what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grim times for forgotten people

The house in the past week has been busy with guests – so not much chance to blog but lots of good conversation….wine and rakia. All of which needed in the colder and damp weather now being experienced here. So yesterday saw a trip to Teteven, nestling in the heart of the Balkan mountain range with the crucial aim of picking up local rakia from an old friend of Sylvie – my ex-landlady. After a speedy 80 kilometres on what must be the most scenic highway in the Balkans, a 3rd class road took us 18 kilometres through a lovely plain marked by signs of decline – but the industrial dereliction of Teteven still shocked us. The town straddles along a river and must have about a dozen derelict plants – of which the picture is typical. The only sign of economic activity is an Italian furniture factory. And a sad story of hopelessness emerged over the superb lunch which awaited us. Elections are in a few weeks – but the political class is seen as irrelevant and venal. I got the impression of a return to Hobbesian conditions – with youngsters having neither jobs nor hope; old people expected to live on a pension of 100 euros a month; and the European Union’s agricultural policy having shafted much of the rural self-sufficiency which produced such superb food in the past.

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