Author: Gillian Bouras

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Aussie diggers' pen as mighty as their sword

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 17 December 2014
    9 Comments

    A soldier's life is usually one of bursts of brief action followed by extended periods of drudgery and boredom, and never was this more true than during this dreadful war of attrition that dragged on apparently interminably between 1914 and 1918. A book titled Aussie was published in 1920 as a bound collection of AIF soldiers’ own paper of the battlefield, wholly written, illustrated and printed in the field. 

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Homage to the king of herbs

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 03 December 2014
    7 Comments

    In pride of place on this feast day, a modest silver cross lies in a glass case. The cross is surrounded by leaves of basil, the plant that was supposedly found growing on the True Cross when it was discovered by St Helen in 326. The word basil means king, the plant is considered the king of herbs, and bunches of it are always used in the sprinkling of holy water.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    An erstwhile pacifist's IS quandary

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 02 October 2014
    11 Comments

    I used to style myself a pacifist. Or hoped I was one. Or something. But that was before I had children. The minute I clapped eyes on my first-born, I realised that any threat to him would see me transformed into a murderous monster, and I later felt the same about his two brothers.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    What will survive of us is love

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 30 July 2014
    11 Comments

    So there the marble figures lie, grey and blurred, and with an infinite capacity, I think, to touch the heart. The tomb was radical for its time, in the sense that Richard had decreed that his effigy should not be higher than Eleanor's; her figure also appears to lean towards his, and most moving of all, Richard's has one gauntlet removed, so that his bare hand holds that of his wife. Her feet rest on a little pet dog, his on a small lion.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The boy who can move mountains

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 25 June 2014
    9 Comments

    Ignoring the Greek tradition of family names, my son and his Cretan wife called their son Orestes. The name means 'he who can move mountains', and it is almost as if some instinct informed the young parents of 'naming power', and of the possibility that such power might be needed. The first mountain resembled Everest: the operation on the day of his birth, which was necessary to correct a malformed oesophagus.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Australia's siege mentality viewed from Greece

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 04 June 2014
    17 Comments

    Here in Greece we are still digesting the results of last week's Euro elections. Worry about immigration has contributed to the continuing rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which polled 9 per cent, and has won seats in the European Parliament for the first time. And what of Australia? Frankly, I'm baffled, so baffled that visiting Antipodeans take me to task. 'The Australia you grew up in has gone forever.' So it would seem.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Handwritten history of two mothers' loving meals

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 07 May 2014
    7 Comments

    My mother's recipe book has been part of my life for 60 years. Every entry is handwritten, and the handwriting conjures up the person. But the book is a historical document for other reasons, for in it my mother has also written out the recipes she learned in my Greek mother-in-law's village kitchen. Yiayia was illiterate, so my mother had to observe and make notes. The book is, in a sense, part of the story of two mothers.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Dickens' song for the poor

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 30 April 2014
    8 Comments

    While Dickens, staunch champion of the poor and of children, reportedly hoped that A Christmas Carol might encourage the restoration of social harmony, his narrative line can also be seen as a convenient plot device. It is a deeply Christian story, not just about Christmas, but about life itself, about actions and their consequences, the need for wrongs to be made right, and the desire for hope and potentiality of renewal.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Colouring the fading customs of a Greek Lent

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 26 March 2014
    6 Comments

    The 'Lenten Lady' has no mouth, because Lent is not a time for eating. Her hands are demurely crossed on her breast, for it is a time for prayer and self-examination. And she has seven feet: every Saturday, with one week elapsed, housewives would cut one foot off, with the last cut off on Holy Saturday. This custom is very old, and supposedly Greece-wide, but neither I, my Peloponnesian children nor my Cretan daughter-in-law knew of it.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Old age is not for sissies

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 05 February 2014
    10 Comments

    London journalist Adrian Gill refers to the 'incremental shutdown' of old age, British Prime Minister Disraeli, who died at the age of 77 after a life of great and varied achievement, stated that old age was a regret, while noted Hollywood star Bette Davis roundly declared 'Old age is no place for sissies.' In rural Greece, it is considered shameful to instal an old relative in a home, and most aged people see their days out amid their family.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Greek and American barbarians

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 11 December 2013
    7 Comments

    I knew nothing about Kavafis until I came to Greece, but his presence in my mental and literary life is one of the many presents migration has given me. He was part of the cultivated Greek diaspora in Alexandria, where he spent most of his life working at his day jobs: those of journalist and civil servant. He was a relentless perfectionist who polished and reworked his 154 poems, which were read initially only by his friends.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Greek consolations in stone

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 13 November 2013
    9 Comments

    Although the tourist season in Greece was better than expected, there is otherwise not much cause for cheer. PM Antonis Samaras says recovery will take six years: other people are more pessimistic. Suicide rates have risen alarmingly in a country where formerly they were very low. The youth continue to seek opportunities elsewhere. Strikes and demonstrations occur regularly. In the midst of it all, a new statue appeared in the city of Kalamata.

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