Arts and Entertainment

Those who endured Williams’s recent X Factor performance need not fear: this brassy sequel to 2001’s big-band LP Swing When You’re Winning, is actually rather listenable. Not to say it’s great: he’s a karaoke kind of crooner and some of the covers here – such as “I Wanna Be Like You” with Olly Murs – should have remained the preserve of some celebrity charity ball.

Quick exit

The United States rushed two of its diplomats out of Greece after they were mistaken for guerrillas and arrested with guns and wigs in Athens this week, Reuter reports from Athens.

Obituary: Ioannis Georgakis

Ioannis Georgakis, diplomat and political scientist: born Piraeus, Greece 22 October 1915; Professor, Pantios School of Political Science 1941-75 (Emeritus), Rector 1963; Governor General, Ionian Islands 1945-51, Dodecanese Islands 1951; Greek Ambassador at large 1975-80; married Mina Papadopoulou (deceased; one daughter); died Athens 1 November 1993.

Earth mover for Greeks

Miltiades Evert, 54, a tough politician nicknamed the 'Bulldozer', was elected yesterday to lead Greece's New Democracy conservative party after its defeat in last month's general election, Reuter reports from Athens.

Obituary: Constantine Capsaskis

Constantine Capsaskis, banker: born Zakynthos, Greece 1923; Managing Director, Ergobank SA 1975-88, Chairman of the Board 1975-93; married 1955 Despina Zervoudachi (one son); died Athens 29 October 1993.

Greece's ex-king sails into a storm

FOR disobeying the orders of the Greek government, the former King Constantine of Greece, who is cruising the Aegean Sea with his wife and five children, found himself under naval escort yesterday while Athens tried to decide whether to ban him from the country altogether.

Travel: How to get the best out of Athens - A wonderful place to escape from: Hot, fume-filled and noisy, Athens is a city to see quickly. But there are compensations, says Simon Calder

ATHENS is served by dozens of flights from the UK every week, but most passengers are bound for nearby islands. The city oppresses the senses with heat, noise and fumes. Leave as soon as you've done the sights; the rest of Greece is much more rewarding than its capital suggests.

THEATRE / True blue, and over the top

WHAT MADE some members of the audience at the Liverpool Playhouse walk out of Lysistrata? Billed enthusiastically as the rudest comedy ever, Aristophanes' play, written during the Peloponnesian War in 411BC, has the women of Athens and Sparta taking steps to end the war. They deny the men sex and take charge of the money supply. Defensive this may be: offensive it's not.

THEATRE / All present and erect: Paul Taylor reviews Ranjit Bolt's stylishly smut-strewn translation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata at London's Old Vic

The gussets of the men's trousers are so floor-sweepingly voluminous you feel you'd have no problem stuffing a full week's family shopping into them. Which is just as well, given what they're forced to accommodate in the second half of Aristophanes' sublimely lewd Lysistrata. Here the hard-ons are as high as an elephant's eye or, to put it another way, is that a shoe-tree in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? When one poor male attempts a courteous bow, he practically concusses himself on his reared-up rigidity.

Letter: Happy times under a Greek tyranny

Sir: Boris Rankov's excellent article 'The good ship democracy' (14 June) begins: 'This week sees the Hellenic community in Britain celebrating 2,500 years of Greek democracy.' This is to date Greek democracy from the year 507 BC, the most important year in the career of Cleisthenes, who is often described as 'the father of Athenian democracy'. But democracy was getting off the ground even towards the beginning of the sixth century BC. 594 BC was the year of the sole archonship of Solon, and it is he who is regarded by some as 'the father of Athenian democracy'; if he was not, he surely deserves the title of 'the grandfather of Athenian democracy'.

Lessons of History: The good ship Democracy: The building of a trireme warship fleet had a deep effect on Athenian society. Boris Rankov explains

THIS week sees the Hellenic community in Britain celebrating 2,500 years of Greek democracy. The anniversary will be marked, amongst other festivities, by the visit of a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian warship to the River Thames. Powered by 170 rowers of both sexes, the Hellenic Navy trireme Olympias will on Wednesday evening pirouette in front of the Palace of Westminster, play host to Madam Speaker, and then paddle off majestically towards Tower Bridge.

Show People: Dirty old man does it again: 81. Aristophanes

TO ARISTOTLE, he was vulgar. To Plato, he was dangerous. To less snooty citizens of the world's first democracy, he was Spitting Image, Viz and Ray Cooney rolled into one. He didn't invent comedy, but he is the earliest comic playwright whose work survives. They say humour doesn't travel, and satire is not supposed to last, but this week Aristophanes of Athens, aged about 2,450, is back in the West End of London.

Letter: Sad state of Athens is a lesson to the world

Sir: Why was Athens not mentioned in Herbert Girardet's article on the environmental threat posed by cities such as London, Berlin and Paris ('Dust off the cities, clean up the world', 19 May)? Indeed, Athens seems to be mentioned increasingly rarely these days. I would have thought Athens was one of the strongest arguments the environmentalists have in the world battle to curb city pollution.

Law Update: Ship mates

Ince & Co is to open a Mediterranean regional office next month. The new office, in Piraeus, Greece, will be headed by Simon Todd, and will provide on-the-spot advice to the firm's shipping clients in the area.

Greek quits

A prominent member of the ruling conservative party stunned his colleagues in parliament yesterday by resigning his seat and denouncing the government's foreign policy just hours before a confidence vote, Reuter reports from Athens. George Rallis, a former conservative prime minister, said he could not 'approve the government's handling of the Skopje (Macedonia) issue'. The government narrowly survived the vote.

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