Tuesday 20 September 2016

Today I have lived in Romania for 18 years

I just checked on a 1998 calendar. Today I have lived in Romania 18 years. The first two crawled past because every day was so strange. The last 16 flew. I am very grateful to live here, in this country that still enchants me, but wish the years would slow down.

Why am I happy to have spent so many years here? I wrote this article called 25 reasons why I love living in Romania, in no particular order which has received 107,000 clicks so far. 

110,000 now.

This is a picture by Octav Dragan of the street in the old town where I live. 

I don't think this was taken recently, as it's now full of huge potholes three years after the asphalt was resurfaced at great public expense. Thank God it's not too gentrified, though a club and a restaurant have appeared and, worst of all, at one point a Souvenir Shop. Dread words (I am becoming Wallace Arnold, I know.) Still gypsies still wander around the street in dressing gowns.

Quotations for Tuesday

"Life is not a journey, it's like a musical. The point isn't to arrive, but to dance and sing whilst the music plays." Alan Watts, the philosopher

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose." Benjamin Disraeli

"It wounds a man less to confess that he has failed in any pursuit through idleness, neglect, the love of pleasure, etc., etc., which are his own faults, than through incapacity and unfitness, which are the faults of his nature." Lord Melbourne 

My head says Hillary will win and my intuition says Trump

For months my head has told me Hillary will win and my intuition said Trump.

Whoever wins, Donald Trump has dismantled the old ghastly Republican party of the early 21st century, which took votes from poor people and sent their sons to die in unnecessary wars. 

How wonderful that Mr Trump accused George W Bush of deliberate lying to justify invading Iraq and still won the nomination resoundingly.

But, in truth, Donald Trump destroyed nothing - the old Republican Party was a dead man standing. Had it not been, Trump would not have won the nomination or come close.

What was conservative about George W Bush? Nothing, except low taxes for the well-off. He spent like a sailor and was blase about legal and illegal immigrants. Worst of all for a

Sunday 18 September 2016

Things will change radically, but we do not yet know how

Things will change radically but we do not yet know how. Trump and Sanders are part of the change, Hillary not.

Things are changing around the developed world in ways in which it is impossible to understand. Donald Trump is a brilliant politician, or if you prefer, charlatan. (The two are not always distinct.) But he has achieved this amazing degree of success only because he represents and guides powerful forces, whose inchoate ideas he expresses or appears to express.

On the other hand, the people 
Donald Trump represents, middle class (which in the USA means lower-middle and working-class) white Americans, are a smaller and smaller part of the electorate each year, so this might be their last chance.

I think that this great change in thinking is very hopeful.

Interesting insights about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

"If you listen closely to Trump, you’ll hear a direct repudiation of the system of globalization and identity politics that has defined the world order since the Cold War. There are, in fact, six specific ideas that he has either blurted out or thinly buried in his rhetoric: (1) borders matter; (2) immigration policy matters; (3) national interests, not so-called universal interests, matter; (4) entrepreneurship matters; (5) decentralization matters; (6) PC speech—without which identity politics is inconceivable—must be repudiated."

Joshua Mitchell, Donald Trump Does Have Ideas—and We’d Better Pay Attention to Them

"Trump’s voters sense the system is rigged against them. This does not mean they blame blacks for their problems. Nor do they have any language for describing themselves as victims of racism. They may be deeply hurt or embarrassed by accusations of bigotry. Perhaps that is Hillary’s thinking in calling them a ‘basket of deplorables’. In an aspirational country where much of the middle class is downwardly mobile and taking its signals from television, people are terrified of exhibiting attitudes thought of as low-class. If Trump himself has recently been pitching for black support, starting in a church in Detroit in September, it may be less to win over black voters than to put his own white voters at ease."

Christopher Caldwell, Trump is right about America’s rigged system

“Most blacks don’t see Donald Trump as a Republican; they see him as blunt-talking


“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”
Albert Einstein

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
Aldous Huxley

"Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine."
Honoré de Balzac  

Friday 9 September 2016

Frenchmen of various colours

Austria's Freedom Party has been accused of racism for seeking to celebrate the lifting of the Turkish siege of Vienna 333 years ago. The Freedom Party said disingenuously that the event was purely educational, rather than an attempt to make a comparison between the Muslim invasion of Central Europe in the last 17th century and today's Muslim migrants.

Meanwhile a French National Front mayor, Robert Ménard, the Mayor of Béziers, will be taken to court by an anti-racist organisation for saying on television that being French means,

“in the words of Charles De Gaulle, being European, white and Catholic.”
Saying that Jews, Protestants and Muslims cannot be French is offensive, racist and certainly opposed to the principles of the French Revolution (principles I detest, by the way, but that's another story). I wonder if he really meant to say this or he 'misspoke'? Probably he wanted to get in the papers, and the Huguenot vote isn't important, but more and more Jews are supporting the FN. 

Ethnic Frenchmen are white, but they need not be Catholics and non-whites are French citizens too.

What is sad, however, is that in a free, democratic society elected politicians (and the rest of the population) are no longer free to say what they like, however reactionary,

Thursday 8 September 2016

People would hate Jesus much more than Mother Teresa

The Pope canonised Mother Teresa, now St Teresa of Calcutta, on Sunday, which produced an outpouring of loathing and hatred for the new saint in the social media and the English left-of-centre quality papers. 

This is nothing to what people would say about the Second  ... 

Tuesday 6 September 2016

English journey

Image result for bank penzance

Robert Frost said home is where, if you have to go there, they have to take you in. I didn't have to go to England but went because Brexit made me realise not how much I love my country - I knew that very well every day - but how rarely I visited. 

And I like to go to politically exciting places like Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. This summer that meant the UK. 

And I still haven't written up my journey. Here's a start.

I arrived in England at midnight. I had bought a ticket with Easyjet from Nice to Luton and a room in a mediaeval hotel in St Albans. This was not a good idea as my plane was delayed over an hour and I was told I was lucky. Easyjet planes are often delayed three hours.

St Albans. The staff at the station, who had never heard of my hotel, the best known in the town, told me it was too far to walk, which it was not. I ordered a minicab from a dreamy and rather sweet Kashmiri with a beard that stretched almost to his waist. He told me there was a large Muslim community in the St Albans. He had been to Kashmir a number of times and felt equally Pakistani and British.

St Albans is one of the loveliest old towns in England. And a great place to stay if you visit England, as it is very close by train to London but very far away indeed, its buildings Georgian and earlier. It existed, of course, in Roman times, when St Alban was martyred.

Lunch in Inner Temple with two charming people mourning the referendum result and dinner with a friend whose life's work Brexit represented. She, like all the really passionately anti-EU people I know in Britain, is Jewish. I don't think this has any significance, except to disprove the idea that Jews are less patriotic than other people.

What fun Soho is, how beautiful and serious the women are. Morally serious, I mean, not unlaughing. The intelligent people in their late 20s are what make every city. The ones in London are very impressive, unarrogant, stylish but modest. 

England is the best country in the world and nowadays has lovelier women than Romania, although this is partly because the hot Romanian girls are now mostly in London (you, gentle female Romanian reader in Bucharest, are, of course, the exception).

Dinner the next night with a City friend, a former young fogey and strongly Brexit. He said, ruefully, 


The statesman's task is to hear God's footsteps marching through history, and to try and catch on to His coattails as He marches passes by.

Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made.

Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others' experience.

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.

Man cannot control the current of events. He can only float with them and steer. 

A proletariat of graduates.