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Friday, 23 June 2017

Brexit: Theresa May's offer on citizens’ rights

From EU Observer

"After May finished her presentation, not a single EU leader commented or asked questions, according to an EU source".

From Euronews

"After a year of speculation over the rights of EU nationals living in Britain after Brexit, new proposals unveiled by UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels will mean that those who have lived in Britain for five years will be granted the same rights as UK nationals. A new “settled EU” immigration status will grant some of Britain’s 3.2 million EU nationals access to healthcare, education and other benefits, as well as the right to remain living in the country".

First day of EU Summit

More hints, Euronews

Brexit: EU leader says UK offer could 'worsen situation', BBC News

"European Council President Donald Tusk said the proposal was "below our expectations" and needed more detail. He said the EU wanted to secure the "full rights" of all its citizens and British expats on the continent".

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Lakka, Paxos: Remembering Peter Bull - It Isn't All Greek To Me

Sketch by Roger Furse, from Peter Bull's "It Isn't  All Greek To Me" (1967)

"The British actor Peter Bull returned from a visit to Greece in 1962 obsessed with a desire to build a house on one of the remoter Ionian Islands. It appeared on his shopping list constantly. 'Buy cauliflower, string, scotch tape, and a bit of land on Paxos.' By 1964 he had achieved this and It isn't all Greek to Me is a hilarious account of his life there and in 'To Spiti Mou (My House)'. Readers of Mr Bull's earlier work need have no fear that he has delved deep into the mythology or history of Greece. He has just transferred to another country his talent for being unable to take anything very seriously. His difficulties with the language, the water situation and some of the eccentric people he has met there are dealt with lightly and touchingly and the happiness that he has got from the experience glows from every page".

Sofronis Mitsialis, Paxos Town Hall, Gaios

A very helpful man!

Within ten minutes, he was able to help with some genealogical research of long-standing interest.

I was looking for some dates of birth: the main subject of my research -

Demetrios (Mimis) Zerbas. Paxos Beach Hotel; A Founding Father of Paxiot Quality Tourism

You wouldn't believe that Mimis Zerbas (in times gone by the name was spelt Zervas) is 84 years old. He began his successful hotel back in 1964, and the twenty stremmata area is admired for its good taste, environmental and artistic sensitivity. His parents were both artistic, painters of portraits, and Mimis developed símilar qualities which must have informed his vision and creation.

The hotel developed gradually, without reliance on bank loans, from the time when Paxos had no water and no electricity supply, and unreliable sea connections with Corfu (remember the Kamelia?). The Italians and French started coming first, then the British.

Many Paxiots came over from Epirus, originally. Mimis' ancestors were Souliots. His family tree can be traced back to the mid seventeenth century.

Maybe that's where the love of dry-stone walling comes from? Paxos has plenty of stone with which to build. The hotel was built by hand, stone-by-stone.  You can't fail to admire the beautiful and extensive terracing, the substantial stone walls, the discreet and unpretentious Mediterranean landscaping, the trees and shrubs, the placement of large clay pots and natural stones; the whole complex is like a sculptural installation.

The trees and shrubs hide the small stone bungalows and feel absolutely right in the environment: olive, lemon, bay, cypress, pine, myrtle, lentisk, angelica, oleander, hibiscus, bougainvillia and more.

Kalo gousto! Bravo! Mimis Zerbas can be credited as the creator of twentieth century tourism on Paxos. It's high time he wrote his autobiography, or an account of the history of his hotel and of life on Paxos.

See the hotel website

I first visited it in 1967, but I was camping in a small tent on a nearby olive tree terrace above the sea.

UK: The worst political interview ever?

"Boris Johnson in 'worst interview by a politician ever' following Queen's Speech" - The Independent

I could scarcely believe my ears.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Thalassa: some sea pictures, Paxos

A change from the mountains.
I'm here on business, but it's hard to avoid the sea -
 "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"!

Mongonisi Rocks, Paxos; Antipaxos

Not the best place to make landfall in a storm, sailing from Antipaxos!

"A great cry of lamentation"

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Paxos: Old Gaios and Beyond; Παξοί

Fifty years since my first visit to Paxos.

A few things haven't changed.

"Liga psaria!", Captain 'Gogos' with his small fishing- kaiki/caique ("Evangelistria", 60 years old)

A larger kaiki, "O Stamatis"

Paxiot Fisherman

Where's he gone,
The man who ate lemons,
Stood on his head, when not fishing?

Paxos Haiku

With sixty-four churches to choose from
There's no no need
To feel all is lost

In Memoriam Popi Bogdanou-Strani (tou 'Barboula')
born 1905.

Venetian House, Vassilatika

Now that no-one rides mules,
There's nothing to tether
To the tethering rings

From a Changing Paxos

The derelict engine
Imported from England,
Made by Petters of Yeovil,
Once powered the village olive press,
Faithfully turned
The grinding stone
Up in Manessatika.
Stamatis wants to sell it now,
His precious but rusting antique,
"From the time of Capodistrias!"

Saint Haralambos

Bell-towers, cisterns.
Saint Haralambos
Saved them all.
He repelled the plague,
He relieved the siege.
He couldn't stop
The desecration.

The short poems are all from my book, "Corfu Blues" (Ars Interpres, 2006).

Still waiting for the fish?