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Monday, 10 December 2007


From my warm room looking south I woke in dark and wandered to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea and do some in-tray work. The light grows. Outside there's the narrow wedge of reedy grass at the end of an uneven wire and post fenced field. Below its steep slope the Farnack runs south lined with alder, oak and birch. The household gradually wakes. I can hear mum making her cup of morning tea, and Sh. her carer having a bath and the terriers sparring with one another. BBC 4 plays on my mother's radio. Two hours earlier than us the people and animals have been waking in Ano Korakiana, the sun rising over the mountains of Epirus, cats and dogs stirring, children being readied for school and cars and occasional scooters working through the narrows of Democracy Street and morning broadcasts from Athens adding to the waking chorus.
Today for the first time since I arrived here the sky was clear. It's chill, frosty, with thin ice on the puddled land. We drove down the Strath, my mother and I, and she walked, silently vexed with having to use her sticks to get along the icy path. The land was empty of people, quiet but for birds, windless. The dogs romped as usual but always in sight. We came to a loch with small beaches where she'd presided over summer picnics.
Here the terriers became otters, prancing in and out of the clear water as the earth moved into dusk in its long way up here. I'd had an e-mail from Corfu commenting on the village's future:
The issue about foreign people staying at Korakiana is surely a serious one. I believe that in ten years very few Greek families will be there - but this is not negative (this is my opinion) since the new residents more or less become a bit...Greek in lifestyle, though not in culture; you can't change culture and traditions, but still I believe that all is subject to change - life is a constant change and...recycling.
My first reaction is to feel apprehensive, but I want to think much more about L's thoughts, which, since she's Greek, are also consoling. I fly home tomorrow afternoon. I've been invited to lecture in Queensland next May and June. I have a chance to visit Japan and see some of my wonderful students on the way home. It is incredible to think of travelling so far. For the time being it all seems remote in time. I chatted with my mother about this and other things as we walked in the failing light. She's coming to London for Christmas and will be at the get together of the families there. My brother rang and we chatted for ages as I paced the strip of lawn at Brin where I can get a signal. In the evening I drove to Inverness to do office work in Borders among the shelves eight stacks high with books.

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Simon Baddeley