Brick Lane on a Sunday in August 2014. Personal archive
Much ink has been used on the topic of how the East End is now compared to the good ol’ days.
Of all the well-documented waves of immigrants that came here, Eastern Europeans like me are the newest. I was broke and friendless, having just been kicked out of a shared house in Stratford in February 2012 when a an old Bengali man gave me a room. Jakir, Hussain and other Bengalis from the neighbourhood often gave me work helping with their businesses when I found myself down and out. None of them ever complained about gentrification – on the contrary, they are better off for it. The value of their houses went up, the wealth of their customers as well, and E1, E2 and E3 became fashionable postcodes.
Before spending eight months as a night-shift delivery driver for a posh deli called Benugo, I distributed flyers advertising the Silent Secret app to children in Barking, East London, for a few hours in December 2014 as a means to some quick spare cash.
A few months after it was done, the creator of this app approached me to write him an article puffing his brainchild in one of the magazines I contribute to. This is how I got this story. Obligingly, I wrote an item and managed to sell it to a magazine like he asked.
Well, the magazine and the article weren’t quite like he asked. Private Eye kindly published the article in July, and I suspect the manager of the app now regrets calling me. If he hadn’t I wouldn’t have looked closely into what exactly his company does.
Now I’m glad I distributed those flyers, otherwise I’d never have known about this mess of an app.
While obviously not silent since it explicitly urges vulnerable children to “speak out”, the app turns out be not exactly secret either, since it does a poor job at preserving the anonymity of its contributors. The big question is why the Government put £157.9K of taxpayer money into it.
Here’s the Eye:
-all pictures mine (full copy rights etc)
Celebrated the week after Easter, Gentles’ Easter is widely considered the most important holiday of the year by many Moldovans. This year it fell on the 19th and 20th of April, when cemeteries in all the towns, cities and villages of Moldova are coming alive with people laying tables and spending a full day with the family and the community eating and drinking among the graves.
– Fluke Mafaldo
[cut up by D.C.H.P; from the deep drawer]
Before I had a chance
To know more, night left.
A mistake of madness
And long lost thought.
I simply got bored
Looking at time looming in.
Do you mind being strange?
So painfully sensitive?
Conscious of people.
Aware of chaos,
The universe looks
Words find me.
… to bring up issues I think have been as yet overlooked in the campaign leading up to the UK general elections. I have no idea whether the questions will be considered – I made them out in writing and the BBC said they should be in cute, video selfie format, which I don’t do.
Journalism is proving a harder addiction to shake off than I previously imagined.
I digress. Here they are, in case anyone’s wondering what a Romanian immigrant with no right to vote believes are important political issues:
The BBC is public sector, right? Original photo from Tony Harrison, via Flickr (creative commons). Cartoon by Matei Rosca
The dullard, out-of-touch communists from the BBC have saved my boss and most of my colleagues from an ass-whooping to end all whoopings today. But not for long, I suspect. There is something boiling in us all, just under the surface, and nobody will be able to hold us back much longer.
I was ready to go in tomorrow and unleash some country gumption on the snotty bastards back at the company where I work, in order to get a promotion. Now I can’t for lack of precedent.
I wish the BBC didn’t fire Clarkson. More, I wish there was widespread workplace violence across the board. A new dawn in labour dynamics. A new HR ethic, fit for the 21st Century.
Posted in Prose
Tagged bbc, bbc 2, bbc two, bbc2, bring back clarkson, bring back jeremy clarkson, british broadcasting corporation, cartoon, communism, communists, jeremy clarkson, jeremy clarkson fired, jeremy clarkson sacked, top gear
Some more material and a few shreds of thought on the story and the hacker himself…
The other day Pando.com of San Francisco published my big feature on the Romanian hacker Guccifer, real name Marcel Lazar-Lehel. He is a fascinating character and a totally atypical hacker. This was a wonderful assignment. People seem to have liked it too, as it held the front page of the US edition of the Huffington Post for two days.
He hacked politicians and military brass, bureaucrats and executives, spies and diplomats, rich and powerful, actresses, footballers, singers – and sometimes their families and friends. In a twisted and inconsistent way he sought poetic justice against the NSA policies of mass surveillance, becoming a “vigilante of the Internet,” as his prosecutor Viorel Badea called him.
Anastasia Ciupac and I took these pictures of the penitentiary and of the village of Sambateni (see below). I think they evoke the hacker’s hopeless condition, his superstitions, and his misguided ambition to overcome his rural surroundings. Both his wife and him are spiritual but not necessarily in a Christian way. Many people from these parts hold faith in witchcraft, scarcely-defined divinity, astrology, the magic power of priests and combined forms of supernatural, mythology and folklore.
The 2014 presidential elections were a pyrrhic victory for Western values in post-Communist Romania.
Note: a Romanian language version of this article was published by Gazeta de Romania, a London-based newspaper for Romanian expats. Read it here.
Thousands of Romanians living abroad have been disenfranchised in the presidential elections in which the prime minister and candidate Victor Ponta first came in on a ten percent lead from the runner-up, Klaus Iohannis, who won by about the same margin after two rounds, meaning Ponta lost over twenty percent of the voting population in two weeks. Here’s what happened:
Posted in Journalism, Prose
Tagged klaus iohannis, monica macovei, romania, romanian community in london, romanian cultural centre, romanian diaspora, romanian politics, romanian presidential election, romanians in england, romanians in london, romanians in the uk, victor ponta