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Rainy day April 3, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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It is taking me a very long time to come to terms with the demise of the former Yugoslavia. It was such a pretty name and the Yugoslavs were always such fun on Jeux Sans Frontières. Former Yugos are constantly trying to console me. “Thanks for trying to help, Branko,” I’ll say. “But look, Viljemka,” I’ll go on, “I just have to grieve over this in my own time.”

Of course I agree with the right to self-determination. I sent telegrams to all my Slovene friends – it took ages – congratulating them on accession to the EU and being the first of the new countries to adopt the Euro. I shuttle-diplomacied like nobody’s business when trying to make sure the young Macedonia (no FYRo for me, thank you) could find a satisfactory constitutional solution to appease a restive ethnic Albanian minority. It worked, thankfully, and I’ve been honoured with my portrait on the verso of the 5 Makedon note. (I asked to be bumped up to recto but that went to Alexander the Great so I settled for second best.) I recognised Kosova before President Tadić could even meet privately with me and ask me to delay declaring my hand, knowing the influence I had. But I stood firm. “Boris, talk to the hand,” I said.

And my Yugo-nostalgia shall peak, of course, or go off the scale, when all Europe (and Israel) (and Cyprus – Cyprus is technically Asia, isn’t it?) (and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – or is that area in Europe?) meets in Belgrade this May. Chuffed to bollocks for Serbia, of course, to get a chance to showcase itself – they’ve had a tough few years (it’ll take me even longer to come to terms with Zoran Đinđić’s death, actually) – but I will cry huge Yugo tears and have been sewing like nobody’s business so that I’ll be able to hang huge Yugo flags with lovely big red stars out my window.

So, at times like these, what does one do to assuage one’s pain? You go through your Yugo-pop collection of course. I’ve been assuaging like mad. Remembering the good old days. The Yugo new wave, which, I assume, we were all brought up on.

Now blogging has its limitations. Naturally, I consider every reader – even the ones who’ve ended up here by mistyping their google search and come here to find bib tits – an intimately close friend whom I would happily donate an organ to if the need arose. But sometimes, intimacy and bonds can only be forged, or, at least, are best forged, around a bonfire, under a starry European sky – sorry, non-Europeans. Your friendships just aren’t real – with cheap alcohol, guitars and enough mosquitoes to sap a blood bank. That’s the kind of occasion when you can really get down to business. When you can become true friends. When you can stroke someone’s back as they cry about their troubled past. When you can hold back someone’s hair to stop them vomiting in it. When you can discuss your favourite Jura Stublić i Film song.

And, darlings, I feel we won’t be true friends until I know your favourite. Scroll around here. I’m off to get the tissues. Poleti Iznad Grada gets me every time.


1. emeline - April 4, 2008

That’s actually true, we’re just virtual. And knowing someone through the internet is quite complicated because most of readers have a nickname, for exemple. Nevertheless, it seems to be hard to have strong friendships in real life too!

2. BiB - April 4, 2008

It’s nice turning the virtual into the real, which I’ve done with quite a few bloggers. (No raunch intended.)

Easily formed friendships are the domain of the young. Once you’re as old as I am, forming a new friendship is a Herculean task.

3. wyndham - April 4, 2008

I have never vomited in my own hair. A physical impossibility. I’m fairly certain that I’ve never vomited in anyone else’s hair. I’m not a tall man, so again, almost impossible. But I catch your drift, Bib.

4. BiB - April 5, 2008

I think the image in my mind is of a very nice Italian lady I once befriended (not quite around a bonfire, but not far off) and she had lovely flowing locks which very much had to be rescued from her own secretions. Poor her. She got a number of things wrong, like telling me she’d wait for me if ever I changed my mind.

5. Sylvia - April 5, 2008

Alas Bib, I wish my hideous form was virtual, but it’s real enough. I think plenty of small people have vomited in my hair, and on other bits of me, besides, but they were very young and I am their motherm so I suppose that’s allowed.

Think of me when I’m tramping around the Commons of SW London tomorrow – training for the moonwalk. We’re supposed to do 12 miles. There’s supposed to be a blizzard.

6. wyndham - April 5, 2008

You are clearly a handsome, charismatic and deeply attractive individual – to men and women alike, Bib. I suspected as much.

7. Neal - April 5, 2008

There’s a saying where I live in which you get to know people so well here that it’s like you don’t know anyone in the rest of the world at all.

8. Taiga the Fox - April 6, 2008

I promise I won’t harm my hair or yours when we start turning the virtual into the real.

9. liukchik - April 6, 2008

A delightful bit of Yugo-nostalgia. Watched a fascinating BBC documentary about the (apparent) love many former-Yugo’s have for Tito. There are still groups that meet in school gymnasia on his birthday to thanks to one of the many Tito impersonators – even kids born after the wars give him flowers. I suppose the nostalgia is similar to that that Russians/Soviets feel for the Brezhnev era – relative material comfort, importance, peace, etc.

As an antidote, they of course interviewed some pro-Yugoslav royalists who have a general (need to check Wikipedia for his name) who they think was royally shafted by Tito and the Allies, and has become a martyr of sorts.

Still, Croatia looks like the holiday destination this year…

And yes, booze/bonfire/stars/Slavdom does work wonders.

10. liukchik - April 6, 2008

Kind of like Double Diamond used to when I was a nipper.

11. narrowback - April 6, 2008

General Draza Mihailovitch, leader of the “Chetniks”…I just happen to be reading “Endgame 1945” & just started the chapter about Yugoslavia.

there’s a fairly widspread cult of Mao in contemporary China for many of the same reasons….

12. rock - April 7, 2008

Har. Put up more flags!
And free fuggin quebec while we’re at it. TAke Celine Dion please…
I do love your take.

13. BiB - April 8, 2008

Rock, do you know that Europe once tried to purloin Sleen? She represented some French-speaking country or other – France. Maybe Switzerland. Or even Luxembourg – at a Eurovision – sorry, this may be speaking in tongues to North Americans – and I’ve got a feeling she might even have won. I like Canadian French but I feel it’d be wrong to steal Quebec’s greatest asset. Anyway, presumably it’s her ability to unite all Canadians that is holding the country together. (I’m against independence for Quebec, while we’re on the subject.)

Narrowback, truly you are a man of arcane interests. There’s a good photo of your gent here but I think the Chetniks’ flag speaks for itself. ‘Freedom or Death’ indeed!

Liukchik, I wonder where the former Yugo royals are loitering these days. No doubt they turn up in Paris/London/bits of Switzerland every now and again, wearing uniforms and calling themselves Prince Ognjen (or would local names be considered trashy?) of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Or perhaps not. When I was first familiarised with Jura Stublić, by the way, he was, of course, a Yugo pop star. Turns out he’s from Zagreb, though still performs all over the former Yugoslavia, if I understand youtube and the site I linked to correctly.

Taiga, I am convinced your behaviour will be exemplary. If it isn’t, I shall, of course, tell EVERYONE. Be warned!

Neal… (*swoons in admiration. Again. Comes round 4 minutes later and resumes*), I imagine living on Antarctica must create very intimate friendships, whether you want them or not. I was trying to convince myself the other day, when I took a couple of footsteps in some pleasantly surprising snow, that I was basically Captain Oates. I can’t tell you how intriguing your life sounds. (I have, at last, updated the link. Everyone, read Neal’s blogging from Antarctica. Yes, Antarctica.)

Wyndham, what an incredibly sweet thing to say. It’s not true, of course, but I shall print it out and carry it in my wallet anyway and look at it every time the Russian makes me feel unloved (so it should wear out pretty quickly, actually). I thought, on the handsomity stakes, that my freshly grey beard might instantly turn me into George Clooney but it tends to just look like dirt.

Sylvia, I hope you too survived your Captain Oates trek around Clapham Common. Good for you, and I hope you’re enjoying the whole event build-up and all the training it involves. I don’t believe for a second you’re hideous. In fact I know you’re not, because I’ve met people who’ve met you, so you mustn’t be naughty.

14. narrowback - April 9, 2008

I’ll take the arcane comment as a compliment of the highest order but I claim no affinity with Mihailovitch and his gang

15. BiB - April 9, 2008

Narrowback, yes, I was complimenting you on your knowledge. I would have been very surprised if you’d turned out to be a stealth Chetnik. (Though I might prepare some trick questions for when you’re next here to see if I can uncover any naughty political leanings.)

16. narrowback - April 10, 2008

ah, that could be an entertaining exercise…tho’ any political leaning can be “naughty” from one perspective or another.

17. BiB - April 10, 2008

Indeed but, as we grow up, I’ve got a feeling fewer and fewer actually do seem so. I don’t mean that the extremes seem less extreme, but just views different from one’s own seem far less objectionable.

18. narrowback - April 11, 2008

yes, I shudder when I recall how intolerant I was when I was back in my 20’s

19. BiB - April 11, 2008

I chatted with a friend about precisely this over the weekend. We praised… erm, not the Lord. Something… for the gift of time and ageing. Especially as we also came into contact with folk in their late teens/early 20s.

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