Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

09/04/2013
thatcher election wave

The start of it all: Thatcher conquers 10 Downing Street

The British media are evidently awash with coverage of the death of Margaret Thatcher, former Conservative British Prime Minister.

There’s saturation coverage on all my UK online sources: you’d be forgiven for thinking a catastrophe had occurred within the British royal family. (No, Thatcher will not receive a state funeral, as some have proposed.)

Reaction across the UK (and beyond) has been, as expected, extreme. We’ve had the usual formulaic ‘tributes’ from prominent politicians; vituperative negative comments by extreme UK public figures: even street parties to ‘celebrate’ her passing – I received a comment from a shocked Bulgarian friend currently in UK, saying that:

“there certainly was a celebration in London, which sounds quite crude – in Bulgaria we do not celebrate anyone’s death, even the biggest enemy.”

The underlying motif of much of what I’ve read today has been along the lines of ‘Love her, hate her – no one remained indifferent to her’. Along with the frequent observation that her political ethos was invariably divisive, at all levels of UK society.

My own views, for what they are worth?

I was living in South Wales throughout Thatcher’s ‘reign’, and saw at first-hand the effects (good and bad), many of which remain as part of her legacy. [1]

And – no, I have never voted for the Conservative (political right) Party.

*******

I thought the editorial in today’s Guardian was reasonably balanced and comprehensive. [2]

And, for a personal slant on Thatcher (and her husband, Denis) from a former British Ambassador, this article seemed to tackle the problem of ‘personality’ versus ‘political achievement’ in the writer’s usual direct manner. [3]

[1]: BBC Online

[2]: The Guardian

[3]: Craig Murray

Image: BBC

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hībərˈnāSHən

01/04/2013
Dozy Bulgarian brown bear

Dozy Bulgarian brown bear

The Oxford Dictionary of English definition:

hibernate |ˈhʌɪbəneɪt|

verb [ no obj. ]

• (of an animal or plant)
spend the winter in a dormant state.

• (of a person)
remain inactive or indoors for an extended period.

Derivatives

hibernation |ˌhībərˈnāSHən|noun,

hibernator |-ˌnātər|noun

So, concerning this blog, I’ve “remained inactive” for 3 months and “indoors for an extended period”. Spot on!

Well, with the clocks having changed, and spring well established, there’s probably no further excuse I can make. Thanks to those readers who wondered what was going on (nothing, is the short answer).

The simple truth is that I just took a break – why, I don’t really know; it’s not as though there’s been nothing of interest going on in Bulgaria and elsewhere.

By the way, if you happen to see adverts on the blog pages – it’s nothing directly to do with me. I was surprised to find some on checking a couple of older entries. It’s all down to WordPress – they are inserting ads on free sites such as this one.

They state:

  1. The site is part of the WordAds program and has elected to show ads to earn money from their site.
  2. The site is one of the sites hosted on WordPress.com that has not purchased the No Ads upgrade, and we are running ads to cover the costs of operating the site for the user.

Option 1 is not applicable to this site, as I have no intention of trying to earn money from it. Option 2 does apply; I have to pursue this, to eliminate the ads for the future. Basically, they want $99 per year out of my pocket (sigh).

Apologies, meanwhile, if unexpected adverts suddenly appear, and annoy you.

Huh! I just realised – it’s April Fool’s Day! How appropriate…

Image: playrific.com

Sorrowful tribute

19/01/2013
Vlado Sakaliskyi – R.I.P.

Vlado Sakaliyski – R.I.P.

I’m not happy to begin writing in 2013 in this vein.

Why? I don’t like writing purely personal items on this blog as a rule, and certainly don’t like passing on this kind of news, which has significantly affected my wife and me.

One of our friends (my wife has known him and his wife for 30 years) succumbed to a heart attack this week. He was 56.

Why?

Why am I writing this, then? Two reasons: one, he was a good friend of ours; two, he was one of those almost invisible entrepreneurs and innovators that Bulgaria possesses and should cherish and applaud.

On the purely personal front: Vladimir Sakaliyski and his wife, Elena (Eli), were guests in our home just before the new year, and we had a most enjoyable evening in their company. Vlado, in my opinion, was a great, but understated character. He was serious, professional, practical, precise, well-informed about everything, and had a quiet, droll sense of humour.

A practical, helpful man

Last year, I had a problem in restoring an old but favourite, classic bike. A vital component had snapped. The local bike shop couldn’t help. Going on eBay would have cost a fortune for a replacement, with no guarantee any item would be in better condition. Vlado fixed the problem within a couple of days, machining a new part that (of course) fitted perfectly. I’m glad I recently had the opportunity to thank him in person for that service. His fee? A ‘small bottle of whisky’.

But, more

Within a larger perspective: I admired him for his achievements. He was the CEO of a successful and growing production company, specialising in precision measurement and calibration hardware (at the simplest level – temperature probes; at the more elevated – RPM controllers and interface adapters). Along with 3 partners, he built the Plovdiv-based company from nothing, starting as early as February, 1989. Revenue that year; $3,500: employees: 0. In 2012, the corresponding figures were: revenue: $1.66 mn: 57 employees.  His precision products sold across Europe and in Bulgaria.

We once visited his business premises, and were totally impressed by the organisation, the layout, the clinical cleanliness (far superior to a Sofia hospital we recently visited), the extreme efficiency that the premises and employees emanated. It was a great example of what an honest and motivated Bulgarian could achieve, by hard work, discipline, and innovative ideas and goals. His ‘factory’ stands as a superb example of what an SME can achieve in this country.

Imaginative innovator

Yet, I’ll bet, hardly anyone outside the business, whether within or outside Bulgaria, knows of this company [1]. It’s part of that ‘invisible’ imagination and innovation that hugely supports Bulgaria’s trade and specialist reputation worldwide.

So, this was the Vlado I met some years ago, and grew to know and appreciate: a quiet, realistic and determined businessman.

But, to end on a purely personal level: Vlado was a true family man, a caring person,  modest – self-deprecating, almost; not the flashy type he could have been, with a grand SUV, a mansion, and all that claptrap. No, a normal, lovely man – who cared.

We’ll miss him.

My wife and I express our heartfelt condolences to Eli, Veneta and Ivelina, and all their family members.

[1]: comeco

BBC: I’m so bloody angry about this!

29/12/2012
What! - serving American propaganda!

What! – serving American propaganda?

I’d intended to take a few days off from this blog, to enjoy some days of peace and quiet, non-contention, and so on. ‘Peace, man’, as they used to say in the 60s.

Then, I saw an online report this evening, stating that:

“the BBC World Service could broadcast programmes aimed at residents of North Korea for the first time, under proposals being discussed by MPs, corporation bosses and US officials.

Barack Obama’s administration is encouraging the Foreign Office to back plans to establish a BBC Korean service to help open up the most secret country on earth.[1] [my emphasis]

“They, [the US], believe the BBC’s reputation for impartiality could help build up trust “with [the?] communist state’s 24 million population.” [so, they – the US – admit they have no credibility at all?] [my comment]

Look!

You may have noticed my completely sympathetic remarks about North Korea and its stupendously charismatic new leader. Plus, the BBC is, deservedly so, under attack for a recent load of complete cock-ups (I’ll return to some ‘lighter’ aspects soon); but it’s a British institution, funded by the British licence payer  (internally), and by a direct British government grant derived from UK tax payers (specifically for its foreign services), i.e, the BBC World Service.

So, why  is the US involved in this, at all?

  • Is the UK really the 51st. US state?
  • What is the meaning of this much mis-quoted ‘special relationship’, which invariably means the UK wagging its tail to North (US) America?
  • Who the hell pays for this UK government-funded service? (and, that’s bad enough, in terms of national democracy vs. short-term political expediency)
  • Who, finally, are those spineless English (the BBC Trust, presumably, led by that stubborn hero of British public credibility, Lord Patten) sucking up to?

Bugger off, UK government – use your own initiative – you are currently vociferous enough about ‘UK sovereignty’ vis à vis the EU, for example.

Bugger off, Obama administration – use CNN and Fox TV for your stupid, vapid propaganda! Get out of our garden, you miserable, malicious… !

[1]: The Independent

Season’s greetings to you all!

23/12/2012
Bozhentsi, Bulgaria

Heritage village of Bozhentsi, Bulgaria.

Putting to one side all those daft doom-laden prophecies, idiotic political leaders, gun-toting Americans, the tragedy of the Middle East, and so much more that troubles us; philinsofia wishes to thank all you readers, wherever you are, whatever you believe in (or not), and to wish you

ALL THE VERY BEST FOR THE END-OF-YEAR SEASON

and

MAY 2013 BRING YOU HEALTH, HAPPINESS, WARMTH –
EVEN WEALTH!

Thanks for registering your ‘Likes’, and for going to the effort of submitting comments on various posts published throughout the year.

I’m happy to report almost 6,000 views during 2012, despite the glitch earlier in the year.

So, philinsofia raises a small glass of rakia to you all!

Image: personal archive.


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