Saturday, 22 May 2010

Logo Mk II

A baroque doorway in Peroulades, about 100m from our house, which- given a few days, half a pack of cigarettes and a few brikis of coffee- will soon become the basis of the new logo. Imagine the outline, in gold, with a stylised olive tree on a heraldic shield where the feral tree now grows. Tasteful? I think so.

We've started trying to sell oil to buyers- small delis in London- to tide us over for the Autumn until we can start bottling our utterly untraditional blend. It's terrifying. The older I get, the more I think that anyone in any position of responsibility- whether starting a business or a family- has absolutely no idea what they're doing, and grows into the role. Hopefully.

More to come on the mind-boggling variety of bottles Italian and Chinese manufacturers produce. It's odd seeing distinctive bottles I recognise from artisanal Greek winemakers sold by the 10s of 1000 by Chinese megafactories.

Odd in that, while I didn't expect our bottles to be hand-blown by happy peasants in a whitewashed hut, globalisation always seems the preserve of someone else- Nike or Starbucks or Coca-Cola- until you actually start a business. Yet it seems impossible to sell anything, even a product as Slow Food and determinedly dopia* as our oil without somehow bringing in Far East labour in a city of which I've never heard but which is probably larger than London and younger than me. I imagine earnest young sweet manufacturers were agonising over slavery similarly 200 years ago, though I should add the moral quandary is of a different order of magnitude. In my case, it's simply that I want as much as possible to be made in Corfu... yet the labels of (newly-grown) Corfiot rival brands are hideous, quite possibly made up in the print shop by the law courts in Town, and are driving me to- of all places- a Birmingham printer for our own (ahem, impeccably stylish) versions.

I suppose it always thus. In the 19th century, the primary market for Corfiot olive oil was German factories, where it was used as an industrial lubricant; In the 18th century, it was as fuel for Venetian lamps- imagine how many masqued balls were lit by Corfiot serf labour; In a smaller world, such international connections must have seemed equally strange and jarring to Corfiot eyes. I suppose, thinking about it, part of the appeal of returning to Corfu is retreating from modernity; returning to a self-enclosed ancestral neverworld. But the Chinese role in our determinedly paysan business proves the fallacy of this, a lesson I had to return to Corfu to learn. As the Qu'ran says, "Seek ye knowledge, even unto China." It's a mark of modernity that China's reach now stretches to Peroulades.

* Local

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