Search Results: Gillian Bouras

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  • EDUCATION

    Christmas encounter with an unremembered student

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 19 December 2016
    9 Comments

    I have no idea how many students I've taught in two countries. I remember, usually, the high achievers and their troublesome and often troubled opposites, but most are a blur: the human memory has its limits. On the other hand I think I can name all the teachers I ever had: this, of course, is much easier to do. There was more evidence of this today. I was in the Kalamata post office, waiting my turn and clutching a fistful of cards bound for Australia, when a bearded young man asked me a question.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Mooted boat ban ignores history and humanity

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 07 November 2016
    15 Comments

    It would be interesting to know how many of our forbears were illegal immigrants. One of my great-great-grandfathers was. From County Down in Ulster, he was only 16 when he used his thumb print to sign on as a seaman; it was 1847, midway through the Great Famine. Throughout the long journey he was persistently bullied by a petty officer. One morning he snapped, and clobbered the bully with a deckscrubber. Convinced he had killed the man, my ancestor jumped overboard.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Flagging patriotism in a divided world

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 20 October 2016
    8 Comments

    Before I turned five, I was in the serried Monday morning ranks of children who had to swear, among other vows, to honour the flag. Years later I watched, shocked, as a Greek friend burst into tears at the sight of the emblematic blue and white stripes at a soccer match: big, strapping Panayiotis sobbed helplessly for quite some minutes. Today the American elections are almost upon us, and Old Glory has naturally been very much in evidence throughout this most gruelling and worrying of campaigns.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Athenian taxi driver's keys to happiness

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 06 October 2016
    6 Comments

    The man's grandparents were from Ithaca, the storied isle, but he himself had always lived in Athens. I learned he had not been driving a cab for very long, but had taken to it when his business failed because of the continuing financial crisis. A familiar tale in the Greece of today, alas. But he acknowledged he was lucky to have a job at all, and went on to say that he had no complaints, because he had realised his ambition. I asked what this was. He replied: 'I have educated my children.'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Grandchildren are your children twice over

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 21 August 2016
    7 Comments

    When we were all younger, I wrote about my three sons. In the words of Sir Thomas More, their characteristics strangely tugged at my heart, and like More, I fed them cake, ripe apples and fancy pears. Among other things. But eventually there was a mild rebellion about the writing, in the course of which my eldest threatened to send me a bill. Now I write about my grandchildren, three boys and a girl, who are too young as yet to be so commercially minded.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Home is a place that you leave behind

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 03 July 2016
    8 Comments

    Every migrant, and every ageing person, loses a home and the past: that is simply the way things are. Fortunate people have the chance to make another home, and to write a series of additional chapters in their personal stories. We look back at the past, but can never revisit it. And would we really want to? We should always be careful what we wish for, as many British people who voted to leave the EU may now well be learning only too painfully.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    A righteous sermon about the haves and have-nots

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 22 May 2016
    11 Comments

    In America, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, received a salary of more than $40 million in 2012. He is apparently a devout Christian, so I wonder whether he ever worries about Matthew chapter 19, verse 24: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. The 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the GDP of India. In contrast, vast numbers of their fellow citizens have less than $1000 in their savings and cheque accounts combined.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Dumped-on Elders down but not despairing

    • Michele Madigan
    • 02 May 2016
    11 Comments

    As fifth century BC Athenian historian and general Thucydides said: 'The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.' 'I'm sitting here trying to eat my weetbix and keep my thoughts calm,' said Enice Marsh, Traditional Owner for the Flinders Ranges area of SA. Enice and the other Adynamathanha Elders had just received the news that former Liberal Senator Grant Chapman's property Bardioota is 'at the top of the list' to be the site of Australia's national radioactive waste dump.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 18 April 2016
    10 Comments

    Pope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Invincible Nikitas learns to lose

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 05 April 2016
    7 Comments

    My grandson Nikitas is ten. When his name was chosen I was haunted by memories of Russian leader Khruschev and his long-ago shoe-banging performance at the United Nations. My son and daughter-in-law patiently explained that their son was to be called after Nikitaras, a hero of the Greek War of Independence. Thankfully, young Nikitas does not divide the world into friends and enemies, at least not so far. But he is very competitive; perhaps his name, which means invincible, influences his outlook.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The epic life of the real Iphigenia

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 15 March 2016
    9 Comments

    It was a bright winter's day when we visited Iphigenia. Long widowed, she was meticulously turned out in black traditional outfit. Iphigenia is not sure how old she is; she thinks she is 86. Anglophones regularly make a hash of this beautiful name, the correct pronunciation of which is Ifeeyainya. But the ones I know are intrigued by the mythological character, who was ill-fated, to say the least. I soon learned that there had also been ample sorrow and trauma in the life of the modern Iphigenia, too.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Shedding light on elder abuse

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 22 February 2016
    7 Comments

    Elder abuse resembles child abuse in its iceberg qualities: both have received little attention until comparatively recently. In the case of elder abuse, very few cases ever come to court: old people are as helpless as children, similarly unable to plead their own cases, and afraid to: they have little power. The Yiddish proverb springs to mind: If you can't bite, don't show your teeth. The most consistent offenders, sad to say, are family members, who are often adept at exploiting the fear that is part of ageing.

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