Skip to main content

Snowflakes

Once again I return to Tallinn- clear and cold.

I am here to receive the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana- the senior order of the Estonian Republic. I attended the ceremony this afternoon, with around two hundred other recipients of various decorations: from the Metropolitan of the Estonian Orthodox church to a little girl who had made a real contribution to her community.

As we await the President of the Estonian Republic there is for several moments a total silence. It is a typically Estonian moment and I reflect how rarely a crowd ever falls completely still. President Ilves' speech is slightly defensive, reflecting the fact that the list is much shorter this year and many who had thought that they were due, did not get recognised.

As my turn comes I greet the President with thanks and take the award. I am proud and touched, but somehow sad. I thought of the many Estonians who I first met in the early 1980s who never lived to see the free republic restored. In particular I think of Anna Taru, who was the last person to run the old Estonian Legation- she had been, I think, the Minister's personal assistant. She befriended me and humoured my early interest in her country. I wonder what she might have made of this- I hope that she would be happy. I think of my family, who were not able to come. I hope, perhaps, that they too are happy with the way that what might have seemed my my slightly strange interest has worked out.

Although several of my friends have received awards none of them were collecting them today, but I take a glass of wine and listen in to other conversations. A jazz duo on piano and saxophone play. I recognise many Estonian tunes, including Raimond Valgre's "Snowflakes", which, although jaunty and cheerful, is said to have been written (in English) to remind people of the soldiers who were dying in 1941.

Several members of the Kaitseliit- the territorial defence force- received awards for service in Afghanistan, and others were life savers, teachers, blood donors - all the generally unsung heroes of a society that works well.

This place is special to me. These people, stolid, independent, taciturn, have I realise, inspired me for much of my adult life. Sometimes childish and petty, sometimes wise and strong, this culture, language and attitude reflect much that I respect and admire. Serious, honest, worthy- but with a sly and dark humour, the hard working Estonians touched me long ago. I realise that this award means perhaps more to me than I first thought, especially when it is offered with such sincerity.

Tanän väga kallis Eestlased !

Comments

Anonymous said…
Congratulations Cicero, that is a gong long overdue. Why did you choose to go to Tallinn for it?

Popular posts from this blog

Concert and Blues

Tallinn is full tonight... Big concerts on at the Song field The Weeknd and Bonnie Tyler (!). The place is buzzing and some sixty thousand concert goers have booked every bed for thirty miles around Tallinn. It should be a busy high summer, but it isn´t. Tourism is down sharply overall. Only 70 cruise ships calling this season, versus over 300 before Ukraine. Since no one goes to St Pete, demand has fallen, and of course people think that Estonia is not safe. We are tired. The economy is still under big pressure, and the fall of tourism is a significant part of that. The credit rating for Estonia has been downgraded as the government struggles with spending. The summer has been a little gloomy, and soon the long and slow autumn will drift into the dark of the year. Yesterday I met with more refugees: the usual horrible stories, the usual tears. I try to make myself immune, but I can´t. These people are wounded in spirit, carrying their grief in a terrible cradling. I try to project hop

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo

KamiKwasi brings an end to the illusion of Tory economic competence

After a long time, Politics seems to be getting interesting again, so I thought it might be time to restart my blog. With regard to this weeks mini budget, as with all budgets, there are two aspects: the economic and the political. The economic rationale for this package is questionable at best. The problems of the UK economy are structural. Productivity and investment are weak, infrastructure is under-invested and decaying. Small businesses are going to the wall and despite entrepreneurship being relatively strong in Britain, self-employment is increasingly unattractive. Red tape since Brexit has led to a significant fall in exports and the damage has been disproportionately on small businesses. Literally none of these problems are being addressed by this package. Even if the package were to stimulate some kind of short term consumption-led growth boom, this is unlikely to be sustainable, not least because what is being added on the fiscal side will be need to be offset, to a great de