This month marks 30 years since the end of Communist rule in Europe. Berlin Wall, that unmistakable symbol of the East/West divide, fell on the 9th November 1989. While scrolling on Twitter on the day of the anniversary, I came across this article by Ken Sweeney, where he calls Trabant cars “chariots of freedom”. What has a car got to do with the collapse of autocratic regime?
Well this. Trabants were manufactured in East Germany; I remember there were plenty of them in former Czechoslovakia. They were quite awful, a subject of ridicule and to this day bring back memories of those times. But, as Ken notes, they were also the vehicles that transported people from East Germany through the newly open border to the West. Thus, chariots of freedom.
Surprisingly, I happen to have some pics of them too.
This is from 2013 when I was visiting my family back home. Taken on a motorway, obviously, near or just out of Bratislava. Brother and me went on a short trip when we spotted it in front of us. Of course I had to take a pic. Looks like someone is a fan!
I never take pictures of cars, I never learnt to drive and I’m not interested in them but I never miss an opportunity for a good random or weird shot. Even long before I conceived the idea of Random and Weird Phone Shots.
There is also a model of Trabant displayed in Imperial War Museum in Salford Quays.
I just love how something so awful can decades later be thought of in any positive terms at all. I like a good redemption story.
They say a car needs to get you from A to B. For East Germans, that A and B were more than just places on a map.
I’ve not done one of these for a while; material for RAWPS is just not something you can force. Even today’s instalment is not the usual thing I post for my pics of randomness or weirdness–too permanent–but I thought since I don’t live in London, it will do alright.
I was passing through Albert Square one day when I spotted these on the steps of the statue of Prince Albert.
Of course, a pair of shoes lying about is probably not such a phenomenon. Like, people may get drunk and lose their shoes (or at least I think they do, I wouldn’t know, I don’t drink but Ed Sheeran mentions it in one of his songs and that’s as good an authority as any) but notice how neatly they have been laid there on the step. You may have heard of the famous six-word story that goes: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. Attributed to Hemingway, but this is disputed. So, what if you did a similar thing based on this photo?
Election of the Members of the EU parliament, that is!
And this time around, I AM allowed to vote–and sure as hell I AM voting!
You may be astonished, shocked even. Are you telling me that EU is actually not unelected? Are you telling me I can vote for MEPs?
Why yes. How else do you think that horrible nicotine-riddled repulsive frog-face that shouts so much and whose initials are the same as National Front got that job? (I am not typing his name here because I refuse to soil my blog with it–not because he’s Voldemort. He wishes he was Voldemort, but he’s more like Uncle Vernon.) He also passionately loves that job, because why else would he lead such a loud campaign for his new party? Because he wants to get elected again so that he can still have the said job.
But forget about ugly fascists, that’s not why I’m here, I’m here to tell you to GO AND VOTE. If you don’t want Brexit, vote for a Remain party. (This would be Greens or Lib Dems in England.)
Something else I want to say now.
As I say in the linked post, I am–as an EU citizen–allowed to vote in local elections but not in general elections or referendums (yeah, that one that affects my life most, isn’t democracy great?) I am also allowed to vote in EU Parliament elections–but this was not so straight forward.
The way it works in UK is: you register to vote at your local electoral office. Every time you move house, you should do this, so that your address is up to date (also it helps with getting credit). Before an election takes place, you will receive a poll card, like the one on my picture. You don’t need to take this with you to vote, it’s just for information. Now, like lots of people, I never paid attention to any EU elections before 2016. I didn’t even know when they took place and were not on my radar. I was under the impression that I couldn’t vote in those either, because of something someone told me (someone who was either lying or didn’t know). I only found out I could because now I’m connected with other EU citizens in UK and activists through social media. And wouldn’t be connected to them if it wasn’t for Brexit, so ironically, it was Brexit that made me learn about my right to vote in EU parliament elections.
Why was it not so straight-forward, though? Well, because I had to register for EU Parliament elections separately from the usual register. Someone I follow on Twitter, a fellow EU citizen, tweeted a link to the necessary form. So I printed the form, filled it in and posted it to the electoral office. A few days later I received the form back, not the one I sent but a new one, same but with my details filled in by computer and with a barcode at the bottom. So I sighed, filled the fields I needed to fill in, signed it again and personally dropped it at the council offices in their mailbox, while out on a lunch break. I heard nothing from them. In the meantime, poll cards arrived for the other tenants in this house (I live in a house converted to flats with shared letterbox) but not for me (don’t you just love being excluded?) I felt so stressed about it that I rang the electoral office and they confirmed I was indeed registered. I was so relieved.
And my poll card eventually came.
The reason I write all of this is: why does it take grassroots activists for me to find out about my right? Why was I not informed about this?
And it’s not just me, I know the other EU citizens also didn’t know. Luckily groups like The3Million have been doing a great job raising awareness to get everyone registered. But it’s not their job to do so. The councils know if you’re an EU citizen. They know it well enough not to let you vote in general elections and referendums that may ruin your life. So they should know it well enough to inform you in time that you need to register separately for EU elections. The issue is not that there is a separate form for a separate register. I don’t mind filling in another form to get what I need. The issue is that we were never told about it.
Why is there a separate register for EU citizens to vote in EU Parliament elections? If I’m not mistaken it’s because the form is also a declaration that you are not also registered in another EU country, so you won’t vote twice, in two different countries. If you’re an EU citizen living in UK, you can vote either in your home country, or in UK, but not both. I get that.
Of course we don’t do that. That’s cheating and we don’t do cheating because that’s what bad guys do and we’re not bad guys, we’re good guys. For me it makes sense on every level to vote for UK MEPs. Like, I left Slovakia before it even was an EU country, I don’t even know how it works there and what parties there are. I don’t follow Slovak politics. I know they recently elected a woman for a President but I already forgot her name. (BTW, Slovakia is a parliamentary democracy and the Prime Minister has bigger power than a President.) Point is, I want to vote for UK representatives.
How it should work, in my opinion is: electoral offices should send every EU citizen who is registered to vote a letter some time before EU Parliament elections, informing them that they are eligible to vote either in their home country or in UK, but not in both and that if they wish to vote in UK, to complete the enclosed form. Simple.
Last Friday (3rd May), Piccadilly Gardens, an area in Manchester city centre, got evacuated due to a suspicious package. The police and bomb disposal squad were called, did their thing, the device was not viable, nothing bad happened and the culprit was arrested. So what has this got to do with pigeons?
I went out on my lunch break to see what Piccadilly Gardens looked like when it was empty. It was empty of people, but not of all living creatures, as you can see on these shots.
This wasn’t more than half an hour after the evacuation. It’s amazing how fast they took over once people were gone. But that is more of a topic for my Gloomscapes series.
And because I have recently posted photographs of tickets and because I have done this last year with Black Panther and Avengers Infinity War.
Instagram story made from the phone shot of my cinema ticket.
I almost never do Instagram stories and it seems I don’t even know how to use majority of their features (I don’t how I managed to put multiple captions and tilt them like that last year) and to be honest, I could live without them. But that is another topic.
Much like Black Panther, Captain Marvel is groundbreaking. If you know that feeling of waking up satisfied after seeing a movie the previous night, you know how I felt waking up this morning after seeing Captain Marvel last night!
I bought some cheap pink flowers in Tesco the other day to put in a vase in my living room. Of course I would photograph them, though why I had to do so in the evening when the lighting was poor, I won’t ever know (when I bought the flowers, they were in buds). Maybe the universe wanted me to take these shots, because watch:
I was watching some Agatha Christie’s Poirot on ITV Hub (the online catch up service for the ITV channel), the ones starring David Suchet. As you can see:
The episode is Problem at Sea and the scenes captured are near the ending, just as Hercule Poirot is about to reveal the murderer. With help from a little girl’s doll, whose outline you can sort of make out on the bottom picture.