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!

Monday, December 22, 2014


As a politician from my late 20s, I quickly learned how soon public expectations turn to dust – although my first speeches “on the stump” (ie in the open air) did warn people that I could make no promises (I would generally have to stop myself from adding “except blood and toil”!).

I found that such an honest approach paid off – and from 1968 I had an undefeated record of 8 public electoral victories and a further string of 8 consecutive successes in the contests which were held immediately after the elections by the ruling Labour party (of which I was part) to decide the key positions.

It was as such a “seasoned” politician (I love the bon viveur sense this epithet gives – as in “add some seasoning”!) that I was initially elated and then deflated by Obama…..
But I was still moved by yesterday’s Presidential inauguration of Klaus Iohannis here in Bucharest – first his speech to the unrepentant parliamentarian sinners with its declaration that their stable needed cleansing….then the motorcade to the Cotroceni Palace we had passed just last week - to accept the baton from ever loquacious Basescu. 
What a contrast Transylvanian Iohannis makes – with his typically slow delivery! But it was this modesty and circumspection which won him his highly unexpected victory last month and which gives many Romanians the first hope they have had for some time…..        

In 25 years, the Romanians have had only one brief five-year respite from the insidious poison which the plutocrats (regardless of political label) have been injecting into their veins. Iliescu – who led the palace revolution this time 25 years ago - may have been personally incorruptible but all his minions quickly took the silver; and University Professor Constantinescu simply proved unequal to the task of reform. By coincidence, the country’s first post-communist Prime Minister Petr Roman was talking volubly on his mobile (in French) in the English Bookshop at midday – but I failed to identify him. Otherwise I would have approached him to remind him that some 24 years ago, he gave me an hour-long interview…….     

Romanian television has these days been playing images of the uprising 25 years ago and one of the links carried a striking 5 point contrast of life 25 years on – as typified by cars, communications, television channels, churches and….. malls. Petrol, for example, was then rationed (I remember the hassle driving in 1992 the 650 kms from the border down to Bucharest) whereas now the cars block the pavements everywhere.

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