In my mind, I have two distinct images of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One is the televised event that is ingrained in public memory: champagne corks popping, people dancing and cheering, politicians making weepy speeches.
He lives in a neat, narrow house with a small, well-kept garden. Inside his sitting room there are shelves of old books, a Biedermeier secretaire, a polished parquet floor. Black and white photographs of old friends stand in rows on the piano; prints and framed mementoes hang from the white walls. At first glance, everything …
At private dinners or public meetings throughout post-communist Europe, when talk turns to the crucial issue of economic policy, the debate is seldom about how much should be changed but about how much should be left the same.
I cannot remember a time when I did not fly on airplanes, and for years and years, I flew without anxiety. Later, after the Lockerbie crash, when I developed serious fear of flying not the odd tremor during turbulence, but the real thing – this previous experience with airplanes helped me to keep it concealed.
To the citizens of safe, happy countries which have never known war and occupation, the lives of ordinary people in less safe, less happy countries can seem extraordinary indeed. Here, for example, are three scenes, three moments in the life of a Polish woman, born in 1919.
Arkhangelsk, Russia — The Germans called it humanitarian aid. The International Monetary Fund spoke of structural development, the World Bank of business development.
The scene is a London cocktail party, not long after the funeral of Princess Diana. On the surface, all is as it should be: There are canapes, crudites and champagne, men in suits, a speech from the man whose birthday it is.
To the purist, the Christmases of my childhood would no doubt seem anathema. We didn’t go to midnight Mass, and we didn’t pray. We didn’t have a creche, we didn’t have an Advent calendar, and we didn’t think much about the birth of Christ either.
Venice has the Piazza San Marco, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and now Prague has the Charles Bridge: wide and pedestrianised, blackened with age – and suffused with the spirit of capitalism. There are buskers and hustlers along the bridge, and, every fifteen feet or so, someone is selling very much what one would expect …