Thursday, April 29, 2010

History Today #2

My previous efforts to solve The Transylvanian Problem set a ball of historical reassessment rolling - in my own head, anyway - and I fully intend to further pursue my investigations. However, there’s just a chance, though it may be a long shot, that we don’t have to rake up the past and thereby get on everybody’s tits. Maybe we can convince both sides that it simply doesn’t matter!* The only way to do this is trivialisation, and there’s nothing more trivial than a TV game-show, surely; so I hereby summon game-show king Mr Bruce Forsythe:

Brucie: Nice to see you; to see you...

Assembled Masses of Romanians and Hungarians (in unison): Nice!!

Brucie: Welcome to the Transylvanian Generation Game, where we try to stop generations upon generations of Romanians and Hungarians continuing to hate and/or distrust each other. Now, here we have Nicolae Ceauşescu who works as a dictator and who instigated a programme of systematically oppressing Hungarian culture and sometimes beating people up simply for speaking Hungarian. And he’s accompanied by his lovely wife – come over here my love, over here – Elena Ceauşescu, a semi-literate peasant woman who nevertheless required that she be revered as a major international scientist - didn’t she do well!

Assembled Masses of Romanians and Hungarians (in unison, and with %100 irony): Hurray!!

Brucie: And their opponents today are Miklós Horthy who works as Regent of Hungary - but he’s only got his hands on (emphasising the word and giving a meaningful look to the camera) the rump of Hungary these days.

AMoRaH (in unison, not understanding if that was a joke but suspecting it probably was): Ha ha ha!!

Brucie: And with him today is his lovely great-great-aunt twice-removed, Countess Erzsébet Báthory**. And it says here that – give us a twirl, my love, give us a twirl - you work as possibly the world’s most prolific female serial killer.

AMoRaH (in unison, despite themselves): Hurray!!

Brucie: The first game today is an easy one to get you started and it’s called “What to do with The Jews”. Miklós, when you came to power in 1920 you introduced laws severely restricting education opportunities for Jews and presided over a two-year period known as The White Terror when thousands of Jews and Socialists were massacred and sadistically tortured – do you think you can win this game?

Horthy Miklós: An iron broom alone could sweep the country clean.

Brucie: Nicolae, you sold Jews to Israel for a good price and invoked the fascist rhetoric of earlier Romanian leaders whenever you saw advantage in it – how do you rate your chances?

Nicolae Ceauşescu: We’ve made good money this way, but... (grinning) ...maybe I steal his broom later if I need it!

AMoRaH (slapping each other on the back and falling about in hysterics): Hurray!! Ha ha ha ha ha!!

Brucie: The next game is called “Who Should Run Transylvania”. Nicolae?

Nicolae Ceauşescu: (shrugging his shoulders) You know, there are more, errr, “business” opportunities for me in Bucharest, and every time I come to Transylvania everybody is so stuck-up I think I must have fall asleep in train and arrive in Austria!

AMoRaH (in unison, practically wetting themselves): Ha ha ha ha ha!!

Brucie: Miklós, how about you?

Horthy Miklós (pausing.... it’s a tense moment): You know, Transylvanian peasants both Romanian and Hungarian rose up against our rule, the Germans we installed there eventually betrayed us, and we even had to fight our brother Magyars the Székely on occasions. Hmph..... I don’t want it either!

A voice from the audience (actually Zsa Zsa Gabor, for it is she): Hey, Brucie, why don’t YOU be King of Transylvania? Would you need a queen??

Brucie (giving a look to the camera): Dthuthvugthrvth***

Another voice from the audience (Ilie Năstase, this time): And bring your former-Miss-World ex-wives with you – I find work for them!

AMoRaH (in unison... several vigorous, miscegenationist relationships having already started up on the back row seats): Ha ha ha ha ha!! Hurray!!

Brucie: Good game good game! (looking at camera) It looks like I’M the contestant for the conveyor belt round, then. After I’ve seen all the wonderful things on it, all I have to do is remember what they were. I get to keep every one I remember and lose the others. Ready? Ready.

The Lovely Anthea: On the conveyor belt today we have Transylvania, human rights, historical objectivity, political accountability, harmonious multiculturalism, cuddly toy.......

* Though it does, of course. Communist-era thinking is still in evidence and should be undone. I’m hoping that (ethnic Hungarian) László Tőkés, catalyst of the 1989 revolution and now well-placed as an independent member of the European Parliament, will lobby successfully in this vein.

** This is not really fair: she’s not exactly relevant to the discussion here, having carried out her activities in today’s Slovakia, between the years 1585 and 1610, and being a psychopathic freak that any society might throw up; but for some she epitomises, surely unfairly albeit colourfully, the dissociation from ordinary humanity claimed to be in evidence in the attitudes of the Hungarian aristocracy. And I needed a female.

*** That noise Brucie makes when he’s dithering.


Lulu LaBonne said...

that was like a surreal dream - a warped version of Saturdays watching telly with my parents.

I liked the master classes: how to make a tree out of newspaper - fab

worm said...

Brucie: Nice to see you; to see you...

Assembled Masses of Romanians and Hungarians (in unison): Frumut!!

Hmm..doesn't quite have the same ring to it...

Do any of the winners get a matching his and hers monogrammed towelling set?

Pat said...

You certainly know your Brucie as do I but the nasty under belly I'm not very familiar with so feel a little out of my depth. I think satire is a very effective way of dealing with horrors.

zmkc said...

You are clearly a top-class optimist.
(And anyway what will everyone do, should you ever solve the problem - they will be bored witless, without a central preoccupation gnawing at them night and day.)

Gaw said...

Blimey, talk about making history accessible. I'd be careful or the BBC might be giving you a call about the potential for that particular format...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Lulu, yes I supposed it might seem a bit warped - always a danger when one wants to make some serious points but be vaguely entertaining at the same time.

worm, I can't find 'frumut' in any Romanian- or Hungarian-English online dictionary - I hope it doesn't mean something insurrectionary! Yes, and matching his and hers monogrammed luggage.

Pat, Bruce is a national treasure, and a good deal funnier than the subject matter I've tried to reference here. Satire is indeed a good survival mechanism.

zmkc, either a top-class optimist or a very very silly boy. Indeed, and they'll have no option but to enjoy themselves - if only it were that simple :-)

Gaw, you can be my agent if you like! I've always thought that that Michael Wood's "In Search of..." programmes would have been better done in the manner of Cilla Black's "Blind Date".

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Most amusing, Gadj! It would take Anne Robinson to sort out the Belgians. They've been temporarily united in their common dislike of Moslems in a symbolic banning of the the burka - with no government in charge!

Eryl Shields said...

I have no idea what you are going on about, but please can I wear a silver bikini for the next show?

Samus said...

There is a joke here about Michael the Brave (killed by general Giorgio Basta, Albanian ethnic :) ) at the command of the Austrian monarchy in 1601.

Two peasants, old neighbors and friends George(Romanian-Gheroghe) and John(Hungarian-Janos) casually meet and a short conversation takes place:

John: How are you George?
George: I'm very angry and I'm contemplating about killing you!
John: Why would you want to do such a thing and why me, we are friends since forever!
George: You Hungarians killed Michael the Brave!
John: But George that was 400 years ago!
George: Well, that may be but I just heard about it!

I'm curious if the humor is still there after my rough translation and without knowing the local social & political background?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Daph, thanks, I needed a liyttle reasurance htat it was amusing and not just weird :-) Exactly, one can bring people together by reminding them of something they hate/distrust than each other. But banning the burka.... maybe they should have also banned Brucie's wig.

Eryl, did you never see The Generation Game with Bruce Forsythe? Are you from Britain?? Were you in cryogenic storage during the 1970s??? ;-)

Samus, I was hoping that you'd visit, and please don't hestitate to get annoyed with me and tell your view if you think I'm misjudging things! Yes, the joke does work :-) Though if one hasn't lived in Eastern Europe and experienced the misrepresentation of history at first hand, then I don't know if one can appreciate it fully ;-)

Samus said...

It's OK to joke about these things, we both Romanians and Hungarians do it all the time just that, my humble thought, the characters you chose are too "contemporary" with us.
There are many people alive who's lives were a never ending nightmare because of people like Ceausescu or Horty.

P.S. After reading your article I've got the impression that you mention Horty just to somehow balance the reference about Ceausescu.
Please watch this YT documentary if you have the time (vF9NprhgSkg, this is part 1/5).

Kevin Musgrove said...

It's the lovely Anthea. Give us a twirl dear. Very nice, now the other one.

Good game, good game, let's have a look at the old scoreboard...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Samus, do you mean the URL ''? It says 'Not Found' when I try it. Please send me a full URL that works for you. Yes, I do realise that for some people it was a nightmare living under those regimes, but I wanted to tell my readers - who probably won't know too much about it - some basic facts, and it seemed better to start with immediate ones rather than things that happened many centuriess ago (bad and wrong things happened many centuries ago in all parts of the world). I apologise if I offend anybody. It's very good that we can joke: I don't know what your ethnicity is or where you are from, but you seem to have a very healhty and balanced attitude to these matters.

Kevin: "you get nothing for a pair if this game.... or so they say!"

Gadjo Dilo said...

Samus, p.s., I wanted to give readers a flavour of the Romanian resentment about what they see as "Hungarian chauvinism"; yes, it didn't have to be Horthy - I could have referenced one of the 19th Century Hungarian politicians who were intent on denying other ethnicities the rights to their cultures within the borders of the Empire. Though Ceasescu's crimes do tend to look worse as they are more recent.

It occurs to me that nothing about this post was funny for you if you have never seen the UK television programme The Generation Game!

Anonymous said...


Gadjo Dilo said...

倫惟, too right, mate.

No Good Boyo said...

My chum Filthy McMillen once suggested that Transylvania ought to declare itself an independent vampire state, and that's the best idea I've heard on the subject.

The Romanians can then concentrate on getting the idiot cousins in Moldova back on board the national hay cart and Hungary can remind Serbia that, no, Kosovo is not the end of their problems.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Boyo, this Filthy McMillen clearly knows his onions. All we then need is a particularly menacing close-up of Bela Lugosi in the centre of the Transylvanian flag and a Latin motto which translates as something like "Vampires Is Us". We'll co-opt our Moldovan brethren to do all the hard work in the new state, and demand protection money from Serbia, Slovakia and Hollywood California for keeping our Magyar hoards within our borders.

Nikos said...

O Kirios Dilo,
I applauded particularly hard at the bit about stuck up Austrians, as Mrs Nikos has just escaped from a labour camp there having fallen foul of. inter alia, a nasty dose of campylobacter jejuni, male bigotry, nazi denial etc etc.

Good game - we actually joined in at home!