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Friday, 14 December 2012

'...το ωραίο άρθρο για την Κορακιάνα....'

From the Ano Korakiana website:
From the littered overbuilt shores of Corfu lots of people still reap perfect images of the island landscape that so enchanted those who passed through before mass tourism – the monastery of Panagia Vlacherna and Pontikonissi omitting the roar of the airport and the multistoried hotel on Kanoni, the pretty sight of Gouvina Cove where you can park by the road a few hundred metres from the end of the dual carriageway at Tzavros, and a small crop with photoshop can easily disappear the cloned boxes and concrete skeletons that disfigure Barbati, and from a distance even the jutting hull of the Nissaki Beach Hotel can be blended into the towering cliffs of Pantocrator, though ignoring 'Seashore Villas' plonked on what was once the village of Ag Spiridon near the car-blocked streets of Kassiopi is a little trickier, but removing the endless plastic detritus from the beaches needs no army of earnest litter-pickers - just a tiny upward shift of the lens records the sublime landscape of archetypal Greece above the sparkling blue of the Kerkyra Sea, as from the dizzy heights of Angelokastro the cliffs of Capes Iliodoros and Plaka facing the Adriatic horizon distract from the disastrous shamble of Paleocastritsa.
It was the better-off who recorded their memories of Corfu’s charms; incubating their future commodification. For peasants, fishermen, small shopkeepers, beauty lay in health and harvest; the two connected. Once upon a time, when people gazed longingly at the green island from the rocky mainland of Epirus they saw its wealth not in its landscape but its fecundity, as a family judging a prospective daughter-in-law might rate child-bearing hips, above a pretty face [Of these observations Jim Potts remarks: 'Succinctly stated. But I sincerely believe that even the poorest peasants appreciated Corfu's natural beauty and recorded it in their own ways, through orally-transmitted tales, folksongs and proverbs, for instance. Is it not possible to feel a sense of profound regret, even while cutting down olive trees to build a better house or to make some money to pay to educate one's children? The sense of regret increases with time.'] Only in the last fifty years has Corfu’s harvest changed from what grew here to what disembarked from ships and planes. The shift in wealth that followed – from the grand farm estates of the nobility - the signorini - thriving and then just surviving on the close cropping of tenant labour - needed and got little help from government. Oil in Arabia and Texas turned arid scrubland into gold. Tourism in Corfu made hard-worked seaside estancias into cornucopias. Sea, sand and gravel were already here.  Cement made new byres, the digger and the dozer swiftly cleared the island curtilage of unnecessary trees. An olive grove or a vineyard anywhere on the island sprouting concrete in place of roots could send your children to university and show a way, other than emigration, to escape a life of sweated labour, as a fibreglass boat with a glass bottom over one busy summer could replace the hazards and uncertainty of fishing round the year. Landscape enjoyed by those with the means to gaze upon it, that had inspired painting and poetry became publicity and copy to attract the new wealth of millions. I hear myself muttering “You make all this sound like a bad thing” “Well yes and no” I reply “Yes and no” The noble leftwinger Lord Bertrand Russell remarked that ‘the central dilemma of socialism is that you can ruin anything by making it available to everybody’. “If only governments instead of being bought by the Lopakhins so excited about laying an axe to Corfu’s cherry orchards had pursued a research based policy that had regulated the massive changes brought by mass tourism; created an infrastructure that was less piecemeal and opportunistic” A broad smile grows on my face at my naïve pomposity. Έλα τώρα! Surely you jest?” I exclaim “Weren’t these messy changes always going to be irresistible, any attempt at planning overwhelmed not just by greased palms and brown envelopes but by human yearning. Try testing your commitment to properly regulated planned development of tourist infrastructure against another lifetime of horizon-less poverty heaped on the deprivation of centuries” The challenge of Ano Korakiana; a few years back – three or four at most – there was a discussion, probably one of those animated debates in which I’ve sat in the back nodding sagely as though my Greek is good enough to follow the arguments, in which villagers, in large numbers explored whether they should have a taverna or indeed any other commercial establishment in the village that catered for and attracted foreign visitors. I first heard of this meeting from two British neighbours in the crowd awaiting midnight the Easter Saturday before last “They decided, on balance” said Wesley “that they would not.” This confirmed the presumption I heard a few years earlier when we were planning to buy a house in the village that “Ano Korakiana doesn’t welcome tourists.” To suggest that Ano Korakianas do not welcome strangers – for all those 44 voting last Sunday forGolden Dawn to keep foreigners out of Greece – would be slander. Apart from the fact that an overwhelming majority of eligible voters here voted for the left including the KKE (third in the poll here), this village is nothing if not hospitable, not just to people who have made their lives here but to passing tourists on foot, on cycles and in cars, who stop to look about, sometimes puzzled as to where to buy a drink or a meal. Such people are sometimes treated to these; as guests, not customers.

So? So what makes this village? What makes any village? It’s a question elaborated across the world. I have urgent thoughts on this, I feel a need to know and understand. This village has a website, as with all Greek villages - a global diaspora, an historian, a documented history that goes back over a 1000 years...and a permanent population that qualifies it as a working village in the eyes of government. It has a medical centre staffed at different times through the week, and of course it has the Spyros Samaras Philharmonic Society of Korakiana, including its superlative band that performs here, in Corfu Town and across Greece, with practise rooms (a new finely restored band-room higher in the village will probably be ready next year), instruments, uniforms and regular rehearsals – an institution linked to a choir and dancers – who rehearse and learn in both the band-room on Democracy Street and in the Agricultural Co-op which also processes olive oil; providing space for meetings and village celebrations like Carnival through the year. It has 35 churches – the one’s most used Ag.Georgios, Ag.Spiridon, Ag.Athannasios, Ag.Isadorus. I can’t list all their names though they are described in Kostas Apergis' history – but also the semi-ruined Prophet Elias...
Prophet Elias before Mother Greece

...marking the ancient village boundary on the hill a mile away and Kiriaki, a church below the village. There’s a taxi service on Democracy Street - almost opposite us, and buses to and from the city. There’s a second olive processing factory below the village, a furniture making workshop, a carpentry shop, a thriving bakery serving other villages and two grocery shops onDemocracy Street and a kindergarten and nursery and a kafenion – τουκαφενείου Κεφαλλονίτη - regularly attended, where even Linda and I have enjoyed a coffee and beer, tho' there's still a mainly male attendance there overseen by Maria, its proprietor. Another kafeneon - John Laschari's, Γιάννη Λάσκαρη, ceased in 2007.
The village primary school closed last year and is to be replaced by a special school serving the whole island. Ano Korakiana appears to have a museum for an exceptionally gifted village sculptor who worked in the first part of the 20th century – but disappointingly, this though full of invisible sculpture, with parking spaces and displays signs saying it’s a museum, is, I’m authoritatively assured, never open. There is another business – Luna D’Argento – a kilometre below the village, a venue for weddings and dances, also occasionally for the whole village as at the cutting of the New Year Cake, Vassilopita, and next to that a stable for horse trekking and riding lessons run by our friend Sally. I couldn’t attest to how many other skills and talents are exercised in Ano Korakiana. There are people who in repairing or rebuilding parts of their houses are conscientious about maintaining its architectural character – what experts sometimes call 'vernacular'. (Example 1 ~ Nick and Sophia's house. Example 2: George Poplis's work and Sally and Mark's house - scroll down. Example 3: The restored Music School). Our house lost some of this vernacular at the hands of an English builder hired by the previous English owners who destroyed its balcony and steps, replaced by us via the admired skills and taste of Alan Barrett of Ag Markos. There are doctors, pharmacists, house-painters, plasterers, carpenters, artists, probably writers preferring anonymity, many wine makers, woodcutters preparing a delivering fuel, gardeners cultivating vines and vegetables, gardeners growing a festival of flowers – geranium, roses, honeysuckle, jasmine, bougainvillea, wisteria, cane and arum lilies; a few farmers tending larger fields, small vineyards, keeping sheep and goats, chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, ducks and geese and of course harvesting olive oil from their olive groves - the island’s most distinctive crop; plumbers and mechanics and builders, roofers, private tutors teaching English and other skills; engineers, accountants working in the city. Kostas is the village priest. Ano Korakiana fields a football team that triumphs across Corfu and beyond, but hopes of having a local football field - one a quarter completed that has sat fallow below the village for over a decade - seem to have expired. This is made less problematic by the existence of two pitches finely maintained that Ano Korakiana can share with its neighbour Skripero, sited close to the T-junction between the winding south-westward lane out of Ano Korakiana where it meets the road to Sidari. Ano Korakiana has organisation. It has committees for the band, shareholders for the Co-op. It has government. It debates and makes decisions – με δημοκρατικό τρόπο - about events and direction. Some say it has the best water on the island. Does all this make ‘a village’; in modern parlance – a sustainable community? [A cautionary essay on the village in England, Bagnor, where I grew up between 1949-1960 - translated. and posted on Ano Korakiana's website..Νομίζεις, ότι κάποιοι από εμάς θέτουμε σε κίνδυνο αυτό που αποκαλείται «ακεραιότητα» της Άνω Κορακιάνας; Είναι δυνατόν οποιοιδήποτε από μας (προσπαθώ να αποφύγω το «εμείς» επειδή εσείς και εγώ και οι συγγενείς μας είναι μοναδικοί και δεν θέλω να μας χαρακτηρίσω όλους μαζί ως «αλλοδαπούς») να επικριθούμε για τις επιλογές μας στη ζωή; Δεν θα επιθυμούσα η Άνω Κορακιάνα να γίνει όπως η μη-κοινότητα του Μπαρμπάτι, με τα νεόκτιστα σπίτια και τη θαυμάσια θέα  προς τη θάλασσα, που κατοικείται όμως αποκλειστικά από εποχιακούς επισκέπτες. Ελπίζω ότι νέοι Έλληνες γεννημένοι στην Άνω Κορακιάνα θα είναι σε θέση να μείνουν, ή εάν φύγουν, θα επιστρέψουν για να συμβάλουν στη ζωή του χωριού. Υπάρχουν χωριά στην Αγγλία που παρότι έχουν μετασχηματιστεί, εν τούτοις έχουν οδηγηθεί σε μια νέα ισορροπία, με σημαντική συμμετοχή σε αυτό, των σχετικά νεοφερμένων, που έχουν βρει την αρμονία τους με τους εναπομείναντες παλαιούς κατοίκους και πίεσαν για το κτίσιμο «φτηνής στέγης» ώστε νεότεροι άνθρωποι να μπορούν να παραμείνουν στο χωριό...]...and some thoughts from an earlier entry in Democracy Street which draw on the experiences of Geert Mak in Jorwert - reported beautifully but without the 'aren't they quaint and eccentric and charming' tropes of some commentators on villages (from a review)...The point is made, and reinforced by research carried out by others around the world that villages divided by space and time have more in common with each other, than they do with their nearest urban neighbour. Villagers are proud of the small differences. Jorwert is very special to Jorwerters. They are proud of tradition, and cling on to the facets of it that survive the changes in technology and bureaucracy as best they can. They believe in the future and in the family. And that is what the country, and therefore the village, life is all about. It is not about being an individual. It is not about making money or acquiring stuff . It is all about survival. Making sure that what is outlives you, and that your children are there to take it on and take it forward and protect it as you have done. This is true of every village, everywhere. What is also true of every village in northern Europe is that since the end of the second world war, the local people have had to cope with the Europisation of regulation. The disaster of the Common Agricultural Policy played out with the best of intentions and the worst of results. This is as true for the dairy farmers around Jorwert as it is for the sheep farmers of Wales. The lure of education, of easy money, of city life and hedonism affected the children of Jorwert, just as it did those of the French mountain youngsters or those in the Spanish plains. Schools struggled and then closed. Shops followed them. Churches remained the focus, but in protestant northern Europe they didn't have the hold they had in the catholic south – which isn't to say the whole Jorwert didn't put aside their personal faiths the day the church tower collapsed and set about figuring out how to rebuild it! Mak examines all of the issues in true journalistic fashion, supporting his arguments with academic study and local example...Simon & Linda Baddeley  
(ΣΗΜ.:θα ήταν πολύ χρήσιμο αν είχε κάποιος υο χρόνο να μεταφράσει αυτό το ωραίο άρθρο για την Κορακιάνα....

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But to continue the disposal of our mother's estate, I'm not sure I shall come to the Highlands again. My walks there...not a yard that does anything but remind me...I shall be missing mum all my latter life. I shall not grieve much longer. This place is inextricably connected with the unalloyed happiness I've enjoyed here - and joy is not forgotten. Catching the edges of the swift passing scenery from the car - farms, woods, shallow peat brown icy banked rivers wandering through frosted alluvial plains, cattle and sheep with different concerns, not seeing the winter landscape or the dying trees. Here for ever. We left Brin Croft at 1.00pm, Lin driving as ever, Oscar in the back or in my footwell; ice and frost at first, the mane of the Boar of Badenoch creased with snow rising like a prow into low cloud as we crested Drumochter Pass and left it behind slipping into milder landscapes; on past Perth and Stirling, the edge of Glasgow, hurrying through the Lowlands... Lockerbie, Gretna and Carlisle, through the Lake District, Lancaster, Preston, Manchester - the darkening landscape receding until we're running amid streams of lights, red and white, snaking north and south.
On Friday morning I was up before 6.00 to cycle into New Street to catch the non-stop express to London for a day with Hounslow - my final day of work on the scrutiny coaching project there. My colleague Andrew Coulson met me at the Civic Centre so we could exchange batons. Later we travelled back to Birmingham.
I'm working on the train

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In the blessed village:
A day to celebrate at Ag.Arkoudena, an event, if I understand it, takes note of an ancient dispute that severed Eastern and Western christians. In the local church of Arkoudena (or is that the other one at Episkopi - the village just north of the Trompeta ridge above us?) there's a picture of St.Arius at the great Council of Nicea - first ecumenical council - Α’ Οικουμενική Σύνοδο - in the year 325AD. Arius - is he a saint? - hm - probably not. He argued that Christ, though the most perfect of creations, is a creation of God the Father, in opposition to the belief of St.Alexander who held that Christ is of the same substance as the Father and co-eternal with him. Their debate became so heated that Nicholas of Myra - one day to be known as 'Santa Claus' - slapped Bishop Arius for, as he saw it, belittling Christ.

Preparations for the 'midnight oil' «Ολονύχτιο» have begun early in the afternoon...A few yards away, outside the building of the Philharmonic Society, the decoration of the Manger  - της Φάτνης - has already begun by Yianni and (his son) Angelo Spingo, assisted later by Epameinonta Kentarhos and Fokionos Mandilis. In one way or another the festive atmosphere will affect the operation of olive mill in the Co-op that grinds at dawn today. Traditional dumplings - λουκουμάδες - arrive (from Jonah and Dina Katerina Fakiolas) to treat workers and those who grind the early olives - the first milling after they have made their home in the village of Antony Prentoulis and his wife Tula. A bottle of olive oil from the final milling will be sent, shortly before midnight, to the church, for "good" - για «το καλό»
The traditional supper is held, between Vespers and evening function in the home of Yianni Savani; they, this year, having general 'responsibility' for the feast. The church is "filled" with people again: three priests, chanters quite a few old and younger, mostly women in the congregation. Close to midnight, Aristides Poulimas assisted by George Kendarchos, read the Life of the miracles of the saint, while a small stove in the corner to lessen the cold ...
Note: But the unexpected loss of the "shrine" of the Saint (a small image) overnight will cause confusion and frustration to the founders of the small church.
A note is added: Apart from this suspected theft, ten chickens have been 'expropriated' from a busy poultry coop in Mourgades (the western end of Ano Korakiana).
Παραμονή τ’ Αγιού, εορταστική όπως πάντα, μέρα για το χωριό μας, λόγω της ομώνυμης εκκλησίας στην Αρκούδενα. Οι ετοιμασίες για το «Ολονύχτιο» έχουν από νωρίς το απόγευμα ολοκληρωθεί και ο εκ των επιτελούντων Κώστας Σαββανής θα εκφράσει την ικανοποίησή του στην ιστοσελίδα μας. Λίγα μέτρα πιο κάτω, έξω από το κτίριο της Φιλαρμονικής, ο στολισμός της Φάτνης έχει ήδη ξεκινήσει από τον Γιάννη και τον (γιό του) Άγγελο Σπίγγο, συμβοηθούντων αργότερα του Επαμεινώντα Κεντάρχου και του Φωκίωνος Μάνδυλα. Το εορταστικό κλίμα θα επηρεάσει τρόπον τινά τη λειτουργία του Συνεταιριστικού ελαιουργείου, που σήμερα αλέθει από τα χαράματα. Παραδοσιακοί λουκουμάδες καταφθάνουν (από την Ντίνα Ιωνά και την Κατερίνα Φακιολά) για κέρασμα των εργαζομένων και όσων αλέθουν. Ο Αντώνης Πρεντουλής και η σύζυγός του Τούλα, κάνουν το πρώτο τους άλεσμα, μετά από την εγκατάστασή τους στο χωριό. Ένα μπουκαλάκι ελαιόλαδο από τις τελευταίες αλεσιές θα σταλεί λίγο πριν τα μεσάνυχτα στην εκκλησία, για «το καλό». Κατά τις δέκα, έχει ολοκληρωθεί το καθιερωμένο δείπνο, ανάμεσα στον Εσπερινό και τη βραδινή Λειτουργία, στο παραπλήσιο σπίτι της οικογένειας Γιάννη Σαββανή, που έχει για φέτος τη γενική «ευθύνη» της εορτής. Η εκκλησία «γεμίζει» ξανά από κόσμο: τρεις ιερείς, κάμποσοι ψαλτάδες παλαιοί και νεώτεροι, κυρίως γυναίκες στο εκκλησίασμα. Κοντά στα μεσάνυχτα, ο Αριστείδης Πουλημάς συνεπικουρούμενος από τον Γιώργο Κένταρχο, διαβάζουν από το συναξάρι τα θαύματα του Αγίου, ενώ μια μικρή σόμπα στη γωνία «καίει» ασταμάτητα, λόγω του κρύου… Όμως, η αναπάντεχη απώλεια του «προσκυνηταρίου» του Αγίου (μιας μικρής εικόνας) θα προκαλέσει ολονύχτια σύγχυση και εκνευρισμό στους κτήτορες του μικρού ναού. ΣΗΜ.: εκτός από την απώλεια του προσκυνηταρίου, ξημερώματα της Παραμονής σημειώθηκε και «απαλλοτρίωση» κοτετσίου μετά του πολυπληθούς περιεχομένου του (πάνω από δέκα πουλερικά) στην περιοχή Βασιλικού, της Μουργάδας.
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Nick Malkoutzis on 15 December writes on his blog Inside Greece - one I read as avidly as the Athens News and Kathimerini:
.... Thursday proved to be quite a day for Samaras’s morale as the long wait for the eurozone to approve Greece’s next loan tranche ended. Euro-area finance ministers agreed the release of €49.1 billion, which, along with another €3.4 billion, means Athens is due to receive €52.5 billion by the end of March 2013.
Of this, €34.3 billion is to be disbursed next week: €16 billion will go toward bank recapitalization, €7 billion for budgetary financing and €11.3 billion to finance Greece’s bond buyback program. French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici insisted this was no 'Christmas present' for Greece but recognition of fiscal and reform efforts that had been made over recent months and come at some cost for the Greek people....

1 comment:

  1. Read with great interest and attention.

    Happy Christmas from Jim and Maria in Washington DC


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Simon Baddeley