What I did on my holidays: a stability pact photo

OK, here’s a photo from my summer.


The car, in front of the modernist building, in the rather dilapidated car park, is an actual product of the DDR, a Wartburg, with Hungarian plates. Where are we, and why?

Obviously, we’re in Archway, N19, north London but not the cupcakey sort. The car park is next to the council gym where I work out – got that, assassins? – and the building is part of the Archway towers complex. By pure serendipity, it might also be the one that used to be Global Witness HQ, where I skulked in back in 2005 or thereabouts to borrow a copy of Alex Yearsley’s Dutch intelligence file on Viktor Bout, including the phone bills that went into this post and this one.

You’ll notice the lack of any jubilation around that Wartburg – if you look really closely you might also notice, like I did, signs that the driver might be living in the car. I’ve noticed, also, a few signs of a Hungarian community around there, like the Bulgarian one down the road where I live. But, eh, people living in Wartburgs. This wasn’t what we signed up for, was it?

At the same time, I was amazed just how often I met people rolling in 1980s kitsch in Berlin, which is about the last place where the 80s are worth romanticising. (There, and West Yorkshire.) You could stick a caricature together – 80s music and look, 60s architecture, with the politics of the 1990s. Everybody thinks it’s Ostalgie, but I suspect it’s really westalgie, and it’s pissing me off to have to look at the EU I spent so much time defending to people and (essentially) studying for a degree that was meant to make me an instant eurocrat, and see an institution more neoliberal than the US Democratic Party (and that’s saying something – but when did you last significantly expand the welfare state?).

There will be more of this. So you may wish to go and read the Viktor Bout posts.

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