Stalin is *not* Dead

This clip from TV Turkmenistan really does show a fine example of mass sycophancy, not seen since the day of Stalin in the USSR or Ceasescu in Romania.  Not so much HROSL (Huge Roar of Sycophantic Laughter) as HROSA (Huge Roar of Sycophantic Applause).

Here’s the clip.


Even Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t afforded this much obsequious applause and adulation at the Labour Party conference.  (And that is setting quite a standard, comrades, Genossen and tovarishchi…)

Have a sycophantic day, won’t you!

W H Smug

WH Smug is the nickname of a chain of shops in the United Kingdom.

In general it’s a good shop, selling everything from paperclips to bars of chocolate to paperbacks.


Some of its younger staff are like a lighthouse in the desert: very bright, but pretty useless.

Let me summarise three different incidents, three different branches.


Ginge in Germany:

Hello.  Can you tell me where Private Eye is?

Young member of staff (blushing):

Erm, I don’t think we sell that kind of magazine any more.

G in G:

That kind of magazine?  It’s a satirical/current affairs magazine.


Oh sorry, I thought it was… (Blush again.)



Ginge in Germany:

Hello.  I’m looking for the video of 1984.


Oh, that’ll be in our “chronic of the year” section.

Ginge in Germany:

I don’t think so.  It’s the film of the book by Orwell.



Ginge in Germany:

George Orwell.


Sorry, never heard of him.



Ginge in Germany:

Hello.  I’d like to order a copy of the film, Animal Farm on DVD, please.

Young member of staff (scowling):

Erm, I don’t think we sell that kind of DVD.

Ginge in Germany (scowling back):

It’s the film of the book by Orwell.



Ginge in Germany:

George Orwell.


Sorry, never heard of him.



I despair.

Have a smug day, won’t you!

Happy World Book Day!

So to deal with the issue of listlessness, here is my favourite books list on World Book Day 2016.

  • 1984, by George Orwell.  The only book I’ve read cover to cover four times.
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Solzhenitsyn.  I’ve read that book three times.
  • Gulag Archipelago, again by Solzhenitsyn.  It took me about three years to read it, mainly on the loo in my flat in Bracknell, but well worth reading.
  • Anything in the Dummies series of books.  (Well, almost anything.)
  • The Bumper Book of Government Waste, by Lee Rotherham.  Very entertaining and informative.
  • The Penguin Russian Course, by JJL Fennell.  It was *the* must-have book till the mid-90’s.
  • The Berlin Wall, by Frederick Taylor.  I bought that at Newcastle Airport while awaiting my flight to Düsseldorf.  Three hours later, I was still reading the book at the passport control queue on arrival in Germany.

Have a literary day, won’t you!


What is your favourite?

  • Book: 1984
  • Song: Mississippi, by Pussycat
  • Colour: Purple (it used to be jade when I was younger)
  • Holiday destination: Edale in the Peak District
  • Film: The Wicker Man, starring Edward Woodward
    • (Foreign-language film: Good Bye Lenin)
  • Idiomatic expression: “to a certain extent”
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Font: Helvetica (don’t get me started on comic sans serif…)
  • Group: The Ukrainians
  • Magazine: Private Eye
  • Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
  • Bible passage: Ezekiel 25:17 🙂

Your turn!  Du bist in der Reihe!

Have a favourite day, won’t you!

This England: thoughts as I approach my third year of being away

So what do I think of when I think of “home”?

First of all, what is “home”? I’m a pads brat, so it’s quite hard for me to say. There are two images of England, of the United Kingdom.

“Picture postcard” Britain:

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Guardsmen in bearskins
  • Big Ben
  • Warm beer
  • History
  • Tradition

Then there’s the other side, based on my own experiences and prejudices gained in towns like Middlesbrough and Bracknell, aka, Broken Britain.

  • The European “centre of excellence” for single mothers
  • Sink estates
  • Low aspirations of youngsters, coupled with low expectations
  • Way too many “neets” (under-25’s who are “not in employment, education or training”), arguably the latest generation of “proles” from George Orwell’s book 1984.

Oh well, back to the UK I fly on 3rd January.  I always remember the words of my Grandma.

When you close your living room curtains, the whole world looks the same.

God willing, please God, I’ll be “stationed” in Düsseldorf again from the start of February.  If not, then Schatz and I will be getting to know Heathrow Airport quite well.

Have a sliding day, won’t you!  (Those of you who speak German will understand that expression.)


You don’t have to be an old maid to cycle to church…

This is a short one, as I’ve been foiled in my plans to upload video footage.  Grrrr!

Ex-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, John Major, once quoted George Orwell when talking of:

Old maids bicycling to holy communion through the morning mist’ and, if we get our way, Shakespeare will still be read even in school.

As I discovered this morning, it’s not just old maids who bicycle to holy communion.  I did today.  So did about another seven or eight members of my church, of all shapes, ages and sizes.  Glorious sunshine and nice, warm weather, mid-20’s, so I made the most of it.

Have a cyclical day, won’t you!

Never mind the ice bucket challenge

I’m so relieved that the silly season (the weeks in the summer when there’s no substantial news to report) gimmick, the Ice Bucket Challenge, seems to have died a death.  If I want to give to charity, I’ll do it in an understated way, eg donating when I get a poppy for Remembrance Day.

Anyway, as a bookworm I prefer the Nice Book Challenge.  What are the top ten books that have marked your life?  Here are mine below.

1. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka (lots of reasons, but mainly reminds me of my year abroad, and a good mix of bathos and dark humour).

2. Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes (a book that made me laugh out loud on the train to Hannover this June, excellent German satire about Hitler coming back to Berlin, ground-breaking and taboo-breaking book).

3. 1984, by George Orwell. Probably the only novel I’ve ever read twice. Gripping from start to finish, and very gritty. Plenty of dark, no humour.

4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. Again, more dark than humour. Probably the first fiction book I BOUGHT and could not put down. I even went to bed late to read just one more chapter and then another. A really original book, giving me an insight into Asperger syndrome, so much so, that I even bought a few books by Lorna Wing and Tony Atwood.

5. Gulag Archipelago, by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. Gripping start. Bit stodgy in the middle, but gripping end. Quite a long book.

6. Pikovaya dama (Queen of Spades), by Alexandr Pushkin. It didn’t change my life per se, but I loved the book and other A-level texts, that it made me want to study Russian at university, and the rest is history…

7. Job-Hunting and Career Change for Dummies All-in-One. This is THE bible for job-hunters. It helped me boost my CV immensely, and I’ve recommended it to lots of friends.

8. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. Really fascinating book on leadership and organisational skills. One of the books where other people have read it, too, leading to some very animated conversations.

9, Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps: How We’re Different and What to Do, by Barbara and Allan Pease. It’s probably not changed my life, but it’s given me a better insight into the psychology of the genders, and it’s been a great “ah, so that’s why my husband/boyfriend/wife/girlfriend does that” book.

10. Business Analysis, by Don Yeates, et al. In as much as it’s marked my life, it was a good book for career reasons and enabled me to move onwards and upwards in job and lifestyle.