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Saturday, 18 May 2013


Dave was already attaching slings beneath Summersong when we arrived at the harbour. The crane, four sturdy supports extended either side of its carrier, squatted between boat and water, its driver smoking as Dave worked.
Up she comes a few feet. Dave hurries beneath, scraping and rolling on anti-foul under each twin keel and skeg where the boat had stood on the grass.
“It’s the bit I don’t like, If one of those old slings gives…”
I joined him in the scraping sensing the crushing weight suspended above us, like a touch of vertigo when peering from a sheer height. Then slowly the crane revolves on the truck carrying the boat towards the water, almost touching moored fishing boats, and then, with Dave holding a mooring line on the jetty, lowers her just beyond into the sea.
She starts to float and with some of her weight on the crane thus reduced the driver extends the crane enough to draw her hull away from the fishing boats mooring ropes, before letting her gently down into the sea.
Dave hands me a rope to hold her, walks across a boat, climbs onto Summer Song and removes the slings. He starts the motor.
“Come on board” I clamber over the bow and push off.
“It’s very shallow here” says Dave.
I realise we couldn’t have launched a single keel boat here. A shoal of tiny fish flashes beside us all their sides catching their sun at once. Gingerly, Dave at the tiller, we motor towards deeper water. I take the tiller. We up the throttle and take a turn beyond the mole and bring her gently home to pick up her old mooring bouys, one covered in a cluster of mussels.

*** ***
Hi Simon. Remembering our exchange some years ago (Feb 2012) about cultural continuity in Greece (Ancient, Modern), I came across this poem by Aristotle Nikolaidis, 'Word', translated by Kimon Friar in the US poetry journal Poetry, November 1981. Hope you're enjoying the boat and the weather. Not very exciting here, especially with leg in cast!, Jim
I first came upon it in Homer
and then for years afterward pursued it
through various texts. Disguised at times,
it surfaced in neglected choniclers (chroniclers?)
or was it wedged tight but breathing in compound words.
I found it again in a somewhat altered meaning
In distant dialects of the Greek,
and in chemical laboratories transformed
into specialized terminology; barbarous lips stammer it
in a variety of pronunciations.
                                                    Oh yes, it never died,
but traveling throughout the centuries, rooted
in the deep mouth of the Poet, it will be preserved
with unsuspected leaves and branches, with secret
flowers – a word that had perhaps been articulated for the
time by the lips of devious Apollo.
I'm asking Jim if he can dig up the Greek version of this poem. I'll wager it blends Homeric, classical,, polytonic, katharevousa and demotic Greek in subtle ways to make its point.
*** ***
Λιτανεία της "νηάς" Δευτέρας
Γράφει ο/η Σαββανής Σπύρος   
Παρά τις σοβαρές ρωγμές της κοινωνικής μας συνοχής και παρά το κλίμα δυσπιστίας και χαμηλού επικοινωνιακού επιπέδου, που σημαδεύει τις μεταξύ μας σχέσεις, η φετινή Λιτανεία της Δευτέρας του Πάσχα έδινε μία εντύπωση αναγεννητική και πάντως ήταν καλύτερη από πολλές προηγούμενες Λιτανείες.
Δεν ήταν μόνο η παληά Εικόνα της Παναγίας που προστέθηκε. Ήταν τα παιδιά του Σχολείου που πήραν μέρος με φροντίδα της κυρίας Ντίνας Σπίγγου και της κας Σπυριδούλας Τσηλιάκου. Ήταν η Μπάντα και η Χορωδία που έκαμαν μία από τις καλύτερες εμφανίσεις τους. Ήταν το μεγάλο ποσοστό των νέων ανθρώπων που σήκωσαν τα λεγόμενα (παληά ορολογία) «έπιπλα» (εικόνες, φλάμπουρα, σκόλες, σταυρούς κλπ).
Ήταν όλα αυτά, μα πάνω από όλα ήταν η υποσυνείδητη διάθεση να δοθεί συνέχεια στην παράδοσή μας με , όσο γίνεται, πληρέστερο και σοβαρότερο τρόπο.
Γιατί αλήθεια, θεωρούμε την παράδοση σαν σημαντική έννοια;
Σ’ αυτό το ερώτημα μπορεί να αντιστοιχούν περισσότερες της μιας απαντήσεις. Και θα ήταν ενδιαφέρον να ακουστούν.
Μία πάντως από αυτές θα μπορούσε να είναι και η εξής: η παράδοση είναι η κιβωτός ανθεκτικών στο χρόνο σημείων αναφοράς και αξιόπιστων στιγμάτων στο χάρτη της ατομικής και συλλογικής μας πορείας.
Είναι η φανέρωση και η περιγραφή του Συλλογικού μας υποσυνείδητου.
Αν αυτή η άποψη είναι σωστή, τότε η παράδοση αποκτάει «προστιθέμενη αξία» σε ιστορικές περιόδους σαν αυτή που διανύουμε τώρα σαν Λαός. Μιας  περιόδου σκληρής, οδυνηρής, εχθρικής και άκρως επικίνδυνης για την ΑΚΕΡΑΙΟΤΗΤΑ μας. Την σωματική, ψυχική και πνευματική μας ακεραιότητα.
Συνεπώς, η παράδοσή μας σαν μέσο στήριξης και σαν οδηγός πλεύσης αποκτάει επιπλέον σπουδαιότητα.
Συγχρόνως, φαίνεται να αποτελεί, αν όχι το μοναδικό, τουλάχιστον το ισχυρότερο όπλο άμυνας απέναντι στον καταιγισμό των απελπιστικών γεγονότων που έχουν σαν σκοπό τους να μας καταποντίσουν και εν τέλει να μας εξαφανίσουν.
Χρόνια πολλά (και καλύτερα) σ’ όλους τους συντελεστές της φετινής Λιτανείας και καλήν αντάμωση του χρόνου, με ακόμη μεγαλύτερη, καλή διάθεση.

*** ***
The house has at last been repainted from top to bottom. I’d have paid to have it done – a while ago. Between other work, Lin has been working for years preparing surfaces – always what matters - despite my wish to get on with laying on paint. A variety of different coverings have been scraped off over several years – a flaking patchwork of asvesti and plastic paint which if not removed will peel away bringing new paint with it, coming off on the paint roller or brush. The simplest solution – one that helps avoid such painstaking surface preparation – is to apply a transparent vinyl, astari. It fixes to unreliable surfaces like glue, creating a sturdy base. But Lin wanted everything smoothed back to the original render. Ten days ago I was helping this process, after nearly all peeling paint had been removed with a scraper; applying a rotary sander to every wall in turn. Intimate contact with walls revealed yet more partially hidden patches needing yet more scraping. We're laden with flakes and dust. All cleared surfaces are washed down. But wetting reveals yet more patches of peel.
“Will you ever be satisfied?” I mutter
“Probably not” says Lin, relentless to achieve a perfect finish before applying paint.
There are also cracks to be filled and, in the lower walls, where render is roughened with gravel, there are spaces where it has broken away; others where a hollow noise shows that that too is loose and must be chipped away. Lin mixes mortar and fills these vertical potholes, sometimes with several layers, ensuring a matching stipple. There are a variety of screw holes that must have fixed something to the wall, some with old rawlplugs showing. These are removed; the hole filled. The stub of two iron rods, once part of a bracket for an external water tank beside the front door, stick out from the wall a few millimetres.
“They hardly show” I say
“Have you seen them after dark when then porch light is on? The shadows they cast!”
I remove them with the metal cutting disk of my angle grinder, cutting into the render in the process and touching up the cut metal with a dab of Hammerite, so rust won’t bleed into the new paint. Lin makes good the crescent scar left in the render, making the surface smooth.
And now at last we can choose colours, using the paint-sample book and a computerised colour mixing machine at the ironmonger at Tzavros.

She was already applying our choice of paint as I was finishing some of the other surfaces with sander, wire brush and scraper and – on an unassailable stretch of paint under the eaves above our south facing balcony – applying astari.
We’d chosen white for the porch and the sides and bottom of Alan’s concrete balcony, and for the wall under the veranda, and a nameless orangey yellow – with numbered paint code on the top of the plastic paint pot – for the walls seen from the street and above the seaward balcony. With me looking over Lin’s shoulder at the sampler, we’d chosen a darker colour, vaguely matching the paint for the side walls and above the balcony, for the stippled hems on two walls.
Lin, calculating coverage, buys no more no less than is needed, adding in some new brushes, and two roller trays.
Painting went on all day into dusk, and the next and the next. The work was complete in under four days. The roller covered most space quite swiftly. Either a smaller roller or a brush served smaller spaces.

A brush on a stick completed edges, work that took up most of our painting time. Even I rollered, brushed and helped wipe off paint that had spilled on shutters, sills and window frames.
“There’s still paint there” says Lin, after I’ve cleaned with sponge and flannel, a shiny stretch of green frame.
“No there isn’t”
“Wait until it dries, you’ll see” I wipe again. “It looks fine to me”
“No, more
Jesus, Lin. Come on!” I’m angry at her conscientiousness even as I respect it.
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that!”
“OK OK” I rinse and wipe again.
Towards the end of the third day Vasiliki, sat outside with neighbours, stands and exclaims
“You are making our house look tatty!”
Linda is still wandering around checking, adding filler to newly revealed blemishes, touching them up with the small brush from a small pot.
“Thanks” she laughs with Vasiliki, who leads everyone, including me, in a clap
“Bravo Linda! Bravo!”
It is a most satisfactory piece of work. Later we lean on the green rail that edges Democracy Street and, with neighbours - grown-ups and children - enjoy looking down at our work.

I searched through earlier photos of the house and found a picture I'd taken six years ago - April 2007 - when a visiting Brit we'd met in Ipsos was helping barrow the rubble into the garden where Lin planned to lay plaka. We were starting to put right damage done by the previous owners 'improvements'. I had borrowed a jack hammer from Dave to begin demolishing three breeze block 'bunkers' that their builder had put beside the house as - so he claimed -  'flower beds'. Their real function was to store, under a layer of soil, some of the rubble created by - idiotically - demolishing the house's external stairs and balcony. These breezeblock 'flowerbeds' efficiently collected rain streaming over the roof gutters when these, as is frequently the case, cannot cope with regular Corfu cloud bursts. They could hardly have been better designed, along with the loss of the sheltering balcony, to feed damp into the wall. It didn't help that they lacked drain holes. The extra rubble I created by breaking up the 'bunkers' was bagged up, carried up the steps to Democracy Street, and carted, laboriously, with several journeys in our small hired saloon, to help create the foundations of an extension to the ironmonger's shop at Tzavros, where he'd planted a notice inviting people to dump their 'bazza'.
The side of the house in 2007

**** ****
After an excellent phone chat with my director at the University, I’m looking forward to working with her on some in-house political skills seminars.

Political Management Skills: Negotiating the Overlap
Training sessions for XXX Council (Date/s & venues to be agreed)

Good government is where the best of politics and management combine. This seminar for senior managers in XXX focuses on the skills, codes and values that strengthen trust between elected members and officers.

Objectives: To explore techniques, processes and ways of working that can be used by those leading in a political environment; to enhance understanding of how the roles of political and managerial leaders are changing and how this is manifested in these councils.

Style: short talks, exercises, hand-outs and film clips showing senior managers and politicians describing the way their work overlaps, enabling participants to explore the verbal and non verbal communication vital to constructing trust at the point where politics and management overlap.


- Brief introduction - overview of the morning (or afternoon)

- Leadership at the apex: overlapping spaces

- Analysis of film clips of member-officer conversations

- Defining and discussing skills and values

- Work on ‘critical incidents’: facilitated by tutors

- Summary and feedback: Q & A

Simon Baddeley: As a visiting lecturer at Birmingham University where he has worked since 1973, Simon Baddeley’s fascination is with the working relationships of politicians and managers and how these relationships  contribute good local government. He’s taught in Australia, Sweden, Japan, Canada and New Zealand. He has invented many training approaches to this sensitive subject, including the ‘owl/fox/donkey/sheep’ model (co-author Kim James), and created a film collection of interviews with politicians and managers working across political-managerial boundaries. He continues to run events for local councils across the UK on ‘political-management leadership’ and ‘political sensitivity’ for members and officers, and carries out film research on political-management working relationships. He was a member of the 2005 SOLACE Commission, convened by Cheryl Miller CBE, examining the challenges of working in a political environment. He has long been involved in voluntary community work, currently helping run an unincorporated social enterprise serving the area of Handsworth. Contact:

Catherine Staite, Director of INLOGOV: Catherine teaches community engagement, collaborative strategy and strategic commissioning to Masters’ level.  Her research interests include collaboration between local authorities and the skills and capacities which elected members will need to meet the challenges of the future. As Director, she leads and coordinates INLOGOV’s collaboration with a wide range of organisations, including the LGA, NLGN, Nesta, iMPOWER and SOLACE as well as universities in the USA, Europe and Japan, to help support creative thinking, innovation and improvement in local government and the wider public sector.
Catherine joined INLOGOV in 2010 from OPM, where she was Director of Organisational Development and Policy and led a number of major research projects. Previous roles include Head of User Focus and Deputy Head of Policy for the Audit Commission, where she was responsible for national research projects and leading internal change and Regional Partnerships and Planning Manager for the Legal Services Commission, where she delivered needs-based strategies for civil legal aid. Previous non-executive roles include non-executive director of Rampton Hospital, where she was responsible for review of patients’ continued detention, Vice Chair of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and member of the Board of Visitors at HMP Hull, with particular responsibility for oversight of the prison hospital and welfare of mentally disordered offenders. Contact


  1. Happy Sailing!

    I regret I haven't yet found a copy of the original Greek poem. Will try in Corfu late June.


  2. Happy Sailing!

    I regret I haven't yet found a copy of the original Greek poem. Will try in Corfu late June.



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Simon Baddeley