September, 2012

  1. Job Swap 8

    September 4, 2012 by Christopher Buxton

    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 enjoying a post-Olympic holiday in rain-soaked Cornwall. David Cameron is somewhat less comfortable in his Boyanna Residence, worried by new waves of unrest in Sofia.

    David Cameron writes: Dear me! Just had that mournful faced Police Chappie tap me on the shoulder. He has this knack of soundlessly oozing up at the most unexpected moments – makes a fellow jump.  It must be part of his training. Anyway he’s come to tell me that some group that calls itself Puppy Riot took over a BTV studio this morning. Dressed in dog masks they sang songs called “Deport the Imperialist bulldog!” and “Boycott BTV” Three BTV viewers were very upset.  They want Puppy Riot put under arrest for hooliganism.

    Brother Boyko is certainly a hard act to live up to. He’s got the people believing that it’s a Prime Minister’s job to personally sort out any problems however trivial with superhuman speed, dressed in a football shirt. This has consequences for me. Bulgaria’s answer to Jeremy Clarkson has written an article demanding to know why I’m not out and about shooting stray dogs. He seems to think that anyone who went to Eton was born with a hunting rifle strapped to his back.  Yesterday I was mobbed by a group of wailing women wanting to know when I’m going to fly to Spain and get their sailor sons/husbands out of gaol. Cue Mournful Police Chappie whispering in my ear that their boat was loaded to the gunnels with cocaine. I quip that if they’d been arrested in Malaysia they’d be facing the death penalty. This just provokes more wailing. I offer to fly to Spain in Boyko’s bullet proof vest and they actually take me seriously. I turn round to ask police chappie why the boat owner hasn’t been arrested and put behind bars, but all I see is a shadow on the floor.

    Still things could be worse. My toothless plum-in-mouth leader of the Opposition, Sergei Stanishev, has disappeared (who would notice?). Some Brussels chump wants to make Stanishev king of the European Socialists.  So it’s not only Berbatov who seeks glory in foreign fields. While at home his media secretary is comparing Socialism to AIDS, Stanishev is globe trotting sucking up to famous lefties. This includes that chap Jacob Zuma. Well he certainly knows a lot about AIDS and murdering his workers.

    GLB Brother Boyko Borisov writes:  David must be keeping a low profile, because I’m still riding high in the polls back home. That posh berk Osborne tells me the trick in a crisis is to do nothing. I tell him not to teach a greengrocer how to sell cucumbers.  The trick is to hide the fact you’re doing nothing by doing something, however spectacularly useless every day. Boris Johnson is the only bloke in this group of public school jolly-boys who seems to understand this. That’s why I’m getting the whole cabinet out to play my version of beach volleyball in St James Park before the re-shuffle. I’ve lent Lizzie my binoculars.  She’s looking forward to watching from the palace balcony.  I’ve promised Ken a pack of Cuban cigars and a Milcho Iliev CD if he pulls down Gove’s shorts.

    And I’m making sure that Boris Johnson doesn’t get within five miles of the event. He’s always trying to steal my limelight.

    You might well ask what I’ve got against this character, Gove.  Well apart from the fact that he and Jeremy are always sniggering whenever I open my mouth in cabinet meetings, it’s because he ruined my plans last Thursday. There was all the press, gathered in the playground of this school in Brixton, with me all ready to congratulate this beautiful fireman’s daughter on her A-level results, I lead the count-down to opening the envelope,  the poor girl unfolds the paper and just bursts into tears. Turns out Gove changed the marking rules at the last minute and instead of three As and a glowing invite to Cambridge, she’s got three Es and an offer from Bloxwich College. Every time I see him now I mime shuffling cards. That wipes the supercilious grin off his face.

    Well the Olympics got by without a bomb in sight.  I got lots of photo opps. with lissome Brit medal winners.  Poor Dave had to explain why Bulgaria got the lowest medal tally in its history.


  2. Where have all the children gone?

    September 2, 2012 by Christopher Buxton

    This is a time of present and imminent centenaries – grim early twentieth Century milestones in modern Bulgarian history, which point the way towards diminished national aspirations. The Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and the “national catastrophe” of the First World War led to significant territorial loss and a laceration of national self esteem.  One hundred years later, Bulgaria is according to surveys the poorest and unhappiest member country of the troubled EU. There’s an oft repeated joke: Yes, there are two ways out of the economic crisis – Sofia Airport Terminals 1 and 2. The Bulgarian population is dropping as youthful emigration increases.

    The poet Ivan Esenski, whom I had the privilege of getting to know at the Koprivchitsa Dimcho Debelyanov Festival, has written a poignant variation on Pete Seeger’s famous protest song.  It reflects not only on the wars that Bulgaria has fought but also the present crisis. He has allowed me to print my translation here.

    Following On

    Where are they going, our lads?

    What are these stops in the heart beat?

    Why no shriek, why no pain?

    The rain bears down on their sodden great-coats,

    And they march on – so ridiculously proud.

    And once it rained like this on us.

     

    Life repeats itself in cycles of banality.

    Yet after all this how do you keep faith –

    After the scars of the past, how?

    Our fathers stood struck dumb

    And looked not in our eyes but at our wounds

    How we stamped to attention with absurd pride.

     

    Now they are by their fathers, in the ground.

    Our children kiss the banners

    And depart in the autumn mist.

    Where are they going, our lads?

    The rain stays silent over bones, over oaths.

    And we, where are we truly going?

     

    Resembling living statues,

    The women silently blink back the tears,

    Dried out over the days of their youth.

    The lasses, where did you hide them?

    Lasses, where are you off to, darlings?

    Where are they going, our women?

     

    Why they’re still restlessly wandering

    Tiptoe through our sterile nights?

    Why do they execute backward looks?

    There where the beds whiten in solitude,

    There where ‘twixt us and them weighs in

    The wall of our spectral vocation.

     

    It’s true it’s become a question of honour

    To pluck them from this wet autumn orchestra

    And get them into some dark entry

    and between two kisses to confess

    that now – just as before – we don’t know

    where our life is going.

     

    Ivan Esenski © 2008 from Exile

    Translated by Christopher Buxton


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