Another little gem of Soviet cinema is Tri Topolya na Plyuschikhe, from 1968, directed by Tatyana Lioznova and written by long-lived dramatist Alexander Borshagovski. It’s an unassumig story, visually simple yet rather touching, which, through a brief episode in the life of a villager, displays before us – with great narrative and interpretative skill – a number of very genuine and well defined characters, while sets forth several exquisitely chosen sides of rural and urban lives in mid XXth century Russia.
In barely 75 minutes runtime the creators of this rather unknown work manage to present to us the longings and joys, the hardships, problems, hopes and concerns of a few human types belonging to that country at that time: the rude frankness of peasants, the diverse attitudes -often ambiguous from a personal point of view- towards the bolshevik system, its goods and bads; the old shepherd whose wisdom and experience we’re only hinted at; a philantropist local courier, crippled of war, understanding and good-natured, who endures the best he can his bad tempered wife; an uncouth, dry man, unpopular because of his nondrinkenness, part time poacher, who tries to keep himself and his family, to some extent, free and independent from the omnipresent kolkhozy (collective farms in the Soviet Union, based on joint property of the produced goods, featuring an excessively rigid and bureaucratic administration); a fat grumpy woman, quite a character, who fully supports ‘the system’; the typically rustic way -almost devoid of sophism and artifice- in which friendships and relations arise; the child who listens to Edith Piaf’s Non, je ne regrette rien on a small radio without barely understanding the lyrics; and among them all, Nurka, a woman native to a neighbouring village who, with unhinhibited resignation, Continue reading “Three Poplars at Plyuschikha”
Under pretence of a concern–clearly unsincere–for the somewhat harmful NOx emissions (nitric oxides), we’re now told in Spain that the European Union promotes a fight against fuel-oil that our Government will be seconding by — guess how? Yes: increasing the taxes and other hinders. A fight, though, whose main beneficiaries won’t be neither the atmosphere nor the citizens’ health, but the automobile industry and, of course, the Internal Revenue. Why? First, because fuel-oil being more polluting than petrol is anything except a definitely settled debate. Petrol egines emit more COx (responsible for greenhouse effect) and fuel-oil ones more NOx (potentially damaging health), but emissions from cars complying with the latest Euro 6 standard are quite similar for both oil derivatives. Hence, were health and environment the issue, Governments would rather take steps in order to renew the fleet and get rid of the dated, more NOx/COx emitting units out there, instead of overtaxing fuel-oil, a step equally impacing older and newer diesel cars, despite the latter being up to five times less polluting than the former and, ironically enough, also a lot less polluting than older petrol cars. Second, because by badgering with taxes and hindrances all diesel cars undiscriminatelly, then all their owners will be pushed to trade them for petrol or hybrid ones, which all throughout Europe means over one hundred million cars ready to be replaced, rather sooner than later, by less penalized vehicle types. This is a spectacular figure, too enticing for manufacturers to not place them under suspicion.
And funniest of all, it’s our present socialist government the most eager to apply a tax raise that–mind you–will impact more severely the less well-off, who–as statistics show–are the ones who bought diesel cars to economize. Wealthier people usually prefer petrol. Therefore our PSOE will be penalizing their own voters. All of which strongly suggests that Continue reading “The ‘diesel war’ waggery”
It seems incredible that a Spanish citizen’s health card only takes full effects in his autonomous community, and that he can’t receive medical care in the rest of the country without having previously formalized an absurd paper: the relocation slip, whose real purpose is no other than to put up domestic borders and hamper our constitutional right to freedom of movement.
I meant: it would seem incredible, conditional. It would seem incredible if it weren’t because even the worst blunder is possible in this split, self-apostate Spain; in this mutant country of made-up cunning regionalisms. But since anything can happen here, such is the situation. Both the kinglets of the autonomous taifas and the central government, in the height of their political ineptitude and autonomistic blindness, have proved totally unable of agreeing on a coordinated and unlimber health system. On one hand, because those kinglets are only too eager to label as recentralization –and thus anatemize– any unifying policy a government might undertake, due to their semantic confusion –out of ignorance or demagogy– between centralize and unify. (Pity they didn’t study harder their own language.) Interestingly, by the way, they don’t mind to give away their personal data to Facebook so that Mark Zuckerberg can centralize the information in his servers, but they do mind the different autonomous comunities in Spain to coordinate and unify databases and medical services so as to remove setbacks on behalf of the citizens. And, on the other hand, because the central goverment is always afraid of being called terrible names like centralizer dictators, and therefore, not giving a dime for their people, they dodge the issue for not confronting the kinglets.
But the last straw in all this nonsense is Continue reading “Paradox of Spanish health cards”
If there’s something characterising the contemporary social speech, leadered by journalists and politicians of every kind (imbued, in turn, by the global pensée unique), that is, rather than its populism and lack of character, the sweetened language in which their ideas come wrapped. I’m thinking of that softened vocabulary, made of euphemisms and slynesses, that shuns at all costs calling things by their name, lest reality makes sore our mealymouthedness’ thin skin.
Among the uncountable, almost infinite examples out there, these days stands out, for its sudden spreading, the word ‘migrants’, with which we must call the immigrants from now on, as the factories have decided where the communication engineering is hatched. Migrants!. How harmless it sounds! The new term seems to wash off, like baptismal water, those aliens’ illegal condition; to endorse their pureness; to belie their resolve of settling down in Europe, and, in short, to divest the migrational process of any aspect detrimental or burdensome for our own wellfare. And, granted, our exquisite sensitivity — actually a guilt complex of which we can’t, or even don’t want to, heal — has swallowed the switch in one go without us batting an eyelid; and thus, in the record time of one day — just one day, reader! — the word immigrant has already been eradicated — not to say censored — from our vocabulary.
As usual, the semantic magic has worked; and this is because in our trained Europe, where true critical spirits are endangered species, we can’t realize how we are being sneaked the goals nor how, with every new of these goals, those language masters are shaping — not to say manipulating — our opinion and taking us one step further away from anything resembling free thinking.
It was the night. I aimed for the tube, going back home after having met someone, somewhere (unfortunately I can’t remember who, nor where. It was an important part of the story that won’t ever be recovered).
In Madrid’s subway stations (supposing it was Madrid, which I’m not sure) there are no counter clerks anymore, but this particular entrance (this entrance of my dream) had two old-fashioned booths: they were at ground level, placed before the flight of stairs that lead to the platforms; upstairs, not down, like some stations in the Kiev underground. To one of the booths there was no queue, so I headed that one; but above its window there hung an absurd LED-lamp, switched off, like a motorcycle’s tail light, under which the clerck was frowning at me in an unfriendly way, as if to say: “if you come over here, I’ll switch on the red LEDs”. I thought, then, that if I disobeyed those eyes’ silent order, I’d end up waiting longer; same as it usually happens to me at the cashiers in the supermarkets, where I always head for the shortest queue, which turns out being the slowest. Therefore, I chose the other booth, which was busier, but without the suspicious LED-pilot and with a friendlier-looking clerk.
After queuing for a short while, I was sold a ticket that rather resembled a cinema’s than a subway’s: it was not the usual elongated piece of cardboard, but consisted of two detachable paper halves. Indeed, past the booths and before the turnstiles, there was a ticket collector like in the cinemas; more precisely, a “collectress”: a young woman, who, upon seeing me, smiled as if she knew me, and said: “hurry up, don’t you miss the train entering right now”.
Caught up as I was in the hush of the metropolis, swept along by the passengers, I barely had time to nod her thankyou, and, unfamiliar with those particular turnstiles, I didn’t even manage to validate my ticket, both whose halves, untorn in my hand, I stared at in puzzlement while being dragged up the stairs by the human stream.
But then, I did something quite unusual. It was unusual not in the usual way for dreams to deploy unusual events, Continue reading “Towards the twilight”