Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for October, 2006

Fall Back

Posted by Andy Hockley on 30 October, 2006

I hate it when the clocks go back. Not the act of putting them back so much, or the day itself (though I also reject this weird conceptual argument that it “gives you an extra hour in bed” – how? It’s a Sunday. Unless you attend a 8 am mass, you really don’t get an extra hour in bed, since you have no reason to get up early anyway).

It’s the fact that subsequent to this chronometric retrogression, the evenings, which previously were gently “drawing in”, in one fell swoop vanish entirely from the daylit schedule. It sucks. I understand that this year the US hasn’t gone back at the same time as Europe (or even Canada), because Congress has voted in something called the “Halloween Act” so that kids can trick or treat in more daylight. Seriously, I’m not making that up.

It also, of course, heralds winter, and round these parts winter is a long tiring slog. According to the news yesterday, winter is coming. I couldn’t work out when it was coming, but presumably it is soon, since the news that winter is coming sometime is not really news at all.

Anyway, it’s half term and we are off to the in-laws for a week, and I will therefore be offline. Enjoy halloween, the day of the dead and whatever other events come up this week.

Posted in news, rants | 5 Comments »

Fall Back

Posted by Andy Hockley on 30 October, 2006

I hate it when the clocks go back. Not the act of putting them back so much, or the day itself (though I also reject this weird conceptual argument that it “gives you an extra hour in bed” – how? It’s a Sunday. Unless you attend a 8 am mass, you really don’t get an extra hour in bed, since you have no reason to get up early anyway).

It’s the fact that subsequent to this chronometric retrogression, the evenings, which previously were gently “drawing in”, in one fell swoop vanish entirely from the daylit schedule. It sucks. I understand that this year the US hasn’t gone back at the same time as Europe (or even Canada), because Congress has voted in something called the “Halloween Act” so that kids can trick or treat in more daylight. Seriously, I’m not making that up.

It also, of course, heralds winter, and round these parts winter is a long tiring slog. According to the news yesterday, winter is coming. I couldn’t work out when it was coming, but presumably it is soon, since the news that winter is coming sometime is not really news at all.

Anyway, it’s half term and we are off to the in-laws for a week, and I will therefore be offline. Enjoy halloween, the day of the dead and whatever other events come up this week.

Posted in news, rants | 5 Comments »

4 tier Europe?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 October, 2006

I remember a few years ago there was talk of having a two tier EU. There would be the countries that believed in it and wanted to work together for some undefined glorious European tomorrow in one tier, and the countries that didn’t believe in it but were too scared to be left on the outside in the other tier. The UK of course was one of the latter.

Since 2004, we’ve effectively had this two tier Europe, but it’s slightly different from what was first thought up. This is down to Europe admitting a series of buffer states to protect it from the perceived terrible ravages of immigration. These buffer states (look it up on a map if you don’t believe me) form a thick barrier of cabbage, sour cream, and beer from the Baltic coast of Poland in the north, through the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and down to the Adriatic in Slovenia. This cabbage curtain effectively allows the Western end of the continent to limit immigration from further east (though they clearly need to set up some kind of floating buffer states between north Africa and various Spanish and Italian islands, to really make sure they’ve blocked off all the avenues.)

In admitting them, existing European states made choices as to whether to allow citizens of those nations (now to be EU citizens) should actually be allowed to live and work anywhere they liked in the Union – what the EU was supposed to be all about in short. To its credit, the UK opened its doors, unlike many of the nations which were supposed to be all about EU integration and the like. This was often talked up in comparing the relative economic performance of placeslike the UK and Ireland which opened up and France and Germany which didn’t.

So for a while we had a three speed Europe – countries who were actually making use of the idea of the union to gain ground economically; countries who were not doing that, but were “old Europe” and hence more powerful in the grand scheme of things; and the countries being stripped of their human resources to fuel the UK’s economic growth.

Now, however, cowed by tabloid scare headlines and racism towards gypsies, the UK and Ireland have decided to close the door to Romanians and Bulgarians, thus creating an underclass of Europe within the Union itself. It’s fucking disgraceful. Is my country run by the Daily Mail? It certainly feels that way.

Now Romania could respond to this with reciprocity, making life hard for Brits who want to live and work in Romania, and in fact that would be a good idea (despite the fact that it would be a pain in the arse for yours truly). But the fact is that there aren’t that many of us who want to be here, and most who do come work for large multinationals who can afford to jump through bureaucratic hoops. Instead, what the Romanian government should do is to make it hard for Brits to buy property here. The UK press is full of articles about the advantages and benefits of buying property in Romania and Bulgaria, and a policy denying Brits the right to own property in this country would upset a lot of people over there (and the kind of people who are likely to be having dinner parties with politicians and journalists). So, Calim and Traian, what do you say? Give New Labour something to think about, the xenophobic scumlords that they are.

Here are the most recent comments of the BBCs Europe editor on the subject of Romania and emigration 28th September (the comments section at the bottom is worth a read, if only to get all steamed up about people such as the cretinous “Steve H, of Littlehampton”), and October 26th (ie today – hence not many irate comments yet from Little Englanders (Littlehamptoners?))

Posted in EU, romania, uk, xenophobia | 4 Comments »

4 tier Europe?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 October, 2006

I remember a few years ago there was talk of having a two tier EU. There would be the countries that believed in it and wanted to work together for some undefined glorious European tomorrow in one tier, and the countries that didn’t believe in it but were too scared to be left on the outside in the other tier. The UK of course was one of the latter.

Since 2004, we’ve effectively had this two tier Europe, but it’s slightly different from what was first thought up. This is down to Europe admitting a series of buffer states to protect it from the perceived terrible ravages of immigration. These buffer states (look it up on a map if you don’t believe me) form a thick barrier of cabbage, sour cream, and beer from the Baltic coast of Poland in the north, through the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and down to the Adriatic in Slovenia. This cabbage curtain effectively allows the Western end of the continent to limit immigration from further east (though they clearly need to set up some kind of floating buffer states between north Africa and various Spanish and Italian islands, to really make sure they’ve blocked off all the avenues.)

In admitting them, existing European states made choices as to whether to allow citizens of those nations (now to be EU citizens) should actually be allowed to live and work anywhere they liked in the Union – what the EU was supposed to be all about in short. To its credit, the UK opened its doors, unlike many of the nations which were supposed to be all about EU integration and the like. This was often talked up in comparing the relative economic performance of placeslike the UK and Ireland which opened up and France and Germany which didn’t.

So for a while we had a three speed Europe – countries who were actually making use of the idea of the union to gain ground economically; countries who were not doing that, but were “old Europe” and hence more powerful in the grand scheme of things; and the countries being stripped of their human resources to fuel the UK’s economic growth.

Now, however, cowed by tabloid scare headlines and racism towards gypsies, the UK and Ireland have decided to close the door to Romanians and Bulgarians, thus creating an underclass of Europe within the Union itself. It’s fucking disgraceful. Is my country run by the Daily Mail? It certainly feels that way.

Now Romania could respond to this with reciprocity, making life hard for Brits who want to live and work in Romania, and in fact that would be a good idea (despite the fact that it would be a pain in the arse for yours truly). But the fact is that there aren’t that many of us who want to be here, and most who do come work for large multinationals who can afford to jump through bureaucratic hoops. Instead, what the Romanian government should do is to make it hard for Brits to buy property here. The UK press is full of articles about the advantages and benefits of buying property in Romania and Bulgaria, and a policy denying Brits the right to own property in this country would upset a lot of people over there (and the kind of people who are likely to be having dinner parties with politicians and journalists). So, Calim and Traian, what do you say? Give New Labour something to think about, the xenophobic scumlords that they are.

Here are the most recent comments of the BBCs Europe editor on the subject of Romania and emigration 28th September (the comments section at the bottom is worth a read, if only to get all steamed up about people such as the cretinous “Steve H, of Littlehampton”), and October 26th (ie today – hence not many irate comments yet from Little Englanders (Littlehamptoners?))

Posted in EU, romania, uk, xenophobia | 4 Comments »

Five of the best

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 October, 2006

The most intriguingly named products & businesses in Romania:

Discounting such classics as Heavy Tools Clothing Division, The Transilvanian Trousers Company and meaningless advertising slogans such as “Cosmote: In Touch With Life” (Really. WTF?)

5: Crimbo Gas. Not that funny, I’ll grant you, but it always amuses me to see this company’s ads around the place, being as how “Crimbo” is kind of a cloyingly cutesy way of referring to “Christmas” in the UK

4: Bords Eye. No that’s not a spelling mistake. Just as there is a company called Birds Eye in the UK which sells frozen food, in Romania (at least) there is a brand of margarine called Bords Eye. It’s a Northern Irish version I suspect. Wonder if they make sajt too? “It’s Bords Eye sajt, so it is”

3: Gyno Drinks. I see the van with this company’s name on the side driving around Csikszereda sometimes and it always (without fail) reminds me of “Vegina” (the vegetable drink in an edible can) featured on the Alan Partridge radio show.

2: Stalinskaya Vodka. Who came up with this brand name? Really. Are we going to see a German style lager introduced onto the market called Hitlersch?

1: Antrax Import and Export. Classic. It really needs no more elaboration does it? I’ll really start worrying if Antrax start exporting Bords Eye.

Posted in romania | 2 Comments »

Five of the best

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 October, 2006

The most intriguingly named products & businesses in Romania:

Discounting such classics as Heavy Tools Clothing Division, The Transilvanian Trousers Company and meaningless advertising slogans such as “Cosmote: In Touch With Life” (Really. WTF?)

5: Crimbo Gas. Not that funny, I’ll grant you, but it always amuses me to see this company’s ads around the place, being as how “Crimbo” is kind of a cloyingly cutesy way of referring to “Christmas” in the UK

4: Bords Eye. No that’s not a spelling mistake. Just as there is a company called Birds Eye in the UK which sells frozen food, in Romania (at least) there is a brand of margarine called Bords Eye. It’s a Northern Irish version I suspect. Wonder if they make sajt too? “It’s Bords Eye sajt, so it is”

3: Gyno Drinks. I see the van with this company’s name on the side driving around Csikszereda sometimes and it always (without fail) reminds me of “Vegina” (the vegetable drink in an edible can) featured on the Alan Partridge radio show.

2: Stalinskaya Vodka. Who came up with this brand name? Really. Are we going to see a German style lager introduced onto the market called Hitlersch?

1: Antrax Import and Export. Classic. It really needs no more elaboration does it? I’ll really start worrying if Antrax start exporting Bords Eye.

Posted in romania | 2 Comments »

October 23rd

Posted by Andy Hockley on 25 October, 2006

Bit of a busy week, round these parts as I am in sole charge of the little ones, but we’ll see if I can get through a quick post about Monday evening before the littlest one wakes up.

So, as mentioned earlier Monday was the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising in which a large number of very brave people rose up against their oppressive regime, and were eventually crushed with the assistance of the Soviet army. This obviously didn’t happen here, since we are not in Hungary, but there was a fairly large commemmoration event here. At 6.30 we went out to join the candelit march that was starting from “Freedom Square” outside our apartment. We couldn’t get a candle/torch, as they were reserved for bigwigs apparently, but undaunted we managed to get over the disappointment. The parade/march/walk/amble was conducted in almost complete silence (though I’m not sure if that was deliberate or just because people weren’t feeling very chatty), and led us up Timisoara Boulevard and then up past the theatre to the Hungarian Consulate. By the time we got there it was a fairly big gathering, of at least a couple of thousand, which for this town is a major turnout.

Speeches were spoken by various dignitaries – somebody from the Hungarian foreign ministry, the consul, some religious leader, a local politician one who has his own blog even (in Hungarian), and various others. It was getting a bit parky by this time, and Paula was getting tired so I led her home, while Erika and Bogi braved the nighttime chill of the Carpathians for a while longer, but not quite long enough to witness the unveiling of a new statue representing “The Angel of News” (I think). I saw it yesterday though, and it’s not the most attractive piece of public art I’ve ever seen, but probably I’ll get used to it.

I wanted to include some photos to give you a taste of the evening’s events, but sadly my camera chose that night to seemingly expire. I’m hoping I can resurrect it somehow.

I asked around to find out what would have been the channel for this news to reach Csikszereda back in 1956, and was given a number of possible answers (nobody I asked was actually alive, so it was a bit of guesswork) – that they heard on Romanian media (which seems like it may have happened after the fact – it’s hard to imagine that 1956 Romanian government would have been happy about spreading news of a popular uprising); that they heard on Radio Free Europe; and that people near the border could get Hungarian TV and they would obviously have heard, and it would have got passed around Transylvania, slowly spreading eastwards. That last one appeals to me (aesthetically, not because I like the idea of people being denied information) – it conjures up bards and wandering minstrels and the like.

Anyway, the events, such as they were, were quite moving and passed by without incident, which is obviously more than can be said for the similar commemorations in Budapest.

Hungarian readers may be interested to learn that the 1956 events more or less destroyed the far left in the UK (obviously no major deal compared to what upheaval it caused in Hungary). After the seond world war, the communist party was quite strong in Britain, but 1956 split it completely asunder between those who supported the uprising and those who advocated mother Russia sending the tanks in. To this day, the derogatory slang term for Stalinists in the UK (yes there are some) is “tankies”.

Posted in csikszereda, history, hungary | 5 Comments »

October 23rd

Posted by Andy Hockley on 25 October, 2006

Bit of a busy week, round these parts as I am in sole charge of the little ones, but we’ll see if I can get through a quick post about Monday evening before the littlest one wakes up.

So, as mentioned earlier Monday was the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising in which a large number of very brave people rose up against their oppressive regime, and were eventually crushed with the assistance of the Soviet army. This obviously didn’t happen here, since we are not in Hungary, but there was a fairly large commemmoration event here. At 6.30 we went out to join the candelit march that was starting from “Freedom Square” outside our apartment. We couldn’t get a candle/torch, as they were reserved for bigwigs apparently, but undaunted we managed to get over the disappointment. The parade/march/walk/amble was conducted in almost complete silence (though I’m not sure if that was deliberate or just because people weren’t feeling very chatty), and led us up Timisoara Boulevard and then up past the theatre to the Hungarian Consulate. By the time we got there it was a fairly big gathering, of at least a couple of thousand, which for this town is a major turnout.

Speeches were spoken by various dignitaries – somebody from the Hungarian foreign ministry, the consul, some religious leader, a local politician one who has his own blog even (in Hungarian), and various others. It was getting a bit parky by this time, and Paula was getting tired so I led her home, while Erika and Bogi braved the nighttime chill of the Carpathians for a while longer, but not quite long enough to witness the unveiling of a new statue representing “The Angel of News” (I think). I saw it yesterday though, and it’s not the most attractive piece of public art I’ve ever seen, but probably I’ll get used to it.

I wanted to include some photos to give you a taste of the evening’s events, but sadly my camera chose that night to seemingly expire. I’m hoping I can resurrect it somehow.

I asked around to find out what would have been the channel for this news to reach Csikszereda back in 1956, and was given a number of possible answers (nobody I asked was actually alive, so it was a bit of guesswork) – that they heard on Romanian media (which seems like it may have happened after the fact – it’s hard to imagine that 1956 Romanian government would have been happy about spreading news of a popular uprising); that they heard on Radio Free Europe; and that people near the border could get Hungarian TV and they would obviously have heard, and it would have got passed around Transylvania, slowly spreading eastwards. That last one appeals to me (aesthetically, not because I like the idea of people being denied information) – it conjures up bards and wandering minstrels and the like.

Anyway, the events, such as they were, were quite moving and passed by without incident, which is obviously more than can be said for the similar commemorations in Budapest.

Hungarian readers may be interested to learn that the 1956 events more or less destroyed the far left in the UK (obviously no major deal compared to what upheaval it caused in Hungary). After the seond world war, the communist party was quite strong in Britain, but 1956 split it completely asunder between those who supported the uprising and those who advocated mother Russia sending the tanks in. To this day, the derogatory slang term for Stalinists in the UK (yes there are some) is “tankies”.

Posted in csikszereda, history, hungary | 5 Comments »

Half a Century

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 October, 2006

No time to write much today, but thought I’d pass on this link which is full of photos and audio and video files relating to the Hungarian uprising of October 23rd, 1956.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Half a Century

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 October, 2006

No time to write much today, but thought I’d pass on this link which is full of photos and audio and video files relating to the Hungarian uprising of October 23rd, 1956.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »