January, 2009

  1. Notes towards an aquamarine future- News from New Zealand and Bulgaria

    January 28, 2009 by Christopher Buxton



    Our ears are becoming attuned to the Kiwi accent. Like chords in a key change, vowels just move one sound over. Bat becomes bet; bet becomes bit; bit becomes but; but becomes bat. In the museum the guide explains how a new pist introduced by the Maoris ate the eggs of the flightless bird population in New Zealand. Annie (Ennie in Kiwi) is shocked and wants to know more about this pist. “What’s a ret?” she asks. The guide is lost for words – a European who doesn’t know what a ret is. I say the problem is that the Maoris didn’t bring any cets.


    The sky is an intense blue and at the crest of every hill in Auckland you look down to see a faithfully reflecting sea that fills the vast bay of volcanic islands, moulded into green dough cones and darkening into the distance.


    Even the air tastes of aquamarine. It blows into the faces of underdressed Kiwis who stride beneath cool blue skyscrapers towards their next peak, like stars in their own health advertisement.


    I have never been so aware of trees. Mossy green boughs are flung outwards to provide a child’s climbing dream. Branches twist and curl beyond the scope of the widest angle lens. Then the palms explode from their centre like showering fireworks. Slender maidens with trembling branches just budding, extend their as yet leafless fingers to flirt with the blue sky. Ancient neighbours in dark green leaf bow beneath the weight of a heavy bearded lecherous parasite that sweeps the air like besom.


    Meanwhile the news from Bulgaria is for once unexpectedly good. In the latest court case the demolition order hanging over Milka’s property in Vuzrazhdane 4 has been lifted – at least for the time being. At this announcement from the judges, our champion, Assen Yordanov let out such a triumphant whoop that he received a warning from the court.


    Further whooping energy went into the making of a TV documentary. Milka now looks on Assen as the Bulgarian Martin Luther King.


    None of the above changes the ground reality of the unnecessary conflict we find ourselves in with the third richest man in Bulgaria. Even though Milka’s rent from at least one part of the property is secured, the other tenants have been scared/bought off. We hope at least that Gravé’s case for compensation has now been compromised.


    Mitko Subev – we are always ready to negotiate.


  2. Merry Moments on Bulgarian Pavements

    January 13, 2009 by Christopher Buxton

    In the spirit of Walt Whitman I sing the joy of Bulgarian pavements.
    In their cross concrete eruptions, slabs tilting, rocking, soaking ankles with hidden waters, potholed, jagged, stepped and rooted.
    I step I shuffle I trudge I trip I stagger I lurch I shift my gaze to my feet as they chart the three dimensional jigsaw.
    I am blocked thwarted diverted by the hulks of deserted cars, black monsters that nose the walls and fences and stretch their arses to the very gutter.
    They sleep in my path like bulky panthers fed on elephant, sleek in obese glossiness
    I sing the community of the pavement as I pass elbows of drinkers spending whole days in bitter carousal
    Hey! Gay! Come here so I can chop your prick off! A growl from a table as I weave my way. I turn to see a boy behind me flinch.
    Dressed-down punk! A dog collar round his neck and faded eye shadow are the signs of his well known gayness. His step falters and he looks away. He is part of this pavement life
    Drunken vituperation peters out to a low murmur to be drowned by the next pull at the rakia, the next outpouring of passion to be applauded by companions wise in their inebriation.
    Turks Gays Gypsies Chicks
    I pass bench after bench along the unending wall of block that rises to the sky. I am haunted by the eyes of single old women. Sit down next to me, son. I have something to say about life, about health, about the dead.
    Lucky twos and threes support their chins on walking sticks and discuss their neighbours. Didn’t you know she’s the most fallen woman in Burgas? How is she not a peasant? Have you seen her white teeth?
    I sing the grim determination of pavement dwellers, the Grannies and Grandads that squat all day selling flowers and pure honey, straggling herbs and accurate weight.
    The seventy year old woman on the dusty rutted pavement on the edge of the complex, among trees and grass and roots and broken stones, she pushes a pram full to the handles with old vegetables. The wobbly wheels catch in holes, are stuck at steps. I have ten mouths to feed she says.
    I sing the memories of dark night time wandering past low houses set in vine covered gardens where friends sat lit by single lights and drank home made wine. Whole nights of song and roasting peppers.
    Where are those houses now? Where are the gardens? A brontosaurus blocks my path in the dark. I thought at first it was an earth mover. A cement lorry smashes the corner curb. Scaffolding and corrugated iron surround the sites where once fig trees burst with plopping fruit. I step back to crane my neck. Another modern block to join the wall of modern blocks. I tip my hat to the past.
    Tipping my hat to the past as I once danced with my special girl on the crooked pavements of Burgas! All the way home singing Hit the Road Jack in drunken harmony till all friends peeled away to their houses leaving lovers free to kiss and canoudle in the dark.
    I sing the scandal of pavements even in the dark, the hushed report relayed by neighbours and relatives to her parents.
    He danced with your daughter in the street. Yes Martha, Kalinka, Vitka, Bonka, Donka, Danka, Dinka, they all saw it or heard about it the next day.
    He’ll use her, he’ll abuse her. How can you let them dance on the pavement? The shamefulness, the outrage! And when he dumps her on the pavement, what will you do then? Best send her away to Stara Zagora. There are no foreigners on Stara Zagora pavements.
    I sing the detritus, the spat sunflower husks, the plump figs and plums dropped from trees, the plump turds dropped by dogs.
    The wrecks of grey rubbish bins loom like shipwrecks. They are the haunt of scrabbling cats and ravenous paupers in ragged jump suits.
    I sing myself that have learnt to walk like Long John Silver, striding the pitfalls with bags of treasure bashing at my peg legs.
    I am restless, cannot sit at home, my toes tap unsatisfied, yearning for massy challenge of the wild outdoors.
    Like Shackleton on the ice, I must go forth or die.


  3. More on the Ministry of Extraordinary Situations

    January 12, 2009 by Christopher Buxton

    Extraordinary Reaction to an Extraordinary Situation by the Ministry

    Leaked document shows real intelligence says unnamed DPS source

    The Ministry of Extraordinary Situations is not an invention of JK Rowling but is appropriately to be found facing the church where in 1925 Communists tried to blow up King and ruling elite.

    With Bulgarians used to facing extraordinary situations every day of their waking and sleeping lives it is good to know that this Ministry works tirelessly on numbers of expensive projects – the latest being the cleaning of river beds an activity so muddy that it will certainly generate fat contracts for approved firms.

    However, desperate times caused by the world economic crisis and the gas cut off has necessitated an exponential increase in blue sky outside-the-box thinking.

    Here are some suggested initiatives in a leaked document from the Ministry of Extraordinary Situations, which will not necessarily involve large payments to Turkish sub-contractors.

    Pensioners to knit hats, mufflers, mittens and bed socks for prisoners currently freezing in Bulgarian gaols. This enhances digital dexterity and circulation while generating enough hot communal complaint to warm a residential block.

    An advertising campaign popularising the exciting breeds of fish to be found around the newly fired up reactor at Kozlodui – including such cheap delicacies as the four eyed red-head, (known affectionately in some quarters as a Stanishev); the shovel-finned monster brigandfish news of whose cannibalistic feats has replaced both Voden Ziderov and Bate Boyko on the front pages of the yellow press ; and the two arsed Tsarfish whose blue caviar is the subject of a current court action likely to be decided in 2036.

    An invitation to George Bush to become special adviser to the communications wing of the newly formed CRIME – Committee for the Recovery of Illegal Munitions and Explosives. This will have the dual effect of mystifying the public, too often scared in the past by over-simple stories of organised crime, and providing interpreting work for the innumerable Business graduates of Private American Universities in Bulgaria.

    An exchange which will bring Prince Harry to Bulgaria as special advisor to President Purvanov on Cultural Diversity and Political Correctness. The Ministry welcomes suggestions for the fancy dress ball. In return UK citizens will get Slavi Trifonov as a contestant in the latest Celebrity (who?) Big Brother .

    The rebranding of Sunny Beach as a postmodern, post-communist labour camp – where the perpetrators of economic and environmental crime are forced to rub shoulders with their most obvious criminal victims in unheated and unwanted palaces.

    A new campaign by the Bulgarian Orthodox church to use its priests and monks as personal body warmers for those most affected by the cold. A slight tremor near a church or monastery will trigger an immediate bear hug from a hearty smiling cleric.

    A demonstration by police in Sofia Freedom Park of the penguin method of surviving a cold winter. Pushing, shoving, swearing and threatening are all permitted methods of circulation within the huddle, but guns truncheons and handcuffs will be removed from all below the most privileged ranks.

    Finally the burning of all government records. This will not only have the advantage of warming the population for the entire winter, but also ensure freedom from prosecution or press exposure for all ministers – especially those responsible for extraordinary situations..


  4. Gravé sues Milka for 15,000 Euros

    January 9, 2009 by Christopher Buxton

    Well leather faces are patient – especially when they hold all the cards.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a 84 year old disabled woman unfortunate enough to share a property with a powerful petrol company will find herself without even a crutch to support her.

    In my last post from the Burgas front line, (Big Shout for Assen Yordanov) I reported the curious reaction of Messrs. Subev and Mitzov following the temporary storm whipped up by Assen in collaboration with SKAT TV. With serious questions being asked about the Burgas council’s decision to order the demolition of Vuzrazhdene 4 and the extent of influence over that decision by the powerful Petrol company, Mitko Subev called an urgent meeting with Milka Vulkanova’ representatives in the Burgas football stadium.

    The great man assured all present that he had no thought of ordering in the bulldozers before some accommodation was reached that insured Milka continuing to receive the money she needs to survive as a solitary disabled 84 year old – money which she is entitled to as co-owner of a building in the centre of Burgas, built by her father in the late 30s.

    Mitko Subev also declared his surprise thart he had not been aware of Milka’s proposals for an amicable resolution of the problem. Of course he would give the proposal his urgent consideration. Rest assured he had no desire to see an old woman bankrupted and forced onto the street.

    That was over a month ago and court procedures grind on. As the next hearing approaches, expert evidence has unaccountably changed, raising the suspicion that Petrol’s influence is invincible throughout all institutions in Burgas. The chances of a fair hearing are therefore bleak. A sound building will be demolished and Milka’s sole source of income destroyed.

    Things can only get worse.

    With Milka Vulkanova on her knees it is time for Insurance firm Gravé to put on its kicking boots. As interested parties they have always appeared in court sessions alongside Petrol and have a familiar relationship with representatives of that company. So a month ago the former tenants of Milka’s “have been forced to leave an unsafe building of bad repute” and as a result have decided to sue her for loss of trade. This loss apparently amounts to 15000 Euros .

    There is of course no thought that Petrol might have something to do with the misrepresentation of the building and its alleged dangers.

    So it would not be an over-cynical to draw the conclusion that Petrol and Gravé may be in alliance based on the mutual benefit to be derived from so terrifying Milka that she agrees to sell her half of Vuzrazhdene 4 for a comical sum in order to escape mounting legal debts.


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