30 May 2008

Parlez-vous Aspergia?

Back when I was a cubicle skivvy aboard the good ship Bezosia, I suddenly started being approached by some of my quieter shuffling colleagues.

"Could I," they wanted to know, "spot a case of Aspergia?"

At that time I couldn't even spell it, hadn't even heard of it.

As it turned out, aspergia seemed to be a mental ... um, not 'affliction' ... a mental 'state' that included the ability to focus for long periods on whatever one was doing.

After I'd been asked for the 4th or 5th time if I thought someone was 'aspergic', I found someone I could ask in complete confidence what was going on.

Turned out that some of the characteristics of aspergia are akin to genius, and my fellow galley slaves were keen to work out if they too fell into this category.

They couldn't really turn to one of their fellow geniuses - that summer of '98, Amazon was crammed to the gills with egg-heads - so they'd looked round for someone clearly NOT a case of the Big A (plus I was a foreigner, PLUS I was more than twice their age) and hoped that I would settle their dilemma.

Looking back, I find it rather touching, that these wonderful talented types - many of whom went on to become solid sources of tech help and geeky advice - were drifting around pondering their level of genius. The innocence of youth! The hopes and ambitions.

I'm reminded of those days by stumbling across this helpful site on aspergia. Good times.

29 May 2008


There is a street light across the way - very across the way - that has irked us for some years.

The other night I borrowed a gun and shot it out.

My first shot was a sighter that needed 2 clicks right. The next one took the bulb out.

Most satisfactory.





I have heard tell of pretentious areas of England where one actually hears Brit accents braying out the quintessentially American, 'Dude'. If so, this shows how far Albion has sunk.

'Dude' is not a word that *any* non-American can pronounce in convincing fashion, and this was brought home to me by none other than the great Eric Edge (whom God preserve).

I daresay I might have tried it myself - sotto voce - among the cubicles of Decatur or PacMed, but the moment I heard Lord Edge curl his vowels round it, it dropped from my vocab.

I just wish I'd had this clever video around as a tutorial or for EE to critique.

I wonder where that broth of a boy is now (apart from not tending his blog)? Every time I see a 'secret' film festival, I think of queueing and chatting and the suspense of what we were going to see ...

25 May 2008

IEX 5977

IE is an Athens registration number and he looked like an arrogant Athenian road hog.

At 1135hrs, Friday May 24 last, at the junction of Urania's supermarket and the turn to Alpha Beta supermarket, I pulled up at a red light behind a red Smart car that seemed to be easing its way thru the light.

Ayoung girl of about 11 peddled across at her green light and this idiot scraped her and sent her tumbling.

I leapt out to see that she was ok, but she was picking herself up, shouted at the Athenian, mounted and peddled on.

I shouted at him and pointed to my eyes as if to say "I seen you, mate." He dismissed me with a wave, the lights had greened and off he zoomed. I got back behind the wheel and roared off and caught him up and honked and wagged my finger, then let him take off to sweat in his shame.

This morning i was buying my paper at the usual newsagent on Alessandros Ave where i've bought my cigs and Economist since forever and I wouldnt have looked round except this asshole was making a big deal about why didnt they have this and why didnt they stock that and didnt they know that X brand of cigarellos was all the rage in the big city?

"Is you," I said, wagging the familiar finger. He looked fiercely blank.

"Is you, red Smart car, IEX 5977, 11:30 at the Kondokali junction, knocked down that young girl."

All heads turn and that mob murmur rumbles.

"She wasnt hurt," I said: "Got up and peddled away, but all the same ... you come over here with your big city ways ... drive properly." Murmur crescendo.

He tells me I'm crazy, turns to his fellow Greeks and tells them I'm crazy, but they were getting pissed by his 'tude before that anyway, his poncy insistence on the posh panatellas 'n' all.

"There's a red car outside ... what was the number again?"

"Iota epsilon," I start. "C'est ca."

"The brat wasn't paying attention-"

Wrong move.

"Pay up and leave" said Dimitri, which he did with many a murmur about idiot foreigners.

Murmurs and a man with labourers forearms said that he worked round Kondokali and he'd be looking out for the car.

"You're taking a fucking foreigner's side?" he mocked.

"Was the girl ok?" asked Dimitri. I said sure, she just shouted at him and peddled on.

Labourer's arms pushed past the Athenian, none too gently: "I 'peddle' a big lorry" he rasped without bothering to look round. "You'll get more than a shout."


This is exactly what I used to ogle most weekends from within my battered Volvo when I took it to the Bainbridge Island Chevron garage to be washed and slathered by that week's local schoolgirl fundraisers.

This honey's Australienne and the story is about closing the service down for safety reasons.

The Bainbridge crowd would have the lithest honeys jumping up and down, waving signs at the traffic bombing up the 305 to Poulsbo.

Always wondered how there was never an accident.

20 May 2008

World No Tobacco Day

I've googled this offensive-sounding "Day" and find it only in My Kerkyra (The self-proclaimed "English-language magazine of Corfu", endearingly the most mawkish, least fluent Eng lang mag on the isle.

But I love it and refer to it for all my Kerkyran outings and festivals).

What sends me ashen is this report that the *Turks* are caving in to this nannying ....

19 May 2008

McCain Talk

I would NOT like to be a shifting or shifty pol in these days of YouTube shafting.

I dont know the rights or wrongs of McCain's campaign promises - we are a little out of touch here - but it makes for squirming viewing.

17 May 2008

Fatsos' Fault For Global Warming

- Official!

Quel headline! For stoutists everywhere, truly, our cups runnerereth over.

Nay, lad - t'was in t' Torygraph so it must be true, yeah?

Stands to reason:

  • Them podgies use up more fuel just getting around
  • And those trencherman helpings of pie and mash, oh what? Definitely uses more energy to produce than the dainty portions you and I push around our plates.
  • Result? Food shortages and higher energy prices - the bounders.

    To the barricades!

    14 May 2008

    Guitar non-stand Stand

    Some show-off in Marko's Club brandishing a geetar mag showing some useless guitar stand with which he plans to look even flash-harryer and twirpier.

    It seems that the 'stand' attaches to the back of the guitar and then flips down like some bike stand and is expected to keep the axe balanced.

    Was this designed by a working guitarist?

    • I don't want any 'princess and the pea' bump spoiling that rounded flatness of the Fender against me. Know what I mean?
    • And when I put it down, I want to know it's rock steady and *safe*, and that means balanced with something at the neck to stop it keeling over.
    • This stand seems to offer nothing more than 'convenience' - i.e. why make it difficult for a thief by storing it in some inaccessible nook back of the stage, when you can hit the final chord and leave it standing right there as you saunter over to the chick who's been eyeing you from the 2nd row.
    • And it's certainly asking to be tumbled over by the first ruffian roadies who shambles past.

    11 May 2008

    Your Age guessed by How Often You Eat Out

    Sounds roobish, don't it? My friends mock me by guessing my deluded age by the age of the daughterly maidens I eat out *with*.

    I don't believe they're after me just for a good nosh but it *is* odd how many of them finish their puds, excuse themselves to excuse themselves ... and just don't come back.

    Pen and pad handy? See for yourselves:

    • Pick the number of times a week you'd fancy eating out (more than once but less than 10 times)
    • Multiply by 2
    • Add 5
    • Multiply by 50
    • If you've had your birthday this year, add 1758 ... if not, add 1757.
    • Subtract the four digit year of yr birth
    • You should now have a three digit number: The first digit is your original number - how many times you'd like to eat out - and the remaining two are Your Age.
    Admit yourselves gobsmacked if not totally flabbergasted.

    05 May 2008


    My Lesbian friend Dora has always been mighty lean but now she's mighty mean: it turns out she's one of a bunch taking the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece to court for 'insulting the identity' of the good folks of Lesbos - also known as Lesbians. Which means if yours truly had been born there, *I* too could call myself a Lesbian. Cool.

    I urge her to save her breath and her money on learnèd counsel: how clued up can this lot be who think that homo-sexual and lesbian are like men and women. It's not man-sexual: it's homos - like *same* sex, OK? You'd think they of all people would know their classics.

    "Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies with no connection whatsoever with Lesbos."

    Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the H&LC of Greece pooh-poohs the lawsuit as "a joke in bad taste that borders on discrimination".

    Also called Mytilene after its capital, Lesbos is the birthplace of Sappho whose home town of Eressos is a favored holiday locale for gay women. (Incidentally, never have I met a less joyous or gay bunch than the homosexual ladies out here.)

    According to Dora, the term lesbian has only been linked with homo babes for the past few decades, "whereas we have been Lesbians for thousands of years."

    "Can't you," I ask, "just say that 'I am from the island of Lesbos'?

    She fixes me her Gorgon look.

    pantokrator and bird

    Mountain & Bird

    It's 0700 hrs Greek time and I've been up an hour celebrating absence of hangover.

    I climb to the guest room to check email and the morning looks so good I decide to fire off a memento snap of Mount Pantokrator for my bonnie Spitfire over the ocean.

    Damn the Panto' is looking inviting. I might even pack a picnic and head up around Perithia and to hell with the toe cassé.

    As I click the shutter I'm thinking

    "My gal is gonna love this one. Wait til she cops an eyeful of- what the?"

    Across the view finder glides this ... something ... and when I download it, I see it was a ... whacking great Mutha Oiseau.

    And lo! Its wingtip is dead on the summit, as if to say,

    "Here, asshole. This is where you climb to."

    It gets worse: as I excitedly shove Picasa into email mode to send it to my babe, the Nokia burbles and vibrates and it's La Spitfeuer, 2100hrs PST, texting her old man with another Bible's length communiqué so favoured by that Fruit of my Loins:

    "Yo dad! Wassup?"

    Hey, I'm only telling it how it is. Blame it on Ερμής, you don't believe me.

    dougal haston

    In High Places

    My time in book publishing brought me in touch with so many greats that my tales sound like ... well, tales. But I don't care. I tell them anyway.

    The problems with the torch relay up Mount Eve Rest remind me of two incidents with the late great mountaineering Dougal Haston whose 'In High Places' I promoted in 1972.

    1. When the book came out, Dougal et co were up Chomolungma, battling the weather for the summit.

      Facing no such bluster was the book which went within days to the top of the bestsellers. Those were the days when real books went to real positions in the charts and real booksellers like Hatchards' Peter Giddy gave real window space and their real bookshop staff delivered real service.

      Dougal's bunch eventually made it back to London where I whisked him off to signings, well covered by the media.

      It was during one Q&A that a mealy-mouthed reporter decided to put the boot in.

      "Great book, Dougal, and I don't mean to detract from the publicity - but isn't it a bit opportunistic of the publishers to wait until the book starts selling before they hold a signing session?"

      Dougal had this very quiet Highland burr.

      "The publishers have done a grand job. It was the weather let them down. I was slightly delayed making it back for publication."

      "What? Up in Scotland?"

      "Up Everest. In a 130mph crosswind."

      The reporter should at least have known that Dougal had been climbing and I believe it was John Moynihan of the Guardian who bellowed out "Don't you Murdoch hacks read *any* news?"

    2. The second story is less convoluted. My employers Cassell - publishers of Churchill et al - had recently been bought by Americans Collier-Macmillan and we were chafing under the yoke of the barbarians.

      I'd not been used to bothering my masters with authors that came in for briefings and press sorties but word came down from high that I was henceforth to take any "name" writers up to the 7th floor to meet the Big Cheese.

      Dougal and I duly took the elevator up to where the carpet and flowers started but the busty secretary told me that everyone was out power lunching so we breathed a sigh of relief and left for our own nosh.

      In fact, the directors were slumming it with the hired help and power *pubbing* in the Red Lion which was where I took Dougal for a reviving lager.

      They seemed to be having a good time and I debated keeping ourselves to ourselves. On the other hand, Haston's book had by then been nine weeks best selling which sort of made him a "name", more than any other writer I'd handled.

      As we elbowed thru the sycophants - me in my shiny suit, Dougal with his craggy features, lean and tanned - I felt my arm grabbed by a crew-cut minder:

      "The fuck you think you're doing?" he rasped, "That's Mr Coleman's table. He sure as heck doesn't want to meet any of your hippy friends."

      Dougal and I exchanged shrugs and headed for the door.

      The final touch came later that afternoon when the sales director came down to my office - a true blue Brit of the old school - and gave me a thumbs up as he licked his lips.

      "I saw our friend hurry you away lest our Lord and Master rub elbows with the polloi. I took particular delight in complimenting him over lunch, as in 'I see that Master Hartung is well versed in protecting you from the Great Unwashed - barring the way to the nation's hero and current bestselling author *and* almost certainly our greatest moneymaker this year ... gosh those MBAs sure know which way's north.' "

    Eve Rest Q&A

    Blighty Beer O'clock

    It's official: 1814hrs

    Now that the tourismo hordes are descending, I am girding literary loins for my annual mewling about t' folks 'back home'.

    Silly reelly: I don't know why I use that phrasing coz

    1. Me actual true belovèd kin folks are beyond the horizon in Seattle-en-Mer
    2. Blighty hasn't been back any sort of home for me since Perissodactlya trotted the shires.

    04 May 2008


    It's always flattering to be linked to (as C-K has offered) and I feel churlish begging people not to do so.

    I have my reasons.

    It particularly hurts when it's a genuine site such as corfu-kerkyra.eu

    To show my heart's in the right place, let me offer some minor tweaks on the opening page of this excellent site:

    Corfu-Kerkyra.eu has been created with the hope of providing you with the fullest possible guide to the Greek island of Corfu.

    Our intention is to provide visitors with all the information they need for a truly unforgettable holiday in this island paradise of Kerkyra.

    To make this site easy to use, we've divided our site into different thematic areas, complete with photos and the descriptions that you need:

    • Essential information on accommodation, restaurants and
    • Inside tips of discovering the true Corfu island, its beaches, historical background, museums and rich history and traditions.
    • Let us take you through the charm of Corfu old town.

    One of our joys in creating this site was to present Corfu from a fresh angle not tackled by the usual tourist offerings:

    1. Our traditional Corfiot cuisine: here are our best local dishes to make your holidays an insider's gourmet adventure.
    2. Be adventurous! Explore the many islets that surround the main island.

    Every summer, we at Corfu-Kerkyra.eu provide an ever-changing choice of the best places to stay; new amusements; and the best traditional restaurants.

    We welcome suggestions and updates - this is your guide and we hope you like its style and find it useful.

    Welcome to our wondrous island, and thank you for finding our site.

    Above all, have yourselves a GREAT HOLIDAY!!

    01 May 2008

    May Day

    Suddenly this morning it's fine weather so I have an early breakfast and drive into town to get another X-ray on my busted toe. I was watching 'Usual Suspects' last night so I know how to walk all gimpy except my bust toe isnt the same as Kevin Spacey's crippled hand and twisted foot. My hobble is more on the heel and not putting the weight on the ball of the foot where the break is.

    I'm celebrating the empty roads and telling myself I should get in early more often - like 8:45 is early but I'm a bit slow that way.

    I get to town and there's parking everywhere and i remember my mother telling me that May 1 is a holiday. I park like where I can *never* park and go buy a Spectator from the brothers on Alessandros Ave which never closes.

    I trick I have is to work out the precise cost and delve into my purse and leave the precise change. After 2 years they've got used to me being right so I just wave the money and put it down by the till. Once I got it wrong: I was buying a Herald Trib and a Corfiot and a pack of Karelia and I'd forgotten the cigs had gone up a cent. One of the brothers pointed it out and I really hated that and did 3 weeks penance letting them check my precise money until it felt right to go back to my old smooth ways.

    It's best in the thick of tourism season when all the grockles are queueing and moaning and waving their foreign mags and getting back tempered and I just wave my money and put it down on the glass cigar counter and walk out. I like to think they look at me and try it the same and are hauled back. Those brothers are fast and they know every single price of every single paper of every language.

    So I get my Speccie and I walk on and i happen to pass the x-ray man and his door is open and children are trooping.

    I look inside and Theotoki is giving an art class. We shake hands and I tell him why I'm there and he pops me under the camera and moves away and I hear him telling some kid 'more green' then he's back and i go in and help the kids and draw Donald Duck which i do really well after a couple of hundred times for my own kids.

    T comes out shaking his head and asking what I've been doing and i tell him just gardening and he shows me the x-ray and its all spaghetti junctions and I ask him what to do and he says he's not an orthopeado but he'd say just carry on another day what the hell i can't graunch my bones up much more and see Pandis first thing tomorrow and be ready for a cast of crutches or whatever it takes to keep me off gardening.

    For some reason i feel better and liberated but the funny thing is i hate yardwork, really loathe it and would do anything never to deal with planty stuff again.

    In Life you dont just have the things you hope you'll do and an achieve, you also have the depths to which you pray you never sink, the meaningless treadmill brain-dead nadir world that is everything you fear and despise and would hope to get hit by a truck before you've reached that level.

    That is 'gardening' for me and I use that foul word guardedly.