Thursday, 13 June 2013

Words we get from Greek: 3 - anarchy

Anarchy, from the Greek meaning no government. A strange word because it holds several, quite opposing, meanings. For some it means an absence of government because humanity has found a way of living harmoniously without the need to be governed. For other people anarchy means chaos and lawlessness and has a definite whiff of terrorism about it.

I don't know where the anarchy symbol of the capital A almost contained within a circle came from, but you do see it in all sorts of places - even here in this blog. Thus:

For me, the word anarchy is inextricably linked with my teenage years and those masters of getting up people's noses, the Sex Pistols. Here in my tiny home in Greece, where we do not have anywhere near enough room, I have somehow found space for a carrier bag full of old singles, yes, those black vinyl things, about seven inches across with an A and a B side, and in among all the weird and wonderful stuff I bought all those years ago is Anarchy In The U.K. by the Sex Pistols. The single was released in 1976 on EMI records, from whom the Sex Pistols soon parted company, and the B side is called I Wanna Be Me. I'm not sure the Pistols were exactly making a political statement with Anarchy, but for a spotty yoof as I was then it was a great single to bellow along to.

Punk rather got nipped in the bud as record companies realised there was money to be made from bunches of spiky-haired dorks shrieking and battering guitars and drums within an inch of their lives. It all became very corporate, but just for a little while punk music seemed to suggest that if you wanted to do something you didn't need the approval of Megabucks Records, you just went out and did it. And somehow that reminds me of the anarchists' dream of a harmonious society in which government is abolished because it is unnecessary. Ah well, you've got to have your dreams.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Timewasters welcome

Watching the kittens skitter about is a great way to pass/waste time. You're on your way to do something else when they suddenly emerge from behind a flower pot and 15 minutes later you're still watching them leap about.

Anyway, I have wasted even more time videoing them prancing around and this unedited film is the result. I tried to post it on my blog a few days ago, but technical difficulties intervened. I think I have solved these problems now, at least to some extent.

Anyway, enjoy the film. Parental advisory: This film opens with a scene in which Merkel, the kittens' mother, is licking her nether regions. Sorry about that, I was so intent on trying to catch the kittens on film that I never really noticed what was going on until I'd finished. There's more to this animal photography malarkey than meets the eye. Also the film goes on a bit (4 mins), next time I intend to get to grips with the editing process.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Trust me, I'm a musician (sort of)

It was Shakespeare - he gets everywhere, doesn't he? - who said that we should not trust "The man that hath not music in himself". So here on Skopelos we've just gone through a great exercise in demonstrating our trustworthiness by having the first Skopelos Music Festival and a good week it was, too.

I admit to being slightly biased in that I took part in the festival as a member of a choir which formed and rehearsed over one weekend and then launched in to a series of performances. For those of you who are now shuddering having heard me sing solo (in the office, supermarket and pub) let me assure you that with a choir to sing with it's all fairly painless for the audience. Credit is due here to our choirmaster/musical director  or whatever, Rod Iliffe, a man of seemingly infinite patience and tact. My favourite phrase of his is: "Well done, you've got that half right". Hopefully, it was all right on the night.

Anyway, the Skopelos Festival Choir as we were rather grandly named, was but one part of seven evenings of performances of all kinds with a lot, and I do mean a lot, of the talent coming from local musicians who are already here on the island. Those of us who live here and frequent some of the tavernas can often see these musicians perform, but it was good, I think, for them to have the chance to show off their talents to a wider audience. The picture below shows the musicians who can often be seen at the Molos Taverna.

It's not my intention with this posting to offer a critique of the festival, as I have said I might be a little biased, but I really did enjoy the performances by Greek musicians. Ever since my first visit to Greece almost 30 years ago, it is the music of this country which, even on a rainy day in England, can transport me to this magical land. I may not always fully understand the songs of love, loss and longing, but they almost invariably score a direct emotional hit.

I was also quite impressed with the way the island's mayor, Giorgos Michelis, (yes, that does really come out as George Michael) took to the stage and sang. He's the gent in the grey suit in the picture below and he's pretty good. Maybe more civic dignitaries could follow his lead.

So that's really all I have to say on this first festival. I think it is an event that will be repeated and preliminary discussions have already taken place with the local authority so things are looking good. And, who knows, if there is another Skopelos Festival Choir I might even be tempted away from singing in the shower to join in again. And if you happen to be on the island then why not join in? You might surprise yourself.

I have no pictures of "my" choir so here is one of the Skopelos
Primary School Choir who were very good.