30 June 2006

First Web Page?

Is this the world's first web page?

Written by Tim Berners-Lee, 13th November, 1990, on a NeXT workstation?

Trying to remember what I might have been doing on that fateful day - probably sitting in the guest bedroom overlooking Hong Kong's Stanley Beach, grappling with my Bible-size guide to DOS.

"View" Dumps The Plump

The dross one watches from the sofa of the cashless unemployed.

Nadir of my morning menu was that womanly gab fest, 'The View'.

The only contributors I remember are a squeaky young thing - clearly there for eye-candy - and the eternally tired-looking Barbara Walters.

But I do remember wondering how on *earth* the dumpy black lady held her seat week after week with nothing to say and clearly despised by the others.

*Finally*, she's been given the heave-ho and of course the laugh is that she's now more famous and articulate over the manner of her sacking, than all the shows thru which she sat just *looking* like sacking.

Addenda Galore: I *knew* I was right to home in on this one as having 'legs'.

The 'medically interventive' Bunterene is in further hot water for using her 'star' status to wangle 'euphoric' backhanders to further boost boudoir delights over her showbiz nuptials.

Pussyfooting: The rebounding joke on the show is, of course, that, had La Plumpa been la paler, she'd have been out sans ceremony.

Being of dusky hue, however, Ms Star needed eggshell treatment and the most delicate of defenestrations, hence all this brouhaha including better PR than the stellar dumpling has enjoyed for many a moon.

29 June 2006

Fishy Business

Forget my whinges about doing business with the Japanese, how's this for just clocking their TV?

Ginsu Gaga chiclets parting piscine pates wouldn't get near the airwaves of US correctitude.

The girls are clearly chosen for their slightly crazed pouts, the fish for their slipperiness and generally acquiescent behaviour under the blade.

I just wish I knew Japanese to understand what the sadistic panel are coaching and critiquing on.

28 June 2006

Vogue Covers


Whether you remember or noticed them - or actually wore the couture - it's history of sorts, just from another angle.

27 June 2006

Inhumane cruelty to Boy George

I'm not a particularly huge fan of BG: liked Karma Chameleon but not enough to buy an album.

But speaking of karma, my god what did the dude do in a previous life to merit such treatment and inhumane punishment?

Hard to credit it that there are still such sadists on the bench, but a judge has sentenced George to ... yardwork.

Holiday Japes

As The Season gets underway and hotels fill with friends of friends of gentle folk they've brushed against in Harrods Food Counter, the phone rings with 'introductions':

'Could I - ah - speak to the lady of the house? Ah yes well, you don't know me but 'Binky' Daniels gave us your number ...' Etc.

Of course they must visit so down goes muggins to collect them from the Chandris or Olympiakis or wherever.

Cruising the lounges and poolsides to envy how the other half hols, I've come across THE most fascinating game: eavesdropping on thoe hapless wretches who just could NOT leave their cell phones or Blackberries behind.

Family splashing in the pool, missus frying the cellulite on a deckchair as she knocks back the Gs & T ("Oh come on, Geoffrey - surely it can wait?") - and breadwinner boxing the compass to get a signal ('Can you hear me NOW? That's better - OK, have you tried the third drawer down, next to the staples? Wait a minute, try under Anderson. There should be a green file at the back')

Meanwhile, gazing up sympathetically, some bloke hunched over a Vaio, wincing at the cc's from cruel colleagues back in the harness and cursing our Ionian wiredlessness: "I distinctly asked for a room with broadband" "Yes, sir - broadband" "No, this is dial-up, and very slow dial-up" "Yes, sir - dial-up broadband." "Oh never mind. Forget it."

All electronica in the Holmes household is well hidden, but we do have excellent phone reception from our hilltop eyrie, the only trouble being that chirruping Nokias are regarded by the chatelaine of the castle as being on a par with farting and greeted with identical icy flare of the nostrils.

Dunking: Poolside natter has reduced considerably since a hedge fund johnny left his phone conveniently near the edge, only to be swept into the chlorine with a friendly sweep of Sam's ebullient tail.

Such was the hostess's purring approval of such canine censorship (albeit not by Mister Moneybags) that Sam now recognises it as a shortcut to petting and treats and circles the pool for any more gadgets to dunk.

26 June 2006

Strandbeests to London

Theo Jansen is taking his amazing 'creations' to London - to Trafalgar Square, no less.

Almost worth a trip over. Instead, I'll get the girls to visit it during their London stopover and report back late July when they get to Corfu.


Like you, I was tickled pink in my know-all movie-buff salad days to be thwarted by that clever quiz to name all Seven Magnifici.

Bet you named them in the same order and confidence as I did:

  • Yul Brynner, of course, and he meets
  • Steve McQueen who rides shotgun on that funeral drive. Then they track down
  • Wood chopping Chas Bronson
  • Underhand knife-throwing James Coburn
  • By now we're faltering .... oh yes, the nervy pretty boy Horst Buchholz
  • That 'Man from U.N.C.L.E.' geezer ... right, Robert Vaughn (only one 'a')

    Now your quiz inquisitor is beginning to look smug: That's six. So who was the seventh?

    Did any of us get Brad Dexter? The guy who was convinced Yul was doing it for a cache of gold the villagers had promised, yeh?

    Taking a mortal bullet early on, his last plea to Brynner was to confirm gold in them thar peons.

    "Yes, Harry," growls YB, "It was for the gold."

    With that, BD dies a happy man, his cynicism in his fellow man confirmed.

    Well, that ain't the whole story and I can't wait for the next bar-room bore to pose this chestnut.

    According to Peter Richmond's biog of Peggy Lee, Fever, Dexter was the second of her four husbands.

    Hot damn - that's more interesting than the fact that he was uninteresting enough not to be remembered from the M7 cast list.

    So the way to do it, I suppose, is to rattle off the first six and then *pretend* to agonise over #7 before adding, "And last but not least, Brad Dexter, the tough guy gambler who was convinced there was a pot of gold at the end for them.

    This will totally annoy the questioner who will come up with some sulky line like, "Yes, well, most people don't get that" to which you respond, "Can't see why - I mean, what? Senator East in 'Shampoo', Sergeant Bostick in 'Von Ryan's Express' plus countless TV appearances *and* don't forget his roles as "Barry Mitchell".

    Then you can wait a bit before adding, "Well?"

    "Well what?"

    "Well, you've left out the best bit, the whole point of bringing up the name of Brad Dexter ... duhh, that he was married to singer Peggy Lee."


  • 25 June 2006

    james may

    All in the acceleration

    Torygraph motoring scribbler and TV Top Gear co-presenter, James May, in cracking 0-60 form with his thesis that it's not top speed but acceleration, braking and cornering  that really matter.

    Some lovely imagery and phrasing from James:

    "Acceleration is what makes cars exciting ... example, the original Saab 99 Turbo, which had a 0-60mph time of 8.9 seconds.

    Plenty of other cars of the time could have posted a shorter one, but as anyone who drove the Saab will know, few would have provided quite the same sensation. The reason is that in actual fact the Saab accelerated faster than most things.

    Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity, and this is something that is rarely consistent in cars. Two different cars might reach 60mph in the same time, but whereas one might increase its velocity in a fairly linear fashion, another - the Saab, for example - might not.

    From rest the Saab would be pretty tardy but then, as its early and rather crude turbocharger kicked in, it would put on a sudden, enormous and mercifully brief spurt. In that twinkling moment its true acceleration was sky-high, and that's what made your eyeballs go wonky and stripped the gearbox splines."

    Doncha love the wonky eyeballs and stripped gearbox spline bit?

    Doesn't end there: James remembers another example,

    "A Fiesta RS1800 I used to drive ... It's 0-60mph time was, I think, 7.9 seconds, which was quite respectable. In reality, though, it was much better than that because, like the Saab, it became temporarily possessed at one point in its rev range.

    Because we were a car magazine and we measured these things properly with very expensive equipment, I knew that at that point its acceleration, expressed correctly in metres per second squared, was the equal of some supercars in terms of the intestinal surge it produced. So the Fiesta gave me a bigger kick than many cars with lower 0-60mph times, and hence was more amusing on the Hammersmith gyratory system."

    See, that's why Mr May is at the peak of his powers with his name up in lights, and I'm down here sorting pool playthings and debating whether to give the bulging tum *15* minutes of sun before rolling over for 25 mins on back and shoulders, or vice versa. Plus, where to put the sangria carafe to keep its chill ... decisions decisions.

    "Gyratory system"! What's so difficult about that? Exactly what I should have come up with for that silly banter in the Review over the Madison/High School 'gyratory system'.

    Remember? That silly woman whingeing about decreasing visibility but at the same time coming clean about her own sloppy driving habits, and that berk who espoused the Teutonic roadway system for no very clear reason.

    Also, weren't there all manner of oddballs suddenly putting pen to paper to emphasise their ignorance of GySysts and how they couldn't possibly work on Bainbridge?

    God, I miss the place.

    Dodo in Mauritius

    I know I act as if more interested in fleshier specimens, but this find of complete bones of a dodo is pretty darned exciting.

    Come to think of it, I'm unsure what it is - a bird?

    Wot I do on my hols

    Oh dear ... "Martine" of 'Coming to a taverna near me' threatens to visit, but she needs to know that Chateau Busker has the Idiot Box.

    Well, no problem there because

    1. No one can ever find the place
    2. Fiercesome Sam is ever en garde
    3. Greek TV is incredibly funny, which will bore 'Martine' silly

    Most evenings I watch a wonderful show that's just Hellenic 'yoof' cutting a rug to trad dances.

    Can you imagine Brit jeunesse downing their lagers and Babycham long enough to throw up and *then* get down to a sprightly foxtrot or cha-cha-cha?

    Yerss, right.

    As I say, sexiest show on the box.

    Tom Cruise lookalikes join hands with current hotties to trip the light fantastic to the best bouzouki bands around.

    For those of a stronger constitution, there's a 'Fear Factor' rip-off featuring an outrageously camp and be-cuffed Master of Ceremonies who, aided by a sprightly dwarf (or whatever the current correct branding is), puts handsome young men thru their paces.

    I swear some of them look like blokes I've just been ogling on the danceathon.

    Laced fop and shortie POG stooge ('Person of Restricted Growth', I've just been informed - whuddevah) make a great double-act teasing these beaut but dumb hunks

    Limp wrist to the fore.

    I'm told this front-man commands a huge sum and is adored by heteros and hoteros alike.

    I like him because he speaks such crisp Greek that even I can understand him.

    I am *told* that if I acquire too much of his vocab, I will be a cinch for a free pass any Thursday to the Golden Lyre club off the Liston.

    Never one to pass up a Free Pass, I shall nevertheless await the arrival of my daughters before taking up the offer.

    Then we will sweep in à trois and The Spitfire will guarantee us a ring-side table.

    Decisions decisions: shall I wear the chiffon or await to see what my darlings wear and work my usual drag of jeans and T-shirt ensemble around *them*?

    Des femmes grècques have a window of around 6 months during which they are totally young and hot and strutting adverts for great bras.

    Then they crest and it's back to hovering around the Capodistriou Academy for Young Ladies' 3pm netball games.

    The statutory blond bombshell on tonight's show was, in my opinion, at least a year past her sell-by, but I'm informed she's terribly famous and - even more vital than her statistics - rather good friends with a certain politician whose wife's chest can no longer compete.

    The Chick Factor: Brassières sans frontières.

    Same old same old: the Greek rip-off 'Fear Factor' features regulation chicks of both couleurs.

    Don't happen to fancy chasmic blondes? No worries, mate - hot brunette coming right up.

    24 June 2006

    Bill Frisell

    Shen 'n' Done it

    Most of you plebs won't get the chance to savour Guitar Heaven this way, so let me taunt you.

    It salutes fellow ex-Bainbridge strummer Bill Frisell, about whom superlatives haven't yet been adequately souped to convey the fretty pearls he plunks before us.

    BF has a live East/West double-CD album, featuring on track 3 of the "West" disk *the* most amazing delivery of "Shenandoah".

  • Bill on guitar, loops
  • On bass, the energetic and ever-listening Viktor Krauss
  • On batterie, Woody Allen-lookalike Kenny Wolleson who must be a joy for Bill to play with.

    strereo savvy poolA joy to listen, it is, too, specially in the pool, Track 3 turned up to 11, a cooling Mythos beer, chatting to assorted pals.

    They're musicians - classical chamber types and some bouzouki players. They're vaguely aware that I've got some muzak piping thru the cunning sound system:

    Wharfedale woofers either side of the pool, midis of uncertain brand (Nakamichi, I think) and some J&B tweeters that messes with the local bats's GPS.

    The thing about this track - and if you haven't got the album, hie thee hurriedly to the Glass Onion and grab it - is that at a crucial point clever producer Lee Townsend ramps up the balance to greet both channels, and we're away.

    Except you're never *quite* away with Frisell because he plays it and then he plays it and then he plays it again and each time you're asking yourself did you *really* think you knew the fabric of the song.

    Plus, NO one can build the excitement like Frisell.

    As the improvs grew, the pool fell silenter.

    Bill hit a hit high note that absolutely *had* to have come off, or cancel the whole recording and the cellist asked "This is live?"

    I mean, do listen to it.

    Oh OK, I know it won't be the same as lolling dans un pool with volume and production values the same as it must have been on set, but I'm sure your dinky Costco set-up is perfectly adequate to get *some* of the flavour.
  • Ferry Flaunter

    Damn I wish I'd been there: I so miss walking the wild side.

    Bainbridge Review (search: 'Bomb scare') reports ferry japes with boozed belligerent fag-flaunting lane-hopping engine revver.

    Cuddly calm concupiscent Corfers: Ex-SAS-toughie now missionary, Vernon Peterson, just back from saving souls in deeper Albania.

    Vern sticks to the safer arrondissements.

    V in a bar supping the local grog. Bloke a few seats down asks for a refill.

  • Barkeep: Not til you pay for the last one
  • Bloke: I did
  • Barkeep: No you didn't
  • I did
  • Barkeep reaches under the bar and produces a weighty handgun that was cutting edge in the Crimean. Drills the guy.

    Vern (and he knows the whiff): You could smell the powder burn

    No one budged. Two peons dragged the body out of sight.

    Someone down the end complained, "Don't you ever  change the flavour of your dip?"

    Barkeep to Vernon: Kyrios, a little top-up, for any slight spillage during recent events.

    A daughter comes out with mop and bucket and proceeds to swab.

    Is told to pay attention to a far corner.

    Vern thinks he hears the local dialect for bone.

    Dance with who brung it

    Want to score with outposts of the Empire?

    Before you fly in from your Bainbridge boudoir, Sloane Street seraglio, Hong Kong hotspot, or millionairess Makati penthouse - just asking "Can we bring anything?" cuts an iceberg's worth of icy goodwill."

    We're deprived out here: we sing, we dance; we's simple folks.

  • Latest editions of the Times of Telegraph make us swoon
  • Some old sponger off my mum has been angling to come out and I've been making with the grumpy face and threatening lack of "co-operation".

    This afternoon the old bird calls and gets me and wants to check can she bring anything?

    I blurt out The Book of Dave, for which I'll repay. ("Won't hear of it, darling.")

    Then the kill: "Marjorie tells me you're a guitarist. I asked my nephew Luke who knows about these things and I wondered if I might contribute a set of La Bella Black Nylon to your store."

    Totally snookered; I am her slave.

    Mum: Was that the phone?

    Me: Lady P. She's arriving on Aegean, 6am.

    M: You were *nice*, weren't you?

    Me: Said I'd be pleased to collect her.

    Mother: (thinks) The boy's coming round.

  • kitchen view of yard sale

    Yard Sale!

    I may run a mile from "Negotiating with Nippon", but I love a cleaning job from the bottom up.

    The store room 'neath the kitchen has needed a going-over - and duude, we're talking a des res basement apartment-size space here, perfect for an illegal immigrant family on good speaking terms, or a bachelor curmudgeon (who? where? what?).

    early view of window areaSo I pin up my Greek lesson cues on the walls and strip down to posing briefs and bare tan-needing pot-belly and start work.

    First off, I am not alone.

    My dear, the rats who've been living there rent-free, not to mention the skeletons of their ancestors; also dead birds and all sorts of creepy-crawlies and snakey thangs - all v sulky at being disturbed after 10-yrs' spongeing off mama.

    Out they slither or run, to be met by Sam posing as hunting dawg, who scampers after them with convincing yelps and hollers.

    Benefits of Ignorance: I know nowt about what's to be kept, so out it all goes for a Yard Sale to be presided over by Yours Truly and a brace of Yorkshire Lassies who 'know about these things'.

    There's also a gang of cowboy recyclers who turn up, cast an eye over the junk, offer you 17/6 for the lot and off they tootle.

    patio viewIt's actually huge fun and I've unearthed all sorts of goodies from way back:

  • Complete sets of porcelain from when Mum packed up to leave Hong Kong in late 1970s, cheapo stuff then, totally out of production now and worth tons
  • About 200 vinyl LPs packed to last and never opened - Lehrer, Burl Ives, all those stereo experimentals; Charlie Kunz; all my Elvis I thought Dad had ceremonially pyred
  • All them Rodgers & Hammerstein et al the old folks grooved to;
  • Paul Robeson, Hank W snr (was there ever another?), Harry Lauder, Platters, Tommy Steele, Bert Weedon, Al 'Golden Guitar' Caiola, George Formby (naughty ukelele wizard - "When I'm Cleaning Windows", yeh?
  • Veritable treasure trove.
  • upper viewDad's old golf clubs, plus a titchy notebook with his precise notages:

    "Jul 12. 1530hrs. Light fair. Long shot to #15th. Wood, aim 2 o'clock bushy top tree left of yellow house."

    "Friendly 4some. Self, P vs TD and L. T unreliable on sand and water shots. Conceded water but accompanied him to next sand shot."

    If that's not nailing a guy for cheating, swallows don't dive to drink from the pool.

    chests in placeI have nothing of my father's by way of his writing and now I do.

    Is not all golf: even on the fairway he was thinking

  • "MG Oil - check level for leak.
  • Club orange juice better than home. Ask brand
  • Pool level - unlikely leak; more likely guests' unseemly splashing."

    (Oh, dad! You so rocked; why did we never talk?)

    Out with the old, in with the cleaner stuff and scrubbing.

    tool wall in early stageBack of top shelf, Magnavox stereo set, 2 massive speakers and tube amp like they don't make no more.

    Quick clean and it's booming.

    Thinks: Rent out cottage for mega rent to tourist suckers (never liked the idea of a whole 2 mins trudge up to home cooking), nest in basement.

    walls scrubbedAll this while, lugging and wheezing stuff in and out, glancing at my Greek lingo cues:

  • Puff - 'Well hey there' - wheeze - 'you must be new here' - grunt - 'perhaps I can show you around?'
  • Puff - 'my that's a fine sunset' - cough wheeze
  • 'Yo, big guy, I saw that space first'
  • Cough - 'OK, this is it: Spectator, Athens News and a pack of Karelia - no need check, the Speccie is 4.20, total 7.50, got it right here, even da small change.
  • electrics Why thank you, my Greek isnt as good as it'll become, I'm taking lessons.
  • Ciao, guys. Kalo hypno''.

    tools in placeHere in siesta country, between noonish and 2ish one bids 'good snooze'.

    I bid Ioanni and Pauline kalo ipno the other day as he dragged her off with that lecherous curl to his lip and she looked back pleadingly with a "Dunno how much hypno I'll fit in. He's a bit of goer."

    Life in Greece!

  • 23 June 2006


    pool stuff

    I distinctly recall telling Mama, NO  manual labour.

    What does she land me with?

    Sorting out dreary pool gear:

  • Are the lilos still 'flateable?
  • Do the water guns still splatter at 15 paces?
  • Flippers still flippin'?
  • Mats still flat enough to tan on or cuddle up on?
  • Lotion sufficiently unguent-ial to stave off sun *and* be good excuse to slather another's buff bod?
  • Is the bedroom-to-pool path swept of stones to ensure pain-free traffic for delicate soles?


    grumpy pool keeper

    It's moments like this that I regret not educating my daughters better so that they could have passed me pocket money to stay on the Isle, married to Safeways' graveyard shift.

    Once a loser, always one, I guess.

  • 22 June 2006

    Zeppelin-breasted, supersexualised

    As in "Big-lipped, zeppelin-breasted, supersexualised women."

    Phwoar! Great title for a blog post.

  • Read Kira Cochrane's Grauniad interview for yourself.
  • Ditto, buy and read Ariel Levy's "Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture" between your own plain brown wrapper.
  • 21 June 2006


    I hum that S&G Cecilia song as I go about my jardinerie penance but childishly pronounce it Cilicia.

    Au sujet d'affaires japonaises, I was lately bending so low over some horticultural horridness I was reminded of a Bainbridge afternoon when I'd agreed to help rearrange some furniture and and generally indoorsy stuff because I reckoned there might be food at the end, of which I was in intermittent need, those being the days of my unemployed incomelessness.

    All went well and mein hostess produced nutritious scraps and juices and we sat round looking looked pleased with ourselves.

    On a sudden, the bloke vanished and came back with horrid implements of jardinerie. Fixing me a cheery grin, he enquired, "Why don't you grab one of these and help me start work on the rockery?"

    I was dumbfounded. Que dire on such occasions? For starters, how about the fact that:

    "I'm not actually sure why not, but how about the pathetic excuse that a demi-quaver of a pulse still flickers, a millimetre of morale still clings?

    In which case, something fights against conceding that one is not just bankrupt but reduced to the abject poverty of not even having the wherewithal to stave off slipping that final slide down into yardwork.

    Why don't I grab? The next 75 reasons can be conveniently filed under Common Sense, sub-section Self-preservation, altho' I've no doubt that Laing and Freud have suitably purple-prosed sections on the subject.

    Why not grab? Difficult to say in a family setting with little Tommy and Clarice sitting by, tabula rasas for exactly the intemperate vocab called for in any civil explanation.

    Genial laughter.

    You cannot phase gardeners because they commune with Nature and are too balanced to condemn the mentally unstable. But honestly, what a cheek.

    I mean, why don't I grab that staple fun and nail my privates to his deck? Why not shove some bamboo shoots up under my fingernails? Apply hot coals to my soles, screech chalk down his children's blackboard?

    Hey, Bernie, why don't you grab this jar of Marmite and make us all a platter of toasted sarnies?

    I know we're all poor as hell and even the cost of an honest Albanian behind a rented 'dozer is prohibitive, but surely there's a 'friendly' enronian accountant out there on our side? I know they're weirdish types - til tax time, that is, when they suddenly become heros - but they can't *all* be green fingered?

    There must be some sort of tax wheeze to claw back some funds to pay for the flattening and battening and vanquishing of anything with roots.

    Look at it this way:

  • Equipment: gloves, booties, all those sharp implements.
  • Unguents and ointments to heal those rashes and cuts
  • Required reading - and god those gardening scribblers churn 'em out
  • Chiropracters et co: go on, fake it. Pretend you actually put some zeal into the hateful contortions and one day wake up with an "ache".

    Surely, that adds up - week after week, month to month; year to year, God forbid.

    Can't that be sort of claimed for under the pretense of ploughing back into *more* such stuff, but on the sly you call a little man who knows the right people and next day, up trundles a Centurion tank with honest yeoman at the helm, vroom vroom, crush stomp flatten ... et voilà! Fait accompli.

    Just an idea.

  • 19 June 2006

    kind of blue album cover

    Kinda Cool

    Dept of You Had to be There: For reasons too complicated and Albanian to go into, Kosta had his battered truck up here and our natty Micro voiture chez lui.

    Dinner over, I set out to return it but first went via boppin' Gouvia to drop in some floral goodies on a pal and pick up another carton of lung grating Karelia.

    Like all decent artisan wheels, the sound system in K's jalopy is of the finest even if the woofer is just anchored by twine to the back board.

    Has jazz anything to show more fair than Miles et co's incomparable Kind of Blue?

    In particular, track 2 with Wynton Kelly on joyful skittish ivories for "Freddie Freeloader"?

    So, I'm tousled from the swim and in anonymous t-shirt proclaiming the delights of Tegucigalpa. I've had mum rehearse me in the Greek for whatever I might need to say, and off I go.

    I park outside Taki's taverna, lined with tourismic diners, and vault out of the cab and swagger in with what I hope are convincing Greek gestures, Miles still pumping from the cab.

    Easy to spot the buffs from the way they look up: Say what? Voted the best jazz album evah , and it's romping out of a workman's truck in the heart of Gouvia?

    My Greek is up to accepting a quick Metaxa brandy so I go back to switch off the muzak.

    "No don't," calls a Wayne Rooney look-alike, switching to pidgin Anglais, "Is good. Good music?" Thumbs up.

    I beam at such acceptance by White Sahib Who Bringeth Mighty €uro Dollar to my humble country .

    "Meelesh Daveece," I attempt in my halting Anglikà.

    "F-ing A, mate!"

    "Wossat all abaht?" asks Spiro in his equivalent ruffian Greek as we sip and light up.

    Nuffink, I confide ('tipota' but drawled "t'p'taah" which I hope is their equivalent of sarf of da river pernunciation). Just being an asshole.

    Spiro gives me that rise of eyebrow that no foreigner can possibly hope to enunciate, followed by his "level" lool followed by playful cuff around the chops that reminds me never to actually irk him:

    "Ne! You're a good kid but you *are* a bit of an asshole. I've noticed that."

    The surrounding Greeks raise their glasses "To assholes!" which the tourists catch onto and also raise beer mugs in mis-pronounced toast.

    I just have enough Greek to jest that we should encourage them to take that toast to the Corfu Palace.

    "On yer way," growls Spiro, "you're trouble."

    I clamber back in the cab and wave to the diners.

    "Kali orexi!" Bon appetit.

    18 June 2006


    Critical Metrics

    So I'm like giving the pool its first clean and it's a nice warm evening so I think of overcoming my cowardice and testing the waters.

    It takes a while but I finally go in and it feels great.

    I frolic about for a while until I've earned a drink and a brace of gaspers. I emerge and stroll down to the Rumpus Room where L is listening to my Bill Frisell and puzzling over the latest Athens News's Dilbert.

    She knows I simultaneously hoot with laughter while going a whiter shade of pale at how close to the mark Scott Adams hits.

    "You can't say this is funny," she says with a moue.

    I read it and collapse foaming at the mouth with memories of The Big House and Rebecca and Rich and Hugo and all those other good people who'd know exactly  where the foam is coming from.

    * Pointy-coiffed boss listening to Dilbert blah-blahing away.

    * Blah blah blah, goes Dilbers, as the Boss thinks to hisself that it's 2pm and his brain has shut down for the afternoon.

    Blah blah, drones on D

    Pointy coiffed Boss to self: "This calls for some generic leadership", and instructs Dilbert,

    "Do a cost-benefit analysis, get buy-in from all the key stakeholders, and track the critical metrics."

    before retreating for a mythical confab call.

    It's the precise-eared dialogue that had me shuddering.

    Oh man, have we not all in our time endured just such jargon jarring alphabetic monstrosities?

    For my next Greek exercise I have promised to translate it into Greek.


    Just a leetle  fuller than I had planned ....

    Making of 'Like A Rolling Stone'

    Sent to me by Wells sahib, walking wikipedia on naughty Robert Zimmerman.

    RW deals only  in top-rate links and I can no longer keep this one to myself: a "fascinating look at the gestation of what Rolling Stone Magazine called the greatest Rock and Roll song ever."


    entrance to the british cemetery corfu and house of caretaker, george Psaila, MBETo Dad's grave to honour this important 25th anniversary.

    As soon as Mum and I enter the well-kept oasis of beauty and calm, I'm once again overcome with anger and embarrassment on behalf of caretaker, George Psaila, who single-handedly maintains this resting place for the Euro-dead of many nationalities.

    british cemetery, corfu, entrance viewYes, not just Britishers are buried here. Indeed, there's a whole separate section for Germans.

    And not a widow's mite set aside to recompense the septuagenarian George for his efforts or to find him an assistant for his 24/7 devotions.

    The sign on the gate lists sensible hours, but there's a phone number to call for visits "outside normal hours".

    The bottom line is that George and his wife welcome visitors round the clock and people take advantage of this.

    gravestonesI've given up counting the books and brochures that direct people to the cemetery and list it as a must-see attraction.

    From the sublime to the ridiculous:

  • Victoria Cross listings
  • Message boards
  • Find-a-grave links
  • Even the The Great Shakes bar, for goodness' sake ....

    In Just Greece talks of how:

    "Just south of Platía San Rocco and signposted on the corner of Methodhíou and Kolokotróni,the well-maintained British cemetery features some elaborate civic and military memorials.

    It's a quiet green space away from the madness of San Rocco, and in spring and early summer is alive with dozens of species of orchids and other exotic blooms."

    Travel & Leisure salutes the man himself:

    "Supervisor George Psaila, born on the grounds in 1927; his father, one of many Maltese settlers, had been the cemetery's caretaker before him. Mr. Psaila led me past rare wild orchids to a marker honoring 44 British soldiers lost at sea when a mine exploded as they were returning from World War II.

    Equally moving was the loyalty of dozens of expatriate Brits who wanted their remains laid to rest here.

    One man engraved his wife's headstone with 'Good Night, My Love, I'll be along later."

    Brave sentiments, but I wonder how much actual dosh swanned along later by way of appreciative gesture to George for his lady's des. res. resting ground.

    lady holmes and george Psaila tending sir ronald holmes' grave (1913-1981)I've heard the figure of 1,000+ for expats currently resident in Corfu. Certainly, those I've met natter confidently of being buried here, praising the desirability of the cemetery and George's hard work but keeping fingers well clear of their bulging purses.

    quiet moment for marjorie holmes at her husband's grave, 25 years to the day since his deathThe Visitors' Book bears witness to the emotional impact on visitors from every European country. The measly few coins in the collection plate bear equal witness to the disgraceful lack of impact on these Psaila Marners' money belts.

    Closer inspection of the grounds shows where people have enjoyed picnics among the hallowed stones and then blithely pissed off, leaving their crap all over the place - in some cases, according to George, *literally* their own waste.

    I can't think of a single government official or tourism representative who has faced up to the subject of contributing to the garden's upkeep or support for George. What would be so difficult about placing a collection box next to a single-page history?

    sir ronald holmes' grave, british cemetery, corfu, greeceOf the myriad guide books and travel agents who direct gawpers here, not one seems to think that an offering might be in order.

    Our less than proactive local tourism operation is happy to boast it among historical and sightseeing delights but lifts not a little finger to devise help for George to carry on providing fodder for their blurbs.

    lady holmes arranging flowers at sir ronald's grave on 25th anniversary of his death in corfuI'm just as bad: I stand around in posh salons tutting with the best of them and agreeing that something should be done as I eye the host's daughter or covet their bottles of the good stuff tucked away behind the Leigh Fermors.

    I should be hammering out a bleating piece for The Corfiot, to be submitted when next I tug at the hem of Ms Whitton Paipeti's garment.

    Having thus vented thus, I now expect some starchy official to crawl out of the woodwork and point out how clause A or B forbids such extravagance, or how Graeco-British Treaty C covers exactly this sort of horticultural entente cordiale , except the actual budgeting  fell foul of Gordie's last hatchet job.

    A senseless act of social suicide is called for, and I'm the man, my reputation in tatters anyway from blasphemous cavils against that fatuous treadmill dubbed "gardening".

    I shall compose a 'Hurrican'-style song to be sung at every smart gathering and Saints and Remembrance Days, to the effect that,

    "All us ex-pats with our flip-flops and thongs,
    Free to drink ouzo at poolside singalongs,
    cymbalWhile there's George Psaila with rake and hoe
    Tending our Loved Ones, all in a row."


    Clash of cymbal and wail of sinewy fiddle.

  • 17 June 2006


    horace the swallow

    A couple of days ago, I walked into our lounge and there was a mouthy Horace the swallow on the carpet looking un peu bedraggled.

    He'd obviously fallen from his nest and strolled into chez nous.

    We found him some paper and a spittoon for home and I sliced up a juicy worm from le jardin and placed a saucer of Adam's Ale within beak's reach and set him below the main batch of nests in case his parents spotted him and could give him an impromptu lesson in wingery.

    horace #2

    Within 20 mins of turning my back he'd gone and we assumed he was awa' into the wide Ionian yonder.

    Alas, I've started finding dead swallows on the lawn and they're Horace's build and youth ...

    I don't reckon our lad made it. Posted by Picasa

    Perversions in the Pool

    Pool almost full - one more night's hosing and then into the complicated filtering and back-washing.

    Actually rather dirty with a Macbethian cauldron of dead insects and unidentifiables floating at various levels, plus an even oily film across the surface.

    Mum and I agree that *now* is the time to have that 'Poolside Perversions' party. Or do I mean "Perversions *in* the Pool"?

    I think I do and must send out the invites post-haste with instant Picasa'd pics as the frolics turn increasingly demented. Posted by Picasa

    Airline Horror Stories

    Award-winning cartoonist David Horsey, deft on doodling, un peu dull on raconteurism.

    But it's a timely topic on which to wax tedious.

    As The Season picks up, sun-kissed Corfu daily welcomes visitors with their own rambling tales.

    I still think one of the best examples is our own airport's splendid scheme a few weeks back - as the holiday season kicked into high gear - to re-surface the pitted runway.

    Trouble was, next day saw flights in all directions kept at bay as they waited for the damn'd thing to "dry".

    Blind Tasting

    I took this for a sick joke in the poorest of tastes, but its website implies otherwise.

    "After the huge success of the Parisian restaurant, "Dans le Noir?" London is now open in the trendy area of Farringdon on 30-31 Clerkenwell Green.

    Experience the unique interaction between clientele and guides as your food and wine are served in total darkness.

    Awaken and train your senses as you enjoy the tastes, aromas, flavours and textures of our exquisite creative cuisine."

    I learnt of this via Deborah Ross's Spectator review of "Where diners eat in total darkness and are served by blind and visually impaired staff ... I called and spoke to a nice Frenchman who asked if we could call back, 'eez just that I cannot find ze bookings book".

    He did not call her back and she started to think that this is why blind people, on the whole, don't make especially good restauranteurs.

    Honestly, if I wanted to write a Tom Lehrer song, I'd start here and then pull back out of correctitude ....

    Ms Ross wasn't impressed. As she comments, "Nothing to Braille home about."

    16 June 2006

    Dewey's Callipygian Wednesday Lunch Joke

    Good Start

    Shocking headline in IHT for June 10 about African migration and how 80,000 illegals are "poised to migrate illegally to Europe".

    Sliver of comfort in the body of the text where one learns of:

    "a small vessel overloaded ... capsized off Malta ... 11 feared drowned ... the capsized Africans discovered by Italian fishermen who came upon people crying for help in the sea.

    Trying to reach Malta from Tunisia ... Sixteen rescued, four in serious condition, three bodies found, eight missing."

    80,000, eh? An uphill operation for our worthy Coast Guard custodians, whom God preserve.

    I'd been asked to produce a typical joke *in Greek* and for my Greek class.

    Lawyers are two an €vro out here, but *very* revered, so no jokes about what one calls 10,000 noble attorneys in Davy Jones' Locker.

    What I have managed to cobble together in my halting Greek is a slight variation with a pleasingly relevant feel.

    "What does one call a boat-ful of capsized illegal immigrants?"

    One doesn't. They're crying to *you* for help."

    "Very well then, what does one call 11 West Africans at the bottom of the sea?"

    "Out of 80,000? Let's see ... maybe not a huge  start - but a good one."

    It actually draws on a lot of good vocabulary that comes in handy elsewhere. It also gets a splendid guffaw, so they've clearly not heard the tasteless version involving attorneys.

    15 June 2006

    Wednesday Lunch

    Out of sheer incompetence with my social calendar, I find myself embroiled in a sort of institutional "Wednesday Luncheon Club" where dubious types like me sit around a rather good €3 meal (avec vino) and chew the breeze, exude erudition and generally set the world to right.

    Alas, my last two years in the US left me too cranky and dreary for such a vibrant gathering and it is just not my scene.

    Plus, it takes place in the church vestibule which means I am getting horribly familiar with that part of town.

    But I did snap one glorious moment - that I can't seem to attach to any textual posting - of the genial Dewey extolling the virtues of callipygia, his lovely lady Marjo (pronounced Mario, as per the Dutch she is) sinking her head in hands at her swain's cheekiness, while the erudite Professor Panos Karos manages a slight stretch of mouth in mirthful appreciation.

    I'll try to blog it on its own for wider viewing.

    hms lancaster


    I had all sorts of silly hello-sailor clichés ready to embellish my account of evening aboard, but all I met was enthusiasm, courtesy and ram-rod straight decency.

    My first ever soirée of this kind, plus my first chance to meet and observe le tout Corfu toffery - impressive and, in the case of the local talent, eye-boggling.

    Fit young men of impeccable, austere good manners served drinks and food from the largest-stocked bar I have ever seen.

    chopper view, hms lanacaster cocktailI kicked off with a brandy dry and allowed my glass to be filled by a breathtaking jacqueline tar whose greenest of eyes held my unctuous gaze with genial disdain. As my glass emptied, an observant rating magically appeared at my side and offered a refill from his brimming jug of apple juice. I shamefacedly confessed to being on harder stuff and made to stumble off in search of the brandy when he informed me that that was indeed what his jug contained. The other was whiskey.

    frolics aboardAfter knocking it back for an hour or two, the list reduced itself even more exclusively as "some of us" retired to the Robusto restaurant for top-notch nosh in distinctly un-Corfu surroundings.

    Before I leave the deck of the Lanacaster, a mention of the unease I suddenly felt after an hour of quaffing and nattering - unease at feeling quite so at ease. Couldn't quite put my finger on it until I glanced round and realised:

  • Not a hint of greenery in sight
  • Not a whiff of window-box, nor sliver of stem
  • No horticultural implements casually draped across the helicopter gun ports.
  • Polite Banter: Not a jester's josh on the jardinerie. Clean language throughout.
  • A blissful evening, with not a jot of "business with Nippon".

    dinnerRobusto: More vino and vivacity before carefully home to a litre of H²O.

    Because I now know that she GooglesTM herself, I'm henceforth sprinkling these posts with meta tags galore to the saintèd Hilary Whitton Paipeti, editrice of The Corfiot, whose URL I know to no longer bother to cite since it doesn't actually lead to an online version of our monthly de rigueur  reading.

    But I am beholden to Ms Paipeti for being so incredibly nice about my much earlier uncouth posting where I sulked about no-one coming up with broadband sites for my pal Gwyn and blaming Hilary's silence on some wholly invented distraction with the local property market.

    At time of writing I was nowhere near Corfu but venting from a garret in Washington state, so I had no idea what I was talking about.

    In her place, I would have reduced me to tatters but the distractingly fanciable HWP just gave me a teasing finger-wag and wafted off in her floaty gown and sixties style granny shades. That's actually worse than being slagged off, which is why I'm smarting still.

    A thoroughly excellent evening and well worth the cotton-wool mouth the morning after, albeit *not* the way I intended to visit the British Cemetery to honour Dad.

  • 13 June 2006


    David Ronald Holmes, Kt, CMG, CBE, MC

    26 Dec 1913-14 June 1981

    My dad died 25 years ago today and I miss him.

    Busy day:

  • My Greek lesson and taking in Tassia's moussaka for the lads to lunch on
  • Then out to hunt down some gizmo for the printer
  • Then some guests from Wales up to dinner
  • And so the list goes on - how time flies in Paradise.
  • Mum and I fitted in a visit in to his grave and I managed to get thru it without damfool tears welling.

    I haven't much to add that I haven't chugged out before in:

  • Saturday's Child
  • In Memoriam.

    Sir Ronald relaxing Greece; and Sir R and Lady Holmes at his knighthoodGoing thru the albums this afternoon, what do I come across but some rather nice snaps a relaxed Dad and some of his actual knighthood day.

    Gosh Mum looked nice; still does.

    sir ronald holmes and christopher holmes outside Buckingham PalaceAnd who is that fresh-faced elder son next to Patera?

    I remember that day as if it was some 30+ years ago: I was publicity manager for Cassell publishers and Nicholas Monsarrat had flown over from Malta for a meeting that included my promotional spiel. It was going to be touch-and-go getting back from Buckingham Palace in time.

    I didn't in fact make it but knew where to find them - in the pub - so I joined Nick et co there. As I walked in, Michael Felgate-Catt said "There's the man - missed your publicity routine but Nick's happy with the typed schedule. How'd it go at the Palace?"

    Monsarrat: Hello, old boy - large Chivas on the rocks? Which palace?"

    MF-C: "Buck House. Chris's dad got gonged today."

    NM: "Oh I say,well done ! This calls for more than the old rotgut ... landlord? Got a bottle or two of Mumms on ice? Jolly good. On my tab, as usual."

    And we were away.

    George of the Cemetery: One of the great unsung scandals on the isle attaches to George Psailas who single-handedly., 24/7, maintains the beautiful cemetery, unfunded and unaided.

    I'm to blame, you're certainly to blame. We're all to blame. I can hardly look him in the eye each time I visit the exquisitely maintained plots.

    I shall return to this subject with facts marshalled and suitably honed hrrmphings and bombast.

    There will not be Hilary Whitton Paipeti's graceful tutting about *my* finger wags.

  • HMS Lancaster

    Cocktails tomorrow night aboard Type 23 frigate, HMS Lancaster, followed by even more exclusive dinner with Commander James Morley et chosen guests somewhere on dry land - probably Tripa restaurant.

    World's funniest joke

    Well, well - it seems it was written by the great Spike Milligan, at one time world's best-known manic depressive and author of 'Puckoon' and many others, including his war trilogy, "Hitler, My Part in his Downfall", volume 5 of which - "Where Have All the Bullets Gone?" - I had the honour of promoting with Spike in the mid 1990s.

    I'm not *sure* the joke they've singled out is all that  funny, or for that matter representative of Spike's best.

    But who am I to quarrel with the professor whose investigation of the psychology of humour dubs Spike author of the world's funniest joke, which runs as follows:

    "Two hunters are out in the woods in New Jersey when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed.

    The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps 'My friend is dead! What can I do?' The operator says: 'Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.' There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says 'OK, now what?' "

    I guess you had to be there.

    12 June 2006

    keep out of grass


    Actually, the Greek for "out of grass" is not a bad phrase to have in one's ammo belt these days.

    As the whiff of idiosyncratic gaspers catches the breeze or, indeed, billows from Yanni's Sports Bar and Ouzerium, and the faithful greet each other with a raucous "Wha' hey the lads!", I have an urge to track down the talented tourist cop who compiled their excellent phrase book and persuade him to add "KOOG" to the next edition covering exotic cheroots.