Total Pageviews

Saturday, 15 March 2014


The smell of mildew was increasing inside my smallest shed. Everything is so jumbled up in there, it’s taking me ages simply to assemble the tools I need for a job.
It's worse than I realised
“That shed’s just far too small for everything that's got to go in it”
“But I can’t bring myself to pay for another, Lin. Get rid of the old one? Assemble another? I just haven't the time”
“Suit yourself”
I began emptying everything out. No rain for a while. Things can stay out overnight. It was clear the shed floor and lower planks were sodden; rotten through.
“Just take it all out. Put in a new floor” says Lin
These jobs are such an opportunity to think about other things like, wasn't it around now that Socrates was sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of Athens, or a century and a third since Wordsworth wrote about remembering childhood, and, when I was two, the start of the Battle of Monte Cassino in which our Polish neighbour fought; the monastery - a restored building we glimpsed above us from the back end of a busy fast train from Rome to Bari seven years ago. It was Easter, we couldn't get seats, sat on our suitcases looking out at the passing rails through our carriage's vertical glass back door. It was 15th of March, the Ides, an evening twenty years ago, Jack, my stepfather, died in Dorchester.

Without thinking how to do it, I set about with my splitting maul, wielding it carefully in the confines of the shed. Bang, bang, bang, bang. Out came a pile of semi-rotted deal to be stacked in a recycling box, followed by four barrows of damp earth gathered from the back of the shed, the main source of damp. I scraped back to the garden wall with a trowel; spread two spare sacks of sand and pebble to cover the mix of brick and slabs on the floor and drove out to my allotment with the HHH van and carried back two hefty pallets that weren’t doing much. One fitted neatly on the gravel. I cut a third off the other with a handsaw and slipped it into the remaining gap, nailing a sheet of roofing felt to the wall struts to cover the gaps at the foot of the shed. The shelves, wiped with bleach, went back in. I began disposing, sorting and restocking the shed. The stuff outside, minus bags of waste, and scrap and excess tools for charity and items for the allotment, begins to go back inside; approaching order of a sort where was confusion. The musty smell is gone, part dispersed by several days without rain.   
*** *** ***
The Japanese quince in our front garden and the cherry behind it are blossoming. But too many of the front gardens in our street have been cleared for car parking. I pointed out the blossom to Oliver on a babysitting day; also snow drops, crocuses and daffodils. It's O's second spring. I imagine his brain taking photos, embedding colours. 
Japonica and Cherry in our front garden
Saturday round teatime. House warm. Amy and Linda chatting. My grandson sleeps on my knee. I fidgeted. He fidgeted and he slept on. What i wonder does he dream in this time when he hardly knows the difference between dreaming and waking and when he wakes cannot tell us what he dreamed.

Freud claimed small children dream straightforwardly of the fulfillment of wishes - the 'dream day'. In grown-ups the situation's more confused, their dreams subjected to distortion in the light of common day, disguised by a stew of unconscious impressions and wishes. 
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
        Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar:
        Not in entire forgetfulness,
        And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come  
        From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
When Oliver awoke he cried inconsolably for a while. Neither Linda, his nana, nor our daughter could comfort him. He held out his arms to return to me, where he continued crying. Our Amy said "He often does that when he wakes suddenly."
Was it the abrupt difference between being asleep and awake, or is it teeth coming through? Later I turned on the computer and looked at ourselves in Photo Booth. 
*** *** ***
At last I've been able to get out to our allotment. Taj has removed much weed and piled up many stones. I pay him. I value his help even as I know employing him has changed my earlier intention of proving I could do this all myself, saving money.  No question that I'm exemplifying that NHS contention that allotments are a middle-class hobby. My plot is showing earth in marked contrast to my neighbours, one of whom I learn has left while the other has effectively disappeared. The ground is ready for planting; drying swiftly in the sun. 

I dug in three rows of first earlies. The little seed spuds were not all chitting. I laid them down about eight to twelve inches apart in rows two feet apart, added some of the topsoil I'd bought last year and raked them over smooth with a bamboo markers at each end of the rows. Sleep now my little spuds and grow. I'll put in more tomorrow.
The HHH van helped me deliver some useful items scavenged by Handsworth Helping Hands, during our last street clearance; things would otherwise have gone to the tip - a bucket, a waste box, shelves and a water butt that just needed a new tap.
I'm becoming more acquainted with rubbish - scrabbling in it, picking it up with gloved hands and spade, grab-n-lift leaf collector. Some trash is easy - already bagged, not too heavy. Most is more intractible - shards of glass mixed into weeds, rotting used nappies in leaking plastic bags, open spilled paint cans, hardened bags of cement and plaster, sodden mattresses, carpet tack strips, innumerable cans, bottles and canisters often still at least half-full of whatever they originally contained, rotting carpets, underlay that falls apart as you try to lift it from the ground, heavy heaps of broken tiles...the list is hardly a start. We're getting better at organising ourselves to collect the variety of mess we encounter - manual collection, digging raking, sweeping...using plastic sacks, boxes, bins, and builder bags, as fits.
Winnie, Folarin and John clearing a building waste fly-tip near Church Vale

Collectively, we're getting better at knowing how to load skips, ensuring they don't overflow or that space is wasted by bad stacking
Mike and Linda working in Church Vale during a 'Skip-it Don't Tip-it' day
There are as always toys thrown away or given us as gifts to recycle, redistribute...
Items gifted and whizzed to go to new homes

Chip break during a street clean - Mike, Lin and Denise
Night work - Winnie loads a deep freeze dumped in Stamford Grove

Emptying the HHH van at Holford Drive Waste Recycling Depot

**** **** ****
I've begun a thread on the Corfu Grapevine after Amy asked me to do some research into whether she could breast-feed in public in Corfu if she came out to us in October:

Simon Baddeley I saw this on a recent Corfu forum re breast feeding in public here ..."its socially accepted throughout Greece, my partner never had a problem with our little boy when he was feeding last year and the year before..." Is this the case? My daughter requests me to ask on CG about the acceptability of breastfeeding in Corfu. She's thinking of spending some time with us in October. A grand-daughter is due in July. Obviously most of the time Amy could feed the baby at our house but she wouldn't want to be feeding in the loo when we're out. Are there places where it's OK or where it's a 'no-no'? Many thanks for advice. I'm making no judgements. Just need to know. Simon
Like ·  ·  · 4 hours ago near Birmingham
  • Harriet Lioumba Greeks are very acceptable of any issues with babies and children! My opinion is that she will be welcomed with open arms x
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 2
  • Simon Baddeley Thanks Harriet. I will seek a few more views before getting back to my daughter, but thanks so much for your swift reply. S
  • Πέτρος Παπαγεωργίου I've sent you a PM on the subject
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Paul McGovern I am surprised you are not more abreast with the local custom Simon x
  • Simon Baddeley Paul! I thought your doctor had told you to lay off punning for the next six months (:))
  • Paul McGovern What does he know, he's only a chest specialist, anyway he's Indian, from the Punjab I believe.
  • Susan Daltas I would say it depends on how the feeding is carried out - discretion is key, with a strategically placed blanket or large blouse!
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 3
  • Simon Baddeley Go away Paul mou. I need advice not ruddy chat XX S
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Sue Tsirigoti My niece breast fed everywhere as Susan said with a strategically placed blanket you would never have known. Luckily nursing mothers clothing makes t easy to this these days!
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 2
  • Simon Baddeley Many thanks Sue. I suspect it's a lot to do with what's polite in specific situations. I saw this when researching on the net.
    Mothers breast fed their babies at the 4th Panhellenic public breastfeeding taking place simultaneously in 39 cities of Greece.
  • Aitchm Muir As others have said , no problem for breastfeeding mums ,it can be done discreetly, there is nothing wrong with it , most natural thing in the world,and most Mums are discreet anyway~~ the one time I was peed off was when I was in a café and a mum was feeding her (4yrs old maybe daughter,) in full view , all hanging out , but what pissed me off was , the child had a bottle of juice as well which she was drinking ! and went off to play around and came back grabbed the breast and had a "go" almost like having a toy to play with! , not nice to see>>>
  • Deborah Anne O'flynn-Mouzakiti Exactly~its not what you are doing , It's how you are doing it. I breastfed both my girls here with no problems. Obviously the ideal was at home in comfortable surround but there were times it was necessary out and about and of course, by doing it sensibly ( and not in your face making other's uncomfortable) then it is totally acceptable here. I think its being courteous and considering others...I have a great example of when it wasn't acceptable~in our jewellery shop a few years ago~my husband was there alone and a woman came in,plonked herself in the chair..whipped it out and said to my (greek) husband~ you don't mind do you but this is the best place for me to do this (without waiting for an answer) FULL out, not hiding fact it exposed both with her blouse opened up completely and proceeded to walk around looking at things in the shop with the shop full of customers and my very embarrassed husband. The next day she came back to do the same thing and I was there and had to tell her my shop was not the right place to do this.
  • Simon Baddeley As a bloke - albeit descended from strong women, one a suffragette - I'm not really entitled to speak on this, but I think the answer 'its not what you are doing , It's how you are doing it' is perfect and not just about breast feeding in public. I suppose some people are wanting to make a statement while others are just 'ignorant'. The message I'm getting from both men and women is that it's natural, quite OK and even welcome if done in style - i.e chic discrete (:S)
    3 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Aitchm Muir Agreed Simon, a very natural thing to do ,xxx
    3 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Tracey Tagg-Kotsia Breastfed all my four and whopped me knockers out wherever i was with no problem. I was discreet with it but that was for my own dignity not to try minimize embarrassment to others, if others have a problem then they only need to look elsewhere. I also breastfed when i was in UK with no problem. It's the most natural thing in the world and some folk need to loosen up and not be so prudish.
    2 hours ago · Unlike · 2
  • Simon Baddeley I'll be more judgemental! I accept the idea of discrete chic, but it vexes me that some people claiming to be embarrassed by any kind of breast-feeding - men but even women - tend to blame the person doing it rather than examining the source of their own sensitivities. In the past and in many countries still, woman are required by men to cover up to protect those same men from feelings for which too many of them refuse to take responsibility.
    about an hour ago · Edited · Like · 4
  • Tracey Tagg-Kotsia We were given breasts to feed our babies so why should it be embarrassing? Women whop 'em out on beaches and no-one seems to be embarrassed about this!! Personally, I've never been a topless sunbather and I try to look elsewhere. We weren't given breast to get an all over tan in the summer. I'm not against it, whatever floats your boat but I'm with you Simon Baddeley. I've breastfed on buses, trains, planes, in parks, in restaurants and other people's homes. It's what i was given breast for and it's not my problem if others don't like it.
    2 hours ago · Like
  • Anna Smith I breastfed my baby last year when we were out and about in Corfu with no problem at all. I dont think anyone seemed to notice or if they did I didnt notice!  x
  • Caroline Badcock Seems a shame that we can admire a animal feeding her young yet a woman feeding her baby naturally gives some embarresment
  • Jan Manessi well we don;'t want to watch other peoples' natural functions in general i suppose
  • Keith Miller Are you suggesting she use the bathroom?
  • Louise Edwards I breast fed my son 24years ago here when out and never had a problem, As mentioned above discretion is the key. Baggy blouse or a wrap abound shoulders. At the end of the day no different to being on the beach with topless sunbathers. If you are offended don't look.
    46 minutes ago · Like · 1
  • Jan Manessi no keith miller just responding to caroline badcock's comment
  • Louise Edwards I am sorry to say Jan Manessi that this is the type of attitude which has stopped so many young women from breastfeeding. It is in most cases the most beneficial for the mother and child and the most economical. A bare breast today raises no eyebrows anywhere, so with discretion what is the problem. You use of the words 'natural functions' brings to mind going to the toilet in public, slightly different.
  • Simon Baddeley Is a stable a public place?

    Simon Baddeley's photo.
*** *** *** ***
From the Ano Korakiana website:
Ζημία μετά κλοπής  
Η «αφαίρεση» το Σάββατο το βράδυ των καλωδίων συνολικού μήκους 220 μέτρων που συνδέουν το αντλιοστάσιο με τις γεωτρήσεις στη θέση Νταμάρι, έχει προκαλέσει από το μεσημέρι της Κυριακής διακοπή του νερού σε ολόκληρο το χωριό. Ειδικότερα, κατά τις τρεις το μεσημέρι άρχισαν να φθάνουν στον Πρόεδρο του Τοπικού Συμβουλίου οι πρώτες ειδοποιήσεις από κατοίκους για τη διακοπή του νερού, αρχικά στις απάνω γειτονιές. Όταν δε, έφθασε στο χώρο της γεώτρησης συνοδευόμενος από τεχνικό της ΔΕΥΑΚ, διαπιστώθηκε ότι άγνωστοι είχαν διαρρήξει την πόρτα του αντλιοστασίου και είχαν αφαιρέσει, κόβοντάς τα, όλες τις καλωδιώσεις, βγάζοντας το σύστημα εκτός λειτουργίας. Λίγο αργότερα προσήλθε περιπολικό της Αστυνομίας, καθώς και υπεύθυνοι της ΔΕΥΑΚ για την αποτίμηση της ζημιάς και κυρίως της αποκατάστασής της…για την οποία μπορεί να χρειαστούν 1-2 ημέρες…  
(my translation) Theft damage 
The pilfering on Saturday of 220 metres of cable connecting the village pumping station to the boreholes at Damari had, by noon on Sunday, deprived the entire village of water. At three on Saturday afternoon the President of the Local Council alerted residents in the affected neighbourhoods to turn off their water. DEYAK (Corfu Municipal Water Supply and Drainage Company) technicians, having been unable to find any problems by digging, found intruders had broken in the door of the pumping station, and rendered it inoperative by cutting and removing all cable. Police arrived shortly after with the DEYAK engineers responsible for assessing damage and restoration - possibly 1 to 2 days.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back numbers

Simon Baddeley