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.
Italian Twinning Backed by new Mayor as Bridgwater College students visit Priverno
February 2014 and Sedgemoor's floods are global news. Sitting on the plane heading from Bristol to Rome I spotted a copy of my neighbours 'Daily Mail'."Any news about the flooding?" I asked."Only more nonsense from that idiot MP" said the lady from Cheltenham. So Bridgwater was making it's mark again - well done Mr Liddell-Grainger. Not.
EASTOVER 'AKROPOLIS' PROJECT
Our second major EU funded project of the year saw 13 Family Centre and related workers from our Czech twin town Uherske Hradiste and it's environs spend 2 weeks in Bridgwater to study social inclusion in the Eastover ward. Well, some of them spent a bit of that time in Worcester studying the Snoezelen project, but they were all here for carnival.