Friday, 13 May 2016

Vampires do exist II


Vampires, incidentally, do exist, even if Vlad was not one of them. I well remember the Hamburg Vampire in the middle 1960s. He climbed into a flat and drank the blood of a young woman, who asserted that before he came through the window she had felt a deadly chill and become unable to move. The skeptical police took her off to the hospital, where the Vampire was actually caught halfway up the creepers on the wall, on his way to have one more for the road. He ended up in a mental clinic. The victim and the police officer in the case ended up telling their story in convincing detail on German television.

NEAL ASCHERSON, "Dracula in Britain", Games with Shadows

More about real life vampires here and about Vlad the Impaler here.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

On this day in 1915 General Von Mackensen drove Russia from the Northern Carpathians



On this day in 1915,General August von Mackensen led a combined Austro-German force in defeating the Russian army near the Dunajec River (a tributary of the Vistula which runs through what is now Slovakia and Poland) and decisively ended nine months of victorious Russian advances in the region since August 1914. It was a key turning point in the war.

After Romania declared war on Austro-Hungary on 15 August 1916, Mackensen conquered Romania and on December 6 1915 Bucharest fell to him. Norman Stone said that by entering the First World War on the Allied side Romania delayed Allied victory by a year.  


At the end of the war Mackensen complained when he left Bucharest that
"I came to Bucharest two years ago with a legion of conquering heroes. I leave with a troupe of gigolos and racketeers.”

Monday, 2 May 2016

Back in Bucharest with Fu Manchu, the greatest threat to the white race



What a delight to be back from the Far East.

Bucharest is so much nicer, more poetic, more human and more exotic than Peking or Seoul.

It is always wonderful to be back in Bucharest. I felt this when I returned after Christmas after I had been here only three months. Many foreigners lucky enough to live here told me they felt it was home immediately. Is there a more welcoming, friendly city or people anywhere?


This weekend was the Orthodox Easter. On Friday, the Orthodox Good Friday, the town was full of possessions for the Burial of the Lord . On Saturday at midnight everyone stands outside a church with a candle and then cracks eggs. This is much more interesting than China, because it is Christian.

A long weekend at home alone is the perfect antidote to my travels in the East and I'm finally reading The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu seemed trash when I bought a paperback in Cambridge market as an undergraduate and bad trash, worse than Dracula. Now I found him on Google books and it's actually rather fun. Who knew? 


The world of Fu Manchu is a very engaging world of lascars, dacoits and seductive but evil oriental women. References to rare poisons in Burma make me so proud that I know Burma.

Dr. Fu Manchu himself is the prototypical evil genius, 'the yellow peril' and 'the greatest threat to the white race'. 

Fu Manchu comes after Professor Moriarty but before a whole series of evil geniuses. Osama bin Laden is part of the line. Osama came from a very Westernised, rich Saudi family and will have seen the Bond films and the Pink Panther film where Herbert Lom threatens to blow up the world. 
The world has been remade by William Le Queux 
says the protagonist of Graham Greene's wonderful thriller The Ministry of Fear which is