August 31, 2008 by Christopher Buxton
He sits opposite me and with a breathy certitude that brooks no challenge, he poses what he sees as a series of rhetorical questions.
Do you like football? – of course you do- you’re English
You remember the team of 1966? –how could you not?
Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Gor..don..Banks? you know where this is leading. It’s irresistable.
And what colour were they all? time to sit back – as though his case is proved.
Couldn’t the Americans have found one white man to represent the Democrats in the coming election? Are there no intelligent white Democrats – that they had to choose a black man?
He was very disappointed by Paris. Yes of course there was the Louvre and Notre Dame, but he might as well have travelled to Africa. Where were all the Frenchmen? He’s worried for the survival of the great white race, the race of Balzac and Dumas. I point out that Dumas was mixed race. He expresses shock then confident disbelief. This cannot be true.
August 31, 2008 by Christopher Buxton
The English are proud of their eccentricity. It has not occurred to me till recently that we have serious rivals in the Bulgarians.
On the street that my mother-in-law now inhabits, there is a table. It is set well back from the uneven pavement so that passers by, careful of their foothold, have little reason to notice any oddity.
But a Bulgarian pavement can form a frontier between worlds beyond CS Lewis’ imagining. On the one side of an invisible line is the world of pedestrian struggle involving uneven shifting paving stones and badly parked cars. On the other side in artificial gloom is the table. It sits in a dark space behind and between two tin kiosks and against an old garden fence. From one kiosk which appears to sell little beyond lemonade and those savory sticks that make gums bleed, there is a muted cacophonous stream of modern folk music.
Like so many knights posed for a Tussauds tableau, a group of men sit from morning till night, playing cards and drinking. They are rightly protected from the world of struggle for they are acolytes at a shrine that seems to date back sixty years.
Screwed securely to the fence above their heads are huge black and white portraits of the members of the first Bulgarian politburo. And there in the middle underneath a red drawing of Georgi Dimitrov himself is the oath that every child took in 1949. Fighting back the tears caused by the great man’s unlooked for death, each child promised a life dedicated to the Party’s cause, with unswerving loyalty to its every decision, bowing of course to the ultimate wisdom of Comrade Stalin.
These men are too young to have taken this oath, yet they keep this absurd spirit alive with their rakia laden breath.
August 7, 2008 by Christopher Buxton
Sorry – if you were tempted by the stunning offer of a flat with views of the Wonderful Rocks, in Aitos and were just getting ready to e-mail us an offer, you’re too late. The flat was sold two days ago.
The State Savings Bank in Burgas has made a giant leap forward in customer relations. Previously I had written about the invisible line between two pillars, behind which a large crowd had to jostle, waiting the nod of a grandfatherly ex militia man towards one of the three tellers avalable for customers. Now this ex militiaman, who was not averse to manhandling clients who stepped across the line or sharply ordering customers to stop making jokes, is relaxing outside the bank. His job of marshalling customers has now been taken over by a ticket machine. Relying on experienced customers to explain the near incomprehensible options to novices, our man can relax in the sun, secure in the knowlege that despite waiting times of up to an hour, and the frequent preferential treatment offered to those with connections, the customer will stand or sit in stoic silence. Such is the result of successful conditioning.
There have been few developments to report on A Bulgarian Story. Only that Cherie Wolf received a threatening letter from Burgas Council, which contained curiously contradictory statements – that there was no danger of her building falling down, but that in the event of some unforseen major incident, there might be. When approached for clarification, Burgas Council asked why Cherie hadn’t paid for her own expertise to counter that paid for by Mr Dimo Podlev. The answer to this is obvious. Dimo Podlev has loadsa money to pay for Professor Doshko and Architect Boshko and Cherie has not. So for now, progress on this has halted. Cherie’s tenants continue to believe in the building and Cherie awaits Mr Podlev’s return from holiday.