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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

All these threads

I seem to have a lot, maybe too much, on the go.

We've just spent nearly £300 getting the clutch master cylinder replaced on the HHH van - the result I suspect of so much short term stopping and starting for myriad jobs up and down the streets of Handsworth. The work was done swiftly by Allen and colleagues at Villa Cross Garage. We're back in business. Second: to qualify for our latest grant application - a bid for cash from the Mobilising Communities Small Grants Fund 2015/16...
Our latest committee meeting

...all committee officers of HHH have to go through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) process - to check we can work in and around gardens and premises where there may be children and vulnerable people. We also have to show the granting agency our policy on the protection of children and vulnerable people (see 'files' at the top of this FB page). Third: All four of us qualified to drive the HHH van must now give details to our insurer of the new DVLA 'licence information code'. This has required scanning both sides of each driver's licence; sending the images plus other details to the insurer. Soon after these details had been transmitted on PDF files, the insurer apologised and said they'd mislaid our details asking Lin to send them again by which time the DVLA code had expired and each of us had to generate another via their website.
As it is I struggle to write grant applications, detesting forms, finding means to procrastinate.
Cat Flea relaxes on some Handsworth Helping Hands paperwork

On a rainy day a few weeks ago Lin and I, Nick and Denise were in Handsworth Park to be be presented with a cheque for £200 by Shaana Shabir, Community Life Colleague from Asda Stores, Perry Barr - part of Asda's 'Chosen By You' top prize for community groups. Denise's nephew and Oliver enjoyed the puddles on the path running along the top of the park pond.

HHH continues daily work....
Private landlord, multiple occupation, neglected waste - gathered to be bagged and taken away
Denise takes up the matter of anti-social landlords with Cllr Mahmood Hussain

Denise and her grand-nephew Dennis check on some trash left by rough sleepers outside St.Mary's Church
The new Rector Bob Stephen "Thank you - a splendid bit of work, very much appreciated". He's married to Penny Price

Dennis with Veolia's Kathy checks the HHH van on the weighbridge at Holford Drive Recycling Centre
*** *** ***
There's the Black Patch too. 16th of June last we had an interesting meeting in the Soho Foundry Pub with Tony Deep MBE of Eastside Foods....
A meeting with Tony Deep Woura at The Soho Foundry Pub

... His company wants to build on part of Black Patch Park. Sandwell MBC officers are entertaining the idea - an impossibly vague one - of a S106 Agreement with Eastside who want to use the site to build an autoclaving plant in return for contributing to the rest of the park's regeneration. The meeting was good tempered, polite. We agreed to respond in a fortnight. Ron Collins our chair came out to my shed to discuss our response...

...A few days later Phil Crumpton and I met at Urban Coffee in the city centre to work up a draft letter which we all reviewed. Andrew Simon, our secretary sent a final version of a reply from the Friends to Sandwell MBC's senior planning officer, Hayley Insley, copied to Tony Deep:
Dear Hayley
The Friends of Black Patch Park much appreciated the opportunity to meet with officers from SMBC, Tony Deep and colleagues from East End Foods Plc and Smart Waste Ltd on Tuesday 16th June. We agreed that we would respond as promptly as possible with our initial views on the proposed development.
As a Friends group we have no problem with engaging in a constructive dialogue with SMBC and East End Foods Plc concerning the future of Black Patch Park and the surrounding area. However, as we expressed at the meeting there are a number of key issues that we would like to share.
The Black Patch in winter (photo: Karen Fry 2006)

Our constitution states: “The Friends of Black Patch Park is a group committed to the retention in perpetuity of the whole of Black Patch Park and to the improvement of the Park for the benefit of all local people.“ Endorsing a development that would see a significant proportion of the park disappear is therefore a major step for the Friends to take and will in our view require much more detailed information on what is being proposed and dialogue on how any proposed development might be done in such a way as to minimise the social and environmental impacts, while maximising the benefits to the park – its heritage and biodiversity – and the current and future and park users.
We are concerned that the current proposals do not appear to be part of a more comprehensive cross-border plan. There are significant residential areas in the neighbouring authority that represent the main users, or potential users of the park, and are likely to be the people most affected by any proposed development. Cross border consultation would seem to us to be paramount, especially given the proposed boundary review to report in 2017.
We are also not convinced by the arguments that housing is not a better option for Kitchener Street and Foundry Lane. We believe that there are plenty of good arguments to be put forward for housing as a preferred option. In our view the infrastructure is no worse than that available to existing residential areas in neighbouring Soho Ward and significant improvements could be made with little cost, for example pedestrian access through Merry Hill allotments to the Metro stop.
While we appreciate that the proposed developments might bring much needed investment for the park which we all desire, we are not convinced that this is a “last chance opportunity” for such investment. Black Patch Park and its surroundings has huge potential – adjacent as it is to Soho Foundry a major landmark in the history of the industrial revolution, birthplace of Charlie Chaplin, and a centre for Romany culture.
We very much appreciate the interest shown by Tony Deep and East End Foods plc in the Black Patch area and we would like to re-iterate our willingness to meet further with representatives from SMBC, East End Foods plc and SmartWaste Ltd to discuss the proposed developments in more detail and the issues raised.
Yours sincerely
cc Tony Deep – Chair, East End Foods plc
Reply 24th July:
Simon/Harjinder. I would just like thank you for arranging the meeting last month.  Mr Deep and his colleagues would also like me to convey their thanks for your continued involvement as this project progresses.  Whilst there are many questions still to be answered, your feedback has provided them with the confidence to progress with the necessary reports required to take this onto the next stage.  They would also welcome your continued dialogue with them and I’m sure as more detail is released there will be more meetings with the Friends Group in the future.  I would be obliged if you can pass this onto the other members of the Group. I will be in touch when more detail is forthcoming. Regards, Hayley
Hayley Insley, Senior Planner – Planning Regeneration 
*** *** ***
Lin and I have been making trips down to Lydbrook to sort the higgledy-piggledy mix of furniture, books, tools, kitchenware that seems to have been strewn around Rock Cottage during its restoration. The place is carpeted. the bathroom and kitchen  have been renewed; the windows replaced and properly sealed and the whole repainted...
The path up Bell Hill to Rock Cottage

...Oscar has joined us on each visit.
I've replaced the front door lock. I brought down two armchairs, a sofa, a washing machine and Lin's spare sewing machine and a new mattress for our double bed. I've rehung a large shelf. A pile of books have come out of cardboard boxes, been brushed clear of dust and mould and put back on it. Small jobs succeed small jobs. No single room upstairs is clear. We've still no bedding. The washer has yet to be plumbed in. I've no storage for tools. The garden is overgrown, though kept in check after I paid for £150 worth of strimming by Evolution Trees. Lin and I bicker about the slowness of the process. I'd hoped the place would be livable this summer but I suspect we'll need to extend that goal - to the autumn.
Amy's washer moved to Lydbrook. Our neighbour Craig Aston helped me cart it up Bell Hill and lift it into the cottage

*** *** ***
These last nine months the health of Lin's mum and dad. my parents-in-law, has been a major preoccupation. Arthur's 97. Dot 91. Both are taken for hospital visits by the local NHS transport service but on those occasions when Lin needs to talk to doctors, nurses and consultants, she goes, as well as helping take care of her parents' garden. Dot has been receiving both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It's an ordeal for them both. Lin too.
*** *** ***
Ορμόνες, υ Κάτερος ~ Aristeidis Metallinos 1981 (cat.85 S 39cm)
Aristeidis Metallinos 1908-1987

I've told Angeliki Metallinos that when we return in September to Ano Korakiana I will have a draft catalogue of her grandfather's works. I have met with my son. Richard assured me on Wednesday afternoon that he has started work on a web version of this. There will a website - a portal to articles about Aristeidis Metallinos, and most important, an accessible list of all his works with photos.
Parliament of animals We want justice ~ Aristeidis Metallinos 1981 (cat: 98 M r  40 x 51cm)

At the pension office - Τ.Ε.Β.Ε, Ταμείο Επαγγελματιών και Βιοτεχνών Ελλάδας
Richard Pine sent me details of his latest book - out in October - which will include a photo by Rob Groove of one of Metallinos' marble reliefs.
I really hope that after her letter to me in June, Eurydice Antzοulatοu-Retsila, will come to Corfu in September, visit the village museum, again see the works of the laic sculptor and write us an article building on what she wrote in 1985 when he was still alive....
...So, let me first thank you deeply for your interest in the work of Metallinos. I was feeling the same when in 1982 I had discovered him and I had faced all negative attitudes from all parts of communities in Corfu. But I insisted and I wrote my article then . My husband , now, says that nothing goes in vain and he is very glad with your initiative , because he, himself ( as artist, he is film director) had believed in this work. Perhaps my interest those days was founded in my work as curator at the National Museum of Greek Folk Art (in Athens) and my interest in what is humble and simple. After all, this had been my first speciality (history archaeology, art focused on Greek folk art, my PhD dissertation was on the wedding crowns of modern Greece, those created in gold and silver and kept in local churches or in museums). I will be very glad indeed to contribute in the volume you are preparing and actually I am planning to visit Corfu again in September to meet with my old friends there (I was professor of museum studies and cultural management at the Ionian University there from 1994 to 2009), to start a new research I am planning and of course I will enjoy seeing again the works of Metallinos....
When I read the letter Alexis Tsipras had written to EU ministers just over three weeks ago and considered the humiliating circumstances surrounding his words I thought of C.P. Cavafy...
 ...of his 1910 poem Satrapy ~ Η Σατραπεία

What a calamity that you who are made
for beautiful achievements and renowned,
should always be, through your hard fate, denied
occasion and success; that you should always
be hindered by the mean observances,
the littlenesses, and indifferences.
And how unblest the day when you give in
(when you have lost yourself, and you give in),
and you depart, a wayfarer for Susa,
and come before the monarch Artaxerxes
who welcomes you with favour at his Court,
offering you satrapies and things akin.
And you, despairing, you accept those honours,
those that are not the honours you desire.
Your soul is hungering for other things:
the praises of the Demos and the Sophists, —
the difficult, invaluable “Well done”;
the Agora, the Theatre, the bays.
These — how should Artaxerxes ever give,
how should you ever find in satrapies;
and what a life will yours be now, without them.
Βουλή των Ελλήνων (Photo: Alexandros Michailidis/Demotix/Corbis)

Τι συμφορά, ενώ είσαι καμωμένος
για τα ωραία και μεγάλα έργα
η άδικη αυτή σου η τύχη πάντα
ενθάρρυνσι κ’ επιτυχία να σε αρνείται·
να σ’ εμποδίζουν ευτελείς συνήθειες,
και μικροπρέπειες, κι αδιαφορίες.
Και τι φρικτή η μέρα που ενδίδεις,
(η μέρα που αφέθηκες κ’ ενδίδεις),
και φεύγεις οδοιπόρος για τα Σούσα,
και πηαίνεις στον μονάρχην Aρταξέρξη
που ευνοϊκά σε βάζει στην αυλή του,
και σε προσφέρει σατραπείες και τέτοια.
Και συ τα δέχεσαι με απελπισία
αυτά τα πράγματα που δεν τα θέλεις.
Άλλα ζητεί η ψυχή σου, γι’ άλλα κλαίει·
τον έπαινο του Δήμου και των Σοφιστών,
τα δύσκολα και τ’ ανεκτίμητα Εύγε·
την Aγορά, το Θέατρο, και τους Στεφάνους.
Aυτά πού θα σ’ τα δώσει ο Aρταξέρξης,
αυτά πού θα τα βρεις στη σατραπεία·
και τι ζωή χωρίς αυτά θα κάμεις. 

Cavafy was in Alexandria, shortly before he began to be known and esteemed as a poet, writing in Satrapy about his own life. How his musing resonates with the present circumstances of his nation; with the grievous personal humiliation of all Greece.  Tsipras and his colleagues have tried. They have failed. Greece continues to pay back its impossible debt, one that the IMF has proclaimed unsustainable (see also, IMF Country Report No. 15/165 June 26 Greece: Preliminary Draft Sustainability Analysis) even if she implements all the conditions of the third bail-out agreement.
No-one in the world has yet managed to grow an effective grand theory that can stand against the neo-liberal paradigm. I suspect there are dormant seeds in many places, even unseen seedlings sprouting in unexpected soils; sturdy perennials which are yet indistinguishable at this stage of their growth from transitory annuals.
Only some later history will claim, with the inestimable benefit of hindsight, their contribution to an idea stronger than those that now rule us; a new set of ideas and practices as robust and truthful as those ideas and practices that have taken so strong a possession of our common sense. No great idea (the heliocentric theory of the solar system, the evil of the death penalty, the wrongness of slavery, the rights of women, the theory of evolution, the equality of races) came to flourishing growth in the lifetime of those who first intimated its innate truth and rightness. Stand against neo-liberalism? Commit yourself to loneliness, doubt, ridicule, humiliation, and despair - yet still be brave, happy, good humoured and sweet company.
In that respect I give high marks to Yanis Varoufakis but I credit too how, on the Ano Korakiana website, my friend and neighbour, village historian Kostas Apergis - Κώστας Απέργης  - has written:
"Μνημόνιο"... ΓιονάτικοΗ τραγική επικαιρότητα για τη χώρα μας δεν είναι ούτε πρωτόφαντη ούτε μοναδική.Η εφαρμογή σκληρών οικονομικών πρακτικών αποδεικνύεται συνεπής και διαχρονική,διότι στηρίζεται σε «αλάνθαστους»,όπως φαίνεται νόμους του Καπιταλισμού, δηλαδή στην εκμετάλευση των μη εχόντων από τους έχοντες.
Η επιστροφή της οικονομίας της χώρας σε συνθήκες μεσαίωνα και φεουδαρχικού συστήματος δεν νομίζω ότι μπορεί να αμφισβητηθεί με οποιοδήποτε δικαιολόγημα...
Ας δούμε όμως μια περίπτωση δανεισμού του 1801.Το μέγεθος δεν έχει σημασία.Οι όροι και οι συνέπειες είναι αυτές που καθορίζουν τη σχέση και την ηθική του συστήματος...
«Στο κάνγγελο εμού νοταρίου στο χωρίον της Κορακιάνας.....οι Γιωργάκης και Δημήτρης αδέλφια Ιωνά του Ιωάννη από παρόν χωρίον, εσυμφώνησαν με τον Σπύρο Κένταρχο ποτέ Μανώλη από παρόν χωρίον και του δίνουν δανεικά 228 τάλαρα ασημένια και υπόσχεται ο άνωθεν Κένταρχος να τους τα επιστρέψει την πρώτη του ερχομένου μηνός Ιουλίου μέ τόκο....και από σήμερα μένει υποθήκη προς τους αδελφούς το κοπάδι του Κένταρχου, πρόβια και τραγιά κεφάλια 98, και ο Κένταρχος υποχρεούται να δίνει το τυρί που θα κάμει και τα μαλλιά στο σπίτι των αδελφών. Εκεί το τυρί θα αλατιέται και θα το πουλεί ο Κένταρχος και τα χρήματα θα υπολογίζονται πάνω στο χρέος, και αν δεν πιάσουν το ποσόν των 228 τάλαρων να συμπληρώνει ο Κένταρχος πουλώντας και το κοπάδι και αν πάλι δεν συμπληρωθεί το ποσό να υπολογίζεται το υπόλοιπο σε λάδι προς ενάμιση τάλαρο η ξέστα, λάδι λαπάντε μέχρι τον Ιανουάριο 1802...
Μάρτυρες:Δήμος Μαρζούκος ποτέ Σπύρου και Θοδωρής Κοντοστάνος ποτέ Στέλιου όλοι από παρόν χωρίον» Η πράξη έγινε στις 3/2/1801
Τύφλα νάχει ο Σόϊμπλε και οι υπόλοιποι Ευρωπαίοι «φίλοι μας»!!!.Επειδή το ένα μέρος των συμβαλλομένων είναι Γιονάτες έτσι καταλαβαίνω και τον κουμπάρο μου...
*** *** *** ***
In Handsworth, our water rates are over £800 a year. In March we ordered a water meter from Severn Trent Water. Their publicity assured us this could halve the cost of our water. In June we came back to England and read the meter. Having started a zero it showed that in our absence 40 cubic metres of water had leaked from our supply pipe. A team from the company came out to check. They found the leak was on our side of the meter. our responsibility. We paid £200 excess to our insurance company and were promised a refund on the cost of the water leaked - a one-off arrangement STW provides with meter installations. A pleasant water engineer turned up with sounding kit and other tools....
Terry finds our leak twenty minutes he'd located the leak in the thin thick-walled lead supply pipe, under the roots of the old cherry tree we had cut down nearly 10 years ago as its roots were pushing down ours and our neighbour's garden walls.
A section from our water supply pipe
"We'll be back" said Terry "after we've got permission to dig up the pavement. Then we'll run an alternative pipe up your drive. We won't try to dig into the tree roots. You don't have to do anything more."
*** *** ***
Jack and Simon
I am impatient about progress on the project to digitize my stepfather's tape-film archive; something I've been working on over several years, since the archive of 16mm film and 1/4" reel-to-reel tape was recovered from the South West Film and Television Archive in 2012. In late May while in Corfu, Chris Perry of Big Centre TV said the project had been assigned a new editor - Simon Coward.
Simon Coward and Chris Perry with me at the Walsall Studio base of Big Centre TV

Days passed through June. Pressing the matter I found that Ascent Media in London, now changed to Encorehad hardly started to digitise the film and tape I'd brought them last March. No invoice had been generated. I got an apology from Simon Warren at Ascent - now Encore - and a batch of five episodes of archive Out of Town was given to Simon Coward for editing a fortnight ago. I knew this wasn't ever going to be straightforward. It hasn't been all along, but I'm hoping we are now in slightly faster production than so far.
Email from Simon Coward to me and Chris Perry on 24th July: Simon and Chris. This is a slight tangent to everything that's been mentioned below, but in case these emails suddenly kick of a whole raft of activity be it here, at Big Centre, at Ascent or wherever - I need to remind everyone of something which needs to be addressed.
[Simon's just rung me and I've mentioned most of the following to him already, but it won't hurt putting it in an email to everyone]
The test film, which Ascent made a very nice transfer of is, of course, an original Southern Television film. The soundtrack that was with it, however, was not a Southern Television soundtrack but was a newly-recorded film commentary only (i.e. not including the shed sequences) made for the sell-through videos recorded in the 1980s, released by Contender on DVD, and currently available from Delta on DVD.
Now, while there might be an archive/preservation angle to getting the raw materials like this (and others in the same state) digitised in HD (even reduced in size to standard definition, the film looks a lot sharper and has more detail in Ascent's transfer than it does on the current DVD), for the present purpose there's no value in doing so and so, at least in the short term, I presume everyone wants to prevent Ascent from copying any further films/soundtracks which are in the same boat.
I'm happy to ring Mark at Ascent this afternoon to discuss whether there's a way of identifying these and putting them to one side so that their time and BCTV's money can be concentrated on transferring just the shows which have a Southern TV soundtrack. It may be this is something Ascent can do easily - the duration of the tape, tape brand, age of tape/box etc might be significant. Or it may be that things are in enough of a jumble that the only way to identify them as "correct" is to listen to the audio tape soundtrack first and confirm that it's a Southern recording. I think this can be done reasonably easily because the Southern editions should begin with the opening theme music whereas the 1980s editions will go straight into the film commentary with no music or anything....
If anyone doesn't want me to ring Mark after lunch to discuss any possibilities with him, let me know asap. Simon 
My reply: Dear Simon and Chris. Yes. Ring Mark urgently.
Two thoughts.
I need to stretch my expectations regarding the time this is going to take. We’ve had many hiccoughs on this journey and not a few cul-de-sacs since 2010. Now we face another.
My agreement with Big Centre TV does not mention time, or even the number of restored Out of Town's (OOT’s) that might at some time be broadcast by Big Centre TV, only the commitment to process and edit episodes for broadcast from the JH Archive in my hands in return for using material from the OOT box sets. I had been assuming we needed to have broadcast-able material ready for the Autumn season and beyond.
Second thought. Though there may have been human error (i.e the delay for which Steve Warren at Ascent/Encore has generously apologised) but there are other delays that arise from the complicated jumble contained in the JH archive. It is unwieldy material. The reprise on this is that to recover old OOT episodes, we have had to match OOT films to what we had assumed were Southern TV sound tapes of the programme as it was being broadcast in the 60s and 70s. This is an, as yet, uncompleted task, and, as we have reminded ourselves constantly, we have sound but no image for the moments at start and sometimes finish of the archive episodes where my stepfather speaks from his studio ‘shed’. I now learn of a new problem! Among the sound tapes in the archive, some of which we thought we’d matched to the appropriate film are sound commentaries that do not accompany the original broadcast made in Southern’s studios at the time of broadcast. They are the commentaries Jack made for a VHS (now DVD) series in 1985. You and I. Simon, have been trying to work out how these got into the JH archive. Aside from that, these particular sound tapes are useless for our purposes, indeed more than useless because we already have them on the commercial DVDs some of which have been broadcast by Big Centre since March this year.
None of us want to waste time and money digitising tapes mistakenly matched with archive film. The matches must be of the sound tapes made in Southern's Studio that accompany Stan Bréhaut's location film with the addition of Jack’s voice without picture at the start and sometimes at other intervals in an OOT episode.
At the worst we must assume there are about 28 of these unwanted sound tapes (the number of episodes in the first commercial production of OOT in 1985 and now in the first Delta box set produced in 2012) dotted around the JH archive. We now know, thanks to Simon Coward, that at least one went down to London to be digitised and returned with invoice to Big Centre TV.
Now we know they are there in the archive with possibly more in the batches sent to London this year, It should be easy to tell by listening for only a few seconds to one of these tapes that it is unwanted. It will not have Jack’s opening lines from the studio but will only start with the start of the relevant location film. Recall, as an aid to identification, that the key tapes are not ones made by Jack and his team in 1985, but start to finish sound tapes made routinely by Southern TV for all original broadcasts of Out of Town in the 1970s and perhaps earlier. Best wishes, Simon
*** *** ***
Our son dropped round on Sunday evening. He and Lin shelled the whole batch of broad bean pods I'd harvested. Lin blanched them, put them into plastic bags and into the deep freeze. The pods will go on the compost. Nothing wasted. Glut waste avoided.

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