Saturday, June 18, 2011
water, words and.....bankers
Here in the mountains I learn to value water and electricity – which, most other places, I take for granted. And, since the leaks forced me to turn off the water for periods until all was repaired (and toilet replaced), I started to use the traditional jug and bowl on the verandah upstairs. And have discovered the joys of such ablutions after an hour’s scything - with the warm wind on my torso and drying down with a towel which smells so fresh from the mountain air. So this upstairs’ facility will remain - despite the enthronement of a new toilet downstairs!
We’re approaching the time of year when the water can get a bit scarce – some works were afoot last year to deal with this. Nous y verrons. And the electricity can go off for a few minutes (sometimes the entire day) with no warning. The shorter cuts are due to storms or tree branches – the longer ones repair work somewhere. Thursday I paid my annual taxes on the house and 2 acres of land – 50 euros!
And also stocked up with almost 3 kilos of the local Burduf cheese to take to Sofia – when it matures it is better than Parmasan!
The mountain house (I should give it a name!!) is a great place for reading and reflecting – the library keep growing. And these last days, I’ve had some real word merchants to keep me company. My first John Banville book - The Sea - is a sensitive and poetic evocation of times past and of death. I dipped into an Amos Oz Reader who ranks very highly in my ratings; and also into WG Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn (another first for me) which is at one level the record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia. Glaswegian James Kelman’s You have to be careful in the Land of the Free gives a sense of the irreverent humour of the marginalized in a rotten society. On a different level, I have also at last started Robert Skidelsky’s Keynes; the return of the master. The author has given his life to the study of Keynes - so if anyone can show the relevance of the master to the present global crisis, he can. And the stand he takes is uncompromising – listing the various people who are blamed (bankers, regulators, governments, credit-rating agencies etc), he states firmly “the present crisis is the fruit of the intellectual failure of the economics profession”.
I noticed recently that a former Icelandic Prime Minister is being prosecuted for the role he played in bringing Iceland to its knees - and Hungarian Spectrum also reports an ex-PM and officials giving evidence to the Hungarian Parliament on the role they played before the crisis hit. Good to see such accountability - although parliamentarians these days are hardly in a position to claim they thought differently!
The painting above caught my eye despite its dreadful condition - just a twisted bit of hardwood, some whote spots and no frame. Valerie offered it to me as part of a lot of 7 such unframed sleeping beauties languishing in a gloomy cellar under his new Gallery - he is able to put a name to them all (few have signatures) and this was a Stamatov. I had heard of him (and knew that his stuff is pricey - 1,000 euros or so) - but I liked it anyway regardless of its provenance. When I saw a few Stamatovs in the Kazanluk gallery, I became surer of its authorship; and Yassen has lovingly restored it, helped me select a suitable frame and given his expert opinion that it is 98% certain that it is a Stamatov.