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The meeting…

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

… with the Albanians on Saturday, which took place in a shabby, smoke-stained office in the New Port, was rather unsatisfactory.

Present:

  • * myself;
  • * a couple of Greek officials in scruffy plain clothes – I thought at the time that they were police;
  • * two Albanian officials in rather correct grey suits with formal shirts but no ties.

I took no part in the proceedings, which consisted of incomprehensible (to me) wrangling over the agenda. After two hours of this, the meeting was adjourned until today.

In the meantime, Sophia and I hired a car and ate ourselves silly in a fine fish restaurant in Boukaris, in a Greek – French restaurant (Spiros and Vassilis) near the waterpark, and in a nice taverna in Ermones.

Today, three or four hours of discussion took place, mostly in Greek, which, despite my relative fluency, I barely understood. The Greek officials – actually immigration people (why?) – wanted the boat brought here for identification. The Albanians stonewalled on this. Fearing further protracted negotiations, I agreed to accompany the Albanians back to Saranda where they are based, and where my boat is currently held. The Greek chaps seem quite alarmed, and made it clear that I am going at my own risk, but it was clear this could go on for months and I’ll lose out if they fail to agree. After all, it’s just a 25 minute journey by hydrofoil to Saranda from Corfu, and there’s a ferry every day. It’s not exactly behind the Iron Curtain any more.

So tomorrow it is. I’ll go alone and Sophia will wait in Corfu. With a bit of luck, I’ll be sailing back here in a few days, and pick her up, and we’ll sail home. Bliss.

Here we are…

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

… in sunny Corfu, a couple of days early for my meeting with Albanian officials. Sophia and I are companionably surfing side-by-side in the cyber café behind the church of St Spiridon.

We were robbed on our way here. Stopping at a roadside snackbar called Tweety, we ordered club sandwiches. The waiter urged us to try a few Greek hors d’oeuvres while we waited. The snacks were very nice. The club sandwiches were all but inedible. The bill was 66 Euros! Living, as we do, in a place where food and wine are good value, I’d forgotten just how rapacious tourist traps can be. This must not be taken as a general rule in Corfu, however, as I have eaten at a similar café in the past which was excellent in every way.

To Corfu…

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

… tomorrow, to negotiate, I hope, the return of my boat.

Sophia’s coming too. A few days in a modern hotel and some new scenery will be just fine for us both.

Checked for fauxhunter and Dork – neither on line today.

House-hunting…

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

… which reached a peak a few weeks ago, has subsided to a murmur since I made that last entry. For a start, being in each other’s pockets, as it were, ( * see Footnote) doesn’t seem to bother Sophia and me, and we suddenly realised an important fact. Around the current shack, there is quite an area of rough grass, stones and chunks of concrete left behind from the building of the current edifice, an area which, other than the olive tree, is of little, even negative, value.

We are now in conversation with a local architect to have an extension built – an extension more beautiful than the original building, yet in keeping with the rural aspect.

Of course, it is immensely complicated, as you would expect, more complicated than buying new, but the advantages of developing my original house, as Petros (the architect) points out, are the relative ease of getting planning permission, the excellent views from our current location, our proximity to the road, the simplicity of connecting to water, electricity and drains. To double our floor area with a swishy new building containing a REAL bathroom and a large living area, it’s going to cost less than a second-hand BMW. We’re in no hurry. Which is probably just as well, because even minor building projects seem to last for years around here – centuries, in some cases, just ask Pisistratus.

* (footnote: Heard in a darkened room:
“Get your foot out of my pocket!”
“That’s not my foot!”
“That’s not my pocket!”)

Nice view…

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

… facing East, as the latest storm disappears.

retreating storm

We are still looking for somewhere else to live. There’s plenty of houses, but they all have problems of some sort, from expense to location to condition.

Never a dull…

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

… moment here. We had one of these days when storm clouds loom across the Med, while the sea was preternaturally calm, though steely grey. The sun was represented by a series of white scars between the cumulus. Sophia called me out onto the terrace (slab of chipped concrete) and you could see grey streamers trailing down from this dark cloud. Suddenly one of the streamers touched the sea, stirring it up into a froth, and raising a waterspout!

waterspout
OK – I admit it. This photo isn’t mine. Who has the presence of mind to grab a camera when something like this happens? It appeared in the local paper, and closely resembles what we saw.

I understand from Alexis that waterspouts are by no means unusual, and, occasionally, a fishing boat gets trashed by one. They always, he says, expire before they hit the shore (the waterspout, that is, not the boat).

The interrogators…

Monday, March 6th, 2006

… returned today. I was irritated, because I suspected they wanted to talk to me without Spiros (my Corfiote lawyer). However, they were so perfunctory that I became almost sure they only had this interview to justify staying in the sunny islands for the weekend.

My faith was restored when the Pope later told us that they have been ransacking Ginger’s house instead of lounging on the beach..

I was at pains…

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

… not to give the British detectives any room to accuse me or Alfredo of wrong-doing, whilst attempting to help them out as far as I could. My lawyer has advised me to keep these events private, so the conversations will not appear here – not for a while, anyway. There was no question, it appears, of my being in trouble, as the victim of a “hacking” incident. Alfredo’s subsequent investigation was marginally borderline, and that’s been erased, anyway.

[EDIT] As at the current date (29 March 06), Alfredo’s website is still down, and Dork is now off the air, too, so I suppose they have swooped in the US. I hope this is the last we’ll hear of it. I suggested to Alfredo that when he re-publishes fauxhunter that he removes the explicit details he was previously displaying.

I gather…

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

… that throughout his conversations with the police, Alfredo managed not to mention my real name or location even once, which I regard as exceptionally loyal behaviour. They had his blog, and, therefore, my blog – and presumably they believed what they read, but he just kept telling them it was none of their business.

However… I got an email this morning (they had his PC, after all), requesting my “co-operation on an on-going investigation”. I replied, making it clear that they would have to come here. They readily agreed, and they’ll be here on Friday. I hastily arranged for an English-speaking lawyer from Corfu – Spiros – to be here, too.

The upshot…

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

… is that Alfredo has been sprung without charge, though they’ve hung on to his computer, and persuaded his ISP to delete his website. What a liberty!

Samia, the lawyer, seems to have made the boys in blue squirm over their bad behaviour and has wrought a minor miracle. It helped that the Americans were involved, as they are not particularly popular with British Special Branch.

As far as I can gather, some American (NSA?) surveillance group has had the Dork computer staked out for a while, and they noticed Alfredo’s activities. Then they traced him via his ISP. The trade Alfredo’s lawyer has done is to give The Powers That Be the vnc password he was using (they had never managed that trick) in return for releasing him. Alfredo’s computer is still under arrest.

Alfredo says it doesn’t matter because he’s got the whole filestore on CDs and a thumb drive, so he can be back in business as soon as he gets another PC.