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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Coming back from Agni

Last week an email from Sophia who we met the other day at Rivendell mentioning a video she shows her school classes about mending flip-flops instead of throwing them away – flip flotsam
And last night I met someone in the interval of Serenade at Villa Theodora who told me about all the work on villages, especially in northern Greece - finding ways to encourage young people to stay instead of leaving for the bright lights of hopelessly expanding cities, choosing instead to survive and thrive in their home village or town; finding their lives in a sustainable community despite the fragmenting dynamics of globalisation. Andreas pointed us to Metsovo as one example. Such things cheer. They're invariably unique - the creations of particular individuals - but government can help by eschewing big plans, cultivating a light touch, setting favourable conditions.
Yesterday evening as the sun went down Lin and I sat beneath rose tinted clouds with about twenty five people enjoying a concert by Ria Georgiades on flute and Dr Lionel Mann, organ.
I have more adjectives for porridge than I have for music. It was a most happy evening with a mix of duets and pieces for organ alone – a machine whose sound could compete with the long pipes of the pre-electronic instruments, especially when showing off Bach’s Toccata and fugue in D minor. Most of the time it was gentler pieces from Telemann, Lully, Mozart, Fauré. “Would you rather be out at sea right now” I whispered to Lin. “Ha ha” she mouths - sardonic.
The previous evening we’d been on Summer Song with Alan and Honey struggling under motor and a tiny stretch of furled jib to make it into Ipsos harbour. The evening headwind which we might have missed, on our way back from a picnic on the rocks at Agni, came on even stronger than I’d expected and seemed bent on stopping us getting home. The waves were small, with white caps, gale spume running across their sunlight blue surfaces, and the wind gusted feral cracking and clacking our sheets and rigging so we could only make progress with our little engine, forced to lose ground by going round about to get on another tack lest short waves stopped us dead in stays.
Where I’d have chosen pace and tacked further off course to keep up momentum, Alan steered artfully to windward bringing us slowly and steadily home. At one point the wind shook the figure of eight knot out of the starboard foresail sheet which then slipped out of its runner, fell over the side, caught in the prop and stalled the engine. My fault. I struggled up to the bows wetted with warm spray, reached out to fix another sheet and cut loose the other which fell back trailing astern. I got it in with a boat hook, held it with the engine restarted in neutral and put gently in reverse. I felt the rope unwinding. The prop freed. We could still motor (I'll explain all this to the court martial). I put two knots in each sheet; checked the fuel and spoke cheerfully. We all did. But it was several more tacks and fighting with ropes in the dusk before we made it to our mooring, the moon rising full and orange above the sad glow of fires on the Albanian hills behind us.
“What would we have done without Alan?” said Lin. Indeed. My knees were aching the next morning – blue and peaceful - when I went down to the harbour to tidy the boat, swim under her with goggles to cut away the remains of rope from the prop shaft. Spiro from the motor boat next door was generous with offers to help. "Just call me next time. I'm just down the road." Our berth at Ipsos depends so much on the kindness of neighbours.


  1. Good pics of concert, at which I adored the Fantaisie Mélancolique.
    Good dramatic/film of the headwind.

  2. Thanks Corfucius. It was nearly fun.


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Simon Baddeley