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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Walking with Ghost

Jack walking with Ghost
From Mark Taylor: Hello Simon. Glad you got the DVD, hope you had a good trip home. No problem putting the clips on YouTube etc. Just arrived back from a work party in Hamsterley Forest and am about to collapse into a hot bath; brashing seems to get harder every year! All the best.
Dear Mark. Yes and I’ve been extracting films – some I’ve seen and some not. The first of these – for me – ‘new’ ones, has JH walking with his pony Ghost. I’ve streamed that with many thanks to you on YouTube. I take Jack’s point about not being able to learn much about the country from a motor car but all the same the tour you you took the trouble to give me after our lunch at Middleton One Row gave me, especially with your easy commentary, at least a sketch of a landscape I’ve only known, and at that briefly, through its famous towns. Do you know the proper name of that flower JH mentions at 05.00 -   “I’m always stymied when I come to tell you the name of it ...Q-W-I-N”? Part of his comment includes lines from Shakespeare – Oberon in Midsummer Night’s Dream in a wood near Athens: I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine... What I love about research - almost a vice - by the way, is that Jack says ‘grows'. That’s how I recall those lines. Looking them up in seconds on the memory-stealer Google I find it should be ‘blows’; 'grows' comes a line later. JH said that every programme he did harvested a proportion of viewers – some indignant - pointing out his ‘errors’. And here am I doing it it posthumously! Jack used to say that it was wonderful just how much knowledge there was out there. He was always learning from the people who wrote to him, sometimes ending up doing programmes with them. Having become pretty familiar with my collection – the DVDs I copied to you – it was a delight to see this one I’ve never seen before. I look forward to teasing out several more like that from your tape. I'll also be interested to see if Tony can extract a slightly higher quality picture. If not, never mind. It’s lovely to have these, and the search continues. Kindest regards and many thanks. I’ve put a picture of you and me by the Tees on my blog. (I’ve copied this email to other ‘members’ of our ‘JH Committee’) Best, Simon

"There's only one real way to get to know the country and that's on your flat feet." This is an episode from a broadcast of Old Country shown on Channel 4 in the 1980s. It was recorded at the time by Mark Taylor. Last week I travelled north to visit him in Yorkshire. He very kindly lent me a copy of the VHS tape he'd made of several of my stepfather's programmes over 20 years ago. I've sent his original video tape (this clip is uploaded from a DVD copy from a copied VHS tape) to Tony Herbert to be digitised optimally, just  to see if we can raise picture quality. I know however that we won't be able to achieve that until I can make wider use of the original 16mm film* in the archive in Plymouth, film which contains the outside sequences of Jack's programmes but not the sequences where he speaks to camera from his 'shed'. For these we do have sound - on 1/4 inch reel to reel tape - that must be married to the soundless 16mm film, made mainly by his long term cameraman Stan Bréhaut who's work for 'Out of Town' is to be recognised by the slight movement that shows, even when out a sea, since Stan worked with an old handheld Arri, which limited him to 100ft rolls of film - just over two minutes. This later film for 'Old Country' was the work of Steve Wagstaff. The sound tapes contain library sound effects and JH's commentary through whole episodes, but the only studio picture we have comes courtesy of viewers who recorded these programmes at the time they were broadcast.
In this episode Jack walks with his pony Ghost for pleasure in the countryside following downland routes used by the packers to move the wool staple, source of England's pre-industrial wealth, noticing things at walking pace. During the film he takes a few swipes at those who say they 'love the countryside' then stray no more than 25 yards from where they've parked their car. But privately Jack would confess to regarding that as no bad thing, what was much more distressing was the blighting of old green trails - the few that remain - by people having 'off-road fun' in recreational 4X4s.
*To see what can be done with the 16mm film here's an episode I've streamed on Vimeo of fishing off Littlehampton in the 1970s.  Even this is not the original, having been compressed to stream, but the promise of higher quality is there. The lack of studio sequences has been solved - in part - by using stills over my stepfather's commentary.
Lots of them there, but no friends or relatives arrested in London yesterday, nor gave cause. This was Politics for over a hundred thousand citizens not therapy for a few hundred idiots. (I do not include UK Uncut among the 'idiots'). Our friend Denise came round Sunday afternoon to chat about the Practical Care Project. She also told us about the TUC march in London on Saturday "There were thousands there - the postmen, the railmen, people from Wales, men in kilts. Our coaches parked in Edware Road. Long walk. Missed most of the speeches. They were played on the television in the coach on the way back." My nephews and nieces - Natasha, Anna, Eddie and Sam - were in Hyde Park and are posting prolifically on the web. One sent me this rap - some impressive rhyming, professionally done on NxtGenUK's channel....One comment: Anyone who rhymes "biggest beneficiaries" with "Lib-Dem Conservative policies" gets a thumbs up from me!

Sachiko Imai just posted photos on Facebook of her office after the earthquake. She'd written on 16 March: Simon...My prefecture Ibaraki is one of the worst disaster areas. In my case, water supply still cut off. Big quakes are continuing every one hour or so. And we have acute shortages of electricity, foods, and gasoline. In addition, my prefecture is bordered by the south of Fukushima prefecture where the nuclear explosion occurred. We must support them with great care. On the other hand, we are also taking care of our own nuclear facilities. The disaster scale is so huge. There is no end in sight. Of course, I would like to think the situation is getting better day by day. Now, as a member of the Ibaraki disaster countermeasures office, I am doing my best. I'd like to thank you for your concern again.  Sachiko
11 March 2011 ~ 1446 local time in Ibaraki
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Representatives of Ano Korakiana have expressed their strongest opposition to the proposed wind farm on Pantocrator, requesting the withdrawal of its planning permission. A resolution agreed on 19 March '11 has been addressed to the Ionian Regional Government and to Corfu Council arguing that the scheme will be damaging, not only to the environment of the village but of all Corfu (the translation links refers to Mount  Pantocrator literally as 'Almighty' - to lessen any confusion, and of course 'upper' refers to 'ano' in the name of the village. The translation also says villagers are opposed to renewable energy when what they actually say is that they approve it as an element of sustainable development. They do not regard the proposed wind farm as a contribution to sustainable development). The lower slopes of Mt Pantocrator begin above the village:
Τετάρτη, 23 Μαρτίου 2011
Ψήφισμα του ΤΣ Ανω Κορακιάνας ζητά την άμεση ανάκληση των αποφάσεων περιβαλλοντικής αδειοδότησης για το αιολικό πάρκο στον Παντοκράτορα
Το Συμβούλιο της Τοπικής Κοινότητας Άνω Κορακιάνας στην συνεδρίασή του στις 19-03-2011 αποφάσισε την έκδοση ψηφίσματος. 
Στη συνεδρίαση παραβρέθηκαν φορείς και κάτοικοι της περιοχής, οι οποίοι ενέκριναν ομόφωνα το ψήφισμα που έχει ως εξής: 
Λαμβάνοντας υπόψη:....
- Τις αδικαιολόγητα βεβιασμένες αποφάσεις που υπέγραψαν λίγο πριν από τη λήξη της θητείας τους ο πρώην Νομάρχης Κέρκυρας και ο πρώην Γ.Γ. της Περιφέρειας Ιόνιων Νησιών για την περιβαλλοντική αδειοδότηση του Αιολικού Πάρκου ανεμογεννητριών Παντοκράτορα, 
- Τις νέες υπό αδειοδότηση εγκαταστάσεις ανεμογεννητριών στην κορυφογραμμή του Κοράκιου Όρους, αλλά και του Παντοκράτορα, 
- Τις αρνητικές θέσεις που έλαβαν το περασμένο καλοκαίρι τόσο το Δημοτικό Συμβούλιο Φαιάκων, όσο και το Νομαρχιακό Συμβούλιο Κέρκυρας, 
- Το αρνητικό κλίμα που εκφράστηκε την περασμένη εβδομάδα στην κοινή σύσκεψη των εκπροσώπων των Τοπικών Συμβουλίων της ευρύτερης περιοχής που πραγματοποιήθηκε στον Ύψο, υπό την προεδρεία των δύο Αντιδημάρχων του Δήμου Κέρκυρας, 
- Το γεγονός ότι με κανέναν τρόπο ή διαδικασία δεν ενημερώθηκαν επίσημα οι κάτοικοι της ευρύτερης περιοχής για το θέμα, παρά μόνον «κατόπιν εορτής» 
- Το ότι όπως δείχνουν οι δημόσιες τοποθετήσεις όλων των τοπικών φορέων (συμπεριλαμβανομένου του Τ.Ε.Ε.), η αδειοδότηση χαρακτηρίζεται από σημαντικά κενά νομιμότητας και λειτουργικότητας και στην καλύτερη περίπτωση από εμφανή προχειρότητα και τέλος αφού κάνουμε σαφές ότι δεν είμαστε γενικά αντίθετοι με τη χρήση ανανεώσιμων πηγών ενέργειας στο πλαίσιο όμως μιας βιώσιμης ανάπτυξης, 
Δηλώνουμε τη σαφή αντίθεσή μας τόσο για το αδειοδοτηθέν έργο, όσο και για τα λοιπά προς αδειοδότηση αιολικά πάρκα, επειδή αυτά: 
1ον. Βλάπτουν τον οικισμό και την περιοχή μας, και υποβαθμίζουν την ποιότητα ζωής των κατοίκων, εγκυμονώντας ακόμη και κινδύνους για τη δημόσια υγεία, αφού μετατρέπουν την Άνω Κορακιάνα σε κόμβο διερχόμενων καλωδίων υψηλής τάσης και προσθέτουν στην ήδη επιβαρημένη ευρύτερη περιοχή νέους υποσταθμούς. 
2ον. Αποτελούν εγκαταστάσεις «Βιομηχανικής κλίμακας» και ιδιαίτερα μεγάλου όγκου και μεγέθους για τα γεωμορφολογικά και κοινωνικοοικονομικά δεδομένα όχι μόνο της περιοχής μας αλλά και ολόκληρης της Κέρκυρας, με συνέπεια να απειλείται εκτός από το περιβάλλον και το τοπίο και η ίδια η Τουριστική δραστηριότητα του νομού. 
3ον: Δεν δημιουργούν ορατά οφέλη για τον τόπο μας, παρά μόνο πολύ ορατές «βλάβες», ενώ το πιθανότερα είναι, μετά από μερικά χρόνια η περιοχή μας να παραμείνει γεμάτη με «άχρηστα κουφάρια» τσιμέντου και πυλώνων. 
Κατόπιν αυτών, ζητάμε από το Δημοτικό Συμβούλιο Κέρκυρας: 
- Να συνδράμει με κάθε τρόπο και να υποστηρίξει πολιτικά, νομικά και οικονομικά την αναπόφευκτη προσφυγή της Άνω Κορακιάνας και των λοιπών χωριών στο Συμβούλιο της Επικρατείας και 
- Να ζητήσει από το Γ.Γ. της Αποκεντρωμένης Διοίκησης την άμεση ανάκληση των αποφάσεων περιβαλλοντικής αδειοδότησης. 
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After my university friend Sue Pulford and I had sailed her across the Atlantic in 1965-66 I sold Young Tiger, to a pair of lawyers in Washington and started working - a harrowing transition from play to work that never suited me. My first job was at the Wharton School in Philadelphia processing data from consumer research into American beer drinking habits for Anheuser-Busch, open-plan desked beside a fellow assistant called Busch Maarbjerg (pronounced 'more beer'). It was just before the invention of electronic calculators. We worked - 9-5 (no more night watches) -
calculating standard deviations on large sample responses to forced choice questions using electric calculators. If you should be silly enough to try dividing a million by one on an electronic calculator the answer is immediate; on our state of the art electric calculators that would take about a day, wearing cogs. To be cruel, I'd leave mine rotating over lunch. The sea receded - down a tunnel becoming vignette picnics, promenades along beaches; wavelets viewed nine decks over the taffrails of rumbling ferries. I made myself forget Young Tiger, until 13 March 2007 - just before I began this blog -  when a Canadian yachtsman who'd found me on the internet confirmed he had traced the Westerly 22 designed by my mentor Denys Rayner in which two of us had sailed from Europe to Miami (Part 2). Lifted from the Chesapeake she was sat on a trailer in the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, miles from the ocean. I felt sorry for her. By reports her owner was old, a little insensible, nursing a dream of unlikely voyages. Young Tiger was stuck in the woods. Bob, my kind Canadian friend who'd traced the boat, knew I'd thought of asking for the little plaque on her bulkhead mentioning the ocean voyage. This morning I got a kind email from him:
Hi Simon...Sean and Sara said they would get back in touch when they'd sorted out what they wanted to do. Apparently her father was a bit of a packrat and the boat itself is part of his stuff... I'll give Sean a call next week again. The last time we spoke they were in Hawaii. He was in Oahu but his accent was such that I didn't know what he was talking about at first. I think he thought me some sort of idiot not knowing where Hawaii was.  Hah! In any case I offered to assist them if they so wished. I also know of 2-3 people looking for a W22 who might be interested in the boat. Rest assured I will let you know any further news. All the best  Bob
Dear Bob. Lovely to hear from you and I sympathise with your gently expressed frustrations. Don’t worry about the plaque coming back to me. I have the most robust souvenirs in my head, not to mention the little Greek papier-mâché owl that hung happily inside Young Tiger’s cabin throughout our voyage to America. It would be so good if someone who appreciates her came to own her, but my business with Young Tiger is done, except for hoping to see a good succession. And of course I’d be delighted to correspond with any new owner who wants to take her to sea. Best Simon
Hi Simon. Oh, I made a career as a federal pubic servant and also spent quite a few of those years working with the UN for Canada. I am very resilient. I actually think things will sort out as they should- probably a left over perspective from working with indigenous peoples here and in Africa. My current work is once again with the Public Service coordinating 8 departments to cooperate with each other. I may write a book on this post retirement episode, "Zen and the Art of Herding Cats" Such is the democratic process at times. Bob
How I remember her
Sent off our Census form for 2011, completed on line.

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