Thursday, 12 November 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

The other night Paul Kelly, the journalist, was set upon in “our” ABC’s “Q & A” (Mon. 9 Nov. 2020, 9:35pm).

From the point of view of logic, reasonableness, and restraint, Paul Kelly’s behaviour was admirable, but news outlets which have long been propagandists for climate alarm chose not to see that, and instead presented the bullying Turnbull sympathetically in their reports—a commendable crusader for truth and enlightenment.

Kelly shrewdly implied that Turnbull is motivated by resentment and rancour, especially towards NewsCorp, when he said to Turnbull that, “Your problem was with the right wing of the Liberal party [rather than with NewsCorp]. At the end of the day, you failed to manage it properly.”

Kelly then very sensibly asked: “It’s OK to be a propagandist for one side, but if one is a critic or sceptic about some of these issues, that’s not OK?” 

The ousted former Prime Minister avoided answering this perfectly valid observation by launching into a venomous tirade accompanied by much finger wagging:

"The company you work for and its friends in politics, like Trump and others, have turned this issue of physics into an issue of values or identity…”

This opening sentence was enthusiastically applauded by an audience that did not seem to include any climate critics and sceptics, but surely it is the climate alarmists who have done what NewsCorp is accused of. They won’t allow serious discussion of the data, and claim dogmatically that the science is “settled”. It is not.

Having turned the truth of the situation on its head, Turnbull followed with this absurdity: “Saying you believe or disbelieve in global warming is like saying you believe or disbelieve in gravity.”


To my mind, only someone with an exceedingly poor grasp of science and logic could think that certainty about the existence of gravity is of the same order as certainty about supposedly anthropogenic “climate-change” caused by CO2!

One expects better from a former Prime Minister of Australia.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

Strange things happen when you’ve been in enforced isolation too long. You begin to feel trapped, like an animal in a cage rattling at the bars, frantic for freedom. You stand at your open door looking out, and the house disappears around you. Just a door left, a door in a wall… and a cat hugging the wall fearful that it too may vanish like the sociable young wombat whose head and one paw keep appearing and disappearing up in the trees. And then again, sometimes you are overcome by stranger visions, a magic flying settee takes off past your window with a startled child on board. An exotic lizard parks itself in your living room calmly eyeing your camera bag. You fear you are losing your mind… and you are. A mist descends and the trees turn ghostly with whispers. You put out your cigarette... you’ve been alone too long.

For relief, you start up your computer and play with pictures...

[Note: Click on the title below each picture to see a larger version.]

The Human Condition

The Door in the Wall

The Magic Settee
Link to the Antipodean Palette 2020 webpage

Sunday, 21 June 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

In 1878, by agreement with the Ottoman Sultan, the British took over the governance of Cyprus from the Turks. The first British Governor of the island was Sir Garnet Wolseley...

“Sir Garnet Wolseley Courting Cyprus” by Edward
Linley Sambourne (Punch 3 Aug. 1878)

After arriving in Larnaca and being sworn in as Governor, Sir Garnet Wolseley put off for a few days the obligatory visit to Nicosia to meet with the outgoing Turkish Governor of the island. In the meantime he did some sightseeing. He sailed to Famagusta on the 25th of July in the Salamis accompanied by Admiral Lord John Hay,[1] and on the following day he sailed in the opposite direction to Limassol. His arrival there is described at some length in The Daily News:
We landed at a little jetty opposite the vice-consul’s house, where a great mass of inhabitants had collected to welcome the High Commissioner. The Greek element is clearly in the ascendant at Limasol. Greek girls crowded the balconies and windows of the houses on the seafront, Greeks in black coats rather elbowed the Turks into the back ground, and asserted themselves with sufficient complacency. The bells of the Greek churches were chiming merrily. A cafe projecting over the sea was crammed to its last inch of standing room with spectators. In the centre of the throng, stern and rigid, stood a little guard of honour of Marines, a detachment of which have been stationed here since Lord John Hay took over the island. The British bugle sounded as his Excellency stepped on shore. No time was lost. Sir Garnet Wolseley inspected the guard, and then a little procession was formed, with the Konak as its destination. We dived down a lane, and found ourselves in an unfragrant bazaar, covered with canvas stretched overhead from booth to booth. This protection gave some coolness, but was neutralised by the calorie radiated by the crowd which, with pardonable curiosity, thronged about the little party so eagerly that progress was occasionally impeded. But we struggled on to the Konak where a little band of Turkish militiamen formed a guard, and mounted to the court-room, whither there was allowed to follow the most respectable portion of the crowd. The priests showed a good front, there being no fewer than five present. The Greek exarch read an address, the tenor of which gives some indication of the aspirations uppermost in the Grecian mind of Cyprus. It began “we Greeks,” not “we Cypriotes,” and it ran as follows:
“You represent a nation sympathising with the long sufferings of this thoroughly Hellenic country of ours. Our language and our religion have been from time immemorial our two national symbols, and those mighty Britain, in the performance of her noble work, we are assured will maintain and uphold in the future for the welfare and prosperity of this nation. We have before us the noble precedent of the Ionian Islands. The great island of Cyprus, the pearl of the Mediterranean, is ceded to the crown of her Majesty, and our respect and pride will be great for her in like manner as other countries and nations under her protection.”
I confess I do not see with what right the Grecian population of Cyprus can style themselves the nation. It would be difficult for the exarch, probably, to tell at a moment’s notice how many centuries have elapsed since there was Greek rule in Cyprus and as for “language,” if the exarch’s religion is no better than his Greek, it certainly cannot be called his strong point. His Excellency gave to Mr. Guarracino the terms of a very general reply, which that gentleman translated first into Greek and then into Turkish. The consul made a few presentations to his Excellency and then the party started for a ride. Sir Garnet had a very handsome mule, with the only English saddle in the place… (The Daily News, 9 Aug 1878, p.6d)
According to the report’s account of the address of the “Greek exarch”, there is in the speech no request for enosis—not in so many words—but the sentence: “We have before us the noble precedent of the Ionian Islands” was a clear hint of what was expected. No more needed to be said.

Certainly the reporter has not missed the hint. For him the speech “gives some indication of the aspirations uppermost in the Grecian mind of Cyprus”, and he takes issue with the fact that the Cypriots refer to themselves as Greek.

It is noteworthy that, in the telegraph version of this news story, printed a few days earlier, the hope for union with Greece is presented as having been expressed unequivocally.
Sir Garnet Wolseley yesterday visited Limasol, a place of some consequence on the south side of Cyprus. It is a commercial town, is fairly built, and is surrounded by cultivated ground and trees. A large proportion of the population is Greek. A deputation of the Greeks waited upon Sir Garnet Wolseley, and expressed the hope that England would follow the precedent pursued with regard to the Ionian Islands. (The Daily News, 27 July 1878, p. 5f)
Regardless of the truth of the matter—Was the desire for enosis expressed through a hint or a clear statement?—the most significant point is, perhaps, that through this reporter—the famous correspondent Archibald Forbes—the British public and politicians were informed that the Greek Cypriots aspired to union with their brethren in Greece.[2]

The reporter’s reach, it should be noted was amplified by the fact that his telegraphic reports were used by other newspapers as well. For example, The Scotsman published exactly the same telegraph item on 29 July 1878 (p. 5b) and The Leeds Mercury on 27 July 1878 (p. 7f).

Note also that the information that the Greek Cypriots desired union with Greece was not just mentioned in the descriptions of the exarch’s speech above, but also in two other passages in the same edition of The Daily News.
Passage 1
… I have just seen Captain Rawson, who is the interim commandant of Nicosia, and who was present at the occupation of that place, and has been there ever since.[3] He tells me that the Turks are thoroughly well pleased by the change which has been made in the government; that they desire ardently good government, and that they rest well assured they will have this blessing at the hands of the British Lord High Commissioner. The Greeks, however, are not so thoroughly satisfied. They are glad, it is true, in a modified sense, by reason of the change, since they realise that it will bring them good government; but they have an arrière pensée. They had the lingering hope that the island would be annexed to Greece, and they have some disappointment that this has not been done. We may trust to time to convert them from a delusion so Quixotic. (The Daily News, 9 Aug 1878, p.5f)
Passage 2
The Greeks appear to be divided between native desire to turn a penny, honest or not, and a far-off hope that they may some day make part of the Greek Kingdom. Our Correspondent calls this hope Quixotic, and it is certainly premature. No natives of the Levant are less purely Greek, it appears, than the Cypriotes, and none have done so little in the way of fighting freedom’s battle for themselves. [4] (The Daily News, 9 Aug 1878, p. 4f)
In the light of these references there can be no doubt that enosist sentiment existed among Cypriots from the very beginning of British rule, and that this was quickly communicated to the British administrators, and, via The Daily News and other newspapers, to the British public.

Unfortunately we are not told the identity of the “exarch” who made the speech in Limassol, and the use of the word “exarch” contributes a measure of confusion, since we do not know exactly the meaning intended. Does it just mean the leader of the group of priests present—a facetious usage perhaps? Or does it mean a bishop, the archbishop, or a representative of one of these? Given that we are dealing with someone who in other reports has no qualms about referring to the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus simply as a “Greek priest”, there can be no certainty.

To sum up then, in the light of the information contained in the 9th of August edition of The Daily News, which offers an eye-witness account of the event, we have to accept that a representative of the Church of Cyprus did indeed indicate to Sir Garnet Wolseley that the Greek Cypriots desired union with Greece, and that this happened not in Larnaca as was previously thought or in Nicosia but in Limassol. We cannot be completely certain as to the identity of the prelate who spoke, but we do know from the eye-witness account that there was a “deputation of the Greeks” in Limassol which included “no fewer than five” priests, at least one of whom—the speaker—is described as an “exarch”. We also know that the “exarch” read an address, i.e., that the speech which he delivered was a prepared speech.

There exists in many historical accounts a claim that when Sir Garnet Wolseley landed in Cyprus, he was greeted by the Archbishop, who lost no time in making the enosist aspiration of his flock known to His Excellency. Based on the evidence I have presented, we can say with certainty that although this claim may be inaccurate, it cannot be dismissed as a complete fabrication. A leader of the Church of Cyprus did indeed indicate to the British newcomer that Cyprus desired to go the way of the Ionian Islands.

However, the rival Cypriotist claim that no such speech was ever made can safely be dismissed as mistaken.


[1] Hay had been sent to Cyprus in advance to prepare for Wolseley’s arrival. See the Despatch from “Vice-Admiral Lord John Hay, C.B., Commanding Channel Squadron” in The London Gazette, Tuesday, 30 July 1878. Wolseley could be quite brutal in his assessments. In his journal written for his wife he described Admiral Lord John Hay as “that goose”; likened him to a “foolish idle child”; and accused him of “pompous ignorance”. (Anne Cavendish [ed.], Cyprus 1878: The Journal of Sir Garnet Wolseley, [Nicosia: Laiki Trapeza, 1992], pp. 9 & 95.)

[2] For some indication of the extent of his fame see the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica entry for Archibald Forbes. There is also a Wikipedia entry.

[3] Captain Harry H. Rawson seems to have been Admiral John Hay’s right hand man. See The London Gazette 30 July 1878.

[4] The point that the Cypriot Greeks have done “little in the way of fighting freedom’s battle for themselves” is a chilling reminder to the contemporary reader of the expression of similar British sentiments in the 1950s which no doubt contributed to the fatal decision on the part of the enosis movement to resort to arms.

Monday, 1 June 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

Cyprus Invaded & Partitioned

A particularly disheartening phenomenon in contemporary Cyprus is the push by a small but vocal group of Cypriots who consider themselves “progressive” to de-Hellenise the identity of the Greek Cypriots.

They claim to be opposed to “nationalism”, but seem in fact to be primarily opposed to Greek nationalism which they want to eradicate by denying the Hellenic identity of Cypriot Greeks. With regard to Turkish nationalism they have something of a blind spot—it does not bother them anywhere near as much as, by their own lights, it should.[1] In fact they seem to have adopted the perspective of Turkish propaganda which holds that all the problems of Cyprus have resulted solely from the actions of Greek nationalists.[2] They also seem to have adopted the claims of British propaganda from the 50s that the Greek Cypriots are not really Greek, they just think they are.[3]

In the sense that yes, a Cypriot’s first and foremost loyalty should be to Cyprus, their aim is laudable, but it is not at all clear to me why loyalty to Cyprus should necessitate both a denial of the Hellenic and Turkish identity of most of the population, and a revision of the island’s history which suppresses and/or rejects the Hellenic nature of the majority indigenous community. However laudable the motivation, lies and distortions do not cease to be lies and distortions.

Born-again Cypriotism gained ground among Greek Cypriots after the Turkish invasion and partition of the island in 1974, and is to a large extent motivated by a desire to see the island reunified. But can real unity be achieved by allowing Turkey to dictate the terms of reunification?

In this regard it is noteworthy that despite its commitment to Cypriot nationalism, the born-again Cypriot mindset is not loyal to the Republic of Cyprus. Its reconciliationist devotees are quite willing to agree to the dissolution of that entity and the replacement of it with a federal semblance of “unity” which is in essence an apartheid legitimisation of the partition imposed by the Turkish troops, and which would make Cyprus a hostage to Turkish interests regardless of the wishes of the majority population.

Can reunification be achieved by adopting the misrepresentations of British and Turkish propaganda, and denying the Hellenic character of our culture and identity? Is that a reunification we can, or want to, live with?


[1] See Sener Levent, “Et tu, Akis Lordos?...” in Politis 7 July 2016. Available in English translation at In this article Sener Levent tackles Greek Cypriot “reconciliationists” who criticised him for “raking up” the past when he reported newly discovered Turkish atrocities of 1974.  Their sentiments he tells them are pleasing to the chauvinists on the Turkish side. “You are fighting on the same front”, he says. “Your words spread honey on the bread of all of them. You will never be able to bring peace to this island in this way.”

[2] For a better understanding of the Turkish contribution to the problems of Cyprus see the compilation of excerpts “Turkey’s Role in Cyprus in the 1950s” (ed. Pavlos Andronikos) at

[3] On the Hellenic character of Cyprus see Pavlos Andronikos, “Changing Perceptions: Cyprus, A Greek Island” at

[4] Warning: Do not confuse accepting that Greek-speaking Cypriots are Hellenic in character (but in a Cypriot way) with a desire for Cyprus to be a province of Greece. Nobody is arguing for enosis here.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

Emperor Nikephoros II
The roots of some of the attitudes of Western Europe towards the modern Greeks go back to medieval  times when the West, keen to deny the Eastern Roman Empire its dues as the only legitimate continuation of the Roman Empire, called the eastern Romans Greeks and/or, from the sixteenth century, Byzantines. The “Byzantines”, however, called themselves Romans (Ρωμαίοι), [1]  and were proud of that identity. As Romans and Orthodox Christians they considered  themselves superior to the barbaric and sinful West in every way.

In addition, from late in the 12th century some of these eastern Romans also began to identify themselves as Hellenes, being both Greek speakers and keepers of the knowledge of the ancients, as well as, in many instances, descendants of the ancient Hellenes. This latter identification was another way for them to assert cultural superiority over the West—a mindset by no means unheard of in contemporary Greece. ☺

In the West the Eastern Romans were admired, envied, resented, and denigrated. To illustrate, when in 968 Liutprand, the Bishop of Cremona, visited Constantinople to negotiate a prestigious imperial marriage for the son of the German “Holy Roman Emperor” Otto the Great, the Emperor Nikephoros II “railed against diplomatic letters from the Pope in Rome which employed incorrect titles: Instead of Emperor of the Romans, Nikephoros was addressed as Emperor of the Greeks.” Liutprand, in return,  insulted his hosts (according to his own report to his superiors) “by asserting that the name ‘Roman’ comprehended ‘every form of lowness, timidity, avarice, luxury, falsehood and vice’”! [2]

To be fair this was Liutprand’s second visit to the great City, and in contrast to his first visit he was not treated at all well. Nor did his delegation succeed, because: “It is an unheard of thing that a daughter born in the purple of an emperor born in the purple should be joined in marriage with strange nations.” However the Romans/Greeks were willing to overlook Otto’s lowly birth if his father would hand back Ravenna and Rome “with all the adjoining places which extend from thence to our possessions”. [3]

On the one hand the prestige of the eastern Romans made marriage into the imperial family desirable, [4]  on the other hand that same prestige engendered a desire to denigrate, particularly as the West became more powerful, and wanted to give pride of place to its own church and its own optimistically named “Holy Roman Empire”.

In conclusion, when you read that the Roman Empire ended in 476, don’t believe a word of it. The Roman Empire did not end until 1453, when Constantinople, the new Rome, fell to the Ottoman Turks. The Greeks of today are inheritors of both Hellas and Rome. [5] ☺


[1] Ρωμαίοι (Ro-me-i), through a natural linguistc process, morphed into Ρωμιοί (Rom-yi) in the modern language.
[2] Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin (London: Penguin, 2010), pp. 178-9.
[3] Otto’s son, lowly birth notwithstanding, did get his own Roman princess in the end, when Nikephoros was assassinated and succeeded by John I Tzimiskes. The new emperor sent his niece Theophano (Θεοφανώ) to Rome to marry Otto II in 972.
[4] Otto also saw the proposed marriage as a way of ensuring peace between himself and the eastern Romans, and was hoping that Nikephoros would give Apulia and Calabria as the princess’s dowry.
[5] “The Greeks of today” refers not only to the Greeks of the Greek state (wherever they happen to be) but also to Cypriot Greeks, as well as to all those Greeks from Asia Minor (Turkey) who survived persecutions and pogroms and fled to other countries. A large number of them settled in the USA.  In Turkey itself only a very few Greeks are left.

The illustrations show a 1961 Greek stamp commemorating the Emperor Nikephoros II; and an icon depicting him as a saint.

Friday, 15 May 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

An anthology of songs and music by Australians from Greek backgrounds with the title In a Strange Land was recently released on the internet. It can be freely downloaded for non-commercial personal use from:

In a Strange Land is an honest and contemporary collection showcasing the innovative ways in which Greek Australians have engaged in the creation of music in their “strange” new land. The album ranges widely in styles from traditional Greek folk to the electroacoustic soundscapes of Stephen Adam. Greek rock is represented by the songs of Stelios Tsiolas, and opera by Irine Vela’s choral piece from the opera Little City. There is a touch of jazz in Christella Demetriou’s “Night”, and George Xylouris and Mairéad Hannan delightfully combine the sound of Cretan folk instruments with cello and double bass.

The Composers

The anthology contains sixteen tracks by ten composers including:
  • Irine Vela and Achilles Yiangoulli, members of the Aria-awarded band the Habibis, which performed in the film Head On.
  • The late Costas Tsicaderis, who had a long association with the Melbourne cultural support group and music cafe The Boite, and contributed four tracks to The Fig Tree CD (winner of the 2004 National Folk Recording Award).
  • George Xylouris, a talented multi-instrumentalist from the famous Cretan musical clan whose surname he bears, and Mairéad Hannan, familiar for her major contribution to the Australian musical film One Night the Moon. Both are members of The George Xylouris Ensemble.
  • Stelios Tsiolas, who has presented and conducted numerous concerts throughout Australia, and was assistant conductor to Mikis Theodorakis for the presentation of the oratorio Axion Esti at Perth Festival with the West Australia Symphony Orchestra.
  • Christella Demetriou, who recently had a fine album released in Greece of poems by Sappho and Cavafy set to her music.
  • Stephen (Στέλιος) Adam, co-producer and main sound engineer, who is highly regarded in electronic music circles for his electroacoustic compositions and his pioneering experiments with computers in music.
  • Andrew Kyriakopoulos, a relative newcomer to Greek music, who demonstrates remarkable skill in the creation of computer and synth-based arrangements.
  • Pavlos Andronikos, initiator and co-producer of the anthology, and formerly senior lecturer and head of Greek at Monash University. He has been a keen musician for a very long time, and has had his songs performed at numerous concerts for the Greek community in Melbourne.

The Lyricists

Many of the lyrics are by the composers themselves, but seven of the tracks are a setting to music of lyrics by the writers and poets Dimitris Tsaloumas, Nikos Ninolakis, Michalis Pais, Daniel Keene, Ekaterini Mpaloukas, and Georgia Heracleous.
The lyrics vary in style from the minimalism of Andrew Kyriakopoulos’ “I’m leaving” and George Xylouris’ “There are Moments” to the richly poetic “The Pomegranate” by Dimitris Tsaloumas and “With the Lips of Heartache” by Michalis Pais. So too does subject matter vary, on the one hand Ekaterini Mpaloukas’ “On Your Balcony” evokes Greek village life, whereas Stelios Tsiolas’ “Day After Day” is about working in a car factory.
Inevitably nostalgia for what has been left behind is a theme, as in “They’ve Taken the Sun” by Nikos Ninolakis, and “The Same Sun” and “One Earth” by Georgia Heracleous, but Christella Demetriou’s “For Yianni” offers a different kind of nostalgia—a yearning for a lost love. Incisive social comment is offered in Stelios Tsiolas’ “Five Horseflies” and “Day After Day”, and in Daniel Keene & Irine Vela’s “Words Are the Poison”.
All of the lyrics, as well as translations, can be found at

The Singers

On most tracks the composers have elected to sing their own songs and the results are impressive. Andrew Kyriakopoulos and Achilles Yiangoulli are both fine singers as well as composers. Christella Demetriou’s bittersweet voice is perfect for her two songs; Stelios Tsiolas couldn’t have found a more suitable rock singer, and George Xylouris’ bass-tinged voice is striking indeed in “There Are Moments”. It is hard to imagine any of these songs being sung differently.

Costas Tsicaderis has used other singers in the past—a much earlier recording of “The Pomegranate” was sung by Rena Hatzilepou—but it is good to have on this album two previously unheard recordings of him singing his own songs in his unique inimitable style. They may have been his last studio recordings.

The guest singers include Archie (Αργύρης) Argyropoulos, who is well known around Melbourne for his participation in various bands, particularly Rebetiki and Apodimi Kompania. He offers an excellent and thoroughly convincing interpretation of “On Your Balcony”. On that song Helen Sinis sings background vocals, but in the last verse she shares the lead so that, with the two singing alternate lines, a happy ending is suggested despite the lyrics.

Helen Sinis also takes the lead vocal in the second half of “With the Lips of Heartache”, where her richly expressive and passionate singing represents the voice of the lost daughter, whilst Markos Markou sings the narrative of the first half in appropriately sombre and sad tones.

Irine Vela’s “Words Are the Poison”, which stands out for its use of a full choir and its fluid choral and instrumental writing, features a number of strong soloists. The opening zeibekiko section is sung in Greek by Achilles Yiangoulli over a bouzouki accompaniment played by Irine herself. He is joined by Gioconda Vatcky singing a counterpoint melody in Spanish, and then an instrumental interlude ending in a cymbal crash introduces a change of time signature, and ushers in the magnificent sound of the full Canto Coro choir and the soloists Jeannie Marsh and Glenn Hadyn singing in English. This song and the synth “choirs” of the final track which follows it, Stephen Adam’s “Bluebeard”, constitute a fitting climax to the album.

Some Responses to the Album

According to one of the featured composers who is currently living in Greece, “People have been making really good comments about it!”

Here are some of the comments I have received:
  • “What an impressive production it is.”
  • “Loved the album. I … now have it on my i-pod.”
  • “Wow! I just listened to your CD and enjoyed it very much. It was a wonderful mixture of traditional and modern flavours.”
  • “I think the audio mix is great!”
  • “What an excellent idea!...This CD has so many beautiful songs on it!!”
  • “The more I hear your CD the MORE I LIKE IT, and of course I loved IMMEDIATELY the more lyrical songs.!!!” 
My own response is similar to the last comment. The more I hear the album the more I like it, and since I have been heavily involved in the making of the album, that is remarkable. I should by rights be getting tired of hearing it, but that isn’t the case at all. It still “sends me”. It is a fine album, with many highlights, and it amply demonstrates that the contribution of Greek-Australians to the rich tapestry of Australian musical culture is one of both substance and quality. 


This article first appeared in the newspaper The Greek Herald (Ο Ελληνικός Κήρυκας) in Sydney on 12 Feb. 2011.

See also the review by Dean Kalimniou on Diatribe.

Cover illustration and design: Pavlos Andronikos

Friday, 8 May 2020


by Pavlos Andronikos

There was a time when footnotes were conveniently put where they should be—at the bottom of the page. You glanced down, read them, and carried on. Now they always seem to be gathered together at the end of the book, so that the procedure for reading them goes something like this:
  • turn to the back of the book,
  • realise you don’t know the number of the chapter you were in,
  • go back to where you were, and
  • leaf through the pages looking for the beginning of the chapter to discover the chapter number.
By this time you have forgotten the footnote number so you have to locate your page again, and finally, armed with chapter number and footnote number you go to the back of the book to read the desired footnote. Now, you just have to find the page you were on again, but by this time you’ve  lost the thread of what you were reading so that when you do locate your page you have to read it all over again. 

Illustration: P. Andronikos

The irony is that in the good old days before “word processing”—Who came up with that awful term?—printers (i.e., people not machines) had to go to a lot of trouble to typeset each page, yet they still managed to put footnotes where they should be. Nowadays, when page layout is done by computer, and it is so much easier to put footnotes on the page where they belong, publishers seem wilfully intent on making the life of footnote readers difficult.

Anyone would think authors don’t really want you to read their footnotes. Could it be that they include them just for the appearance of academic credibility?

I confess that I have often wondered if that is the case, just as I have often thought that the use of abbreviated Latin words and phrases such as ibid., op. cit., etc. may be merely a way of signifying academic credibility: “Look at me, folks, I can use these Latin abbreviations, just like the real academics of yore.”

Before computers, when one had to write everything out by hand and typesetting was painstaking manual labour, it made sense to use such abbreviations, but since all one has to do nowadays is copy and paste, there is no reason why each footnote should not contain either a full citation, or, as a minimum, author, title, and page number, with the other details in a bibliography. There is little more annoying than having to work back though a long string of ibids and op cits to find the source.

Postscript: I did once advise a postgraduate student I was supervising to use the system I am promoting here rather than the traditional Latin words and phrases. I was very disappointed when one of the thesis examiners decided that this was a nit he had to pick… but then he was a classicist!

In closing, I applaud The Chicago Manual of Style for stating that Latin footnote abbreviations are “rightly falling into disuse”. Good riddance!