I have just finished a commission – translating extracts from the work of Nikola Filipov. What’s all this about London and what’s our bloke doing there? Nikola has accrued decades of experience working in the UK grey economy, at first illegally, alongside Ukrainians, Poles, Romanians, Lithuanians and Albanians. In a series of sharply drawn essays he conveys the exciting, colourful world, living on the edge of legality, making the most of the muddleheaded institutions of the host nation – especially banks prepared to hand out loans of 120% to immigrants carrying false identities and Immigration officials preferring to turn a blind eye rather than go through tedious deportation procedures. The life of the emigrant is fraught with exploitation. Filipov tells several sad stories about the way fellow countrymen can abuse, cheat and betray one another.
Filipov has a real knack for conveying vibrant character and incident. His is a voice that needs to be heard in The UK and in Bulgaria.
Here’s a taster on Bulgarian resourcefulness:
At the Olympics by Nikola Filipov
©2013 translated by Christopher Buxton
Stalls are set out by the entrance to the Olympic Park (elsewhere it was the Olympic Village or the Olympic Township, but in London 2012 it’s the Olympic Park) – badges, medals, national honours…. Whatever your heart desires is there for the purchase. You can be a swimming or a weight lifting champion. Look over there by the Russian tricolor they’re selling medals from the Moscow Olympics and gosh alongside them Order of Lenin medals, medals with Stalin’s face…
My niece married an American but a real Stalinist. He collects and rides motorcycles from the Stalin era and the bottle of “Stalin Wine” which I once gave him has pride of place in his collection.. Could I not buy him an Order of Stalin medal?
“Are you Russian?” I ask in Russian.
“”Yes from Moscow” they answer.
They show me stamped and signed certificates vouching the medal’s authenticity – just that the name of the medal has not been filled in But there’s a problem… the London police don’t allow them to sell, just to swap like collectors. Like Communists, like in Stalin’s time. And so: following their instructions I go to one side and leave the agreed £15 between the pages of a brochure. After that I hand over the brochure and pick up the package that has been prepared in the meantime. A fantastic conspiracy like those guys trading drugs in Brompton Cemetery.
I take a step and I spot a Bulgarian tricolor. In the same moment I hear: “Give me another Stalin, just as well we took more of them…”
Huh! I turn and stare: “Well but…you’re Bulgarians?”
The three of them stare at me and at least two of them in manage an answer through even greater amazement: “Well but, are you Bulgarian?”
“And why did you say you’re from Moscow?”
“E-e-y we’re at the Olympics, we’re in London. What difference does it make whether we’re from Moscow or Sofia?”
Then they asked me where I was from. We chatted. I found out that every international event on each of the five continents whether sport, culture or business related is sure to include their attraction. Just one of them has to jump back to Sofia from time to time to restock. Lenin and Stalin are the best sellers. My medal was produced in 2009, on the 130th anniversary of his birth and if I believe the signature on the accompanying document, G.A. Ziuganov, the President of the Central Committee of the Russian Federation Communist Party has personally awarded it to me.
Now as a fellow Bulgarian my countryman pulls out more and more treasures to offer me. Medals – the Order of Stara Planins, Order of Kyril and Metodii – all first class for those deserving highest honour. The authenticating documents are ready, signed by the Bulgarian President, the stamp is also authentic. I’m sure if I express a whim I can get to choose which President has given me the award.
Bravo, Bulgarian brothers. You’ve amazed the world and the universe.
His book in Bulgarian can be found on the following link
Further translations can be found here on my site