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Monday, 19 July 2010

Working on the plot

Handsworth Gothic: apologies to Grant Wood (Photo: Jill Darby)
I'm getting a feeling that between us we are starting to make a little progress. It's nothing to what's already been achieved on other plots on the Victoria Jubilee but the earth on plot 14's beginning to feel more hospitable, part of it even ready for planting.
I was digging, weeding and chucking aside larger stones yesterday when Lin and Jill strolled over from the house. Jill watched me for a moment then borrowed the fork and dug three rows in less time than it took me to do one. Ahah! "Don't worry about the weeds, except the big roots. Just get rhythm!" Lin started raking too and as we worked discussed planting plans. "Let's plant a crop of potatoes right across the plot. It'll be good for the ground and we could have spuds by Christmas."
One of the advantages of having a plot so close to the park is that strangers come up to the fence and ask questions and people I know call out and stop for a chat. A day ago Chris Rishworth, on the plot beside ours, was also gardening. We've known each other since the early years of campaigns for the restoration of Handsworth Park, opposing building on the VJA, "And we're enjoying both." "It's been fifteen years!"
Chris shared his sandwiches and with the hot water from his thermos eked four mugs of Earl Grey from one teabag. "That's so good. You know what I'm looking forward to? Sitting in the shed - when we've got a shed - with a mug of tea on a cold winter's afternoon, rain pouring down, wind blowing fallen leaves, shaking tree branches." Email from Chris:
Hi Simon. Great stuff really love the short film, its good to have a record of how it all looked at the start. Makes me think I must make more time while we still have the light to get all the ideas in my head laid out on the ground. Was working with P... today and he seems to like the idea of the pond. Am in Shrewsbury for next couple of days so hope to get some more done to prepare for my gift of rhubarb and small blackcurrant cuttings. Am off to camping party in Wales this weekend but hope to catch up for tea and sandwiches soon. Your fellow brother of the soil. Chris
** ** **
Email from Mark in Ano Korakiana:
Hi Simon. Have just been watching the tribute for Jack again and also the other ones you posted the other day and today. Great stuff. Have passed your spiti a few times in recent days and the stairway-come-balcony looks great. I'm pretty sure you made the right decision to go with Alan as in no way would the other builders have put in quite so much time and effort to see it right. (Nice work Alan).
Weather here plenty hot now lots of happy tourists everywhere. Sally busy with the horses. I'm busy with the boats although this weekend I have got to stay back in Corfu (Hurrah hurrah). Off out now with Black Dog for his walk then back for a nice cold beer and supper. Hope all is well. Love to you both. Mark (& Sally).
** ** ** I'm pleased to see people making a living for themselves, but I dream of a post-tourist future, like our post-industrial economy - where the old smokestack industries have almost disappeared. One day the commodification of place and culture that is the hallmark of economies dependent on tourism will be a shameful memory, as people travel slower, enhancing, by their labours, the richness of their own place. People will always travel and explore, but what we now call tourism - the contagion of commercial voyeurism that has spread across the globe - prostituting hospitality, blighting landscapes, digesting and spitting out cultures that have evolved over centuries, will have become unsustainable and will no longer attract those whose livelihood and profit derive from pimping theirs and other's heritage. ** ** ** Socrates Giolias, a Greek journalist, blogger and broadcaster researching corruption in government was murdered outside his home in Athens today. He was head of news at the radio station Thema FM, a key contributor to the popular blog Troktiko, planning to publish findings of his latest investigations into corruption. He was an associate of another famous muckraking journalist, Makis Triantafyllopoulos...and a piece in New Europe on the relative influence of Troktiko (The Rodent) in the hands of the murdered journalist.
The fifth estate has manifested most obviously in Greece. One blog, which is based on openness of information has become the most popular website in Greece, receiving millions of visitors each day. The blog, is only outvisited by Google, Facebook, Youtube, Yahoo, and Blogger. In terms of information, this blog is simply destroying traditional media. The blog reposts from other blogs, contains original content, and posts users testimonials and commentaries. No censorship, no agenda, other than transparency and faith in democracy.
Main stream churnalism has ambushed Giolias' murder surrounding it with a plethora of unsourced allegations. I'd rather follow TeacherDude my favourite citizen journalist who at least admits that we know very little and what we've been told doesn't stack up.
It's hardly surprising that given the dearth of leads and lack of convictions many Greeks across the political spectrum believe that elements within the state (known as 'parakratikoi' (παρακρατικοί) maybe behind the attacks though reasons for this are wildly diverse. Whether there is any truth at all in such claims is less importance perhaps than in people's willingness to give them credence. Yet another indictation that the Greek's confidence in their public institutions is at rock bottom the victim not only of the current economic crisis but also a legacy of corruption and scandal no government is willing to eradicate.
24 July 10: see also LOL Greece:
As the first Greek media blog with mass appeal (with 450,000 visitors daily and 1.44bn pageloads to date), Troktiko made it quasi-acceptable in Greek society to cite a news blog, though apparently not to run one. In so doing, it (and by extension, Giolias himself) rendered an invaluable service to the Greek nation.
This is not a pronouncement on the independence, objectivity or quality of Troktiko itself, which had found a bizarre niche serving both the middle-upper class “in the know” crowd and the great semi-literate masses. Its material varied from reposted youtube videos of cats doing funny things to consumer advocacy pieces, to endless, incoherent, misspelled and ALL-CAPS’ed jeremiads from ill-informed, semi-literate and anonymous “readers”. Most of this was, one is tempted to think, not the work of Giolias, but of his team of at least 3 full-time equivalent staff and numerous external contributors, who provided window-dressing for the occasional piece of investigative journalism.
Back to the future 28/07/10 New Athenian blog:
Terrorist organisation Revolutionary Sect has claimed responsibility for the assassination a week ago of a journalist at his home. Revolutionary sect says it targeted Sokratis Giolias because of his blog posts insulting urban guerrillas and the anarchist movement...

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Simon Baddeley