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Monday, 3 May 2010

Pavla's books

Plaque on the Metallinos Museum - by him I think
I was walking back from the nearest bins on Democracy Street – just beyond the kafenion. At the platea two young women in a red car stopped and asked about the Metallinos Museum and I explained that Nico, my neighbour further up the road, had arranged a visit if I could be there with Cinta – his neighbour, our friend – to translate when the owner was in.
I’ve been too placid about organising that coincidence. There's one interesting figure on a plinth at the front of the house, and a few smaller statues astride gable ends, but I've allowed the museum's inaccessibility to become part of its attraction. Indeed I've met no-one who has even seen inside it, though Paul told me of a school party that had visited on one occasion and left bemused as to what the place was all about. Our friend Fran told me, when we asked her about it, that "we call it the naughty museum" and Liana Metallinou, who we met in town, told us that her grandfather had left a house to the village as a museum, but that she wasn't sure if this place was the same building. Later I got an email ‘from the passer in the red car’.
hi simon, it was very funny to meet you this morning. i really just found your blog about a week ago!! i saw jim potts on your page, although i haven't read anything yet but i will do it as soon as i have the time. i am writing a book about corfu this is why i was interested in the museum. and your answer amused me so much that i will put it in there /if you allow me also your www/. my blog is in czech so you won't understand it i suppose, but you can have a look at it on : or my other www is pavla
If I found Metallinos would I please let her know. It turned out that she knew Richard Pine and Jim Potts – a good way ahead of us – and was keen to make the point that her book was not a history but...
a kind of a guide book, which should be something like sitting with a tourist over a glass of ouzo in a taverna and telling him/her about corfu’. i just wrote (a book last year about corfu. mostly daily stories which i published on my blog...Me, as a non English person, was trying to think what attracts the British over here and makes them gather and discuss Greece, but I haven't come up with a better idea then "you want to escape the Brits but in the depth of your heart you still seek them". I actually have the same with the Czech people here …. best regards to Linda. pavla
Dear Pavla. So when you say "you want to escape the Brits (in your case the Czechs) but in the depth of your heart you still seek them" you have hit on a truth. My talk on the British Ionian Protectorate in February was as much a search for the Brits as for the Greeks and especially the synthesis that comes from their relationship over the years. From childhood many British are taught the stories of Homer and the fables of Aesop and when they go on to higher education they learn about Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Greek dramas. If you then add to this having my divorced father marry a Greek when I was very young, so that you have three Greek half-sisters and a half-brother and a second mother - a Greek step-mother, you may guess I have Greece in my mental DNA. My great great grandfather Henry Maine once said in a lecture at Cambridge: "Except the blind forces of nature, nothing moves in this world that is not Greek in origin." That was an exaggeration considering what we now know of Chinese history and of the origins of Hinduism and Buddhism, but it rings true for Europe and its offshoots and it suits me well. A postscript: you know that in 1939 the British government abandoned your country to Hitler's armies, hoping to appease him. Neville Chamberlain, our PM at the time referred to Czechoslovakia as a far away country that people in Britain did not know about and would not care about if she went undefended from a tyrant. We were taught at school to be profoundly ashamed of that betrayal, that 'appeasement'. Since then I have read much about the history of your country though it was not until 1969 that I visited Prague. Although Hellas has my heart, had my life been different and my father had a different posting in 1949 then I might never have known much of Greece and given all my attention to Czechoslovakia. I hope we can all get to visit the Metallinos Museum.
I knew my habit of being prolix hadn’t entirely let me down when she replied:
Dear Simon, well that requires a lot of thoughts... anyway, my husband was rather intrigued by your letter and would like to invite you and linda for dinner one night. would that be possible for you?? i promise, he is a really good cook as well as a carpenter:) regards, pavla
We couldn’t manage this before going home. Pavla wrote:
Have a good journey home. And when you are here at Easter, come and see me playing with the Mantzaros/blue/band I will be playing on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Saxophone. See you after Easter!! Pavla.
Then just the other day:
Dear Simon, we would like to invite you and Linda together with Richard Pine for dinner on Tuesday at 9pm. Would you like to come?? pavla.
I agree with Pavla that emails should enjoy no capitals, let alone those ‘bacilli’ – to use Bernard Shaw’s description of possessive commas - but I’m a sadly punctilious punctuator. I’ve been told off by Corfucius – the best blogger on Corfu and much else - for using grocers’ possessives, and in the meantime realised that Pavla Smetanova writes (and publishes), plays the sax, speaks English as well as me, her native Czech, Russian too, possibly German and, of course, Greek. She has two young children and is married to Andreas Damaskinos, doctor, master carpenter with a well equipped workshop in a magical space in a town house next to Saint Spyridon’s Cathedral in the heart of the city. He also sails - as I found out in a double barreled way when in chatting to Lin at supper Andreas gathered we moored Summer Song in Ipsos harbour. "Can you handle a spinnaker?" he asked me. "You have to be a neurosurgeon to handle one of those" "Well I am" he replied "would you like to come to a regatta on Saturday on my boat?"
So Saturday before last I cycled from Ano Korakiana, leaving Linda laying plaka, to Corfu Town, to Andreas' mooring below the Old Fort to crew for him, along with Vassilis and Lia. The plan was to race to the mainland below Igoumenitsa and return next day. In Garitsa Bay we drifted about with a dozen others, some ghosting on reflected light. We drank and chatted about everything hoping for at least a zephyr.
After an hour or so the regatta was called off. Andreas took us for a swim below Mon Repos. The sea was cool, not cold and I noticed how the intense green of the nearby shore reflected off Lia's hair. Then with fishing lines streamed we motored gently north towards Lazaretto island, back to Vido where at sunset a breeze struck up. At sea we might have rejoiced but it was time to go home. I was set to cycle back to the village but Vassili offered me a lift. How I enjoy messing about in boats.
Just as you turn home - a breeze!

1 comment:

  1. I have a copy of Pavla's highly successful book, but my Czech is getting rusty!


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Simon Baddeley