February, 6.30pm start at Mayfield Special School, Heathfield Road Entrance, Heathfield Road, Birmingham B19 1HJ. Are you concerned about the issues affecting your area including: environment, health, transport, leisure facilities, education, housing, jobs and training, community safety & crime. Then join the HEATHFIELD NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM. A community meeting has been organised for local residents who are interested in tackling issues affecting the Heathfield area including all roads within the perimeter of Lozells Road, Birchfield Road, Church Hill Road (not including Church Hill Road) and Hamstead Road. Do you care about where you live and want to play a more active role within your community, then come along to Mayfield Special School to find out more information about the steering group launch for the Heathfield Neighbourhood Forum. Ongoing training and support will be available to all the volunteers. Free energy saving items will be given to all those participating. For further information and clarification of the neighbourhood forum area, please contact Rajinder Rattu of Neighbourhood Consultancy on 0121 448 8187 or email rajinder@neighbourhoodconsultancy.co.uk - please forward information across your networks. Yours truly, Waseem Zaffar, Councillor for Lozells & East Handsworth
Telephone/Fax: 01215513300 Mobile: 07790 161889
Email: waseem@waseemzaffar.co.uk
Mail: 16 Heathfield Road, Birmingham B19 1HB
Website: www.waseemzaffar.com
Twitter: @WaseemZaffar
Facebook: Waseem.Zaffar
Skype: Waseem.Zaffar1
LinkedIn: Waseem Zaffar
BBM: 272EE8CA
We've also got messages about new localised refuse collection arrangements happening soon:
Dear Colleague. Following the pilot of ward-based refuse collections in the South East of the City, Birmingham City Council have decided to introduce this form of refuse collection across a number of wards across the city including our ward, Lozells & East Handsworth, with an introduction date of Monday, 6th February 2012. In brief this will result in all refuse collection and recycling rounds being changed so that each ward will have a dedicated refuse collection and recycling crews. According to Birmingham City Council, as well as improving accountability this approach allows for greater synergy between the refuse/recycling crews and the dedicated street cleansing teams already working in the ward. However, as the existing collection rounds are not co-terminus with wards, implementation of ward based collections means that there will be changes in the day of collection for many residents. The time of day collections are made may also be changed, but will be between 6.00am and 3.30pm. Birmingham City Council state that as with the pilot, there will inevitably be some teething problems as residents and crews adjust to the new arrangements. However, to keep this to a minimum, each household in the ward will receive a post card outlining the new arrangements and days of collection. A hotline has been established by the Council for enquiries from residents. Please telephone 0121 675 7454 to report any issues with the new service or visit the website www.birmingham.gov.uk/collections.
I also enclose a map that has been provided to me illustrating the collection day for different areas of the ward. Please try to convey this information to local residents to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.  Please forward this email across your networks. For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you. Yours truly, Waseem Zaffar, Councillor for Lozells & East Handsworth Ward
*** ***
Email purporting to come from my friend Ted Rudge. My server thought it was spam, but it used his normal e-mail address.

From: <his email>
Subject: ?spam? Terrible Trip....Ted Rudge
Date: 16 February 2012 12:37:45 EET
Reply-To: <same name different e-dress>

Sally looking over my shoulder said 'delete at once', but I hesitated. I know Ted so well and 'if he's in trouble' I thought, yet spelling, grammar and style! Woeful. But then he might be distraught, injured, whatever:
I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Madrid , Spain for a program. The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had. Now, our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment. I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of 2,720 Euro from you. this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest. Thanks so much..Ted and Maureen Rudge
Swift e-mail from Linda "I can't think why you would 'pause and ask'. It's classic scam material. Ted's email has been hijacked. I've emailed to tell him" and a mutual friend, Andrew Simons, in Birmingham, also one of the Friends of Black Patch Park, has checked. It's already amazing to me that I could have, even for an instant, not immediately agreed with Sally. The hustler plays on the mark's feelings, sometimes greed, but in this case, compassion for a friend. Even tho' I'm well alert to multiple web scams, keeping myself informed about them through all the channels, this one stopped me for a moment. It's an example of the influence and power of emotion over common sense:
Hi Simon. I rang Ted just to check and spoke to Maureen. Ted is out buying bricks in Earlswood and definitely not in Spain. Like you the way the email was written didn't sound like Ted and I'm sure if stuck in such a predicament he would contact family first, but I was taken aback when I first received it because usually scams like this involve some anonymous person who claims to have come into unexpected money which they wish to launder through a UK bank account and for which you will receive a generous percentage. Best Wishes, Andrew

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