Television here is an interesting experience. We have about 4 Hungarian language channels (including “Minimax” the Hungarian cartoon channel, which if Bogi had her way would be on al day long – and as I write is one right now, showing Dr Bubo, a cartoon about an owl who is a Dr.). The majority of the rest are Romanian – including one which shows subtitled soap operas all day long – American in the day, Brazilian in the evening. There are the standard international cable offerings like MTV and Eurosport – both in Romanian, but understandable to the likes of me because of the limited nature of their content. We have two English language channels. Euronews and Animal Planet. The latter is seemingly 24 hour a day programming about Australians capturing snakes and crocodiles. I am not sure quite why anyone would want to watch more than one of these programmes, but presumably they do. The former, Euronews, is a strange one. I am not sure if you’ve ever seen it, but it seems to be a round the clock ad for the European Union with some news thrown in. Each half an hour begins with 10-15 minutes of news, followed by 5 minutes of sport, 10 minutes of something called “le mag” in whi9ch arts and culture are covered, and finishing up with a two minute slot called “no comment” in which pictures from one of the days news stories are shown without any form of commentary, and the weather, in which the entirety of Europe is covered in about 2minutes. And then it all repeats again. It’s bloody awful. I’d actually rather have CNN, and that’s saying something. The best bit is the no comment section when you don’t need to listen to the inane simplified “newsround” style “Japan is a country in East Asia and Oil is black stuff that comes out of the ground and is very important for modern life” interventions of the newsreaders. It’s also depressingly pro-Israel (or at least anit-Palestinian) for some reason. No idea who owns it.
Romanian TV looks very much like the standard southern European fare. Copious amounts of football (after the US, this a great feature), and lots of variety shows in which scantily clad women dance around suggestively and to no apparent purpose as redoubtable post-communist women sing songs from the old country. There are lots of cheap C-movies bought from the US and shown mostly with subtitles but occasionally with dubbing. One channel seems to take such crap US films, dub them into Hungarian and then subtitle them in Romanian. I can’t watch it for fear of upsetting the fragile balance between languages barely holding on inside my addled brain.
So for English language stimulation I have the choices of “the news for simpletons”, “Bruce the snake hunter”, sub Blue-Lagoon 2 movies, and MTV. There is a certain amount of stimulation in watching Kelis sing “trick me once, won’t let you trick me twice”, but it’s not exactly an intellectual stimulation.
In Bucharest airport I have come across an English language newspaper called “The Bucharest Daily News”. It’s fascinating. Fascinatingly bad. It makes Euronews look like it is presented by Umberto Eco. It’s not clear who it is aimed at to be honest. Any native English speaker would have their brains instantly turned into polenta (Romania’s national food – appetisingly translated on one menu I saw as “corn mush”). While any Romanian who wanted to learn about life in his or her own country would only subject himself to this lightweight pap as a method of practising their English. So I have to assume that it’s for the non-English speaking expat community of Bucharest – those who don’t speak Romanian, but who speak some English. But they do cover an inordinate amount of news and sport from the UK (though the focus is primarily Romania), so I can only conclude that either the British expat community of Bucharest is either exceptionally stupid or willing to be patronised beyond any normal level.
Another paper I have seen at the airport is “Gardianul” which appears to be an exact copy of the “The Guradian” in the UK – down to the fonts, the style, the banners, the fowm, everything. It is either a Romanian language version of the original Guardian or such a blatant and extreme rip-off as to be comical.
I am anxious to get a reasonable and failry constant internet connection so that I can actually follow world events
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