Friday 31 August 2007


The Greeks say...


Or, to put it another way...

It is easier to TALK than to
hold one's tongue!

Image: © David Weeks, 2007

Thursday 30 August 2007


The Greeks say...


with your



Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007


The Greeks say...

Help yourself, so


can help you

Whether the Greeks said this as far back as when God was still plural, I am not sure, but it is an age-old, world-wide saying: 'God helps them as helps themselves...'

(Cue music-hall gag about the devout pickpocket...)

Help and the need for it (divine or human) is still very much the issue of the moment here in Greece and it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that while we are basking in golden sun under blue skies beside an idyllic shore, a mere 45-minutes away by airplane, human life and the ecology of a continent are being ruined or destroyed. Living in Paradise when Hell is so very close is a curious experience.

Thank you for all your expressions of concern about our safety... Today we take the ferry to nearby Kos Town where we hope for better news from the outside world...

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Wednesday 29 August 2007


The Greeks say...

If it were not for


...the HEART would BREAK

Being on the furthermost point of a small island without TV or radio and with only occasional sight of a newspaper, we had only the vaguest idea of the modern tragedy that is currently unfolding in Greece.

The first we knew of the seriousness of the situation was when we began receiving texts from friends concerned in case we were in danger from the fires that are now ripping through the mainland and many of the islands leaving people dead and homeless...

Well, we are safe and sound, but from the terrifying pictures in a Greek newspaper that reached here yesterday, there is no doubting the fearfulness of this crisis or the heartbreaking pain of the Greek people.

I might add that - as British Citizens - we feel deeply embarrassed that, almost alone among European countries (with the exception of that old enemy, Turkey), Britain has not offered aid to beleaguered Greece. 'Of course,' they say with a sad shake of the head, 'we understand: you have to ask George Bush for permission!'

We can only hope that that situation will change and that the terror now gripping a noble nation will find relief and resolution before there is more death, damage and disaster...

Image: © David Weeks, 2007

Tuesday 28 August 2007


The Greeks say...

is always

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Monday 27 August 2007


The Greeks say...

An open
is better
than a

And they also warn...


To which I'd like to add a Greek proverb of my own devising...

There is little to choose between the


and the


As with anywhere, Kalymnos can be a place of striking contrasts and this donkey was clearly a far less happy animal than the contented creature pictured the other day. Life can, after all, be good or bad for any of us - even donkeys...

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Sunday 26 August 2007


The Greeks say...

when OLD MEN plant
whose shade they know
they shall never sit in!

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Saturday 25 August 2007


The Greeks say...


isn't how far you got...

...but the distance you traveled from

where you started

And - depressing thought - today, we're already a third of the way along the road! That's my trouble really, I've always been a one-third empty rather than a two-thirds full person...

Image: © David Weeks, 2007

Friday 24 August 2007


The Greeks say...


can only be overcome by


And, they also say...

In baiting a MOUSETRAP with cheese, always leave ROOM for the MOUSE!

Everyday in Pothia, Kalymnos' main town and (hence the name) port, senior Kalymnian strategists sit in the cool of Kafenia, out of the ruthless and unremitting heat of the day (yesterday over F 100 degrees in the shade) drinking cafe hellenico and battlling wits at the chess board...

Image: © David Weeks, 2007

Thursday 23 August 2007


The Greeks say...

Either DANCE well...

...or get out of the ballroom!

Needless to say, if - like me - you can't dance AT ALL, then don't bother going into the ballroom in the first place!

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Wednesday 22 August 2007


The Greeks say...

comes in through the

goes out through the

Not sure this is universally true - or even, necessarily, true among Grecians; love can transcend seemingly insurmountable odds and survive apparently unbearable hardships...

But then, that's the thing with all proverbs: they are true and not true in about equal measure!

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Tuesday 21 August 2007


The Greeks say...

One minute of PATIENCE...

...ten years of PEACE!

I love this photo: partly because of the relationship between the donkey (and his thistle!) within the land-and-sea-scape, and partly because I know that the white buildings on the far shore are most of what comprises the hamlet of Emporios - and this is, more or less, the last glimpse you get of the little village on the end-of-holiday homeward journey.

Happily, we are not taking that journey just yet!

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Monday 20 August 2007


The Greeks say...

Even a


will not stay

where sounds no bleat to offer hope of PREY

Wolves on Kalymnos must have been particularly hard of hearing and either died out or moved away because, whilst there is plenty of bleating, there is absolutely no sign of any large, grey, shaggy creatures with teeth as big as grandma's...

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Sunday 19 August 2007


The Greeks say...

GREY HAIR is a sign of AGE,


But then again, grey hair doesn't mean that you necessarily have to entirely lose your sense of FUN!

Which is why I'm desperately trying to keep mine in tact!

I really love this picture - taken in 2005 - but it also saddens me because, nowadays (as an aftermath of the avian flu), geese are no longer allowed to wander free, bathing at will... Otherwise, change here is so slow as to be virtually imperceptible!

Last evening we were happily reunited with our friends, Andy and Sue, who were long-term, regular visitors to Kalymnos until last year when they finally gave up the struggle of travelling back and forth and joined the not inconsiderable community of ex-pats on the island.

God, it's a tempting (if impractical) prospect!

Such is the power of Blogger that almost every day we meet someone on the beach or in the bar who either came here because a Google searche took them to my blog or else who follow accounts of Kalymnian activities here when they are unfortunate enough to be elsewhere...

But dear, oh, dear... SIX days are gone already - almost a week! This is truly Tardis-on-Sea: a place where time stands still and, simultaneously evaporates!

Never mind, I can hear the sound of goat-bells from the mountain and the surf on the shingle and it's time for a coffee...

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Saturday 18 August 2007


The Greeks say...

All things GOOD to know...

...are DIFFICULT to learn

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Friday 17 August 2007


The Greeks say...

It is not possible to step


into the same river

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Thursday 16 August 2007


The Greeks say...


is the beginning of


Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Wednesday 15 August 2007


We're HERE!

And, as the Greeks say...

He who is not satisfied with a


is not satisfied with a


This is the first in a series of blogs featuring Greek proverbs, saws and sayings (researched by David) some of which are serious and some flippant but all illustrated with photographs from what are, I admit, earlier odysseys --- on account of the problems of uploading pictures to Blooger via dial-up...

It is possible, therefore, that you may have run across some of these photographs in a former life (whether on the blog or on one of my website picture albums); if so, I hope you'll forgive the repetition and view them in the same way that you might consider another cup of tea -- or, here, another cup of café hellenico!

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Monday 13 August 2007


...Greece here we come!

Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007

Sunday 12 August 2007


Tomorrow, after what has been, if not the year from Hell then at least the year from Purgatory, we (as Cliff sang) are all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a week or four...

And - thanks to David for fixing and paying for everything - (hopefully) no more worries either...

Those worries - which I am leaving behind, snuggled up for warmth to my overdraft and credit-card bills - include a total absence of work in the rest of the year; looming examinations/explorations for my Psoriatic Arthritis (with rheumatologists and dermatologists); steroid injections in both wrists for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; and an angiogram to find out precisely what is going on in my heart (following an abnormal result from the recent echocardiogram); all of which is, I think, more than enough to be going on with...

Anyway, my aim while we're away ("away" being Emporios on the Greek island of Kalymnos, via Athens, staying - once again - at 'Artistico' with the Glinatsi family) is to try and get some rest and relaxation in the hope of recovering from some of the traumas, trials and tribulations of the past twelve months and to get myself into a rather better frame of mind and body to face the aforementioned ordeals awaiting me on my return.

I am also hoping to do a bit of what (in my case) is laughingly known as "creative writing" - including a children's novel that I have been trying to write, on and off, for the past year.

All of which means that daily blogs will be a little different for the next month... All will be revealed, in due course!

I hope you'll still drop by from time to time; but, please, just remember that our Internet connection will be dial-up and not always accessible, so blog arrivals may be a little erratic and it may take longer than usual for any comments to get published.

So, for now, I'll say Καλὸ ταξείδι! (Kaló taxídi), which is Greek for Bon Voyage!

Image: © Brian Sibley & David Weeks, 2007


I'm not entirely sure why, but I've always had a fascination with the story and imagery of Noah's Ark and, over the years, have collected all kinds of arks and ark-related iconography on the pretext of, maybe (one day!), writing a book...

I was, therefore interested to see the recently released movie Evan Almighty (sequel to the film Bruce Almighty) in which former TV anchorman-turned state senator, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) gets the call from God to follow the example of Noah and build an ark in the middle of a housing development in Washington.

The conceit begins with considerable charm and some wit (for example, the name of the mysterious wood company which starts delivering vast quantities of timber to Evan's home is GO FOR WOOD!) although, unfortunately, it rather rapidly degenerates into an uncomfortable combination of moral messaging and silly slapstick.

Anyway, somewhere towards the end, God (Morgan Freeman, naturally) presents the word ARK to Evan as being an acronym for Acts of Random Kindness - which struck me as original and rather clever.

Of course, I should have known: there is nothing new under the sun (or the rainbow) and it turns out that it's originality is only in the ordering of the letters and that Random Acts of Kindness is a universally known catchphrase - but a rotten acronym!

According to Wikipedia, the phrase originated as follows:
The phrase may be a modification, or paraphrasing, of "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty", coined by Anne Herbert. Some claim that the phrase was created by Dr. Chuck Wall.

Dr. Wall, (holder of a Ph D in Educational Administration and Marketing Management) was looking for an assignment to give to his Human Relations class at Bakersfield College in California when he heard a local radio announcer talking about yet another random act of senseless violence. "I remember thinking, 'Is this the new definition of the news?'" he recalls. "A group of kids doing wonderful things ... sadly, that isn't news."

That phrase – "random act of senseless violence" – intrigued Wall, who imagined turning the negative message into a positive one just by changing one word. When he returned to the classroom the next day, he shared with his students their next project: commit one random act of senseless kindness. At the time, Wall had no idea what the efforts of his class would bring. Nor could he know that his minor change in verbiage would result in a catchphrase that would spread across the world. "You would have thought we discovered human kindness — that no one had ever come up with the concept of being kind to another," he says.
Google Acts of Random Kindness (or vice versa) and you'll find any number of websites including The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Sadly, however, I couldn't find any useful information whatsoever on ark-building or wild-animal wrangling...

Saturday 11 August 2007


Valerie Grosvenor Myer, David's long-term family friend (and mine by adoption as David's partner) died at her home in Cambridge on Thursday aged 72, after a courageous battle with Parkinson's Disease.

A novelist, poet, biographer, critic and editor, Valerie was a perceptive observer of human nature and a tireless enthusiast for life and literature.

I have the task of writing Valerie's obituary for The Independent; but, in the meantime, I'd like to share with you one of her poems that elegantly sums up her sanguine philosophy and her indomitable spirit...

Sing a Song at Sixty

It is too late alas to learn a musical instrument,

To become a downhill racer on skis or compete at Wimbledon;
I shall never be able to read Dostoevsky in the original.

I have not won any cups for achievement,

And so many things I dreamed of will never happen:
I shall never achieve my own chat show on television,
Or dissolve gracefully into artful tears, clutching my Oscar.

I must reconcile myself to clothing which is

Comfortable rather than glamorous,

And acknowledge that hair dye after sixty is usually a mistake.

I refuse to lament the loss of my beauty and my slender waist,

Instead I will be grateful that I retain my teeth,

More metal than ivory, it must be frankly admitted,

Propped, pinned, posted and padded with plastic,

But I can still eat with them.

I will be glad that that I was not born in the Dark Ages

Before the invention of spectacles. I will not agonize

Over tests I have failed, but will concentrate on remembering

The ones I have passed, and the people who have loved me.

It is futile to lie awake brooding over old animosities.

It is time to forgive one’s parents, and to contemplate the young

Not with envy but with tender concern and generosity,

Betraying no awareness of how vulnerable they are.

- Valerie Grosvenor Myer

[Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007]

Friday 10 August 2007


Overheard at the theatre...

Child (to Father): When I grown-up, can I be an actor?

No, son, you can't be both...

Thursday 9 August 2007


After the recent BBC / Annie Leibovitz / HM Queen photo-shoot debacle, it's good to see that the relationship between the media (especially photographers) and the Royal Family is back on an even keel...

Of course, just as we didn't know whether the Queen was coming or going in that TV documentary, it isn't easy to know whether Prince Hal was photoshoped before or after he'd stripped down to his boxers...

You can read an excerpt from Radar's article here.

Wednesday 8 August 2007





Guest Pearl-Diver: MARK LEE

1. You should not confuse your career with your life.

2. No matter what happens..... somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

3. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often that person is crazy.

4. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

5. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

Tuesday 7 August 2007


Years ago, cinemas were full of smoke and smokers - you could to see it shifting and swirling in the beam of light from the projector - and so, too, were the movies we went to see.

At the end of Now Voyager, Paul Henreid lit two cigarettes at once for Bette Davis and himself as they agreed not to ask for the moon when they had the stars; and the smoking of ciggies provided similar emotional punctuation in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, All About Eve and hundreds of other movies of the 'forties and 'fifties.

Nowadays, of course, smoking is social leprosy and one of Moviedom's leading dream factories has announced that they are giving up and taking the pledge...

Walt Disney Productions (the studio founded by a chain-smoker who died of lung cancer) announced that it had decided to stub out the fag habit:
BURBANK, Calif, July 25, 2007 -- The Walt Disney Company today made a commitment to US Representative Edward J Markey, Chairman of the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, that it will discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in its films...

In a letter sent to Representative Markey today, Disney President and CEO Robert A Iger said, “The Walt Disney Company shares your concern regarding deaths due to cigarette smoking. We discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in Disney, Touchstone and Miramax films. In particular, we expect that depictions of cigarette smoking in future Disney branded films will be non-existent. In response to your suggestion, our Company will place an anti-smoking Public Service Announcements on DVD's of any future film that does depict cigarette smoking.”

“Disney’s decision to take a stand against smoking is groundbreaking and I commend CEO Bob Iger for this important commitment. Now it’s time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney’s lead,” said Representative Markey.
Among the 'casualties' of this decision are various characters in Disney's on-going The Chronicles of Narnia franchise based on the books written by the pipe-smoking C S Lewis (right), who will not now be allowed to live in peace with their pipes...

Most significantly - and to the utter outrage of Narnia fans on the net - this will include Puddleglum the Marshwiggle (in the penultimate Chronicle, The Silver Chair) whose pipe was as much a feature of his personality as it was of his creator...

Mind you, it so happens that, for some time now, Disney have been retrospectively - and covertly - de-smoking some of their earlier films as part of a questionable revisionist practice to eliminates awkward and uncomfortable non-pc aspects of films from the past...

For example, Pecos Bill, the animated mythical hero of a tall tale of the West included in the 1948 film Melody Time, appeared throughout the piece (much as many flesh and blood Western actors did) with a cigarette dangling from his lower lip...

But now, thanks to the wonders of digital technology, Pecos Bill has been cured of his pernicious addiction to tobacco - though not his allegiance to the gun lobby...

And who's next for aversion therapy? Well, here's one obvious candidate...

...along with those other Wonderland reprobates: the cigar-chomping Walrus and the pipe-puffing Dodo!

Monday 6 August 2007


Two Irish women overheard in my local park on Sunday...

1st Woman: I've given up the Mass...

2nd Woman:
Yes, I know what you mean... Sometimes, when my grandson goes to confession, I'll go along and light a few candles; but what I say is, you really don't WANT Mass every single week...

Sunday 5 August 2007


The centrepiece of Antony Gormley’s current exhibition at The Hayward on Southbank is Blind Light.

A prosaic description of the component parts of the work would be: “Fluorescent light, toughened low iron glass, ultrasonic humidifiers, aluminium, water.”

But I would rather describe it as a room filled with clouds...

Entering through the single entrance/exit, you are suddenly blind - plunged not into the unseeing dark normally associated with blindness, but into a blazing blur in which everything further than a few feet from your eyes vanishes into a disorientating fog of snow white brilliance.

Only when you grope your way to one of the walls, do you glimpse the outer world of the gallery and those who are observing your blind entrapment.

As you will see - and not see - in this second photo-essay, those outside the room find themselves gazing at opaque walls behind which shadows occasionally emerge and take on shape and peer out before being swirled back into radiant oblivion.

Antony Gormley’s art is always centred on the human form; here he exchanges the static sentinel figures of so many of his works for the living models of the gallery-goers - tenuously and fleetingly sculpted from vapour-clouds…

Click on images to enlarge

From tomorrow (6th August) until the exhibition ends on 19th August, The Hayward will be extending its opening hours to 10 am - 10 pm daily.

Saturday 4 August 2007


Two friends of ours - let's call them Leonard and Virginia - long ago solved the difficulty of commenting to one another on the foibles and oddities of other people present without the risk of being overheard: they make all such observations in French.

On one occasion, while on holiday, Virginia - who has become a tad forgetful of late - made several indiscreet remarks to Leonard about someone in the hotel dining-room in a voice that was far from subdued. She neverthless felt utterly secure in the belief that her observations couldn't possibly give offence, since she was making them in French.

"For God's sake, Virginia, what are you doing?" hissed Leonard in English. "We're in NICE --- where they tend to speak FRENCH!"

[Image: Holiday-makers in Nice © Brian Sibley 2007]

Friday 3 August 2007


I have, in rapid succession, received FOUR e-mails from:

Yolanda Q Butts
Yolanda P Butts
Yolanda M Butts
Yolanda T Butts

These communications (offering the recipient the opportunity to obtain something called a Mega-Dick, whatever that may be) are, however, all - rather disappointingly - addressed to:

Minnie E Montes
Minnie Z Montes

Minnie F Montes
Minnie H Montes

Now, as I thought most people knew, the Montes Quadruplets moved away from here more years ago than I care to remember; so, unfortunately, I am unable to pass on their mail...

Never mind, by the very same e-delivery came two very similar offers: this time for ME and, rather surprisingly, from Jonathan Miller and Jesus!

Thursday 2 August 2007


Funny how names stick... I was thinking the other day, when writing about Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, how little we really know about this story with which we think we are so familiar.

Start with the title itself - Alice in Wonderland - which is not what the author called it: the correct title is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (just as the sequel isn't Alice Through the Looking-glass, but Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There).

Then there's the case of the so-called MAD HATTER... That, of course, is what everybody always calls him, but Lewis Carroll never does: he only ever refers to him as "the Hatter".

Nor, by the way, will you find Mr Carroll talking about "The Mad Hatter's Tea-Party": he titled the chapter in which the Hatter first appears as "A Mad Tea-Party" - which it clearly was! - and since it was held in the garden of the March Hare's house, it really wasn't the Hatter's tea-party anyway!

The Hatter's personal reputation for madness, it turns out, is based solely on the testimony of a CAT --- and a Cheshire Cat at that...
'In that direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round, 'lives a Hatter: and in that direction,' waving the other paw, 'lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad.'

'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

'Oh, you ca'n't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'

'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.

'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'
There is, I submit, no reason whatever to condemn the Hatter as being Mad, merely on the say-so of a character who believes himself and everyone else to be mad!

Of course, authorities other than Lewis Carroll, were linking hatters with madness long before Alice tumbled into Wonderland, but that is no proof that this Hatter was any less sane than you or I!

Michael Caineism
("Not a Lot of People Know That")

* Another thing Lewis Carroll never mentioned was the fact that the Hatter wore a hat with a label reading In this Style 10/6...

That detail was contributed by the book's illustrator, Sir John Tenniel. However, so utterly married are the text and the pictures, that the majority of those who have subsequently illustrated the book have kept the label in the hat and often leaving the price unchanged. One exception was Arthur Rackham who daringly reduced the asking price to 8/11!