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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Visiting Soho Foundry

The Soho Manufactory (etched) and the Soho Foundry (Ted Rudge's photo) were part of a Silicon Valley of the 18th century, drawing people from over the world to work and live.
Matthew Boulton and James Watt needed the foundry to build the steam engines to power the engines of mass production of buttons, buckles,toys, silverware, ormolu and the minting of coins and medals at their Manufactory. Yesterday morning the Friends of Black Patch Park visited Soho Foundry and the private weights and measures museum of Avery Weigh-Tronix, guided by John Doran, archivist. Ted Rudge, the local historian came along with Andrew Simon, our secretary and about six others of us, curious to learn about this neighbour of Black Patch Park.
Now that Sandwell Council has backed off plans to build on the park, its future is tied to theirs and their partners' plans for the remains of the foundry. John is optimistic about the creation of a site of industrial archaeology, with new housing and infrastructure.
"Whether we will see it is another matter."
I knew something of the Manufactory - long demolished - via Soho House Museum - but none of us knew much about its associated foundry, despite our many meetings at the pub opposite. Its brick shell is next to the old Birmingham canal that served it - visible through an iron bridge colonised by Buddleia. The canal basin that served the foundry was filled in long ago.
Warned to stand back for fear of falling masonry we peered in at its dappled spaciousness - the grumble of metal recycling in an adjacent yard resonated in the background. We took pictures, asked questions and strolled the surrounding dereliction, glancing south to the tree tops of the Black Patch.
The working site of Avery Weigh-Tronix, HQ in America, has been hollowed out as manufacture has moved to China. It's primarily a site for packaging and transport of goods amid the surrounding industrial wasteland. I imagined a cinematic 'cut' to this area 177 years ago:
'By day and by night the country is glowing with fire ... the smoke of the ironworks hovers over it. There is a rumbling and clanking of iron forges and rolling mills. Workmen covered with smut, and with fierce white eyes, are seen moving about amongst the glowing iron and the dull thud of forge-hammers ... The grass had been parched and killed by the vapours of sulphurous acid thrown out by the chimneys ... every herbaceous object was of a ghastly gray – the emblem of vegetable death...' James Nasmyth 1830
The next day Andrew asked for comments on a draft memo from the Friends' response to the agency leading on plans for the Soho Foundry:
DRAFT - Historic Soho Foundry – Response from Friends of Black Patch Park to questions from ABL Cultural Consulting
1. Industrial heritage of world significance – possible World Heritage Site. For example in addition to Watt, Boulton and Murdock also Muntz, GKN, Tangyes, Averys, Raleigh bicycles, Metropolitan Carriage Works. Also canal history e.g. Telford and Brindley. As a Friends group we would argue that ‘Industrial Heritage Site” include, in the environs of the Foundry, Black Patch Park through which flow the Hockley and Boundary Brooks – used for water power but also marking ancient pre-industrial boundaries. Romany Gypsy history also connected with the park – a traditional site in late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s.
2. Its part in the industrial revolution especially the manufacture of steam engines which were exported all over the world. Industrial pioneers such as Watt, Boulton and Murdock. Murdock lived in one of the cottages that still exist on the site. The Avery Weigh-Tronix museum with weights and measures going back to the Egyptians. Lunar Society – the 18th century equivalent of a think tank which debated social as well as scientific issues e.g. slavery. The Foundry’s links to the wider world e.g. export of steam engines to the Caribbean for sugar production and how this related to Watt and Boulton’s attitude toward the slave trade and slavery.
3. Welcome the proposals provided they are sympathetic to the history of the site and surroundings. Also the facilities should be accessible and affordable by all - compare, for example, Millennium Point which is expensive for families to visit, whereas the old Science Museum was free. How do these plans link to Carl Chinn’s idea of creating an industrial museum?
4. Working exhibits – hands on including working steam engines. Possibility of opening up access from the canal e.g. opening up the original canal basin so that people can approach the Foundry by canal. Exhibits that demonstrate the whole process involved in the production of steam engines and how the Foundry worked – including the working conditions of Foundry workers etc. Something about the general social history of the area including the other industries in Smethwick and also the history of the adjoining park – e.g. the Romany Gypsy connection – perhaps a Gypsy Varda – photographs of the families and their genealogy – see Ted Rudge. Exhibits about the Foundry’s connections with the rest of the World and the implications of this. Also presentations that are forward thinking – perhaps a reflection on the impact of science and technology on society and the process of innovation.
5. Multi-media presentations. Programmes that look at the history of the area as well as the Foundry. Outreach programmes for schools – there are many Primary and Secondary Schools in the immediate area. Oral history – an urgent need to record the memories of people who have lived in the area while this is still possible. For example, people’s memories of the Second World War, memories of the surviving family members of former Romany Gypsies and also the memories of those who have moved into the area over the last 50 or so years – opportunity for an inclusive history. Also Soho Foundry’s global links and the issues that this raises.
Programmes that are accessible to all e.g. ATHAC – Access to Heritage, Arts and Culture – 0121 558 6334
7. Representation on the project steering group
- Possibly an advisory role re development of the interpretation and outreach/community programmes
- Helping make contacts
-Participation in an oral history project
8. A place that stimulates thinking and challenges people. Hands-on. Something that encourages people to examine evidence and come to their own conclusions. Realistic displays about the Foundry what went on their – the manufacturing process – what it was like to work in the Foundry and the surrounding area – what was it like to live there and how has it changed. Working steam engines and examples of their applications. The Foundry’s links to the rest of the world – and its global significance – for example where did the steam engines go – what were they used for – and the possible implications of this. Also something about the park and its historical significance.
9. Bill boards
-Community events and open days
-Leaflets to households, schools, colleges and other organisations
-Local media e.g. papers, radio – Express and star, Evening Mail and Birmingham Mail
10. Heritage of the Foundry and Park should be a significant part of the development
Don’t want to lose the community centre within the park as part of the development
How do the plans relate to the future plans of Avery Weigh-Tronix?
Will there be a transport plan as part of the development? – so that people are encouraged to use public transport where possible e.g. Metro, canal, bus, cycle routes. Also are there ways in which transport systems can be better integrated to make the Foundry more accessible by public transport.
Sustainability in general – how can the development demonstrate best practice in terms of minimising environmental impact e.g. energy use, carbon footprint, use of sustainable materials, water conservation, biodiversity etc.
Soho Foundry in the 19th century probably by John Phillip (provided 18/6/17, by Andrew Simons, Hon Sec. FoBPP)

Monday, 28 May 2007

Multiplicity not Ship of Fools

The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, creation, in 1986, of Bill Reid, comes as near as any piece of art to describing my world. I like the idea of a boat, but the much used image of the 'Ship of Fools' projects our private ugliness - looks and behaviour - as images of shared foolishness, but in the process enjoins mockery of the ugly, the poor, the maimed, the underclasses [Bosch's is the example I know from Foucault's 'Madness and Civilization' used on Psych 171 courses I taught long ago at Michigan]. It's too easy to see a ship crewed by others. Reid's figures, though mainly animals, are us - our polity. I crew this boat; may even aspire to advise its skipper. The image consoles when I'm despondent about democracy - the worst form of government except for the others. 'There is certainly no lack of activity in our little boat,' said Reid, 'but is there any purpose? Is the tall figure who may or may not be the Spirit of Haida Gwaii leading us, for we are all in the same boat, to a sheltered beach beyond the rim of the world ... or is he lost in a dream? The boat moves on anchored in the same place' freighted with creatures who bite and claw as they row. Not a grounded apolitical ship of fools, rather the discordant family of all living things striving to up-anchor and gain steerage amid the dangers of the sea, about which my mentor, Denys Rayner, wrote 'neither cruel nor kind ... Any apparent virtues it may have, and all its vices, are seen only in relation to the spirit of man who pits himself, in ships of his own building, against its insensate power.' (Preface to 'Escort: The Battle of the Atlantic' London:Kimber 1955)

In the bow Grizzly Bear faces Bear Mother, their cubs between them. Next is Beaver at home on the ocean floor hoarding the water and fish of the world; then Dogfish Woman with a hooked beak, gills on her cheeks and a pointed head; then Mouse Woman, guide to those passing from the human to the non-human domain. Raven steers. Beneath his wing is a grudging oarsman representing humans who labour to build and rebuild. Athwartships is Wolf with claws in Beaver’s back, his teeth in Eagle’s wing. Beneath Eagle is Frog. The hatted figure is the shaman Kilstlaai, holding a speaker’s staff topped by an Orca.

Unlike the Ship of Fools this boat is a descendant of Jason's Argo and the crews who shared in Ulysses' odyssey, comforting me with my ancestor's maxim 'Except the blind forces of Nature, there is nothing that moves in the world today that is not Greek in origin'. Reid's vessel, introduced to me by the political philosopher Jim Tully ('Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity' Cambridge, 1995), who places it on the cover of his book, inspired my favourite paper: Baddeley, S. (1995) 'Internal Polity' Human Relations, Vol. 48, No. 9, 1073-1103 (1995)
Abstract: Repression has been a conditional means of civilizing the psyche, but in pluralistic democracies where diversity is valued, where assimilation is not a condition of citizenship and where aspirations are formed within consumerism, this road to self-understanding is unreliable. At a time when neither individualism nor collectivism encourage individuality, the idea of an internal polity enriches self-awareness, strengthening agency in the world. Perhaps.

* * *

While on mythic boats what of Argo? Here's the artist Engonopoulos' impression of her celebrity crew of argonauts - all progeny of Gods. Someone's sitting on the gunnels gazing at the sea smoking a cigarette (not in an enclosed space). Jason's staring ahead in shades, not exactly leading, but holding a fine steering oar. There's Heracles with a studded club; Orpheus with lyre, and some of the crew in the water, relaxing. Lovely blue. Lots of light. How is this relaxed company going to get all the way from Volos to Colchis at the far end of the Black Sea to steal the Golden Fleece? Perhaps they'll just chill out on the shores of the northern Aegean and make up a brilliant story about their adventures when they get home.

* * *
The ship and crew I really want to know more about is the Hercules - a two masted square rigged brig of 120 tons chartered in Genoa by Lord Noel Byron - a collier, therefore tubby, skippered by a Captain Scott - from whose decks the great poet sighted Zante and Cephalonia on 2 August 1823. Hercules carried Byron in company with Edward Trelawny, James Hamilton Browne, (author of an account of their voyage from Italy to Greece), Vitali, Count Pietro Gamba, Dr. Francesco Bruno, Constantine Skilitzy, the gondolier Tita Falcieri, the valet Fletcher and steward Lega Zambelli, several other servants, five horses, Byron's bulldog Moretto, and the Newfoundland dog Lyon. After several months wait at Cephalonia, Byron received a summons from Prince Alexander Mavrocordato to come at once to Missolonghi, with a request 'to the organization of western Greece.' The machinations that followed, made more confusing by separate accounts of the events up to Byron's death on the 19 April 1824, have not sullied the historical conclusion that the poet, though he did not die in battle, died for the freedom of Greece.

I would like also to know about the ships of Admiral Lascarina Bubulina of Spetses who fought in the Greek War of Independence, having been born in a Constantinople prison. In 1811, twice widowed, the mother of seven children, rich by inheritance from her husbands, Bouboulina managed to increase her fortune by astute trading, becoming partner in several Spetsiot vessels, building three of her own, including the Agamemnon - the first and largest Greek fighting ship of the 1821 War of Independence. I only learned this because she was mentioned in a commentary by Michael Cacoyannis explaining why Zorba called Madame Hortense 'Bouboulina'.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

My history of the founding of Handsworth Park

The Earl of Dartmouth opens the Victoria Park Extension on 30 March 1898
This afternoon, I did another history tour of Handsworth Park - initially titled Victoria Park - but the chilly wet weather was too much for all but my friend Zarina, so we strolled round the pond in the wind and the rain for over an hour, meeting one of the rangers and the boatman and some people measuring the Canada Geese population ("There are too many" said one, while another wrestled a bird to the ground to ring it), sheltering under trees, gazing at the views, and chatting about lots of things - geese and whether its cruel to pierce their eggs, Guantanamo, that 'heavenly body' and the uses of sheep according to Lawrence Durrell in Prospero's Cell, the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Hunters Road, Mr Smiley's houses, plans for Aston and Lozells, the gate the developers want removed from the masterplan linking the park and the new houses on the Victoria Jubilee Allotments, the workings of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, discarded gum and cigarette butts, details of Austin Line's and Charles Palmer's lovingly restored fountains ("You know Palmer was a keen cyclist"), what to do about dog mess, the boats which were out again yesterday, the hoped for return of fish to the pond, the unmarked pauper's graves in St.Mary's Churchyard and the thinking of the people who created Handsworth Park - "so people like us could talk in a public place on a rainy day?" Strolled home to tea and coffee with Lin. Had a good afternoon yesterday attending a friend’s wedding where the pastor has been for 50 years and is struggling a bit with rituals - checking stage directions sotto voce. My friend M, arrived 50 minutes late, having struggled, she told me later, to get the clingiest of pale pink wedding dresses around her slender figure. She's now married twice - well actually thrice if you count yesterday. She divorced a while ago. Yesterday, having plighted their troths and sworn the vows the pastor started over “Do you – sorry remind me of your name – yes, right – OK - do you M take ... ?“ and so we went round again, everyone, including bride and groom, smiling and laughing at a joyful and hilarious piece of double knot-tying to the music of ‘Greensleeves’, through Handel’s ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ and the singing of ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘When Jesus Washed – Oh happy day’, a Lesson from Ephesians 5, 20-33, some vibrant preaching with the tale of Paul shipwrecked on Malta surviving a snake bite - ‘for his destiny was Rome’ - and a convivial blend of black and white. Someone whispered to me later that the ‘pastor was past his best’ - yet he founded this church and saw its congregation through hard years of settling in England – years about which the Anglican communion in Birmingham has reproached itself for being less than welcoming to Christians from the Caribbean. It will be decades or more before a faltering secularist like me can compete with this sort of thing. Around 4.30 I was at The Village Cafe over from the Arcadian Centre with Richard and Amy enjoying noodle soup with roast duck. R took the car to work in Broad Street. Amy and I walked home via Bennetts Hill, the Jewellery Quarter into Hylton Street where a shoulder-width alley between workshops leads to Key Hill and the closed post office on Hockley Hill. By a bus stop among broken bottles lay the glossy cardboard packaging of a legless headless torso branded 'Heavenly Body'. We threaded the low tunnels and non-agora under Hockley flyover, up the sidewalk, past flytipping, past the nearly completed Gurdwara Babe-Ke - "Hey the fibreglass dome is rotating!" - down Naden Street (more an alley) where we were asked to a boombox enhanced block BBQ in the car park behind the redbrick flats overlooking Soho Hill. Along Hunter's Road, with the exception of the Catholic church and St.Mary’s Convent with their flowered frontages, a street of fine buildings has suffered low-budget private renovation. We walked on to the top of the hill and the tripartite junction of Weston Road, Hunters Road and Barker Street, wondering why some roads are called 'streets' and v.v., passing The Observatory Pub in the bow of one junction, and walking up Barker Street to the acutely angled Villa Cross, its identity mishapened by the disorder of the 1980s, losing us a cinema (already a bingo hall), pub (a drug market), shops (uninsurable) and gaining us a carpark, boarded up buildings and grant-funded offices with frontages attracting fly-posting as a cul-de-sac attracts flytipping, prompting traffic to pass rather than arrive. How titanic a task to draw in the involvement of its present and future population in reshaping this place and its surroundings. It can be done. People are working at it. We do meet and strive to get our minds around many tasks. It helps to have lots of cups of tea and biscuits. Promise exists - despite the acronyms of planning - in the Aston, Newtown and Lozells Area Action Plan (AAP) Issues and Options Report handed out at the Ward Area Committee last week. Comments need to go by 15 June 07 or phone 0800 694 3100. This plan will be part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) replacing the Unitary Development Plan (UDP). It's about the interconnection of housing, jobs, architecture, green space, health, education, transport, sustainability. It's about the circuitry of the area – IT, lighting, energy and water. It's about places to buy and sell, to worship, to play, to grow, to sit and talk, to listen, to eat, to associate, to read and view. It's about museums, gardens, smallholdings and trees and all with an eye to the broader changes that transform the practices and objects of one era so they become incomprehensible or impractical in another. Coming down Heathfield Road we came across three quite new brick houses in this dystopian place. They’d been built with such care and skill I wanted to clasp the hand of their builder. Amy took a picture she hasn't given me yet of a carved plaque in the wall of one house, saying it was built and designed by a man called Anthony E. Smile in 1998. Of course I’ve seen these many times but never asked about them. We strolled down Heathfield Avenue under trees and peered at the backs of the houses through iron gates. With a 'peep' of its horn an estate drove up. A lady introduced herself as Mrs.Smile. I shook her hand. "When you see your son please pass to him my deepest respect. He is a craftsman!" Smiley's houses are hope in brick. Mrs Smiley said "See the Lodge at the top of North Drive. My son worked on that." We did. This was the Lodge at an entrance to James Watt's Heathfield Estate, the original house demolished and what would now be called executive homes built in eclectic styles in the 1930s and now made more eclectic by prosperous newcomers who instead of flying to the suburbs on making their wealth have stayed in wicked Handsworth. The rawness of some renovations, such as the giant rampant gilt lions on one frontage, has not yet been moderated by the patina with which time can moderate the flamboyant impulses of new money. We walked on down North Drive, turning left along Gibson Road cursing the non-planning that had permitted the placing of several ill-proportioned new houses, still fenced off with paling and barbed wire, much too close to the pavement with diminutive back yards taken from gardens in North Drive. "It's someone in North Drive who's built them" said Amy. Greed in brick. So we came home, having enjoyed several little adventures. (see this entry 13 Dec'11 on a proposed Heritage Trail for Handsworth and Lozells)

Saturday, 26 May 2007

The most pleasant place

From: Linda Baddeley Date: Sat, 26 May 2007 10:21:03 +0100 (BST) Hi George, Thanks for lending money till we get there. We owe you a drink or two! Thank Ben for sorting out the electrics. We owe him a drink too. Yes, we would like the window please. Good idea about the temporary plaka on the drain, but only if it's not going to cost much extra. Really can't afford to do things to be undone later. We're not rich like that lady you garden for! LOL Enjoyed seeing pics of arch jig. Shape looks good. It's looking so much better with that wall gone. I'll see if I can get any more info on sealing wood floors. Must admit that when we did one years ago in our previous house we just used normal satin finish polyurethane. Seemed to work OK, but don't know how long it lasted before it needed redoing. Could you give an estimate of how much we're going to owe you, so we can make sure we have enough to pay you when we come. You'd better add on the price of a saw blade! Thanks for keeping up the updates and pics. Regards to all. Lin
Big Pond Originally uploaded by lindabaddeley1.
As mid summer approaches and we are time richer the garden's looking good. Quite a lot of animals are living in or visiting. A young rat passes through on the scavenge driving the dog potty with its scent. Grey squirrels try to filch nuts from the birds. The occasional city cat passes along the gardens. The fish - orfe, koi, goldfish, tench - are stuck here, so we net their ponds against herons. The list of birds we've seen - Parakeets, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, (can't be bothered with more caps), jackdaws, rooks, magpies, great, blue and coal tits, hedge and city sparrows, an occasional thrush, a chattering jay, a wagtail, nuthatches, jenny wren, robins, starlings, blackbirds, fat wood pigeons, ring doves and - passing overhead now and then - Canada geese from the pond in the park. Our pond gives us dragonflies (but no frogs) and skaters and many other little beasts we don't see. The garden's full of insects, spiders and worms and snails and soon there'll be more butterflies to complement the bees. This weekend feels busy with a meeting later this morning of the Friends of St.Mary's Churchyard, followed by a wedding at Bethel United and one of my history tours around Handsworth Park - 'meet at the Park Lodge off Hamstead Road at 1300 on Sunday afternoon'. Yesterday I was doing a workshop for members of a Police Authority and some of its senior officers. Issues I suggested they consider: 1.Following the Police & Justice Act 2006 can Police Authorities develop a broader ‘conversation’ about service delivery with the public? 2.Central targets have created an Authority geared to delivering its performance figures to the centre. Can that process be about-faced? 3.By advancing their capacity for scrutiny, could Authority members have greater influence on the direction and nature of policing in the area? 4.How may Crime and Disorder overview, the spread of a habit of scrutiny among partners and ‘community calls for action’ influence relations between the Authority and the Service? 5.Can Authority members adopt techniques pioneered in Overview and Scrutiny, e.g. chairing, scoping, questioning and weighing evidence? Could scrutiny uncover the unknown unknowns? We noted a paragraph sent me by the person who'd invited me. It was in Mike Bichard's 2004 Inquiry into the murders of two children in an English village: '2.135 Nonetheless, the Police Authority appears at the time to have monitored police performance primarily by reacting to matters raised by the police themselves. Unless difficult or probing questions are asked about matters beyond those that the police choose to raise, no problem will be uncovered. There was, in my view, sufficient in the HMIC (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary) reports to have caused the Police Authority to start asking more difficult questions. There is no indication that this happened.' These people - a mix of men and women between 30 and 60 (I'd say) were bright and conscientious sharing a wealth of experience. What a pleasure to work for such a group. I had a gentle row the evening before with a friend - a professor at Cranfield. She reflected perhaps no-one was to blame but the murderer; that Mike's remarks were perhaps untoward. I mentioned this on Friday morning. The most senior officer said "A difficult decision was made about what to do with information. What followed was consequent upon that judgement." As always I enjoyed cycling through London between rail stations on my way to this work. Being part brought up there I can't get lost in the capital. On my bicycle I travel almost as the crow flies, passing through static traffic like a butterfly, respecting those on foot, acknowledging the courtesy and skill of those who still drive in London, helped by the new cycle lanes. Lin's Mum just phoned to remind me to wake her for her Saturday visit to Cannock. The book I ordered has arrived. Lawrence Durrell's 'Prospero's Cell'. I've not read him since University ('The Alexandria Quartet' - spellbinding introduction to the same overlapping events told by different narrators; Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea). At the start of this 'Guide to the landscape and manners of the island of Corfu' written in 1945 Durrell quotes Anthony Sherley, His Persian Adventure 1601 'A Greekish isle, and the most pleasant place that ever our eyes beheld for the exercise of a solitary and contemplative life ... In our travels many times, falling into dangers and unpleasant places, this only island would be the place where we would wish ourselves to end our lives.' [Flickr news: 439 images and 117 members in the group I'm administering on 'International flytipping'.]

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Roller coaster

From: treaclemine2004 Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 06:14:22
Subject: Means and Ends
Greetings ... What could ever make it politically acceptable for close monitoring, detailed tracking and surveillance of the movements of the general population? How can such an intrusive and authoritarian means be right when our ends are supposed to be socially and environmentally just? There are good, just, simple and fair ways to do this. GPS isn't one. Thank you, Amanda

Dear Amanda. I’m not just talking of restricting other's freedoms, but of winning support for new laws that will affect my family, pushing us towards sustainable ways to make a living and enjoy life. I may provide an imperfect example but unless governments move to a war footing I cannot see changes in behaviour being adopted.
To add to the depth of my inconsistency (not hypocricy - I don't see myself as better) we have a home in Greece to which we occasionally fly though I prefer slower travel by rail and ferry.
I’m part of a network of relatives who treat my concern about reducing carbon footprints with affectionate tolerance. I enjoy them too much to rain on a family parade.They fly the world. They use phone conferencing more than they did, but they rely on cars. Several are in businesses that thrive on consumerism. The most liberal approve a congestion charge. It clears the roads for driving. We're on a runaway rollercoaster. It’s scary when I look around but my fellow passengers - people I love - are enjoying a longer ride for their money. I join in - yelling and laughing with the rest. Looking down I glimpse people still on the ground. They stare upwards – not resenting our fecklessness, nor relieved at avoiding our fate or anxious they might be hit by the debris of our fall – but gazing at our rushing progress to disaster with looks of admiring envy.

The Greater Spotted Woodpecker actually came to the nuts outside our kitchen window just now but Jackdaws are my favourite birds. Of all the crows they seem to rejoice in flight as well as getting into conversation with humans. Jim was a great uncaged companion. Until he flew off to mate he was my mate. I found him as a fledgling fallen from his nest unable to fly and he stayed around with me for about 6 months in 1951. My mum took the picture on a visiting weekend at my boarding school in Sussex. Jackdaws enjoy playing with shiny objects and other small household items, which gives them a reputation as thieves. My impression is that they are actually always checking out whether this or that trifle might be suitable for a nest. Konrad Lorenz' sketches, in 'King Solomon's Ring', where he has a chapter on the birds, capture what I noted in Jim better than any photos I've seen. The Jackdaw mentality in humans refers to a tendency to collect trivia in the fruitless hope that all may come together to explain the meaning of life.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007


From: treaclemine2004
Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 06:26:40 -0000
To: ""
Subject: [GB] WM road pricing plan unacceptably intrusive

Greetings,"Plans to impose London-style congestion charging schemes in Birmingham and the West Midlands have been dropped in favour of a regional pay-as-you go road pricing project. Drivers would be charged a levy depending on the time, length and destination of their journey, if proposals being worked up by council leaders get Government backing. The system, probably based on satellite tracking of vehicles, would be flexible enough to take account of local traffic patterns and avoid a blunt one-size-fits-all approach to tacklingcongestion."
Any kind of detailed tracking system is an unacceptable invasion of civil liberties. Despite my conviction that external costs must be internalised, I will actively oppose any such intrusive scheme. Can anyone give more details about why other models such as London's congestion charge are not practical in Birmingham and the West Midlands? Thanks, Amanda

From: Simon Baddeley Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 08:52:41 +0100
To: Amanda Treaclemine , CyclewiseWM , "" , Birmingham Cycle Network Cc: Pushbikes Conversation: [GB] WM road pricing plan unacceptably intrusive
Dear Amanda. Telemetry in cars offers the prospect of obtaining compensation from people (including myself and my family) who rely on cars, for the externalised costs they’ve imposed on the Commons. Raising revenue by satellite tracking of motorised traffic increases the civil liberty of road users - whether drivers, cyclists or walkers - promising the possibility of release from the ever-present danger to liberty presented to the rest of us by drivers who speed through residential areas confiscating swathes of the city from citizens on foot or on bicycles or who drive responsibly or who would use their cars less if the roads were safer and public transport better. Walk or cycle and you can evade surveillance and the extra costs involved in driving while enjoying freedom not available on our streets for over a century. Please think again before opposing these measures on grounds of civil liberty. The intrusion on motorists of such a scheme will not prevent them using their cars, but it will reduce their intrusion on the freedom of those who prefer to get around by walking and cycling. Kind regards, Simon

The arch jig

From: George , Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 21:03:50 +0300
To: Linda Baddeley Subject: Re: Democracy Street
No probs with money. I will buy any extras, plus marble. Am going to airport paint shop to see if I can get Gapseal, water based polyeurothane varnish for floor, not too hopeful, as nobody has heard of Gapseal before. Window will cost 85 euro. Do you still want to put in? Will just cover drain loosly with wood base, iron mesh net and plaka in case you want it at later date. B is going to sort out electrical mess in ceiling and plaster over when he plasters the archway. He will put plug just above stairwell on new wall. Will see if I can swap some of your plaka for some lighter plaka for upright surfaces on garden feature and stairs, as your plaka is too heavy to stick on. Thought I would show you what an arch jig is. Just a wood frame to support the bricks and mortar before the plaster is put in. You can see from the fill in the new shape. This will take until Saturday to set properly, so am going to start on the floor tomorrow. Had to get new circular saw blade as hidden bolts under floor near stairs trashed my old one. Send you more info over weekend. Have to stop then, have charter next week, must polish boat!! Best regards, G

I saw this posting on a local forum - an appeal for help for young relatives who'd gone to Corfu to work and felt ill-treated. Various people made suggestions:
Hi! Thanks to everyone for their help and best wishes! Seems like their treatment in Greece is pretty standard which has shocked me a bit! They know someone at a hotel there and although it looks like a party the staff are worked like donkeys! So anyway, they are going to enjoy 2 weeks of holiday out there and then fly home. D
I think working like donkeys is the norm for anyone in Greece once the tourist season starts. You only have to look at the cleaners who often work for several owners and the taverna and bar staff who work from dawn to dusk. It is a cultural thing I think. They work hard all summer and live on savings during the winter A bit of hard work and reality never hurt anyone and it will certainly be an experience. I hope they stick it out. I am sure it must have come as a shock to their systems but it will not harm them. They may even enjoy themselves after they have got used to it! S

My 'International flytipping' group on Flickr now has 105 members and 352 images - all depressing but some almost beautiful if they are looked at purely as images.[ ]

Monday, 21 May 2007

E-mail from Corfu

Hi Simon, Linda. I had an idea to cover the drain totally with plaka after we discovered the smell. I am sure the smell is from a broken pipe leaking into your garden down the wall into the drain. I do not think a reed pond could cope with sewage. This would make a nice step up to the garden area. At a later time I thought we could build the reed pool on top of the plaka, next to the steps. This would take the form of three pools, trickling into each other and finally any excess water would be channelled into the drain and go out with whatever smelly water comes into the drain. No problem with the beam being covered with plaster. Monday sees the final part of the old wall come down. The new one has been bricked up, and M and B are making a jig for the arch. The curve has been measured as follows, try it on a bit of paper if you like. Measure downwards 38cm at 1cm intervals. Measure across the top 114cm at 3cm intervals. Number downwards 38-1, and across the top from left 1-38. Joint 1 to 1, 2 to 2 etc, and you will end up with a curve. Repeat on other side if you have space. Will show picture of jig as soon as it is built. Have receipts for euros, and still have marble and varnish to purchase. Will get down to big paintshop near airport to see if they sell the required varnish. Found mess of electric cable in thin wall when we took it down. Not connected to anything, may have been old mains supply into building. Will be cutting floor and stairwell Monday or Tuesday, then replacing odd planks and sanding. Will follow instructions from web site re vacuum clean and white spirit etc. Best regards, G, M & B Hi G. Thanks for the update. Sounds like everything's coming together. Re. money, I reckon the marble and varnish will cost about €150-€200. I can't buy this amount from the currency firm - they're not interested in less than €1000. Has anyone got a sterling account based in England that I could put the extra money into? Not sure about the plaka ideas. They sound great, but we're a bit strapped for cash and will be for some time. I don't think we're going to be able to afford any extra work for a while. Anyway, I think we should try to work out where the smell is coming from. We'll have to do some investigation when we come in September. We'll have a think about the plaka over the drain and I'll e-mail again to let you know what we think. Really wish we could be there to see the work in progress. Can't wait. September seems ages away, but it's only about 15 or 16 weeks. Regards to all. Lin & Simon [The alternative to sending cash via an exchange company which is not interested in sums below £1000 is through an agency like Western Union who require a fee of nearly £50 to send someone a sum of say £250]

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Flytipping International

Ziz, as great among birds as Leviathan among fishes, is scratching at the membrane between earth and the void. There are 86 members and 242 images since I posted 'International Flytipping' on Flickr last week. I've altered the title, adding 'fouling our nest'. This mix of images, comments and messages from people around the world is providing me with a novel way to learn about profligacy. There are striking pictures; intriguing entertaining comments and links in the Group. Looking at the photos last night Lin and Amy contested my widening of the 'normal' definition of 'flytipping' to include planting chewed gum on the street, or dropping plastic bottles into rivers to drift towards a mighty oceanic whirlpool, or spewing toxins into the ecosphere. A member of my 'International Flytipping' group, 'twas brillig' directs me to a YouTube video blog by 'SillyMentary'. Astride his roof SillyMentary chats, in engaging style, about chemtrails, explaining how they differ from clouds and contrails. "Just passing the word." It's been 14 days to get to conspiracy. Governments, to mitigate the consequences of our love affair with flying, are spraying aerosol in the atmosphere. My worry about preoccupation with the chemtrail conspiracy is that it distracts from the harm done by contrails. It's all 'skytipping' and all part of 'international flytipping'. There are conspiracies but there are also millenarian fantasies and cargo cults which by-pass reason. My concern is our collective involvement in the unsustainable waste that threatens all of us as much as any consciously conceived plot.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Free cycling

Errands day. Mowed lawns, fed fish, put out nuts for birds. Saw a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in the garden. Great Tits are nesting in the bird box Amy made. The sun's shining between showers. I'm spending too much time on the computer still entranced by the window it offers to hop and skip about the world in tune with my jackdaw temperament. Lin's using freecycle to clear the house of a plethora of things we don't need.
She sells things through eBay and now Ebid "eBay's got too dear". I haven't been in the University Library since they installed turnstiles a decade or more ago. All the reading I need for keeping up I can get from the papers and books I identify from web references, the remarks of colleagues and the people I meet when teaching round the country and some specialist websites, as well as the on-line library now better set up for being accessed by computer than by humans searching stacks - with the exception of the rare books and manuscripts section. Yet I love books and resent the lack of quiet public space to enjoy them. I see the Evening Mail published my letter this Tuesday:

'Sir. I’m vexed to learn that the Council is seeking an application to extend the presence of the BBC screen in Chamberlain Square – especially now the Town Hall has been renovated and is looking so good. Because no-one makes a public fuss about it I wonder if those asking for it to stay have any sense of how some resent its presence and were looking forward to its removal. This massive TV screen, with its constant sound track, blights an area meant for rendezvous, debates or strolling through, turning it into an open-air domestic space encouraging passivity and blemishing the Town Hall’s façade.
The prospect of an urban beach with deck chairs from which some can watch the tennis this summer is a further example of the way a civic square that is part of Birmingham’s identity has been confiscated from the rest of us to allow part of the population to accumulate yet more hours in front of the television. Yours'

[Harumph. The screen overlooking Chamberlain Square will go in October but from June to September the Council is supporting a £50,000 beach for the public paid for by a cheap flights airline. 'Visitors to Birmingham will be able to relax in deck chairs under palm trees, play volleyball and watch live entertainment on the BBC TV Big Screen' was a recent news item. One councillor says this is fine "because it worked in Paris", but there Mayor Bernard Delanoe's 'Paris-plage' runs along the banks of the Seine reclaiming it from a busy dual carriageway for the summer]

Cycled to campus via the canal yesterday Oscar trotting beside me and in a courier bag when on the roads at either end. It was a colleague's last day at work after 30 years. We signed a card, made a donation and had a chat, bringing Oscar to be stroked. Also half an hour with another colleague, off to a conference in America on leadership. He's helped with my thinking and teaching. The day before I went to a meeting in Llandrindod Wells and my train broke down at Wolverhampton. To get to the meeting I paid £107 for an 80 mile taxi ride with a fast nice driver from India [he told me when we parted with a wave and an exchange of first names, having arrived on time]. Later I sent a letter of complaint to the train operator plus copies of tickets and expenses (all takes ages which is why some don't bother). The most I'll receive for my trouble will be an ill-phrased apology and a futile explanation.
'The ship sank as a result of coming into contact with an iceberg. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused to your journey. We hope you will continue to travel with White Star Line.'
This has happened three times with the same rail operating company since January 2006. Yet I enjoy travelling in trains far more than in cars.

Democracy - 'only another form of government'

Henry Maine, my great great grandfather, wrote in 1876:
'To one small people, covering in its original seat no more than a hands breadth of territory, it was given to create the principle of Progress, of movement onwards and not backwards or downwards, of destruction tending to construction. That people was the Greek. Except the blind forces of Nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin. A ferment spreading from that source has vitalised all the great progressive races of mankind, penetrating from one to another, and producing results accordant with its hidden and latent genius, and results of course often far greater than any exhibited in Greece itself.' p.238, 'The effects of observation of India on modern European thought' in Village Communities in the East and West (New York:Henry Holt 1876) That sting in the tale of his paean for 'the Greek' absolves Maine from the reproach of having added to the Greek 'misfortune' that Nikos Dimou describes so eloquently. Maine's approach is anthropological not classical. He challenged uncritical faith in democracy. In Popular Government - four essays published in 1885 - saying 'democracy is only another form of government', noting how the flattering rhetoric lavished on kings had been transferred uncritically to 'the people'. He was criticised as conservative, even reactionary, for questioning widely accepted justifications for 'popular government' - Rousseau's natural law, Benthamite utilitarianism, the idealism of John Stuart Mill. In fact he was not dismissing democracy in a Platonic way but providing astute cautions, matched by the Churchillian quip that democracy is the worst form of government - except for all the others. Democracy is not in itself more stable than other forms of government. There is no essential connection between democracy and progress. [On Greek origins see alternative views e.g. Hindu]
Maine's lecture, The Rede Lecture for 1875, delivered before the University of Cambridge, was titled 'The Effects of observation of India on Modern European Thought'. It was aimed at impressing upon a British audience the undiscovered richness of India's contribution to world thought, through drama, comparative philo­logy and mythology and the possibility that 'it may yet give us a new science not less valuable than the sciences of language and of folk-lore.
I hesitate to call it Com­parative Jurisprudence because if it ever exists, its area will be so much wider than the field of law. F­or India not only contains (or to speak more accurately, did contain) an Aryan language older than any other descendant of the common mother-tongue, and a variety of names of natural objects less per­fectly crystallised than elsewhere into fabulous per­sonages, but it includes a whole world of Aryan institutions, Aryan customs, Aryan laws, Aryan ideas, Aryan beliefs, in a far earlier stage of growth and development than any which survive beyond its borders. (pp.210-211)
My impression is that Maine was seeking to draw his potentially sceptical audience into a recognition that here in a sort of Hindu wilderness - though he does not say that - is a treasure house of information on the roots of Western civilisation. Whereas no-one would have doubted the connection of British or European culture to those of Greece and Rome, the thought of such connection with our India was novel. So when later in the lecture Maine makes his, often quoted, reference to all things Greek in origin, I surmise an intention that was less about praising Greece (the way his quote is used) and more about using an intellectual and emotional connection, familiar to all his listeners, about us serving India's progress as Greece had served ours.
It is this principle of progress which we Englishmen are communicating to India. We did not create it. We deserve no special credit for it. It came to us filtered through many different media. But we have received it; and as we have received it, so we pass it on. There is no reason why, if it has time to work, it should not develope* in India effects as wonderful as in any other of the societies of mankind.
Maine's finale is less a fanfare for Greece, more an astutely placed douceur, to attract the attention and curiosity of his classically educated audience to India's intellectual archeology, drawing upon his posting in India as Darwin drew upon his voyage to the Galapagos. [*'develope', tho' now archaic, is not a misspelling] * * * Lin wrote to Corfu:
Hi George, Glad to hear that the money arrived safely. It was quicker than I thought it might be. Thanks for the update on work and the photos. The roof pictures look good, but I'm not sure about the bit in the bottom right corner of the 'slope looking at Lefteris' garden'. Is this before it was quite finished? The 'lower terrace' looks great. Not sure what you mean about covering the drain with plaka, though. Do you mean permanently or temporarily? I thought we were going with the idea of a reed bed in the drain? That's what we'd prefer if possible. It's great to see that wall out. Can't wait to see it with the door gone as well! I hope the top of the arch is going to be curved, as discussed with Martin before we left - look at arches on buildings near the house for reference - I looked at them with Martin and we talked about how much curve would be possible...I've attached photos of the arch in our kitchen here which might be helpful. It's much wider and therefore quite flat - I'd think there should be a bit more curve on the new arch. (Don't look at the mess! I haven't caught up with housework since our return and I'm in the middle of a major clearout at the moment, so there's lots of junk around, waiting to be moved to various places.) I looked on the internet and found information about sealing wood floors. I think we'll go with the polyurethane! We want a satin or matt finish - not shiny gloss. I'm pretty sure Squeak is a girl, so she probably is pregnant. it's a shame, 'cause she's only a kitten herself. More biscuits and sandwiches will be required! Good luck with the stairwell-widening next week. Looking forward to seeing more photos. All the best, Lin and Simon
The authors of the essays in the book Mazower edited are conscientious in their methodologies. They explain how they have striven to make the subjective objective, aware of the challenge - even now - of making space for debate about so fragmented a time. The writers tread carefully recording impressions that have become currency, observing the reconstruction of the family, nation and state but also aiding that process in their thinking and writing. They exemplify an alert approach to gentler ideas of truth built on teasing out many subjectivities, privileging none over others, describing their own part in their conclusions. These authors are not detached from their findings, yet nor are they opinionated. Each describes and argues for the truths they've uncovered. Sweet unsleeping reason.
[back to the future - from a Greek friend via Flickr on 17 Aug: Except the blind forces of nature, Εκτός από τισ τυφλέσ δυνάμεισ τησ φύσησ, nothing moves on this world τίποτα δε κινείται σε αυτον τον κόσμο which is not Greek in its origin το οποιο δεν είναι Ελληνικά στην καταγωγη The phrase "in its origin" is freely translated "apo ta genofaskia tou - από τα γενοφάσκια του" - that is commonly used in the villages in folk language and in slug Greek. It is a "warmer" expression. Genofaskia means early age or ancestors or family origin.]

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

E-mail from Corfu

Dear Lin, The front part of the roof has now been pointed up with cement, to give a neat finish. The wall inside and the plasterboard wall have been taken down, and the arch started. ... We should start on the floor and stairwell next week. That will all be belt sanded down and left until we can find something to put on it instead of varnish, ... consensus is that varnish will scratch. I have a builder friend over from UK says there's something called Russic oil, which you put on by cloth very thinly then leave for five days before applying the next coat. This seals and protects the wood from stains and scratches. Outside, the garden area is 90% completed. The orange tree has started to produce lots of leaves, but no branches. We can wait and see what happens. We should also start and finish the steps next week. I think Squeak is pregnant, so am keeping it out of the house. If it is a boy, then it is just getting fat from too many biscuits and sandwiches. Will keep you updated, Best regards G, M & B

Black Patch Park

My friend Nick Booth e-mailed me the podcast I did last week with Cllr. Badham in which we discussed the future of Black Patch Park. The Friends - about 9 of us - have been meeting almost monthly at the Soho Foundry Pub, arguing, laughing, sometime bickering and planning together as we've lobbied Sandwell Council for the last four years over their plans to decommission the Black Patch and use the land for hi-tech industries. We wrote letters, attracted media attention via community reporters, held events in the park, circulated leaflets including Christmas cards, put a video petition on YouTube, took opposition councillors round the park, met with senior representatives of the non-elected agencies that tend to pull the most strings on cash flow into the area, spoke at consultation meetings, wrote an entry for the park in Wikipedia, got further publicity and support from the descendants of the Gypsies forcibly evicted from the Black Patch in the 1900s to create the original park and got regularly updated entries on the website of their local historian Ted Rudge - one of our members.

Hardly a month ago, Badham, portfolio holder for the Built Environment, had a change of heart, so now we have to stop campaigning against closure and start getting inventive about where the money can be found to rejuvenate the Black Patch for the future.

The hi-tech industry the Council hoped to attract never appeared. Instead the best hope lies in the international draw of Soho Foundry restored and complemented by a lovely park in front of its gates.

Direct link to the mp3 of the podcast.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Mum sells Mains

Mains of Faillie where we've been visiting for 40 years is sold. The families have been going there all their lives. The visits will go on to mum's new home 2 miles up the strath. This cupboard in the utility room is too large to go with her.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

How to write a letter

Perhaps there's no substitute for leafing through a family album alone or with someone close, but I do like scrolling through the years on my laptop. Thinking of the new life on Friday I ran through old images and found I'd got a composite of family pictures strewn around my screen showing Albania's Karaburan Peninsular, jumping between now and 1944. [A click on the image hyperlinks to a larger version] I discovered how to capture the contents - at any one moment - of my screen. Click on an image. Up comes PREVIEW on the toolbar, then FILE>GRAB>TIMED SCREEN. A tiny white pie appears and turns clockwise blue. What was on my screen becomes a JPG image in its own right. Wow - new toy! There's me in Greece last September - white haired bloke snapped by Lin. There's me with the same glower with mum long ago snapped by dad; me with her and dad, born of their brief wartime marriage, and me at 10 with jackdaw Jim - a collector, like me, of unconsidered trifles. There's my son with his grandma 40 years after that snap of her with me, and another with his mother 20 years ago snapped by me, and as background (but better viewed by clicking on the title of today's blog - 'snapping and clicking') the view of the Albanian coast on a morning in February this year - land and sea giving themselves to jollity. (Amy's keen to use screen capture to play a trick on her mum - capturing her actual 'desktop' and turning it into an image of her desktop - so when she clicks on a file she wants, 50% of them won't budge. Ha ha ha! Plato would have liked this one "forget about my cave analogy for the fallibility of human perception, imagine a trick played by a daughter on her mother on a computer screen!")
[Those destitute of philosophy are like bound prisoners in a cave, only able to look at a wall in front of them. A fire behind them throws their shadows and the shadows of objects behind them on the wall. Regarding these as real, they have no notion of the objects to which they are due.]
Last week I got 'NetFuture #169' - an e-mail circular I've been ignoring - with passages from Steve Talbott's 'Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines'. 'Does nature rejoice in the morning?' I prepared to delete a sermon but read on. The essay explored feelings habitually relegated to the divine - though he doesn't mention this. I'm prone to attributing feelings that are mine to my surroundings. Wordsworth entranced me: THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight, To me did seem Apparell'd in celestial light,... ...I hear the echoes through the mountains throng. The winds come to me from the fields of sleep, And all the earth is gay; Land and sea Give themselves up to jollity, And with the heart of May Doth every beast keep holiday I love that poem but Arnold's Dover Beach is also a favourite: '... for the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.' [Back to the future: yet...] Every now and then I have moments of joy in ordinary places - a very busy loving God, utterly careless of my clumsy attempts to be rid of him, sending a witty reminder that He knows where I live. I don't reject these experiences. Quite the opposite. I'm very lucky to have them, but when I look for secular explanation, ancient language engulfs me. '... if I make my bed in hell, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.' I'm consoled by such prose, concreted over by new translation. I've seen the sun leap from the sea many times; seen the waves jocund; seen them glower under leaden clouds dreading the unwelcome moment the sun leaves us to darkness. Talbott conjectures gently about such sensations, quite free of defensive rebuttal. The web's so useful for pulling up lines I can't recall. To find the exact lines - 'and we are here as on a darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight where ignorant armies clash by night' - without a search engine I'd have had to go upstairs, find 'Dover Beach' in the Oxford Book of English Verse and transcribe - a chore compared to cut and paste.
Only the other day someone asked me to send them a 'letter'. To make one of these you write with a pen on a piece of paper, fold it - the paper not the pen (I'll explain that later) - put it in a - what d'you call it - an envelopethingy - on which you write an address - much longer than an e-mail. Then you get a small square of gummed paper, lick it, stick it - honestly - and ... this 'stamp' goes on a corner of the envelope. It's how you pay for the service. The wierdest thing is that when you have sealed the envelope - more lick - you go out into the street - seriously - holding the letter in its envelope with an address and stamp and you walk up the road until you find a round red box - a pillar box - on the pavement with the Queen's initials on it - E II R - (some have previous monarch's initials on them - G V R, G VI R even VR - being in some cases over 100 years old - the R for regina or rex) and a slot near the top. No really! It's true, my dear great grandchildren of the future. You put the envelope in the slot. It disappears. Then, and this is the true magic of the process, this same envelope with your actual writing, even your lingering aroma, saliva and finger prints, was slipped - most of the time - through another slot in someone else's home a day or two later - having been intercepted in the interim and a 'frank' placed over the stamp, so's it can't be reused. Can you believe that? This is what the pillar box looked like with an envelope being put into it. The stamp is in the foreground. "OK little know-it-alls, so you've got one on your vegetable garden as a bird box." [I shared thoughts with Steve Talbott on what he'd written. He replied: Simon. I could hardly have received a more satisfying note than the one you have so kindly sent me. I would only question your characterization of yourself as an atheist. I suspect you are rather an areligionist - not a bad thing to be, in my book! Many many thanks for your beautiful words. Steve NetFuture editor:]
 * * *
 George Seferis on Poros wrote “Life is so beautiful that if Homer had not been blind he would have written nothing.” I must register this. There are things I need to see. Films - one about Seferis but also one about Maria's first husband, Yiannis Moralis. George Seferis, presumably when he was Greek Ambassador, lived for a time in Sloane Avenue where Dad and Maria lived for part of the 1950s and Dorothy in the early 1960s. Next time I'm cycling through I'll look out for the poet's blue plaque.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Work in progress at 208

Came the news by e-mail this morning that a first grandson to the siblings was born in Paris at 6pm last night. 'Mother and baby doing fine.'

17° in Birmingham. 31°C in Ano Korakiana. Martin on the phone to check money transfer spoke across the miles to Linda. The plaka on the garden where we spread rubble is half complete; the upstairs wall removed. "It's coming along". They may send photos.
At the group on 'International Flytipping' I began a few days ago there are 39 members and 85 photos - and I'm understanding more about why it happens:
Sharing striking images perhaps we can learn more about flytipping. From the dropping of a paper cup on a sidewalk, through flytipping of used tyres by a small garage, to industrial scale dumping of vast quantities of refuse - the growing collection of images switches from individual to international fecklessness, helping with added comments and links to throw light on the psychology, morality, economics and politics of our wasteful messiness. I hope this group's amazing images will stimulate shared learning, illustrate our understanding and even guide us towards sustainability.
Meantime the errands mount - courses to design, a disciplinary hearing to attend as a 'friend', a process that must continue to get an Iraqi academic friend and his family here to study, lawns to mow, the latest Hall-Aitken Report on SRB6 to obtain, that chapter I've been avoiding, and family stuff ...

Friday, 11 May 2007

Sailing to Greece

We moved in 1960 to live near the sea. I learned to sail in a 17 foot clinker built gaff day boat with a leaky centre board case. Her tiller was carved with the head of a fish. Her sails were canvas - foxed from being stowed wet. 'Hoppy' sailed kindly - the length of her boom finely calculated to avoid weather helm. My first voyage was across the Solent from Keyhaven to Yarmouth - two nautical miles of open water. I arrived there around 5.00pm one summer evening and took the bus to Newport, capital of the Isle of Wight. I had fish and chips and went to to see 'King Kong'. I got a bus back to Yarmouth and sailed homeward in the dark. I missed the unlit Keyhaven entrance and had to sail against an ebb tide to Lymington where I moored about 2.00am. I was proud at having crossed the Solent without paying for a ferry.
Danica Originally uploaded by Sibad.
I sailed to Greece in 1962 with Chris Jameson from Colchester. I found him by advertising in 'The Times' . Our boat was a 25 foot marine ply sloop designed and built by Denys Rayner near Newbury, Berkshire. My stepfather, Jack Hargreaves, sponsored her design and construction at a time when there was great interest in pioneering affordable seaworthy small sailing boats that could crawl creeks at weekends, be comfortable for families, sail oceans, yet be hauled on trailers and sit upright on a mud berths. He christened her 'Danica' - Latin for his favourite fly. "Take her where you like" he said, wanting, with her designer, to see how she performed. "Get yourself a skipper" he added, knowing I had small knowledge of the sea despite explorations of the Solent in 'Hoppy'. Chris, my skipper, tutor and companion, sailed us from Lymington to Le Havre in April. With mast stowed, we motored through French canals and rivers via Paris and Lyons to Marseilles. In the Mediterranean we sailed along the Cote d'Azur, crossed to Corsica, then on to Naples (enjoying ice cream unknown in England), from where, via the Straits of Messina, we ran eastwards over wine dark sea making the same landfall as Byron between Zakinthos and Kefallonia - high shapes looming in a warm dawn haze. After anchoring for a welcome off the fishing village of Killini we passed immigration at Patras and then sailed and motored with day breezes and calms to the Corinth Canal. Passing through that astounding defile we arrived at Tourkolimano, Athens, in early July (heat I'd not experienced). A few weeks later, joined by Christopher's sister Elizabeth, we sailed homewards round the Peloponnese to Zakinthos. On to Syracuse in Sicily, then Malta, Bizerta in Tunisia, and northwards via Bonifacio in Corsica and on to Sète and the Canal du Midi. Via the canal we motored to Bordeaux, setting sail again up the Gironde estuary and entering the Bay of Biscay where south east of Finisterre we weathered gales (and my fear) before passing into the English Channel arriving in Lymington at the end of September.
Home from Greece ~ Liz Jameson, Simon B, Chris Jameson

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Constructing trust

I've written workshop outlines - for the police, for Scotland, created a poster for my option on this year's Public Policy MBA - a collation of pairs I've filmed, some famous caricatures, sketches of the tango.
I tried starting my chapter on leadership - but I must transcribe some conversations and get into shape to resist displacement. I had an e-mail acknowledged via a Blackberry at 2100. More and more people are on line 24/7.
Mum says she's sold Mains subject to survey to the people she wants to live there. She solved some other dilemmas too. Not bad at 90. The water butt has refilled. Amy's been phoning to get insurance for a car she likes.

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Simon Baddeley