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Friday, 10 June 2011

Linda takes charge of Plot 14

Linda said "I'll come over and help with the allotment"
I've been struggling with sturdy weeds and dry earth, while all about gardeners are beginning to deliver crops. Our shed is still in pieces since we found it through freecycle before Christmas, and although its foundations have been part prepared I've not yet compacted the earth I paid Edmund and Krzysztof to move for me in early February. It'll also need a base of slabs. Determined not to pay for these I've been collecting what I can find from skips. The final lot came from a terrace in Ivy Road.
I got small ones and then with help loaded some really large ones that ended up - to save Lin's suspension - four journeys to and from the VJA site. I couldn't have got them in the car but for help from the Sikh who was working on the house - recently in this country I reckon, but picking up the language as he worked.
Once at plot 14 I lent a plank on the back of the boot; heaving and shoving I slid the slabs out of Lin's car and set them down ready to be carried or barrowed to the bottom of the plot.
Oscar came with me. On the last trip while I was occupied manhandling slabs he crawled under the fence into Handsworth Park after a white bull terrier bitch. Getting him back required rediscovering the gap he'd used to get into the park. Quite bright enough to finds this, he chose to be obtuse, peering over his shoulder at the bitch in the distance.
Once Lin arrived she started planning. "You'll need a path to get the slabs to the shed site...also some borders"
We set to marking these out with pegs and string. It was a pleasure to take orders. I set to clearing weeds from the path to the shed. Lin followed smoothing with a rake. There were logs and chippings left by the Park's ground maintenance staff available to all gardeners. In a couple of hours the path began to appear.
So now I can start pounding the shed foundations with a tamper, spreading a layer of sand, wheeling down the slabs and .... in another week we might even be starting to put up a shed. While we worked I watered the potatoes beginning to appear, planted more along with broccoli and corn, moved more stones and continued forking up weeds. Vanley Burke, the celebrated Handsworth photographer, a lovely man I've been meeting on and off for years, has also got a plot. He stopped to chat and encourage us. Although aching in knees and back and hips I felt we'd done a fine day's work; made  progress.
We've come quite a way since I posted this nostalgic record of the old abandoned Victoria Jubilee Allotments using stills by the photographer Luke Unsworth in 2004.
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This week has seen an advance in locating a significant cache of Jack Hargreaves' complete episodes. First there was seeing Marion's tapes - not complete from my point of view because Stan, her husband and my stepfather's cameraman, chopped out the parts he wanted as a record of his brilliant location work.
Dear Marion. It was great to see you yesterday in Havant (should have been Eastleigh but I'm absent minded), to chat and to view a sample of that wonderful set of videos that you nearly threw out had Tony not made contact.  Tony is now putting the main material onto DVDs. We are both delighted withwhat you preserved. This is rare and rich material - the work of a great duo! I was really glad to see that clip of Jack and Stan working together, and Tony  tells me there is an interview with Stan at your home in which he talks about working on Out of Town. Wonderful along with the OoT episodes I've not seen before. Kindest regards, Simon
I circulated a note about this visit to the JH Committee and Ian Wegg, who has now written an introduction to his growing list of Out of Town and Old Country broadcasts, replied reminding me to 'Bear in mind these are the same  tapes that Simon Winters looked at a couple of years ago and appeared in the  KAL recoveries list for 2008-2009' Ian and Tony had mentioned KAL, Kaleidoscope several times but I hadn't registered and for the same reason I hadn't taken note of Simon Winters. My focus has been on mining the South West Film and Television Archive and viewers' off-air recordings.
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I wrote to Simon Winters introducing myself and explaining my interest in Jack's material. He replied:
Hi there. Many thanks for your message. The good news is that I most certainly rescued every second of footage from Stan's entire collection of betamax tapes, and am most happy for you as Jack's family to get a copy. I don't think I sent all of the transfers to Stan's wife, so I can help here out there too. The other good news is that I recorded it all straight to dvd back in 2003, so there was no picture quality loss. The bad news is that Stan's tapes were in poor condition and crashed in and out of episodes with no regard to presentation! I can also confirm that ITV Leeds hold a large collection of complete episodes (my italics). They once sent me a database, but I sadly no longer have it. I think there were 28 full Southern episodes in their collection. These are the 'as broadcast' episodes with Southern idents. One of these was released on the 'Dream Factory' dvd, a project which I assisted with. If you want to phone me, my number is ********...I'll fill you in with all the details when we chat. In due course it would also be good for you to meet Chris Perry from Kaleidoscope. He lives in Birmingham, so perhaps you two could meet for a chat. I'm copying in this email to Kaleidoscope who I have long trusted to store and look after this important material. Cheers Simon
Simon and I must have chatted on the phone for twenty minutes. I realised there was another source of 'lost' TV material - a site called Missing Episodes, another called Wiped and, most significant, it seemed to me - the holdings according to Simon of twenty-eight full Southern episodes of Out of Town in the ITV archive at Leeds - something I can't immediately identify on the internet, though I've seen forum talk that it's held by Yorkshire TV. Is it ITN Source? He emailed me on Thursday:
I have been speaking to Chris Perry about this and have suggested that it is much better for you and him to take this one forward. He has all the required knowhow...including excellent contacts at ITV Leeds. There is nobody better placed than him to help you there...I firmly believe that he has the answers to all your questions and the solutions too. He is holding a barbeque in July and I'll be along there too. He suggested that you can meet us both together then...Certainly, the complete 'as transmitted' Southern episodes at Leeds are your best starting point. Simon
Then I heard from Chris, in a message copied to Simon Winters:
Hi Simon, both of you! Kaleidoscope is indeed as keen as you are Simon(s) to track down Out of Town footage. My colleague Simon Coward knows more about this field than I do, but I look forward to talking with you about Jack's work in more detail over the next few months, and I'm sure Simon Coward will be even keener than me...I'm having a barbecue on Sat 16th July  if you want  to meet Simon Winters, Simon Coward and I in the  flesh.  :-) lol. Thanks. Chris
The amazing thing is that Christopher Perry lives hardly five minutes walk from our home in Handsworth, on the Parklands Estate which I pass every time I visit our allotment on the VJA.
Victoriana Way just next to the Victoria Jubilee Allotments
Mark emailed me from Ano Korakiana:
Hi Simon and Lin , thanks for forwarding the e-mails on to me about the JH findings , it really does, for me anyhow, make for good reading on where you are up to in finding his material. Bet you couldn't believe it when you found out about Chris Perry living so close and of Kaleidoscope being in Birmingham, things seem to be moving along in the right direction now for you and of course the archive centre in Leeds also may well hold some vital answers (film). No change here really. Hay season has started , we already have 300 bales in the barn with only another 700 to go (yuck), so am trying my best to get the deed done before it gets too hot out here because as of yet it has been warm but days of overcast so not to bad for humping hay. Talking of humping, Teal has had a girlfriend around for 4 days. She went back yesterday having been with us since Sunday morning. It was a slow start but as dogs do they soon sorted themselves out and got on with it and finally on Tuesday they sealed the deal as it where. So fingers crossed for her pregnancy and if all goes well we will have Teal junior here the start of September...

Syngrou Avenue Λεωφόρος Συγγρού is a ridiculous outdated highway that starts at the Port of Faliron just east of Piraeus and drives nearly seven kilometres north east without traffic lights into the centre of Athens, ending in a roundabout just south east of the Acropolis.
No modern city should allow motorised traffic such unrestricted access to its centre, which is why it's good to learn that a group of town planners is, at the request of the Organization for Athens Zoning, considering what Syngrou Avenue could look like if instead of being high-speed dual carriageway, it was friendly to walkers, cyclists, public transport and, thought this is still almost unimaginable to autodependent Athenians, carfree.
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Late last night: Amy, my daughter, has just sent me this video of her's and Guy's two dogs encountering a stranger that has somehow got into their home.
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A fine old tree has fallen. Patrick Leigh Fermor, soldier, traveller and writer, born 11 February 1915; died 10 June 2011. I could imagine him choosing to leave from his dearest home, Kardamyli, Καρδαμύλη in Mani, but last Thursday he came home to Worcestershire. Joan died at Kardamyli in 2003; her remains brought back to her birthplace to lie in St Peter's Churchyard, Dumbleton under the inscription - Και γαίαν έχεις ελαφράν. Aleko tells me modern Greek would write this <Και ελαφρύ το χώμα που σε σκεπάζει> "And may the earth that covers you be light"
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There have been several mentions on the Ano Korakiana website of problems with water supply, but I struggled to make proper sense of this entry:
Γράφει ο/η Σταμάτης Απέργης   10.06.11… Τα πράγματα, δυστυχώς, είναι απλά: Οι χαμηλές και παραθαλάσσιες περιοχές του πρώην Δήμου Φαιάκων (και συνάμα οι πιο πυκνοκατοικημένες) δεν διαθέτουν καλά νέρα (τα λεγόμενα θαλασσονέρια). Η περιοχή μας, η Άνω Κορακιάνα, διαθέτει αξιόλογο νερό (πόσιμο κατά πρώτο και κύριο λόγο) με τις δύο γεωτρήσεις στη Χούμουλη και στο Νταμάρι. Οι δύο αυτές γεωτρήσεις καλύπτουν σε μεγάλο βαθμό το τελευταίο διάστημα, τις ανάγκες ύδρευσης (όχι μόνο προς πόση αλλά για κάθε χρήση), της παραπάνω πυκνοκατοικημένης έκτασης των πρώην Δημοτικών Διαμερισμάτων Άνω Κορακιάνας, Κάτω Κορακιάνας και Αγίου Μάρκου. Για να καταστεί αυτό εφικτό και στις δύο αυτές γεωτρήσεις γίνεται υπεράντληση. Η υπεράντληση οδηγεί μαθηματικά στην καλύτερη περίπτωση σε μεταβολή της ποιότητας του νερού επί τα χείρω (ώστε να μην είναι πόσιμο), στην χειρότερη δε, στην παντελή αδυναμία άντλησης (η γεώτρηση στερεύει). Το δίκτυο τα τελευταία χρόνια γιγαντώνεται άναρχα, χωρίς οποιαδήποτε μελέτη, ενίοτε χωρίς ρολόγια… Εναλλακτικές λύσεις δεν συζητούνται, εν όψει και της κρίσης, από δε επισήμων χειλέων ακούμε μόνο ότι «όσο βγάνει θα πίνουμε κι όλοι μαζί θα διψάσουμε». Κι άμα τελειώσει το νερό, πίνουμε κρασάκι βρε αδερφέ… 

Eventually I e-mailed Aleko Damaskinos, our tutor earlier in the year:

Dear Simon and Linda. Very nice to hear from you and I look forward to seeing you both after the 30th August. We will again make a visit to the Vitamins since you liked it! Here is a quick translation of the water problems in Ano Korakiana. Quote : "From Stamatis Apergis: Things are quite simple. The areas nearer to the sea and of course more populated do not have 'good' water.They call it 'sea-water'. Our area Ano Korakiana has very good drinking water since they opened the bore-holes at Humouli and Damari - στη Χούμουλη και στο Νταμάρι. These two bore-holes cover all the needs for drinking and general use water for Ano Korakiana, Lower Korakiana and Agios Markos. In order to satisfy all, they draw more water than what is available. This over-drawing leads to a change in the quality of the water and therefore it is non-drinkable. In the worst situation the bore-holes will not give any more water. The water supply system in the last few years is increasing without any kind of control or study. Sometimes not even a water-meter is provided! There are no alternate solutions. We hear from the people in charge the  following : 'Whatever supply we have we will drink it and then, all of us will be thirsty! When the water has finished let's drink wine...!!'" I hope your Greek is improving and I will be glad to see you again at my lessons starting sometime in October (you will be notified nearer the time) and I also hope that Linda will attend without any exam nerves! The weather has more or less settled and the temperature is about 26-30 degrees and sunshine. The last few days we have strong maistros (North-West wind) which is annoying. Normally we expect this wind in August. With all my love, Aleko

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