The story so far: As part of a European work-sharing initiative, the GLB Greatest Living Bulgarian Boyko Borisov and Posh-boy David Cameron have swapped jobs. Batty Boyko is now in Downing Street and enjoying the Levinson Inquiry. David Cameron is somewhat less comfortable in his Boyanna Residence, worried by eco-protestors)
David Cameron writes:
I say, what’s all this fuss about the forests? Last time I looked, there seemed to be plenty of trees. It’s true I didn’t count a hundred lime trees in Stolipanovo, but folk do need firewood. Now I can’t travel through Sofia without some eco-nut bending my ear about the forests being leveled for tourist development. I phoned up Boyko, he was limbering up in the gym, checking out his heart in time for the doctor’s go-slow. He plans to rip his shirt off on the Graham Norton show, just to show off his muscles. I should have his problems. When I tell him about the protests, he gives one of his fruity chuckles.
“I thought you told me that Bulgarians are a jolly patient crew – they never protest!” I complain. “If I’d known it was going to be like this I’d have swapped with whoever was Prime minister in Greece at the time. At least the job swap wouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of weeks.”
“Calm down, dear,” he says. Well he jolly well knows how to wind me up. “Thing you need to understand is that all Bulgarians are nutcases – well apart from me obviously. Dogs roam, tearing folk to pieces. Government tries to bring in some controls and dog-lovers form a human shield. I try and sort out good gas and nuclear deals with our good friends the Russians and again everyone with a beard is out there protesting, as though it’s not them who’re going to freeze in the winter. It’s the same with the forests. Our good European friends want to develop some more ski slopes and some nice hotels and again they’re out on the streets. I say to my countrymen, you complain about unemployment, people leaving the villages, let all the tourists go to Austria, then see who’s going to pay your pensions?”
“Well yes,” I say, my instinct for fair play kicking in. “But you have to admit that because of your wretched legal system, the moment some piece of land is earmarked for development and it’s bought in good faith and our investor friend starts work on the site, straightaway he’s under siege. A hundred old men and women come out of the woodwork waving title deeds from fifty years ago.”
“And what have they done with these deeds up till now, apart from build shacks of tin and plasterboard? Their children have all pissed off abroad and they’ve got no money. Anyway I’m off to lunch with Rebecca.” I felt a pang of jealousy. “Look Dave,” he says reassuringly. “Not all Bulgarian nutcases believe one and the same thing. Get up a counter-demonstration – all the folk who like cutting trees and want ski tourists and are afraid of bears. Make up the numbers with Turks and Gypsies. There’ll be a few bloody heads, as my sparring partner Putin likes to say, but it’s worth it for the fun. Get btv to put across the positive message on one of their news programmes. We’re not destroying nature; we’re creating heritage. And finally get Plevenliev to veto the whole thing. That’ll help everyone forget about it so we can reintroduce it next Spring when no-one’s looking.”
I have to admit it’s good advice. He’s a good chap and fun to play tennis with – except he always wins.
“By the way,” this is his parting shot. “That ball crossed the line and Wayne Rooney is crap even with new hair.” He puts the phone down before I have a chance to reply.
I hear a nervous cough. I turn and see Kristo, my invaluable Bulgarian advisor. It turns out I have a visitor, hanging back in the shadows. Some Count from Sozopol, a friend of that angry Historian who called Bulgarians a fucked nation. Well any friend of Bozhidar Dimitrov…
“ Step forward and state your business,” I say in my friendly business-like tone. “Be quick, I have forests to sort out.”
The Count seems curiously reluctant to step into the light. He’s managed to wrap half the window curtain round his lean shoulders and I notice that even in the gloom his face is remarkably pale. When he opens his mouth in a half smile, I have to admire the dental work. Such long sharp teeth.
“I’ve been imprisoned a long time.” He speaks a bit like the Romanian ambassador. I expect he’s another victim of communist tyranny. “My friend Bozhidar freed me from my chains in Sozopol..”
“Well all’s well that ends well,” I say brightly. “What can I do for you?”
“Pirogov!” he stretches out a claw like hand and its shadow reminds me of some film I saw a long time ago at Eton. “You need someone to take charge at Pirogov.”
Kristo reminds me that Pirogov is Sofia’s biggest accident and emergency hospital and there’s some scandal I’m supposed to sort out.
Well a Count is a Count even in Bulgaria. Didn’t they make the Tsar Prime Minister. “You’ve got the job,” I say. “Just make sure all the blood banks are full.” You never know when all these demonstrations might turn nasty. “And arrange an interview with btv!” I’m really on fire now.