Somerset Singers Sing their way into Italian Hearts
The thing about Community Choirs is they’re a great way to bring people together and break down cultural barriers. Even better probably than the football trips we do where players of different nations kick seven shades of crap out of each other on the playing field or the rock tours where junior would-be-rock stars trash foreign bedrooms and each other. So we’ve done two choir trips this month –one to the South of France and now this one to Italy – and, unless I missed it, no-one trashed anybody.
It's October, it's La Ciotat and it's still summer. Hura pour Le Jumelage!
Bridgwater is incredibly fortunate to be twinned with the French Mediterranean town of La Ciotat. Apart from both once having a bit of industry there’s not a right lot in common. However, this ‘jumelage’ has been in existence since 1957 so look ye not gift horses in mouths.
Bridgwater and Priverno well on the way to a Full Twinning as Mayor drops in
Bridgwater’s link with Priverno is going from strength to strength and this week it was the turn of Mayor Steve Austen to pay his first visit to the hilltop Italian town with a small delegation to see what projects we could bring about for the benefit of both communities.
Hungary, Football and Goulash - so near and yet so far
Neville Chamberlain once described Czechoslovakia as a far away country of which we know little. Well Hungary is a bit further on still, cross the Danube and then take a hard step to the right. Hungary’s political solutions are all somewhere in the past. The Fidesz Government of Viktor Orban is blindly chasing some Thatcherite vision of unbridled capitalism as the country teeters on the brink of becoming another Greece and the second largest party Jobbik are an unlovable bunch of uniformed Empire revivalists whose symbol is a map of Hungary expanded to include chunks of neighbouring countries. And of course there’s elections coming up.
On the Trail of the EU Grant
This year we had a shake up of Twinning in Bridgwater. We agreed that we have 6 twin towns. 4 official ones and 2 that we’re working on. We decided to target the EU and it’s attractive funding and training packages and to do this in co-operation with our key partners around Europe by identifying projects and people who would benefit from them.
If it's June it must be another cultural-awareness-raising-English-language-practising-on-tour-residential
In 1992 Bridgwater twinned with Uherske Hradiste…but it was a close run thing as at the same town the South Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice also made a similar request. That’s how popular we were. We had of course already committed to UH so on June 18th that year we became the first British Czech post velvet revolution twinning. But that didn’t stop the boys and girls from Budvar keeping up their Bridgy link. Every year since then they’ve sent over their students on tour programmes which we’ve called ‘Practice your English in England’. The main conspirator in all this is English teacher and anglophile Eva Kordova and this year naturally they came again.
Clarinets, Klezmer, Cider and Cheese as Czechs and Italians Choose Continental Co-operation
It was a funny time to visit Britain. Everywhere you looked a party calling itself the ‘UK Independence Party’ had put up posters vilifying foreigners for ‘coming over here’, claiming Rumanians were largely criminals and suggesting the ferries, flights and foot passages were full of foreign benefit scroungers. You’d be forgiven for thinking foreigners might feel a little unwelcome, that ‘little Englander’ was a badge of honour and that Europe had some ancient Britanosaurus around it’s neck.