The Greek gravy train hits the buff€rs
Europe looks away as a nation suffers
‘Don’t ask us for help with your plight
You owe us big time, it’s ours by right
So clear off back to crumbling Greece
Toil day and night and never cease
Things for you will get no better
Until no longer are you a debtor’
What next for Tsipras and Varoufakis
Heading for home to sink some rakis?
Short shrift they had from Europe’s elite
So it’s back to Athens to take some heat
What the Greek people have now is plain
Tsipras is Samaras with a different name
Some say he fooled his voters and lied
But kinder folk say his hands were tied.
Each year the Greeks celebrate ‘Ochi’ day
When Mussolini learned there was no way
He could trample across Hellenic lands
With his fascist troops and cut-throat bands
His march on Greece brought bloody nose
He called friend Adolf to fight his foes
During four long years jackboots dictated
By most of Greece his men were hated
Yet now left-wing Syriza bends its knee
To the new-found strength of Germany
The tragedy goes way beyond the shores
Of Greek democracy, ideals and laws
This new Europe in which we’re all thrust
Is the very antithesis of democracy’s trust
A principle established in ancient Greece
To serve the people and keep the peace
The EU was set-up to stop Europe’s wars
Some say it now settles far earlier scores
To trample roughshod over a nation’s right
To protect its people and stand and fight
Should Syriza fly the white flag of defeat
And grovel once more at the tyrant’s feet?
Better a brand new F’Ochi-off day
Than let moneyed tyrants have their say
The people didn’t vote to bear this cross
Of a dictating Europe that thinks it’s boss
The German euro will bring nothing but pain
So throw it out – raise the drachma again!
Take courage Tsipras, put democracy first
Or end up a failure and be forever cursed
Greece has no choice the euro to leave
Gather your strength and give it the heave
I’m told my webpage it is lagging, so I have to work some more
‘You must write another poem, that’s what they’re waiting for.’
‘But my novel’s nearly finished, twelve days should see it done!’
‘They don’t want your heavy novels, a poem’s much more fun.’
Harry the Louse is once more sidelined, my editor’s in command
This constant switching Harry on and off, is getting out of hand
Successfully he’d whispered, sweet words to a well-heeled blonde
They’d headed to her hotel room to try out his magic wand
She was excited by the promise made, she looked forward to his trick
She hoped he would prepare his ground, not wave his wand too quick
She set the stage with coloured lights, her cunning just revealing
A grand showing he would make, of his magic wand’s concealing
The stage was set, as were the props, she pulsed with anticipation
Harry prepared to thrust his wand and cause a great sensation
His mobile rang demandingly, perhaps with something tragic
His face went white, his poor wand fell and Harry lost his magic
He has made me swear a promise, I must learn to wait a tick
And ignore all demands for poetry, while I write a Harry trick
Which is the more important asked our persuasive lady killer
Blog-standard rambling verse or a potential first-class thriller?
‘LIGHT THE BLUE TOUCH PAPER AND KINDLE INTEREST’ – said my editor
With this novel, the author has stretched ‘his’ imagination like his torso, to the limit. Writing under the name Argy Stevens, ‘she’ has produced a captivating story around the highlights, high flights and language insights of Crete.
‘Harry the Louse’ will be out on Kindle next month. It takes a birds’ eye view, in the ‘politically incorrect’ sense, of two mature professional women’s quest for a little latter-day romance, possibly in the form of brief encounters in a tourist hotspot.
By coincidence, apparently, they meet plausible Harry, already driven to the brink by the Greek debt crisis. His key summer activity is to find and sweet talk a well-heeled ‘soft-touch’ out of her nest egg. Caroline Polwin is travelling incognito with her close friend Judy Marks and appears to be the answer to his prayers. But is he exactly what she is looking for and has he bitten off more than he can chew?
It’s three days now and she’s still not talking to me, so I guess she’s not been able to find any documentation that supports her view. We have an impasse. What do opposing sides do when there’s an impasse? They dig their holes deeper, speak to friends they know will agree and so reinforce the rhetoric. She’s now decided, after her self-imposed purdah, to win by stealth. Her latest edict is, ‘Okay, you find something that supports your view and we’ll do it your way.’
As far as I’m aware there is only one internet, unless China and North Korea have formed a consortium to build their own, so what chance do I have of finding the holy grail of ‘Header’ info when she already knows it’s not there? Cunning aren’t they...editors? Yes, well this one is.
It dawned on me that perhaps she had found that supporting information, but it backed my view, so I closed down Word with my latest novel in progress and went searching. I found a wealth of information on ‘Headers’ in my first sweep and am now a self-proclaimed expert on ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol’, which Wikipedia did its level best to try to make interesting. However, they failed, leaving me wondering why they bothered.
Then the internet led me to a different world of ‘Headers’ – tanks – not the sort used on the battlefield by opposing armies, but the type that sits in your loft holding water (you hope). These too are called ‘Headers’. Now I knew I was heading in the wrong direction.
“There are only two ways to do it,” my editor told me, “and yours is the wrong way.”
“How do you know my way is wrong? Point me to some learned study that supports your viewpoint and, all right, we’ll do it your way,” I said, one hand cold, the gauntlet thrown on the frozen ground between us.
To reinforce this view, I then discovered that Irish humour uses the word ‘Header’ to describe what I call a ‘nutcase’ or a ‘head-case’ or even a village idiot. It struck me that if an Irish ‘Header’ played football and used his bonce to bash the ball, would we have a double-header?
This brought a smile of satisfaction to my face and took me back to my childhood and watching trains where a double-header was what we called two locomotives on the front of train, as shown in the first picture of this blog.
Next, I unearthed some shiny illustrations entitled ‘Headers’. I thought I was on to a winner, until I realised our colonial cousins mean that part of a vehicle’s exhaust system that is nearest the engine...Now I’m bogged down by semantics, drowning in a sea of boots and trunks, hoods and bonnets, fenders and bumpers – heading for the bottom.
In case, like me, you are confused by the term ‘Header’ in the context I seek, I refer to that narrow strip of illustration at the top of a website or a social media page. Facebook’s, for instance, has a super-imposed square box where people post their latest selfies or daring photographs and some change them more often than they change their undies. However, I am not interested in this little box but in the big picture, well it’s not big, just the width of a page and not even half a hand deep. Anyway...
...After four hours, I have given up. I have decided, with her grudging approval, to seek inspiration from you. Yes, you, my audience. We have agreed to ask your opinion and bow to the wishes of the majority, which in itself will lead to dissention in the ranks because like us, both of you probably won’t agree either. Yet triumphant and conceited, I have wrung a concession out of her! I had to pay a small price for my near-unilateral victory by allowing her to wring one out of me as well. A trifling compromise, which made her glow with satisfaction: I have yielded on the issue of not telling you, which of us prefers which option and she has yielded to my demand that if there is not a clear majority for either course, we will stick with our decision.
We then realised what a tricky job those people that write referendum questions have. You may call them plebiscite posers, but no matter, it is tricky. However, we have settled on a simple question and hope for an answer: Static or dynamic that is the question. Clear as crystal isn’t it? Well not quite. Static is static – no problem there. But dynamic can range from something that is constantly on the move like the solar system to something less frenetic like a chameleon.
I wonder how corporations, weighed down by personnel on the career treadmill, ever make a decision when here are just two people struggling to agree. Somehow, big business reaches conclusions that appear to have the underpinning of debate and democracy. I really do not believe this to be true. Yet they have cultivated a corporate image that conveys unanimity, solidity and dependability, which jumps out at you from their business pages, ready to fight the corporation’s corner in a cut-throat world. I refer to the...logo!
However, it’s not merely this icon that speaks volumes, it may also be the house colours that themselves portray the corporate sentiment, along with the very business name and how it is spoken and perceived. Some representations have earned a place in our daily lives that is commercially invaluable; some have even become pseudonyms for the type of business or equipment itself. I need not list them, though in my immodest way, I would like to be able to have 'a piece of the action’.
Some symbols should rarely change or if they do, the alteration should be made so incrementally that nobody will really notice. Like chameleons changing their positions infrequently and their colours discreetly, we hardly notice the changes made by the likes of VW and Coca Cola with their updated logos. But what about websites and social media pages? Should they be just another barely changing form of successful representation or should they, in common with a very successful search engine, bowl the occasional ‘googly’? (A cricket term for a ball that causes the batsman surprise).
I am always impressed when the Google page topically changes. It, no doubt, brings pleasure or dismay to millions each time a new image presents itself. Is it just a bit of fun on their part or is it some fiendish subliminal advertising technique where the audience craves its regular fix of their transformation drug?
This is where you come in, my audience. You wander like nomads around the websites and social media pages seeking your fix. You know what you like. You know what you don’t like. I promise I won’t tell a soul about your cravings, but I need to cure the 'Header-Ache'.
Are page ‘Headers’ (those coloured letterbox-shaped introductions to websites or social media pages) best static or gently dynamic like the chameleon? Maybe you think an even more dynamic ‘Header’ would be better? On my Facebook author’s page, I have been experimenting with ‘Headers’ that change periodically to represent themes from my books and other things that interest me. I do not have the advantage of a corporate marketing team to slap me on the back with praise or laugh behind it with derision, so I seek opinion.
What do you think? Static or semi-dynamic? That is the simple plain English question. However, in order to assist in your deliberations, does the same old ‘Header’ become boring yet give comfort or should I bowl that googly and regularly change my ‘Headers’?
Continuing with the ‘waste not, want not’ theme, we shall now make one of my favourite soups. Aw shucks! A little research shows that bean casings are not what I call them, hence the name in the title. I have found scant evidence that this soup is a pan-island staple, perhaps because the ingredients are quickly consumed cooked and eaten in the same way they eat cabbage or horta. That is hot or cold and lined up for a swimming lesson in a sea of lemon juice or sometimes vinegar. Unlike the Cretans, I don’t have a huge appetite for an excess of lemon or salt, but I do love to shower pepper onto hot horta or similar boiled vegetables.
I hated broad beans as a kid; maybe they were too big or too old, but they had what I remember as a bitter iodine taste. Nowadays, I love broad beans, what the Greeks call κουκιά (pronounced koocha in Crete) but preferably a little ‘narrower’ in their immaturity – their youth, their tenderness, their sweetness. Before you liberate the beans from their pods or shucks, consider what you are missing by just discarding the pods because, apart from other things, they make a sooouperb and tasty soup. Don’t make the mistake I made the first time I tried to salvage the pods. Do not remove the beans first or you make life hard for yourself and why do that when others do it all the time?
First thing you must do, is remove the strings that run down both edges of the pod. It is best to do this with a sharp knife, but impatiently I used a potato-peeling gadget, which takes the strings and a fair old chunk of pod too. The de-stringing must be done conscientiously otherwise you’ll be fishing out bits of pod ‘string’ from your teeth when you consume your soup...I hate that! Why don’t you just sieve it, I hear you cry? Go on then have it your way, plus you’ll have a sieve to wash-up too.
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