Monday, December 06, 2004

Hungary and the referendum

It didn't pass. Only 37% of Hungarians bothered to vote on it which means that it didn't have a quorum. Of those who did vote yes beat no by about 51% to 49. While for Hungarian Hungarians (ie those who could vote on it) this was a fairly straightforward political/economic question, for those outside of Hungary (ie those who couldn't) it was much more of an emotional issue.

People here are very saddened by this result. Nobody I know wanted to move to Hungary, but they feel some deep rooted and historical connection to the country. Essentially this poll has been like being slapped in the face by the whole nation. Like having your parents turn their back on you and tell you they don't care what happens to you. It sounds like I'm being dramatic, but truly this is the way that it feels to people here. People have tears in their eyes when they talk about it this morning. It would have been better if this referendum hadn't happened in the first place.

Mind you, had I been a Hungarian citizen presented with this choice, I don't know how I'd have voted either. One side calling back memories of the past, the Hungarian Empire, the glory days of Magyardom, the kind of faux-nostalgic nationalism that I can't stand when British people come out with it. The other side arguing that "we'll be flooded with people, we can't take care of all of them, they'll take our jobs and our welfare and bankrupt the country" - an equally unappetising proposition, and equally despicable when little-englanders use it in horror in reference to asylum seekers and other immigrants. So, the choice facing Hungarian voters was pretty unappetising, and the resultant effect on Hungarian non-voters was pretty unpalatable. A disaster all round.

Oh, and the Mikulas I mentioned on Friday (note correct spelling) is the Hungarian equivalent of Father Christmas (St Nicholas). For whatever reason he shows up on December 5th, and puts things in shoes and boots rather than socks and stockings. Up until recently he left sweets and apples and fruit and nuts and things, but these days thanks to the rise of the glory that is capitalism he is expected to leave toys and games and rubbishy plastic tat.

Which brings me nicely onto ... Lego. What the hell happened to lego? When I was young it was little bricks from which you could build houses and stuff. It was durable and creative and constructive. Nowadays it's "bionicle" and "knight's kingdom" and stuff - weird alien monsters and baffling models of what medieval castles would have looked like if they'd been made of plastic and designed in Denmark. It costs a bloody fortune and all the bits are so specific that they're not really useful in creating other things from. In lego of old you could take your house apart and build a castle. You can't take your Takanuva* apart and build a fluffy bunny rabbit. It's rubbish. (*Takanuva is the name of one of the bionicle characters. No really, it is.)

I fear I may offically be old.

1 comment:

nojer said...

In retrospect, Lego probably started going downhill with the advent of Space Lego. I realise in saying this that I was a big exponent of Space Lego, but understand now that I may have somewhat inadvertantly helped pave the way for 'Harry Potter Lego' etc.

I do however maintain that 'in my day' Space Lego consisted largely of normal blocks with which you could make different spaceships/stations and that the advent of sounds and lights on Space Lego happened when I had moved away from Lego and onto decapitating Star Wars figures.

'Retro gaming' is all the rage now anyway. On the radio the other day they were even talking about 'Totopoly'! They were the days.