CULTURE

From Rafina to London and back again

To bid farewell to the summer and celebrate his appointment to the post of Greek ambassador to London, Tassos Skopelitis and his wife Anurag this week invited friends from the diplomatic corps to their seaside house in Rafina. Their distinguished neighbor, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis and his wife Natassa were among the guests of course, as well as friends from former days in London where Skopelitis was second-in-command to Ilias Gounaris, who was also present. Among the guests were Honorary Ambassador Yiannis Bourloyiannis-Tsangaridis with his wife Lola, Dutch Ambassador Paul Brower with his artist wife Karin, Danish Ambassador Hans Grunnet with his French wife Edith, and Austrian Ambassador Rene Pollitzer and his wife Karin, who could compete with any supermodel. Also there were Egyptian Ambassador Magda Shahin, Jordanian Ambassador Atem Malasa, and former Ambassador to London and Washington former Foreign Minister Giorgos Papoulias with his wife Emily. Among the select group were painter Nicholas Egon and his wife Matti, of the Chiote family of Michalis Xylas, who maintain open house on Deinocratous Street and at Katakali in Corinth for Greek and foreign diplomats. They make an ongoing contribution to cultural events, such as the Runciman Lecture held every February at King’s College London, founded by Egon, who is also its permanent patron. Events organized by Matti at the Hellenic Center have made the Egons «cultural ambassadors» in London. Egon approached Karamanlis and congratulated him warmly on his speech, which he had heard in London on July 1 at London’s City University, when Professor Costas Grammenos had invited Karamanlis to speak on Greece’s place in Europe today. The subject is of great interest to students of shipping and business administration courses, and students, teachers and members of the Greek shipping and banking community in London packed out the amphitheater at the new Cass Business School, which was the gift of Sir John Cass. Egon, who taught painting and art history in his youth at the original Sir John Cass College, and whose wife Matti offers an annual scholarship for a Greek student in Grammenos’s course, were impressed by Karamanlis’s rhetorical skill and by his excellent English. And since Egon doesn’t vote in Greece, we can pass on his impartial view of the first-class appearance by the aspiring prime minister, who is also a scholar, and which received no mention in the Greek press. As Egon told Helbi, «I was amazed at the perfect English in which the lecture was composed and delivered, and particularly also the spontaneous answers to the many questions which the journalists and students asked him after the lecture and at the very friendly drinks party which followed.»