Is the EU worth saving?

Is the EU worth saving?

As if there wasn’t already enough to read in the Guardian, what with the acres of print devoted to the revelations from the Panama Papers, I felt obliged to read yesterday’s Long Read: Yanis Varoufakis on ‘Why we must save the EU‘, subtitled ‘The European Union is disintegrating – but leaving is not the answer’. The issue addressed by the former Finance Minister who represented Greece in the negotiations with the EU and the IMF over the terms of the bailout in 2015 is an urgent one for UK citizens facing the decision of how to vote in the June referendum.

Given the mauling that Varoufakis – and Greece – received at the hands of the EU his proposition is, perhaps, surprising. Continue reading “Is the EU worth saving?”

This must be what it was like when German Jews were refugees

This must be what it was like when German Jews were refugees

This must be what it was like in the 1930s when Jews fleeing Nazi Germany created a major refugee crisis to which the response of Britain, the USA and other potential safe haven countries was a collective shoulder shrug of indifference – or outright hostility. This summer we have witnessed an unfolding crisis on a scale unprecedented since the Second World War, as desperate people risk their lives fleeing the civil war in Syria and the murderous advance of ISIS. With some noble exceptions, the prevailing response, especially here in the UK, has been once again to demonise fellow human beings. Continue reading “This must be what it was like when German Jews were refugees”

Greece wounds me

Greece wounds me

‘Wherever I travel, Greece wounds me.’
– George Seferis

After the ugliness of last few days in Brussels as we watched a country being humiliated and a new form of economic colonialism being imposed on a people who have struggled to assert their wishes by means of an impeccable commitment to democracy, it really does feel, as this morning’s Guardian editorial puts it, that Europe after the Greek talks ‘resembles a battlefield the day after the armies have stumbled away – wreckage everywhere, and everyone counting the cost.’ Continue reading “Greece wounds me”

Greece: People power or heroes just for one day?

Greece: People power or heroes just for one day?

What should we choose as the soundtrack for the stunning outcome of the Greek referendum? Patti Smith’s ‘People Have the Power’, perhaps? Or David Bowie singing, ‘We can be heroes, just for one day’? Continue reading “Greece: People power or heroes just for one day?”

The ruins of Kefalonia

The ruins of Kefalonia

Ruins are plentiful on the island of Kefalonia – not surprising, given that humans first settled on the island in Palaeolithic times, and important communities arose in the Mycenaean and Classical eras.

Of all the ruins, the most atmospheric and poignant must be those that remain following the devastating earthquakes which struck the island in August 1953. Arriving on the island soon after the earthquake in Nepal made the sight of these ruins especially affecting – more so after a second devastating earthquake hit Nepal while we were there. Continue reading “The ruins of Kefalonia”

Voyage to Ithaca

Voyage to Ithaca

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your final destination.
But do not rush the voyage in the least.
Better it last for many years;
and once you’re old, cast anchor on the isle,
rich with all you’ve gained along the way,
expecting not that Ithaca will give you wealth.
from ‘Ithaca’ by CP Cavafy

On the beach at Skala we joined the queue waiting for the cruise to Ithaca. For Rita especially, this was the culmination of a lifetime’s imagining: Homer’s Ithaca not just an island but the ultimate, universal symbol of the longed-for destination. Continue reading “Voyage to Ithaca”

The eurozone: ‘this machine from hell’

The eurozone: ‘this machine from hell’

There was a rather silly documentary hidden away on BBC4 on night last week all about the crisis facing Europe. Called The Great European Disaster Movie and set in a not too-distant future after the collapse of the EU, it featured an archaeologist (played by Angus Deayton) on a flight to Berlin beset by a menacing storm, explaining to a little girl what the European Union had been. These unconvincing sequences were intercut with case studies of individuals in 2015, in different member states, affected by the present crisis. Continue reading “The eurozone: ‘this machine from hell’”