How to Scare a Bulgarian

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February 4, 2013 by anelim

This post is unrelated to Berlin. Two days ago, a sarcastic article by an anonymous writer signed as “Lola Montesquieu” appeared in a Bulgarian online newspaper in relation to the recent campaign of the British government attempting to discourage Bulgarians and Romanians from immigrating to the UK (see article). As a Bulgarian formerly living in the UK, I see both sides of the debate: I understand those Bulgarians and Romanians who go to the UK in search for a better future in general and a better wage in particular; but I also understand the inadequacy of the British national welfare and healthcare system (which are not and should not become “international”, as one English article put it). While in general I disagree with the nationalist argument that all those foreigners should stay in their poor home countries, I wholeheartedly agree that immigrants – just as citizens – should contribute to, and not pose strain on, their host country. So, so far I’ve kept quiet about this debate. But this is simultaneously the most funny response so far, and the one that makes the most sense. So, I felt compelled to translate it for the benefit of English-language readers. Please feel free to distribute the translation and/or point out mistakes (I am not a professional translator – apologies for any blunders).

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SOURCE: Как да уплашим българин? 02.02.2013, 24 Часа

How to scare a Bulgarian, 24 Chasa daily

by “Lola Montesquieu”

(translated by Milena Kremakova)

Dear David, I found out from the papers that over in foggy London you have been working hard to think up a strategy to scare Bulgarians and Romanians and stop them from flooding you like a tsunami. I gather that you are expecting altogether 29 million of us to show up on your Island on January 1, 2014. I wholeheartedly congratulate you: it appears that your demographic statistics are more forward-looking even compared to those of our former governor Mr Todor Zhivkou*. Our calculations are more modest, they claim that in Bulgaria and Romania today live some 20-22 million people. The rest are long gone – to you.

To be honest with you, I personally haven’t made any plans yet about the next New Year, but since you are inviting… Not that I’m that keen to go to Great Britain, but I’m worried that you might be disappointed when you awake on 2 January after the celebrations and see not a single Bulgarian or Romanian around you. With expectations as high as you are raising them now, it would be extremely rude of us not to honour them. Especially since we are well-behaved and cordial people, just as the growing number of open letters which have been circulating on the Romano-Bulgarian web are trying to convince you.

I also read in the English papers about how exactly you are planning to scare us away and, as a polite and warm-hearted person, I’d like to help you. David, you’re on the wrong track! A Bulgarian is not that easily scared!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Bulgarian is afraid only of two things: good luck and strong air currents (see this BBC article on what Italians call “being hit by air”). You probably haven’t heard the Bulgarian proverb ‘Very good is too good to last’. It perfectly backs my thesis that your approach to our kind is deeply flawed. You cannot impress us with bad things.

– – –
You say you’ll advertise how bad your NHS is. Not only expensive, but closed for Bulgarians as well. But that is no different from Bulgaria, Mr Cameron. Either you pay, or … you go to the Armenian priest!** Besides, in some villages and small towns the health system doesn’t even exist.

Your other idea is to convince us that the British wages are miserable. Haha! I don’t know about Romania, but in Bulgaria I can name you at least two factories in which thousands of workers have not simply low wages, but they don’t even receive them. And they still go to work.

– – –

You also say that rents on the Island are unbearably high. Unbearable, if you live on your own, that is. But we are not stupid***. In the sense that two of us can share a bed-sitter, or even two hundred. So we’ll manage.

Your ministers want to send us posters to convince us that your country is in crisis. This would surely scare us.

Seriously, are you going to scare US with a crisis?

For your information, I spent my entire life in crisis – there was one before 1989, too, but it was called ‘deficit’ back then. We live in a river, and you want to scare us with a water pistol, so to say.

Then, you intend to clarify that your streets aren’t paved with gold. Yours may not be, but ours are. In my neighbourhood, on the main street there is a pothole which they patch up every spring but it opens up again every winter, presumably because someone nicks some of the asphalt. If I calculate the money that went down into that pothole in the last 7-8 winters, it will probably be enough for a couple of gold bricks.

Your strongest argument which is bound to keep us away from your motherland is the lousy weather. No, really, how British! You try to scare us with wind and fog. It would be a different story if you mentioned something about air currents. Lay off the rain, speak about the Gulfstream. Advertise it – it is the strongest current in the world, after all. I guarantee that not a single Bulgarian mother will let her child sit under such a current.

So, dear David, don’t try so hard to make your country seem scarier than Bulgaria and Romania. Your quest is doomed. A campaign or two won’t do the job. To succeed, you’d need, at a minimum, several Balkan and World wars****, one communist regime and 24 years of transition like the one we’ve had. One does not catch up on such missed experiece with a few slogans.

As I already revealed earlier, apart from currents, the Bulgarian is also scared of too much good. So you should flip the coin. Say a nice word or two. Invite us. Promise us – you’re a politician, after all. Tell us that you’ll take all of us. Give us a broad smile from the BBC screen and simply adopt us. Guarantee us that you have enough room for every single one of us and that when we arrive, despite being in Great Britain, our neighbours above and below will again be Bulgarians. I give my word that this would work better than any of your existing strategies.

But if you can’t force yourself to say those things or squeeze out even a smile, here are a few last pieces of advice for your current campaign which should have effect.

– – – – –
For instance, reveal some details about your traffic. Explain that in Great Britan CCTV cameras are everywhere. Not like in Bulgaria – two at Orlov Most*****. Launch a slogan such as:

‘We will not only catch you but will also fine you!’

This will automatically make at least the Bulgarian driver give up potential immigration. That is, unless you make the mistake to say that in Britain one overtakes on the right. This way you would risk attracting him even more strongly. The Bulgarian driver loves driving like a Brit.

You also ought to clarify that Brits provide EU subsidies rather than receiving them. ‘Your wage goes directly into the pocket of Payner’****** would be a good slogan. Print the price of a small vodka in an average British bar on large slogans and make it really clear how SMALL the small vodka really is.******* Make balconing an Olympic discipline. In the unlikely event that even that fails, employ your last and most serious argument: your government. Because if there exists one thing from which the Bulgarian wants to run away, it is neither the weather, nor the potholes, but Bulgarian politicians. Only if you convince him that even in Great Britain he will not be safe, because it is also governed by idiots, he might consider evading you. To be frank, this current campaign of yours might be a step in the right direction.

Ah, I almost forgot… If you want a successful campaign, it is imperative that you change the name of your state. Who would believe it if you continue to be called GREAT Britain? Think of something more modest, but repulsive. Your newspapers could give you ideas for a new name.

Go on, rethink your strategies and in case they fail anyway, see you for New Year in London.

Good luck! Lola

* Bulgaria’s pre-1989 head of state, Todor Zhivkov, campaigned for increasing the country’s population. While he was in power, national celebrations were held for the birth of Bulgaria’s 9,000,000th citizen in the 1980s. (M.K.) The “ou” ending” in the letter is a satirically anglicised version of Zhivkov’s surname.
** To go to the Armenian priest: this Bulgarian idiom mean that no one can help you any more. In past times, Armenian Orthodox priests were considered influential and citizens sometimes went with their pleas to them, as to a last resort, when there was nobody else to turn to.
*** The Bulgarian phrase for “we are not stupid” literally translates as “granny knows two and two hundred”.
**** The Balkan wars were two severe conflicts that took place in the Balkan Peninsula in south-eastern Europe in 1912 and 1913. ( The author presumably also means the Balkan wars in ex-Yugoslavia in the end of the 20th Century.
***** Orlov Most (Eagle’s Bridge) is a busy junction in the centre of Sofia
****** A recent EU-subsidised business project made headlines in Bulgaria and prompted public outrage because the beneficiary was the infamous chalga music production company Payner Music. Since the early 1990s, Bulgarian society has been strongly polarised on the question of chalga music and lifestyle: some love it, others despise it and everything about it. If you don’t know what chalga is, you MUST watch Janet Barrie’s BBC short documentary film
******* A “small vodka” in Bulgaria is 50ml. A “large vodka” is, respectively, 100 ml. A “double” is 200 ml.


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I will be no longer Berliner in..

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February 2013
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