The Girl from Ipanema

Who has not been humming the tune of “The Girl from Ipanema” as was going up and down in the elevators around the world?  It was the most popular song in history, behind Beatles of  “Yesterday”! Lately through the media and because of the Olympics in Rio the story about the inspiration of the song came up in the surface and became part of the Olympics opening ceremony with Gisele Bundchen. The story was so romantic and once more reassures me  that life is getting better when there are musicians, poets, artists and in general when there is still around the University degree of Art & Humanities which is so depreciating subject  in our times.What will we do without all these people that feed our soul? It is quite clear that the type of Mark Zuckerbergs in this world, simply alone  does not fit the bill for  making us feel better and enhance our inner soul.

But let’s see the story behind the song which I don’t know if it is true but who cares ? It is a nice one! Lydia Hutchinson at the website ‘performingsongwriter.com’ writes:  “Summer 1962. Rio de Janeiro. At the Veloso Bar, a block from the beach at Ipanema, two friends—the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and the poet Vinícius de Moraes—are drinking Brahma beer and musing about their latest song collaboration.The duo favor the place for the good brew and the even better girl-watching opportunities. Though both are married men, they’re not above a little ogling. Especially when it comes to a neighborhood girl nicknamed Helô. Eighteen-year-old Heloisa Eneida Menezes Pais Pinto is a Carioca—a native of Rio. She’s tall and tan, with emerald green eyes and long, dark wavy hair. They’ve seen her passing by, as she’s heading to the beach or coming home from school. She has a way of walking that de Moraes calls “sheer poetry.” Legend has it that Jobim and de Moraes were so inspired by this shapely coed, they wrote a song for her right on the bar napkins!”

Those musicians and poets, eh!

 

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Helo Pinheiro and Vinícius de Moraes

And when you listen Sinatra and Jobim  to sing the song you feel even better and life is good again!

 

Enjoy the rest of summer! August is a fabulous month to recharge our batteries with uplifting music  during its summer lazy days. Don’t worry, Mark will make all this job  of competing  and achieving (jogging, learning Chinese…) for us 😉  Have a nice one!

Booking open for MmIT 2016 Conference

MmIT blog

Booking is now open for the 2016 MmIT annual conference – Digital Citizenship: What is the library’s role?

To book go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mmit-2016-conference-digital-citizenship-what-is-the-librarys-role-tickets-18734070108

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During this conference we will explore and discuss several digital citizenship themes and the role and responsibility of the library and the librarian in supporting citizenry in the digital world.

The conference themes will consist of, your library’s role in:

  • Digital access and inclusion
  • Digital literacy
  • Digital communications (including digital profiles, reputation)
  • Digital law
  • Digital security

Digital citizenship is a term often used to describe how people acquire and use their digital and online skills and experiences in order to further achieve and develop in their personal, professional and social roles. MmIT believe that libraries across all sectors play a significant role in supporting and developing digital citizenship with our user communities.

With four expert keynote speakers confirmed, the conference seeks to facilitate discussion and the sharing…

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“Only men of property could vote…”

During the pre-enlightenment period  only men of property could vote and probably it was a continuation and mimic of the  Athenian democracy where only the aristocrats can vote -no women, slaves and commoners…

The  British referendum had divided the country into two camps (leave & remain) with clear animosity between them. The same happened with the Greek referendum of “No & Yes” against EU/German’s bailout.

Many people have argued only selective persons must vote such as:  young people whose future belong to them, the highly educated, probably with PhD and above from Ivy league or Oxbridge Unis and for sure the petite bourgeoisie  with their well grounded aspirations for better life , their “comme il faut” appetite for museums, concerts and their pedant inclination to scorn everyone who has posted on facebook a ‘grammarly accident’. The rest must stay at home and play videogames or watch x-factor. Only by this way Democracy will survive, they argue.

The above arguments gave me an inspirational idea :  to abolish all these nonsense elections – government, local, referendum…-  and launch a whole new election concept  : the Bank elections as we say Bank holidays et cetera. Where the above mentioned selective people will elect the Banker of the year or the best Bank with the best mortgage or interest rate…

The following  is a parody from 1915 by Alice Duer Miller, satirizing all the reasons given at the time the reasons for why women shouldn’t vote :

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Minack Theatre : A Small Wonder In Cornwall

If you were asking me some days ago which is the most spectacular open-air theatre in Europe, probably my answer would be the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece or the Seebuhne in Lake Constance, Austria  but I didn’t know that there is a third one in the same league as the above! The  Minack(rocky place)  theatre is a really a small wonder  at the far end of Cornwall at Porthcurno, close to Land’s End. A small open-air theatre constructed on a granite cliff and overlooking the spectacular panorama of the Porthcurno bay in the Atlantic ocean. This theatre was the vision  and labour of Rowena Cade  who managed to construct this theatre at the end of her garden with the help of her gardener.  The very first performance, the Tempest was  on 16 August of 1932. The theatre opens between April-September with various performances (see the programme at https://www.minack.com/calendar-2/

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View of the theatre from the top.

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The name of each theatrical performance has been curved on the granite’s seats.

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View from the cafe of Minack Theatre

The place has its own microclimate and the view is beyond imagination. As I was admiring the view (pic. below), the beach with the gold sand and huge waves, one gentleman  next to me told me “I have never imagined that I can experience something like that in England. It seems to me that I’m somewhere in the Continent”.

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Rowena Cade, who lived in Minack House (picture above), decided that the cliffs below her garden would be the perfect setting for a theatre  and over the winter of 1931 and into 1932 she and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved endless granite boulders and earth, creating the lower terraces of the theatre, much as they are today”(source at https://www.minack.com/our-history-1)

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Rowena Cadet (1893-1983) an inspiring woman who used her money, labour and influence during a very hard period in Europe (between the two World Wars) and left a remarkable legacy. Sometimes the willpower and determination of an individual can make wonders!

Greece is the all-weather scapegoat of EU: A never ending humilation

Today EU threatens Greece over border controls! As a draft report of the European Commission says:  Greece has “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Some days ago at the ‘Annual Team Building’ of the Elite  at Davos, the Chief Accountant of the EU, Mr. Schauble  with his linguistic games referred to the democratic elected PM of Greece as an idiot!

As anyone can understand, Greece’s humiliation has no limits! Of course, this humiliation is reinforced by the strong opposition inside the country from the partisans of the left/ right wing and  ala Greek style neo-liberals(an interesting amalgamation of right wing people).

One thing is the common truth and the curse for the Greeks, they are not able to see themselves as an entity and being accompanied by their notorious low self esteem they are blaming each other (an ongoing attitude) for any governmental action.

The above combination is an easy target for the failed leaders of Europe and their politics.

Last year Angela Merkel, as formidable Hegemon of Europe -in terms of financial power only- announced without taking consideration the rest of the European countries  and mainly the countries that are the  entrance of the refugees-such Greece, which at the moment is an impoverished country- the acceptance of the Syrian refugees. Consequently, quite a few Europeans (Poland, Czech republic, Denmark, few German states, Britain) either closed their borders or started seizing the valuables of the Refugees (Denmark, some states of Germany…).

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It was a matter of serendipity by seeing the above two artefacts at the Victoria Gallery in Bath the other day and so ironic at the same time. The two figures represent Europe and Asia. Europe as an emancipated intellectual woman proud of the great achievement of the Enlightenment being accompanied by Asia, who is holding her ‘valuables for better or for worse’!

At the beginning of the 21st Century Europe’s leaders are trying to set aside their responsibilities by finding their all times scapegoat, Greece! The values of the Enlightenment have been replaced by the motto ‘show me the money’ for better or for worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Brandy/Cider festival

These autumn days, I felt nostalgic about my father’s wine producing days. One of my father’s hobbies was that of producing his own wine -two barrels maximum-  and every autumn as children, we were helping in the collection of grapes, which that time as I remembered, it was quite hard thing to do but we were compensating later by the fun we had stomping the grapes with our feets  in the grape mill(Patitiri).

Back in England, I didn’t imagine that I could find a similar activity but this time with apples. The production of cider and apple brandy(Calvados in French) has similar process.  The West country in England (Somerset) is  famous for the cider production and specifically one farm -the Somerset Cider Brandy company,  is the first farm producing Calvados/ apple brandy in England.

As I was reading about this tradition of apple harvesting and producing cider … I found out that  the western British tradition of Wasailling (Wassailing is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word ‘wassail‘ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. The apple trees and making an offering of cider and bread in Autumn to protect the fertility of the orchard appears to be a relatively ancient tradition, superficially dating back to the pre-Christian early medieval period).

The apple festival of the Somerset Cider Brandy Company was quite elaborated and  all of us had great fun by drinking hot cider and eating the ploughman’s sandwich(a kind of) accompanied by live music!

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Children and dogs had a lot of fun playing in the apple hills.

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Apple pressing using straws! This specific ingredient is important for the cider production.

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To extract the juice from the pulp, wooden screw presses were used from medieval times onwards.  The apple pulp had first to be built into a ‘cheese’ using alternate thin layers of pulp and straw.IMG_6646

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Apple Orchard in the farm.IMG_6616

Brandy Distillery. Last records for distilling Cider Brandy in England date back to 1678. The Somerset Cider Brandy Company revived the tradition in 1987 when we obtained the first commercial distilling license in English recorded history.IMG_6650

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The shop.

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One of the nicest autumn activities in the English countryside! Apple Harvest!