Week 138

7th August, 2011

The strangest thing happened to us today. We are sitting in our house, thousands of miles from UK, watching BBC Current Affairs. Suddenly, the school which we left two years ago, the staff which we worked with until two years ago, the doors we went through and the corridors we walked along for almost 40 years popped up on our screens. How far does one have to go to get away from it all? The BBC have been following our school as it combines with an Asian school across the town in an experiment of social engineering as an answer to the race riots of ten or so years ago. It is an experiment doomed to fail as the BBC were keen to highlight but Oldham LA don’t get much of the spotlight and when a running documentary following the experiment was proposed, they jumped at it. Soon it became apparent that the publicity was not going to be as positive as they had hoped and, before the second term was completed, the schools were refusing to co-operate with programme makers. They continued to report but from outside the school. Interviews with pupils from both schools appears to be establishing entrenched views which will take generations to wear down and evidence from the schools were not very positive. This conclusion had been arrived at by the staff long before the merger took place. What was most striking was the stressed and drawn faces of the staff, those very people who we had seen fall short or fail over the years, as they sat in the school hall after a long day teaching. They were listening to Sir something or other as he lectured them on his experience in uniting Protestants & Catholics in Northern Ireland. I could see exactly the spot on their heads over which it was all flowing and we rejoiced to have spent the last two years elsewhere.

8th August, 2011

The Greek Government, as it flails around and tries to solve its economic problems is caught between a rock and a hard place. While liberalising the guilds or closed-shops like the taxi drivers, they are using classic toools of the command economy. Today, their reaction to a rising oil price has been to set a ceiling on petrol prices in different areas of the country. In our group of islands, the Cyclades, the ceiling for Unleaded has been set at £1.49 per litre. Unfortunately, the price was lower before they set the ceiling and it was immediately put up. Quite the opposite reaction than they had intended.

9th August, 2011

Supposed to be the first day of our next heatwave with 40C/104F forecast. We had a busy morning planned. Fortunately, the forecasters were all about 24 hrs premature and we were able to conduct our business in a mere 30C/86F. After watching the third day of rioting, arson and looting on the BBC News, we watched it all over again on the Greek News. The Greeks, of course, find it highly amusing. Their riots were minor squabbles compared to these.

At 10.30 am, we drove up to Apollonia. We went to the Post Office and there was a letter from my friend and ex-colleague, Brian Robinson. He had posted it on June 7th but it was delivered to Sifnos Post Office on August 7th. We were probably lucky it was delivered at all. We went across to the cake shop and bought a selection of delicacies for Nikos & Chrissopigi. Nikos was our electrician on the house. His wife, Chrissopigi, works in the National Bank. They have been helping us with advice so we thanked them with some cakes. We walked on to the cafe for a frappe and I read Brian’s letter to Pauline. It was lovely to get it and filled me with a warm glow of pleasure. We then went on to the Woodman. He will come to do our work after the holiday on August 15th. When exactly he didn’t say but, as we were there, I remarked on the wonderful success he was having with his vegetables. I was about to ask him about watering when he took a knife and cut huge tomatoe, aubergines, cucumbers and peppers, stuck them all in a plastic bag and insisted that I take them. We were supposed to be going to the supermarket but we hardly needed to go now.

10th August, 2011

The Test Match starts today and I’m looking forward to it. Rioting will not stop it but rain might according to the forecast. Yesterday I enjoyed a letter from old colleague, Brian, and this morning I received a lovely email from another ex-colleage, Rizwan, who is now teaching in Saudi. He sent me a photo of him and his wife and child on holiday in Paris.

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Phoned Ruth yesterday to find out how she enjoyed her holiday. Of course, she wasn’t in. She was at the supermarket but Kev was there and told me they really enjoyed Slovenia. Not only that, he told me the fantastic news that they had two buyers for their property in Bolton. Just as with us, information came through while they were away. The answer is there. If you want to sell your house – go abroad!

Made a real breakthrough today. I was desperate to watch and not just listen to the Test Match. I found a free streaming download site that gives me all Sky Sports. On this occasion, Sky Sports 1 was streamed from India to my computer in Greece. Great, I saw all the India wickets fall and couldn’t believe it when I watched Cooke & Strauss not just survive but make 84 before the close of play. Once again it was Broad & Bresnan did the damage with 4 apiece.

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11th August, 2011

Wonder of Wonders – we have woken up to cloudy skies and a cool breeze – after months of sunshine the cavalry has arrived. I took the opportunity of watching the Test Match most of the day. I had an Australia ‘stream’ of Sky Sports which was fantastic. The only two downsides were that I used 670 Mbs in one day of my allocated 10 Gbs for the month and I felt heavy and lazy from inactivity.

12th August, 2011

Unbelievably low temperature today – 25C/77F – which make life quite delightful. We have luxuriated in it. Today is the official Greek Exodus when the townies leave their hot homes and head to the breezier islands. It all centres around August 15th which is the the Ascension of Virgin Mary. A few old people go up to the Monastery to give thanks while they majority gorge themselves on sun, sand and white wine.

13th August, 2011

A busy day today. Breakfast – Gardening while it’s cool – coffee – swimming – food – Cricket (Maybe we’ll finish them off today!) – Football (Liverpool v Sunderland / Fulham v Aston Villa / Newcastle v Arsenal) Exhausting! You really have to be fit for this regime.

Great win for England. I’ve really enjoyed it. The football was fairly pedestrian by contrast.

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