My brother Michael, over here.
Archive for the 'central europe' Category
Long before he published his fine book about football in Eastern Europe, Behind the Curtain, Jonathan Wilson was writing for The Voice of the Turtle (currently in hibernation). Here’s his review of Puskas on Puskas: The Life and Times of a Footballing Legend, from 1999.
UPDATE [2.30pm]: I see that Jonathan also supplied something of an obit for tehgraun.
… to my brother Michael’s new blog, Closely Watched DVDs, devoted to the world of Czech cinema.
Hurry over there now to learn the handy Czech phrase, “Tomorrow I’ll wake up and scald myself with tea”*, and do remember to go back every day in January, when he’ll be presenting his Jan Å vankmajer blog-retrospective.
[* The only Czech phrase I can really remember from the time I tried to learn the language is the equally handy, "I think there's going to be a revolution in the West soon."]
Norm reminds us that yesterday was the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Someone pointed out to me the other day just how many key dates in twentieth century German history fell on November 9 (or, as we might say, the European 9/11). Stupidly, I hadn’t noticed this pattern before:
1918: The abdication of the Kaiser and the proclamation of the Republic.
1923: The failure of the Beer Hall Putsch.
1989: The fall of the Berlin Wall.
It’s a remarkable sequence.
Here’s Denis MacShane, writing in this week’s New Statesman about his brush with the Polish authorities:
“It happened in 1982 when I was picked up by the Polish police after smuggling $10,000 of European trade union funds to the underground Solidarity union. I vaguely remember tearing up and swallowing the address of the contact in Warsaw to whom I had given the cash, but my main memory is of being taken from a prison cell after a few days to meet the diplomat from the British embassy paying me a consular visit. He assured me my case was being reported on the BBC, that a good lawyer had been hired, and that if I looked polite and sorrowful, the court would not impose a jail sentence. To cheer me up he gave me the standard Foreign Office survival kit for politically incorrect Brits banged up in communist prisons. It was a small Harrods carrier bag containing three apples, a tiny jar of Marmite, a packet of Ryvita and two copies of Country Life.
I wonder what you get these days.
And Latvians, Lithuanians, Maltese, Cypriots, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Hungarians and — last but certainly by no means least — Slovenians!
(To the EU, that is.)
“To say all Germans are Nazis is probably less true than to say all newspaper proprietors are complete monsters”. [Via.]
For those who haven’t studied these charts yet, here ‘s a useful piece of equal opportunities bigotry. (White gods??)
From the BBC:
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has won a court case against a news agency which reported allegations that his dark hair is dyed. A court in Hamburg upheld an injunction taken out by Mr Schroeder to prevent the DDP agency repeating the allegations, originally made by an image consultant.
DDP appealed against the injunction, saying it had serious implications for all journalists, who cannot always get their information from first-hand sources.
The news agency says it intends to appeal again against Friday’s ruling.
Serious implications indeed.
My interest in people falling out of windows goes back a few years. Here’s a bit I inserted into the 1998 edition of the Let’s Go Eastern Europe guidebook, which I had the pleasure of helping to put together over seven weeks in the Summer of 1997:
At decisive moments in European history, unlucky men fall from Prague’s window ledges. The Hussite wars began after Catholic councillors were thrown to the mob from the New Town Hall on Karlovo nï¿½m., July 30, 1419. The Thirty Years’ War devastated Europe, starting when Habsburg officials were tossed from the windows of Prague Castle’s Bohemian Chancellery into a heap of steaming manure, May 23, 1618. These first and second defenestrations echo down the ages, but two more falls this century continue this somewhat macabre tradition. Fifty years ago, March 10, 1948, liberal foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell to his death from the top floor of his ministry just two weeks after the Communist takeover, and murder was always suspected but never proved. And then on February 3, 1997, Bohumil Hrabal, popular author of I Served the King of England and Closely-Observed Trains, fell from the fifth floor of his hospital window and died in his pajamas aged 82. Nothing unusual here – except that two of his books describe people choosing to fall – out of fifth-floor windows.
(Seeing the word “pajamas” in its American spelling irresistibly calls to mind Groucho Marx’s remark from Animal Crackers: “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas and how he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.)