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Srbija 2020

Nicholas Comrie

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

‘I imagine that you must like this weather’ Serbs keep telling me, each and every time it decides to piss it down. ‘Yes, I love being soaked, don’t we all?’ I feel like replying, but instead just nod doggedly and continue the pretence that us English are only ever happy under cloudy skies. The problem is, we aren’t, and when it comes to just how wet London is, it isn’t half as bad as Belgraders are led to believe.

KGB: Planet of the Apes

KGB’s internet ‘provision’ has been messing with my head again. The call centre has been shamelessly blaming my computer. I know it ain’t the case. They have promised engineers. I know they aren’t going to come. And so after several weeks of CSI-like investigation, the only explanation for three months (and counting) of delays and prevarication is what is really going on at KGB’s call centre:

Alright darling, can I buy you a drink?

‘Alright darling, can I buy you a drink’, she said as she patted him gently on the arse. The world has been turned upside down, the roles are reversed and Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’ plays endlessly on MTV. Girls are now (officially) chasing the guys. It used to be the preserve of man, the hunter-gatherer, to find a woman, bonk her on the head and drag her home. It was expected of men on both sides of the gender divide. But recently, and I have been told by members of the increasingly club-wielding sex that we’re talking in the last two years, that girls here in Belgrade are now the one’s expected to make the move, do the running. The guys are all well pleased, but what’s going on?

I love Nenad Bogdanovic

I love Nenad Bogdanovic. I only love him in the Platonic sense mind, but it is love nonetheless. This love stems from the fact that as mayor of this fair city, I think he has done a rather good job. Everywhere you look they’re re-building, re-tarmacing and re-cladding and as our dear leader I suppose he should take some of the credit. I am all for criticism of our political elite, but give a man his due when it’s due.

Beyond Anthrax

I have opted for a change of scenery for today’s blog. Rather than the usual, I am including details of a particularly funny and horrifying incident that so nearly befell whilst working in London a few years back.  

Beyond Anthrax: 

Viva La Roller Disco

I was in London last week and found myself taking an unexpected trip into roller disco heaven. No, I had not over-medicated myself, but had instead opted to go to some club called Canvas and roller-disco my arse off. And that was despite all the high-camp and the constant fear of time spent in traction. Apparently, it’s a craze that is gaining ground in London, as everyone I spoke to while I was there had either been or was going. My girlfriend persuaded me that it was something we couldn’t live without doing. And so at 8.30 on a Thursday night I found myself strapping on a pair of roller boots and hoping that my bones were still supple.

Running the Visa Gauntlet

Ever been to Bijeljina? If you have, and you’re reading this blog, the chances are that, like me, you will have experienced that most joyous of occasions – visa renewal. For those who haven’t experienced this, it is a requirement that numerous foreigners living in Serbia face. Every three months they are required to leave Serbia to update the status of their visas simply to continue living and, as is often the case, working in Serbia.

Burn the Election Posters, Give Me a Park

I was standing on my balcony yesterday watching a load of guys plastering political posters all over my neighbourhood. I hate those guys. Or at least I hate the party that they represent. They stick them up there with no intention of taking them down and now my area looks like a slightly crooked political rosette. It’s not that my neck of the woods is particularly beautiful it’s just that there is enough graffiti there as it is. And for me these political posters are nothing more than that. 

SBB – They’ll Break Your Heart

I decided this Christmas to treat myself to some cable internet from my beloved provider SBB. What with the holiday season upon us and the nights well and truly drawing in, I thought I might well sit at home and enjoy whiling away the hours surfing the net. However, as luck would have it, I had none and instead I spent most of the holiday season attempting to track down and break the will of SBB in a still vain attempt to get my hands on the internet access I had so stupidly paid for. I think that I have actually spent more time listening to recorded telephone queue messages and standing in record-breakingly slow-moving queues than actually surfing.  

Jamie ‘F’ Oliver

“Pukka tucker mate”, “Scrummy” “Lovely jubbly” and other Oliverisms have been being used wantonly in my flat since the arrival of a Christmas parcel bearing a copy of a Jamie Oliver cookbook. Despite my best efforts at avoiding some of the more annoying Oliverisms (and most fall into that category) I have begun to talk like a lad from Essex and have found myself adopting the more annoying ones all the more. I suppose it’s because I am actually quite excited by the prospect of trying out some of Mr. Oliver’s recipes. After nearly exhausting my culinary ‘repertoire’ I think that I was in need of some inspiration. And it has been Oliver’s inspiration that has either avoided me, or been avoided by me, for several years.

Rewards for the Punished

The London Dungeon – London’s Number One Tourist Attraction (for Prisoners)The London Dungeon – London’s Number One Tourist Attraction (for Prisoners)An acquaintance of mine who works for the police was out in London the other week when she came across a group of prison officers. Greeting her colleagues outside a London tourist attraction she asked them what they were doing there. Pointing to a group of likely looking lads who they were accompanying, the prison officers explained that they were taking a group of prisoners on an excursion. Apparently their charges had been granted a day’s release to visit one of London’s number one tourist attractions – the London Dungeon.

Karaoke od Srbije do Tokija

Karaoke od Srbije do Tokija: Wednesday night. Men in skirts. A drunken crowd sings at the top of its voice to songs that, for the most part, you thought and hoped you had forgotten. A middle aged man sweats over a microphone he doesn’t realise isn’t working. He’s giving it all he’s gKaraoke od Srbije do Tokija: Wednesday night. Men in skirts. A drunken crowd sings at the top of its voice to songs that, for the most part, you thought and hoped you had forgotten. A middle aged man sweats over a microphone he doesn’t realise isn’t working. He’s giving it all he’s gWednesday night. Men in skirts. A drunken crowd sings at the top of its voice to songs that, for the most part, you thought and hoped you had forgotten. A middle aged man sweats over a microphone he doesn’t realise isn’t working. He’s giving it all he’s got to some B52s, oblivious to the fact. Or perhaps he knows and is just looking for an excuse for some air-microphone action to Love Shack. There’s a party mood in the place and the crowd wait with an air of expectation for the latest take on Suspicious Minds. Karaoke fever has struck Belgrade like a wave and there’s no escaping the undertow that’s going to drag you in front of that karaoke mike whether you think you want to or not; if not that night, then the next.

Political Lessons from Big Brother

As Serbia's elections draw nearer and the number and prevalence of political faces in the media grow, I can't help wondering if these coming elections will be another disappointing democratic display. Over the coming weeks we will be assaulted by media image after media image, as political propagandists fight for the votes of an increasingly apathetic Serbian public. People just can't seem to get fired up by elections; they are disappointed by the process and the outcome. Few people seem genuinely satisfied by democracy. And it's not just Serbia that has been infected by this apathy, far from it; political apathy seems to be pervasive amongst all democratic nations. So is there a crisis in democracy or a crisis in the elections that determine the shape of democracy?

Flat Hunting

These last couple of weeks I have had the unenviable task of trying to find myself a new flat. I made the decision to move after I came to the realization that more things are actually broken in my current flat than work. Doors don’t open or close, sinks leak, cookers under-cook and the washing machine long ago gave up the will to live, let alone wash and spin. Seeking advice from friendly Serbs, they suggested I purchase a copy of Oglasi and so after acquiring the aforementioned magazine I set about tracking down my new stan.

Little Trouble in Little China

Finding myself with three hours to kill on a Sunday, I am always at something of a loss as to what to do. There are the usual household chores, coffee with a friend perhaps, but this weekend I opted to nurse my Sunday blues with a visit to New Belgrade’s finest - the bad-trip carnival that is the Chinese market. What better way to cash in those worthless three hours than breakfast at an impeccable restaurant followed by window shopping for items of endless utility within the confines of a Chinese alternate dimension?

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