Balkans weblog #6

Albania – where we now are – not only sounds like California (give or take a syllable) but looks and feels like it too: hot, dusty, mountainous, with a long coastline.
albania
Set in the 1930s, in the opening of his anti-totalitarian and nostalgically British novel ‘Coming Up for Air’, George Orwell has his hero contemplating the likelihood of war as he drives his car and ruminates on the life and motives of the self-proclaimed King Zog of Albania…
Albanians…heh!?
albania flag
Growing up, Albania was the epitome of a secret surveillance society, but not even Albanians could have dreamed of the manner in which the CIA and Facebook would be using Silicone Valley technology to spy on and try to control its own population. And then blame the Russians for its – the state’s and private business concern’s – failure to do so.

In much the same way, the Soviets were blamed for Albania’s woes back in the second half of the twentieth century, when in fact it was the UK-supported White forces under General Wrangel which put the people under the imperialist heel, thereby setting up the conditions that would eventually lead to Hoxha’s paranoid and totalitarian control.
Albania and the old Soviet bloc were so conveniently othered for such extended periods when it suited over the past one hundred years that it has virtually entered the western democratic rulers’ DNA to blame someone from eastern Europe when something goes against their wishes and they risk losing control of the narrative. For example, when the west’s politicians are found out attempting to manipulate voters’ behaviour patterns through the likes of outrageously-expensive hireling companies like Bell Pottinger or Cambridge Analytica, they immediately set up false flags and blame these ‘others’ for the events. Their friends in the media get on board and there you have it: the perfect cover up and excuse for utter failure.
They wish. Like my old mum used to keep telling me when I was young (my older sister, too, for some peculiar reason that I won’t go into right now), “Be sure your lies will find you out.”
Or as the mystic John would have it, ‘You are the father of lies, for in you is no truth…’
Beware all you would-be World Rulers, when it comes to all your secret shenanigans at home and abroad. “Be sure…”
Communists…heh!?
Russians…heh!?
Never the western democracies.

(As an aside, just after despatching my last blogpost from Cetinje, Montenegro, I received a FB message from a Russian friend who just happened to be staying down the road with her family…)

And so, to the football World Cup. At its first inception the region we’ve been travelling through was represented by the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Kingdom of Yugoslavia, yug = south). That king was deposed by the Yugoslavian people, led by Tito (whose May, 1943 hideout from the fascists we visited at Black Lake in Durmitor), just as the Albanians got rid of their so-called king around the same time. An interesting point: the most recent claimant to the Serbian throne was born in Claridges, London, with Queen Elizabeth II his godmother; while the deposed King Zog immediately headed for the Ritz, London after war broke out (settling for a time with his retinue near my home village). So don’t be fooled by any propagandist bullshit which tries to create divisions between the east and west. The ruling families and big business don’t believe it, or care about it, and neither should anybody else. Which is to say, the ruling elites are all in cahoots.

Ah, yes, the Jules Rimet trophy… What a pity the host nation was knocked out on penalties: England playing Russia in Moscow would have been a great embarrassment to all those propagandists. So far, we have watched England get through the group stage on TV screens in bars around Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, then saw them win their first game of the knock-out stage against Colombia and quarter-final versus Sweden in Montenegro. Now we hope to see them progress further in the semi-final against Croatia at a bar here in Albania.
If the tea leaves of this trip have any meaning, then England will be meeting Belgium once again – this time in the final (we met a group of Belgians straight after the 1-0 defeat, and watched Belgium defeat Brazil alongside a couple of Belgians in Zabljiak.) No French.
fiat doblo
So far we have only seen one British car registration plate since one was spotted on the ferry across the river in southern Montenegro, as its inhabitants headed for Crete. It appears that we are the country’s sole representatives of our national football team currently travelling on the roads through eastern Montenegro and this part of of Albania…
Right now, we are resting up on a campsite not far from the border, planning to maybe take another ferry up the river into Albania’s alpine region for some good hiking, and certainly make the most of our time here before heading into neighbouring Macedonia.

By which time, we hope, England will be FIFA World Cup Champions.

Can it really be true that one country – even the largest country presently on the planet – is responsible for all the world’s troubles? Maybe it is. Most likely it’s not. Maybe it is the capitalist elites. Or maybe it is down to David Icke’s lizards.

How about individual countries taking responsibility for their own societies?

Posted from a spot beside Lake Shkodar, Albania

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY available at Amazon and bookstores worldwide

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