Friday, 29 May 2009

Leaving the sinking ship

It has been reported that up to 52 Labour MP's have applied for a place in the House of Lords.This presumably means that either they feel that they have no chance of retaining their seats or they are implicated in an expenses related scandal.For one in seven of the PLP to do this is quite extraordinary.Day by Day parliament is cheapened by the behaviour of some of its occupants and public life is defiled and devalued.Various luminaries are calling for all sorts of reform including electoral.However the bottom line is that the whole political culture has to change.Expenses were a way to increase MP's salaries by the back door and created a shoddy environment in which MP's and peers used the Fees Office as a sort of private bank with an inexhaustable supply of money.We now need openness and transparency.

Another problem is MP's in safe seats treating it as a job for life.The introduction of STV (single transferable vote) may ease this but pray god the corrupt 'Party List' system is not introduced, this is far worse than the current system and open to patronage.

I dont think the British public will ever trust MP's again and maybe that isnt a bad thing.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

It aint 'arf hot mum

Well summer is finally here.Uncle is basking in the sunshine and all seems well with the world.On Sunday I attended the celebrations for Balchik Day which is also the Day of the Bulgarian Alphabet.

Balchik was busy and the weather glorious.Not many foreigners about, which is probably indicative of the poor tourist season that 2009 is going to be.Apparently Butlins is booming in the UK as cash strapped Britons tighten their belts and revert to the revamped 'holiday camp'.No more 'hi de hi' and 'olympic size swimming pools', its all upmarket now.Still wouldnt catch me dead in one though !.

I would much prefer a lazy day in a restaurant on the harbour in Balchik with good wine, good food and good company.At a rate of 2.18lv to the pound its not as cheap for Brits as it was when it was nearly 3 lv, but its still deliciously cheap when compared to UK prices, or in fact anywhere else in Western Europe.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

What would Spartacus think ?

BBC says sorry as Tony Curtis turns the airwaves blue

By Victoria O’Hara
Saturday, 23 May 2009 

Screen legend Tony Curtis forced the BBC to apologise to thousands of listeners after swearing during a live radio interview in Northern Ireland. 

The actor, who famously dressed as a woman opposite Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot, turned the air blue with profanity on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday. 

The 84-year-old was being interviewed to promote his book American Prince, which will include a visit to the Ulster Hall in Belfast on Wednesday. 

However, during the phone interview on Talk Back the acclaimed actor swore numerous times, forcing presenter William Crawley to apologise. 

Curtis was asked how he came to liken the love scene with Monroe in the 1959 movie to “kissing Hitler” and he told how it was a private, off-the-cuff remark while under pressure on the film set. 

Then he said: “And you know what, some b******s go away and make that a headline.” 

Mr Crawley apologised and then went on to ask the actor about his Oscar nomination for his role in The Defiant Ones. 

Curtis replied: “They nominated Sidney (Poitier) and I for the same part in that film, and that was bull***t, I was offended by that”, leading to the presenter offering another apology. 

The Hollywood legend went on to swear again when explaining how he hates the Oscars. He said: “I think it is unfair the way they treat actors... they can f*** off.” 

In reply Mr Crawley said: “Oh no, now come on! We can't use that language, I apologise to our listeners.” The actor apologised after realising the programme was live. 

“You can always cut those bits out, we are not live, are we? Oh, it is live! I apologise to everybody for what I have said, I didn't want to offend anyone, I apologise.” 

But Mr Crawley told him: “Don't worry, people in Northern Ireland are very understanding.” 

In a statement the BBC said: “There were approximately seven calls/text messages to Talk Back with a balanced reaction. We apologise for any offence caused.” 

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph earlier, Curtis spoke about his time on the set of Some Like It Hot. “Billy Wilder (the director) said when he decided to do the picture he should have Tony Curtis to do it because he is the handsomest fella in town. Isn’t that a great compliment?”

Friday, 22 May 2009

whoops here comes piggy flu

Bulgaria Reports 15 Suspect Cases of H1N1 Flu
Society | May 22, 2009, Friday

Bulgaria's Heath Ministry has identified 15 suspect cases of H1N1 flu on the territory of the country, including a Spanish national, hospitalized in the Danube town of Russe with symptoms of the disease.

There are still no confirmed cases, a health department spokesman said.

No other information on the suspect cases was released.

Bulgaria's health ministry has available one hundred tests for confirming the virus, provided by the World Health Organization.

Authorities in Bulgaria's neighboring Greece and Turkey have already confirmed their first cases of swine flu - a student who returned from the USA and an American tourist respectively.

Wish he had said that before 1st Jan 2007

Prof. Galabov: Bulgaria Does Not Meet the Copenhagen Criteria Anymore 
Posted by viharg on 11/05/09 
Tags: analysis, Bulgaria, Bulgarian elections, Copenhagen Criteria, oligarchy 

In a new analysis the Bulgarian sociologist, Prof. Antony Galabov, claims that Bulgaria does not meet the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership anymore.

He believes that the post-totalitarian oligarchy has proved that it is prepared to use all means to keep Bulgaria in the role of Asian periphery of Europe. Prof. Galabov says that there is an attempt of total pressure on the democracy and rule of law by some Bulgarian state institutions, motivated by the dire election prospects of the ruling coalition.

An important observation of the analysis is that the Bulgarian oligarchy can successfully simulate the application of democratic procedures, but always replaces their meaning. Now the oligarchy needs low voter turnout in order to ensure its reproduction in power.

However, prof. Galabov is optimistic. He thinks that the election results will initiate a new period of modernization reforms, obviously in contradiction to all efforts to steal the elections.

Let's be frank here, Bulgaria and Romania were let in for geo-political reasons, which had bugger all to do with the economic and political criteria for joining the EU.They were clearly unfit to run a whelk stall then and still are..or so Uncle thinks.

Well said Gianfranco !

"The players are very disappointed (about missing out on the Europa League). But I am even more disappointed we have not been able to make seventh place. But that does not take anything anyway from our season. I am really pleased and proud to be their manager. Considering all the problems that were around the club, all the injuries we had, the players have done a fantastic job."
- Gianfranco Zola

No Europa Cup next season and that's a tad disappointing but Zola has done wonders with a club run by dodgy Icelandic bankers (is it bankers ?) and with major injury problems.

Anyway who wants to flog their guts out playing 22 matches to get to the Europa final.The real target for the Hammers must be top five next year, or so Uncle surmises and he is a wise old sage.  

Passport Renewal in Bulgaria: what a rip off !

Uncle B is now mightily miffed !.In its wisdom the British Embassy in Sofia and the Consulate in Varna have stopped dealing with passport renewals for UK citizens.Previously they would check it for you in Varna and then forward it for you to Sofia whence it was sent to the Embassy in Vienna which processed it and returned.A reasonable enough set up you might think.

Not so the FCO, all passport services are now centred in Dusseldorf !. I have just paid 88lv/45 Euros for my application to be couriered to the Fatherland.In addition to this I have had to give them a virtual blank cheque for them to fill in for the return courier journey.

On present form it will cost me 225 Euros for the 'pleasure' of having one of Her Majestys passports.This is 210 quid !.Dick Turpin got away with less.

The Luck of the Irish !

Irish domination of Epsom Derby is 'only a blip' claims trainers' chief

• British trainers' chief sees no cause for concern
• 14 of 20 runners likely to be from Ireland

Aidan O'Brien has nine of the 20 remaining entries for the Investec Derby at Epsom two weeks tomorrow, and Ireland has 14 in all, after the latest forfeit stage for the premier Classic yesterday. British stables are responsible for the other six entries, though extra names can be supplemented at the five-day stage on 1 June at a cost of £75,000.

The composition of the likely Derby field appears to justify the recent decision of William Hill to stop taking bets on an Irish-trained winner. O'Brien alone seems likely to send out at least half a dozen starters, and could yet exceed his record total of eight Derby runners two years ago.

Despite Ireland's domination of the entries Rupert Arnold, the chief executive of the National Trainers' Federation, said yesterday that the collective failure of British handlers to summon up a single obvious Derby contender is "only a blip".

"I think it's just the way things have fallen that all the best colts seem to be in Ireland," Arnold said. "I certainly don't think that there is any great significance or any underlying cause for concern.

"It's surprising that one of the big battalions hasn't come up with something, but, who knows, maybe Debussy [John Gosden's Blue Riband Trial winner, currently a 50-1 chance with Totesport] will win it."

Along with Crowded House, who flopped when favourite for the Dante Stakes last week, and Godolphin's Kite Wood, another failure in the same race, Debussy is joined in a motley assortment of British-based entries by Montaff and Father Time, second and third in the Lingfield Derby Trial, and South Easter, the Dee Stakes winner.

Victory for an Irish-trained runner at Epsom would be the country's fifth in 10 years. The last French-trained Derby winner, by contrast, was Empery in 1976. Four of the last five winners of the 2,000 Guineas have also been trained in Ireland, including Sea The Stars, currently second-favourite behind Fame And Glory.

O'Brien, Fame And Glory's trainer, offered no suggestion yesterday that his challenge for the Classic will boil down to a handful of runners.

Fame And Glory, Black Bear Island, Age Of Aquarius and Golden Sword have all won Derby trials in recent weeks, while Rip Van Winkle, Masterofthehorse and Freemantle are among those to have run eye-catching races in defeat.

"The horses have run well and the ones that ran early improved from their first run to their second," O'Brien told At The Races yesterday. "The ones that didn't win their trials still ran well, so it's so far so good.

"Everyone is saying that Fame And Glory was the most impressive winner [in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial] and, obviously, we see the same."

Rip Van Winkle, fourth home behind Sea The Stars in the 2,000 Guineas, is the one major contender from Ballydoyle who has not contested a Derby trial, apart, of course, from the Guineas itself.

"He had a very interrupted preparation for the Guineas and ran a real good race," O'Brien said. "Since then he pulled off a shoe and was a little bit tender for a few days but, other than that, everything was fine with him.

"He's a balanced horse with a lot of natural speed. He's got a great stride and is determined, so you wouldn't think there should be any problems with Epsom.

"I don't know at the moment how many runners we will have [but] when the horses have come through their trial, then it's very hard to bypass the Derby."

Pigs in the trough

This is one Tory MP's take on why he is in the doo doo....amazing !.


Anthony Steen blamed voters in his Totnes constituency of being jealous of his 'very, very large house'.  

Were the Palace of Westminster to boast a hair-shirt outlet it would have done a feverish trade over the last two weeks as its members have lined up to publicly apologise for expenses excesses.

All that is except one. While his colleagues furiously deployed their mea culpas, the veteran Conservative MP Sir Anthony Steen stood firm.

After pondering the question of exactly why people were so angry over his claim for the treatment of 500 trees in the grounds of his house, he offered a succinct explanation today : "Jealousy".

Tonight, however, Steen, MP for Totnes since 1974, was forced by David Cameron to issue a strongly worded apology after he blamed constituents for forcing his retirement from Westminster. Steen "unreservedly apologised" after declaring that the public had no right to "interfere" with his private life.

Cameron moved against Steen after he appeared on Radio 4's The World at One to lash out at constituents who objected to his claim for the treatment of the trees. "I've done nothing criminal, that's the most awful thing, and do you know what it's about? Jealousy," Steen said. "I've got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral."

Steen spoke out after announcing on Wednesday he would stand down as an MP at the next election. He denied his hand had been forced by Cameron. "The pressure came from the constituents. For the last week I've been taking soundings and they are absolutely beside themselves with anger."

Steen later issued an apology after he was upbraided by the leadership for distorting his talks with Cameron.

Cameron also forced the former Tory minister Sir Peter Viggers to announce his retirement after Viggers claimed £1,645 for a floating duck island.

If Steen emerges as one of the more amusing sinners in the expenses ­scandal, the Labour MP Laura Moffatt is on course to become the patron saint of the goodies. The MP for Crawley gave up her rented London flat last year because she said the "annual cost did not sit comfortably with me". In her blog she writes: "I never travel first class when commuting and since getting rid of my flat I more often sleep on a camp bed in my office when the house sits late … and have only made one claim for personal goods in 2007/08, under £20, I think, to replace some towels."

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Off we go...

Well I thought I'd enter the blogosphere.Several days of watching the parliamentary drama unfold in the UK on Guido Fawkes has convinced that its got merit and its fun !.

This blog is intended as a forum for people with an interest in Bulgaria, but also much more than that. I have an abiding interest in politics, history and even West Ham football club !.So if you've got anything to say in this 'ballpark' please do so.