29 May 2007

Smoke-free Cars

Even tho' my life au jardin has caused me perforce to drastically reduce my blissful puffing of the blessed Karelia cig (cough, splutter), my hatred of the nanny-state anti-baccy bunch burns unabated.

July 1 sees Britons banned from smoking in the workplace, but do they realise that this includes nix fags in the car when on business and another person present?

Private owners using cars on business are included in this disgraceful law.

If the business mileage exceeds private mileage, again they can't smoke.

The poor Welsh have chafed under this yoke since April this year: if you've cruised thru Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch with passengers, amd any of you have had a ciggie, well, dai, you broke the law, look you.

It goes on: a no-smoking sign has to be displayed in any company car entering the land of the leek, regardless of whether any of you are smokers.

Same will go for cars in England come infamous July 1.

Dept of Insult to Insult: 80 quid fine for stubbing cig out on sidewalk


I wrote about her before, and it's not getting any better.

You love her. How can't we all love her, such a sweetie.

The galactic publicity for the missing mite will probably go down somewhere in the Guinness Book for sheer something or other.

My firm, sad belief is that dear Madeleine is now such an internationally known face that whichever scruffy slave trader driver nabbed her, has quietly disposed of her as too hot to handle.

See also the sage RWells' comment which says it all.

Addendum: Potty Potter - I had thought JK Rowling a hard-headed sensible woman, but this plan to put bookmarks in her 7th edition of the Potteriad is cruel lunacy. The same day I read this about Rowling, I also read that Maddie's parents are beginning to commence acceptance of the possibility that their darling might be ... well, you know ...

So, her body is found followed by publication of Potter VII with the place mark pic of Madeleine RIP and it all starts all over again with the parents confronted by a gazillion reminders every which way they look.

28 May 2007

That's All She Sewed

My Lord Wells of Mumbai quoth

"The Busker writes from an undisclosed location: “"Na sa zeessee" (like greasy) meaning 'May he/she live for you".

Well, *all* my Greek pal readers of rwells' fine blog have mailed or mauled me with the correction that it is correctly writ, "Na sas zisei", and pronounced Nah sass zeesee.

Speaking of writ, they also remind me that I expertly use "Afta einai ta koumbia tis alexainas" which, literally, is "These are Mrs Alexander's buttons", or "That's the essence of it" or, as I think of it, "That's all she wrote".

Desperate to impress non-Greek speaking companions with my fluency and general coolness, but keen NOT to be questioned further, I draw a line under every second sentence with the Mrs A quote.

Who was La Alexander? They say it originated in the dressmaking trade with Kyria A arguing over some buttons she'd ordered but which she accused of being replaced with cheapo subs.

Dressmakers being famous for pilfering and replacing with cheapos, Mrs A's victory in recovering her real McCoy came to stand for revealing the facts of the case.

24 May 2007

richard smith

Stunning, stunning guitar 'happening' at the Ionian Academy.

  • Vasilis Rakopoulos, Prof of guitar in Athens.
  • Richard Smith, (Los Angeles)
  • Francesco Buzzurro, (Sicily)

    The program read that, "from opposite sides of the world, ...perform a diverse program that was first presented on March 21st 2007 , in Alfred Newman Hall , USC, USA.

    What the dynamic trio did was simply shred every note on every fret.

    Stunning for the cheapness of the tickets (free); stunning for the youthfulness and enthusiasm of the audience; stunning for the friendliness of the players.

    • Vasilis is a legend, with his tete farouche and wonderful "Smyrna" lyrics.
    • Francesco played one of those skinny Ovation-shaped guitars and has one of those classical right-hand plucking postures that speak of a very disciplined tutoring. If Segovia was alive today, he'd be dead over the japes his disciples are getting up to.
    • Richard was magnifique on an assortment of weirdo axes. Lotsa Wes, touch of Larry Carlton, bags of Vai and of course Rich's own genius.

    Afterwards, my bunch walked down to Capodistriou and had some drinks. Along came the musicians so we hailed them and, as they came over, I realised the beauty of the situation: we were two Brits, two Italians, and a Greek - three of us guitarists - chatting to a non-Greek speaking American, non-Greek Italian, and my lord Vasilis (whom Calliope knew from way back).

    Rich turned out to be from Eugene with a place in the Juans so we talked NW USA and I got him to divulge how he switched so deftly between plectrum and finger style including his definitive rasgueados.

    One of those magical ends to a magical evening that lodges forever in memory.

  • 20 May 2007


  • On the Beeb. Now
  • Gadzooks! I need to hie me back to Blighty. Now.
  • 19 May 2007

    War Poets

    Tomorrow night to the excellent Durrell School of Corfu for the launch of its programme on "The Literature of War".

    From an early age, the World War 1 poets fascinated me and I always chose from them for the poetry comps.

    Wilfred Owen impressed me and for one competition I read his "Disabled"

    He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
    And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
    Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
    Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
    Voices of play and pleasure after day,
    Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

    About this time Town used to swing so gay
    When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
    And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,
    In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
    Now he will never feel again how slim
    Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
    All of them touch him like some queer disease.

    Being a smutty-minded schoolboy I always tried to give a lascivious turn to the line about girls' waists and probably a nudge and a wink to the reference to 'queer'.

    Anyway, a few days after the reading I was up for a beating for some contravention or other and the master at the end of the cane was one I particularly feared and distrusted.

    After he'd delivered the statutory "six of the best" he suddenly added another one for, as he said, my disgusting interpretation of "that dismal poem", making sure that I knew it was to the "waist" line to which he alluded.

    I tell you, those schools housed some mighty queer folks in the Staff Common Room and I'm not at all surprised I turned out the rum cove I am to this day. But I digress.

    Another poem that I can recite in toto to this day is Rupert Brooke's moving The Soldier

    If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there's some corner of a foreign field
    That is for ever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
    A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
    A body of England's, breathing English air,
    Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

    And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
    A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
    Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
    And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

    Laughter learnt of friends and gentleness, indeed.

    16 May 2007

    Julie 'Name Day': May 18

    Here in the land of odyssean drifters, Name Days are more important than birthdays.

    So, Happy Name Day, all you lovely Julies out there who have added so much to my life.

    I don't know what it is about the name, but I've never met a Julie I didn't like.

    14 May 2007


    She's only one kid. Countless young 'uns are missing, slaving, dying, suffering as I type. But for me - suddenly - she represents all the terror and pain and parental agony that I pray God you and I never know.

    I really, really - really - want her to make it back safe.

    Post-script :
    • Since penning the above, the whole thing has flared horrendously and, in respect and hope for the parents, I turn the sound down on CNN when it yet agains mentions the case.
    • I do think the hapless Murat is being made a scapegoat so the Portuguese fuzz can look as if they have the faintest idea what's going on.
    • Simon Jenkins makes a good comment in the Guardian.
    • I suppose it doesn't hurt that young Maddie (as she's morphed into) is cute as hell.

    13 May 2007

    Intentional community

    Learnt a new word from Rachel Pritchett's fine and spikey blog: 'intentional community'. Thought at first it was mis-spell for 'international' but nay.

    The adjective comes up in coverage of the usual argy-bargy over my old home, Bainbridge Island's descent to the developer dogs.

    I used to slip in offensive references to these reptiles whenever I could so I know where RP's coming from when she talks of being " ... disgusted and distrustful of our government: if not of the whole gang in City Hall and their consultants." ^5.

    Same ol' same ol', it seems.

    12 May 2007

    Assenting with a smile

    Martin Amis. When that boy gets it right, he really nails it.

    In The Information he describes a plane flight undergone by a failed novelist and his hated successful pal.

    Unsuccessful scribbler in Economy: "His seat was non-aisle, non-window and above all non-smoking. It was also non-wide and non-comfortable."

    (Amis smokes for England)

    The best-seller in First Class, " ... practically horizontal on his crimson barge, shod in prestige stockings and celebrity slippers, assenting with a smile to the coaxing refills of Alpine creekwater and sanguinary burgundy with which his various young hostesses strove to enhance his caviar tartlet, his smoked-salmon pinwheel and asparagus barquette, his prime fillet tournedos served on a timbale of tomato and a tapenade of Castilian olives."

    The killer word? "Barge". Perfect.

    11 May 2007

    Not Her Man

    Carla is the 2nd most beautiful woman on the island and, thanks to some kindly God of Platonic love, I am NOT wracked with unrequited adoration for her.

    We enjoy a frere~soeur/fondle~slap cussin' cousins easy tactile relationship.

    Leonidas on the other hand is obsessed with her.

    I drive the 3 of us to the art exhibition at Mon Repos. I play what's in the Merc's stereo, a lugubrious album of
    Lennie Cohen covers.

    Leo jeers from the back seat at my rubbish choice of muzak.

    Carla gives a 'look' and asks me how I like the album she lent me, and says
    how pleased she is that I choose to play it on the car stereo.
    Leo's face in the mirror is a picture.

    Post-script : I nevah post pics but C texts me, "Y no foto? How they know?"

    Ergo pic.

    Weather Vain

    Weather forecasts among the ex-pats out here are run on a strictly nationalistic basis:

    Brits swear by the BBC; the French have some froggy URL they cuss and revile among themselves but turn very snooty about when des anglais swim into view; I'm not sure if the Italians actual *deal* in weather - they always seem to be gesticulating about more important things. And the Germans call on a whole host of data, from short-wave radio reports to the Web to phone calls home to their own reading of the entrails.

    "Nice for tomorrow morning. Clouds for one hour, no rain. Afternoon also nice. Some small rain in evening only." And that's it: doesn't matter what the reality is, that is the weather. Got it?

    Urania who looks like Sandra Bullock and runs the local hardware store tells us Sunday will be the hottest in 45 years.

    I email this to my list of Corfu Trivia buffs who - because this information is neither Brit nor French nor Itie nor Kraut - reply scoffing. We shall see.

    Anyway, it is quite hot enough for us to throw ourselves naked into the pool first thing on getting home, having ensured that my sainted mother is building Blood Marys of the correct consistency and firepower.

    During the subsequent mutual application of tanning lotion, my companion wonders irrelevantly and aloud (but out of maternal hearing) if anyone has ever hi-speed photographed the precise moment of ejaculation.

    I have no idea but suggest we Google it after lunch.

    She bets I will not blog about this and I assure her that it is one wager she has assuredly won.


    May 11 edition of Athens News for next Tuesday 15th
    WOMEN, slobs and no-hopers urgently required - our casual mixed football gatherings are at risk of being overrun by fit young men. A friendly international bunch of us meet every Tuesday near Kifissia.

    09 May 2007

    Name Day

    Happy Name Day to all us Chrises out there. Chronia Polla!

    Here in the birthplace of democracy, name days are more important than birthdays and one stays home so that friends can call with gifts and good wishes and raspy embraces and tender kisses.

    I am working in the garden alongside Maman who is like a spider in her web, pointing out that any pals who come calling can join me in my toil.

    I fear she is not jesting. Any fragrant ladies who call will be in their silken finery which will cut no ice with mother who will simply suggest they defrock and wear one of her jardinerie jeans and tatty T-shirt.

    My camera is ready to snap the unwary.
    Ling'ring Wars

    For poolside reading, I am hacking thru the undergrowth of what Johnson called 'the great forest' of Shakespeare's work.

    Henry VI, Part I :

    "One would have ling'ring wars with little cost
    Another would fly swift but want the wings
    A third think, without expense at all,
    By guileful fair words peace may be obtain'd."

    Et voila, a succinct presentation of the choices in the Iraq debate:

    • Rumsfeld's 'invasion-lite'
    • Shock 'n' awe
    • UN mediation

    Once again, Willy boy comes up trumps

    08 May 2007


    What it says.

    My guitar buddies will make of it what they will and the rest ... also will make of it what they will.

    URL: When registering your own URL, don't bother with the http://www stuff, just type in the name you want.

    I registered 'busker' and got it (!) which makes me suspicious of the membership because that's a plum nik that should have been snapped up from the off ... if not by the editorial staff.
    Strum on!
    Bundle of His(s)

    Oyez oyez, Wells sahib has his own "iWeb site" and he's a good bloke so I'm giving him a plug to those readers of Corfucius who write in asking "Yes, but what do YOU like? What do YOU read?"

    I don't read nuffink. I'm too busy groaning under the yoke of mama's gardening or lotus munching by the pool or plunking my silly ditties.

    But when I *do* read, I turn first to the likes of rwells.

    07 May 2007

    Back on the Beat

    busker jammingRemember the days when albums were called Jammin' or Plunkin' or Greppin'?

    Well, I havent blogged for a while which happens here in Greece where real Life keeps plucking at yer sleeve and comely ladies keep hoving into view with the sort of smiles and chat that have one thinking "What'm I doing closeted with this frinking keyboard - outside with you, lad, and smell the ouzo!"

    Here's me looking terribly serious over a solo I can play in my sleep.

    But customers don't pay for that; they pay to see one "take risks" and "push the envelope" and "explore the outer limits of the harmonies" - or at least that was how one delightful young man put it. Les femmes are less wordy: one hefty lass from oop t'north Lancashire took a swig of her Mythos beer, gave an enviably sonorous belch and growled, "Yeh, baby."

    More anon as Life assaults me.

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    04 May 2007

    Garden Tours

    I declare the season officially OPEN.

    Hacienda Corfuciosa is once again prone to attacks by visiting jardinerie buffs, complete with cameras, silly hats, and even sillier questions about them planty things.

    They are a decent enough lot, given their predilection for the drudge hobby.

    I pour the wine and the juice and make no pretense at sharing their interest in Yardwork.

    I sometimes wonder if it might not benefit me to know something about botany: some of the gardening group are cute.

    Afterwards, they collect on the patio as Yours Truly dispenses cooling vino and juice from the home trees.

    Sam does his droopy friendly thing and everyone loves him.

    No one quite believes my bot-abhorrence for this treadmill of futility and laugh when I wonder aloud why we don't save our pennies to afford an honest Albanian with a bulldozer and bag of cement to just pave over this demanding plantery and settle the score once and for all.

    I have many better things to do than slave on the land.

    03 May 2007


    Vigilante Judge Sed' posts a bust of Nat Hale's Bong High Social Club.

    Corfucian reader Denis McCaskill from Pitlochry sends me news of Howard Stapleton's:

    Stalwart stuff - altho' Lynne Truss might look askance at that "your over 30" and rogue apostrophe in "25 year old's"

    01 May 2007

    I Like Working in Greece more than you ...

    I need to meet Jason at his office but I don't know where he works.

    "You cannot miss me. I work in the condom."

    "Oh, ok ... what floor?"

    "What floor? What floor do I work? I tell everyone 'at the cock ring'. They always find me."
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