My Pulitzer Prize

I published an article on Huffington Post on January 1st 2014 called Thank You Romania and it went viral. Over 11,000 people liked it on Facebook and everyone I met in Romania seemed to have seen it. Apparently it was just what was needed in Romania – a positive article to balance all the scaremongering by the British tabloids about the „Romanian immigrant invasion’. By now, almost two months later, everyone knows that story is a joke but for Romanians a bitter taste remains; it’s hard for them to accept that they’re disliked – even hated – in the UK.

When Formula AS, a leading Romanian weekly newspaper, asked me to do an interview based on my brief analysis of the British tabloids in my Thank You Romania, I jumped at the chance. Continue reading

Happy New 2014

It’s New Year’s Day in Scotland and, of course, it’s raining. I am waiting for my brother and his friends to turn up and then we’ll eat a lunch of grouse, bread sauce and roast potatoes and then – hopefully – see the old French comedy Les Visiteurs.

I’m rather ashamed of myself for not writing for this blog for so long. I have lots of excuses but I’m not going to bore you with them , instead I will add to my list of New Year’s Resolutions with this one: in 2014 I will write for my blog more. Continue reading

Very Simple & Incredibly Complicated

We recently celebrated the launch of Castle Craig’s new Romanian website by having dinner at a fish restaurant in Bucharest called Happy Fish. I had the dorada. Continue reading

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Greatest Event of the Twentieth Century

Although I have never been a member of an Alcoholics Anonymous group, I have participated in a few “open meetings” (where non-members can attend) and each one has been inspiring in its own way. The best one was held in a park in Cluj — the meeting room was closed — where six of us sat on old tin cans and bits of wood and shared our stories from that week.  There was a great feeling of camaraderie (or community) among them. Continue reading

Should Cannabis be Legalised?

In case you missed this article in Huffington Post, where it caused a storm of negative comments (127 at the last count), I am also publishing it here. I would be REALLY interested to know what your views are — please leave a comment below.  The article was also published on the Hotnews blog called Contributors, where a lot of comments were also written, but these comments are more interesting and individualistic than the ones on HuffPost, presumably because there’s no pro-cannabis lobby in Romania telling people how to react to articles they don’t like.

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Death and Art

I recently wrote a Tweet — one of those little phrases on Twitter — which I thought was rather clever:  “Don’t read a book. Read an author”.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a flood of emails congratulating me on my wisdom or asking what I meant.  As with most tweets, I got no reaction, which begs the question “What’s Twitter for?”, a question I tried to answer in this article some time ago. Continue reading

Eugen David vs Goliath

Romanian villagers face down Canadian mining corporation over cyanide lake.

A small charity has succeeded in blocking a multi-billion dollar Canadian gold-mining operation in the Romanian village of Rosia Montana. Romania’s new Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, has promised a “transparent” investigation into the controversial project “so that permitting decisions take into account the national interest, environmental protection and European legislation.” This could set the project back by at least five years. Continue reading

Mega Image Take Over Bucharest

This article also appeared in Romanian on www.121.ro.

My son Luca is nine years old and he’s obsessed by the supermarket chain Mega Image. If you ask him “What would you like to do today?” his face lights up and he says the same thing, time and time again: “Go to Mega Image!”.

When we get to one of the outlets of the rapidly expanding chain of small supermarkets that are dotted around Bucharest, Luca gets to work: he patiently waits by a check-out counter until there is a pause between customers and then he asks innocently “do you have any cards that the other customers don’t want?” They are unable to refuse his charms. Continue reading

Abolish The Ministry of Tourism

This article also appeared in Romanian on the Contributors section of Hotnews.

When I published my first article in the Huffington Post I was greeted by over 100 negative comments, all from people who passionately believe that cannabis should be legalised (my crime was to suggest that cannabis can cause psychosis).  Most comments on most articles in most news-sites seem to be negative and there is a phenomenon in UK (I’m not sure if it has reached Romania yet) called “trolling” whereby a group of like minded people, or “trolls”, bombard individual articles with negative comment, creating the impression that the people are against the point made by the journalist. It is a form of PR. Continue reading

Prince Charles of Romania

You can also read this article in Romanian, on the Contributors section of Hotnews. I don’t have a TV as I can’t stand the sensationalist nonsense pumped out by ProTV or the endless “analysis” the 24 hour news channels inflict on the public every evening.  But when something interesting does actually happen you get to hear about it (I was in a Romanian village in the early 1990s when a peasant told me the American’s were bombing Iraq. “Nonsense” I replied. But he was right, he’d seen it on his ancient black and white TV). Continue reading