A Reply to Nicholas

Dear Nicholas,

I had not heard from you for a while and in fact my dear Irisha said, “You really must write to Nicholas!” Then your splendid letter arrived on Friday, brightening up what would otherwise have been a rather gloomy day!

Peter Adams, blog photographer
That young Adams fellow seems to be suffering from a severe attack of Labor Scholasticus, a most serious disease that poor and unfortunate prep school masters are prone to get, from time to time. Fortunately, it is not contagious!

Well, my dear chap, it was excellent to read about your musical migrations. Yes, I am indeed planning to invite you to come to Bulgaria again, if you do feel up to the challenge. Flying from the UK to Bulgaria is not really any more difficult that getting from the depths of Cornwall to Canterbury! In fact, it might even be cheaper, as there are heaps of bargain flights to Sofia.

Zlatka and Irena, at the garden fence
However, it is difficult to think about inviting people to Kalotina because there are going to be a lot of things that need to be done over the summer, in order to prepare for the Bulgarian winter. Okay, it is quite short, but winters in Bulgaria can be seriously and severely snowy. The delightful Zlatka, our next-door neighbor, informed us that a year or two ago there was one metre of snow in Kalotina. When I was teaching at the British School in Bucharest, we went to Kalotina for Christmas and at night the temperature got down to minus 25C! Not surprisingly, our pipes froze and we had no water for the rest of the holiday. Well, we hope that we will not have any more difficulties with frozen pipes because we have had a thick layer of insulation added to the external walls.

Yevgenny, Irisha, Mamulichka and Zlatka (left to right)
My in-laws are getting a bit ancient, so Irena wants me to come with her to the Crimea this summer. I am not even sure whether this will in fact be possible, as relations between the UK and Russia are not too good at the moment. It is not easy to get a Russian visa if you have a British passport and it certainly is not cheap! Flights are also a headache because you have to go through Moscow. We used to be able to fly from Sofia to Istanbul and then to Simferopol in the Crimea, but Turkish Airlines no longer fly that route. Bother!

At the moment we are doing something ghastly called CIS Accreditation. This is supposed to stand for “Council of International Schools” and accreditation is a bit like the dreaded OFSTED. (As you probably know, OFSTED stands for Overpaid F*****s Shafting Teachers Every Day.) Actually, I think that CIS stands for “Completely Irrelevant Silliness” or maybe “Clever International Swindle”. It really is a load of old tommyrot. As well as CIS meetings, we now have meetings about CIS, meetings for CIS and extra CIS meetings. Yes, I have had to leave my class with my assistant, instead of taking them for a lesson, and go to a silly meeting instead. You think that you are going to have a “free” lesson, so you can do some marking, but guess what? You discover that you have got yet another meeting. (My dear chap, I really do need to retire!)

Brexit. This dreadful wrangling never seems to end and how much is it all going to cost? As for Northern Ireland and the Republic, how can you have a border that is not a border? Teresa May’s majority is pretty thin and she relies on the Unionists to prop up her government. I think that anything that is acceptable to the Irish Republic and / or Brussels probably will be vetoed by the Unionists! Then there is the slump in the value of the pound against the euro and the dollar, which is going to lead to a lot of inflation in the UK. House prices in and around London were already absurdly high, but foreigners have seen prices go down (if you have dollars or euros) while the locals just cannot afford to live anywhere near the capital.

The big piece of news is that I have started to write a blog. Just in case you do not know what that is, Nicholas you old technophobe, a blog is a sort of online diary. In some ways it is a bit like writing a column for a newspaper, only it is on the Internet and not in print. My blog has now been going on for three weeks and I have had more than 3,000 “hits”. It also features some excellent photos by our young friend, Peter Adams!

Another little problem we are going to have will be shifting all of our bits and pieces from China to BG. That is not going to be cheap, I think.

Best wishes from the Middle Kingdom,



Simon




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