Don's Diary

June 28, 1996

FRIDAY. Caught between book index crisis and long-postponed visit to Bulgaria. Index crisis because page proofs arrive later than the time mythically set aside for them. My co-author in Brussels was to do the index but delays in the Belgian post deliver her proofs nearly two weeks late and her gynaecologist decides to deliver her baby a week early. Much frantic faxing. Index travels via Hamburg back to our house with friend who has nobly agreed to work on it. She and I stayed up very late last night checking over categories for the entries.

Next morning fly to Sofia. From airport to new Centre for European Studies to meet Bulgarian students who are to be initiated into the rites of European Union negotiations. Four hours later collapse in hotel and sleep . . . soundly.

SATURDAY. Spend day simulating an EU negotiation - on hormones for beef, the banana regime (yes, really) and public procurement. The young woman playing the United Kingdom is under pressure because of BSE problem (this erupted two weeks after we wrote the exercise).

The students are remarkable - fluent, subtle English - they are beneficiaries of secondary schools that teach students from the age of 14 most of their subjects through their chosen foreign language - secure grasp of technical issues, and astonishing mastery of EU procedures. A former student of mine, Krassimir, in charge of their course is delighted.

The Bulgarian economy is crippled: the currency has plummeted this year, interest rates are 108 per cent, the government is announcing business closures, and imported food (domestic production has collapsed) is running out. Have dinner with Bulgarian friend; we studied together nearly 30 years ago. I meet his wife, grandchildren and friends - one had been our commissioner in the exercise, and another is adviser to the (real) president.

SUNDAY. Phil, Krassimir and I evaluate the exercise and the students' performance over breakfast. Then visit the city with my Bulgarian friends. Hear the best choir in Bulgaria singing morning service in the cathedral, watch young couples queuing up to get married in the popular Russian church (built after the Russians liberated the Bulgarians from the Ottomans), and visit the synagogue, the largest in the Balkans. Thence a poignant history lesson. The leaders of the Third Reich leaned hard on their Bulgarian allies to deport their Jewish community. Following the order that Jews report to the railway stations with their suitcases, their appalled Bulgarian neighbours also packed their suitcases and went to the railway stations, saying they would not let their "brothers" leave without them. This, a volley of protesting telegrams to the parliament, and the King prevented the extermination of the Jews, who instead did manual labour in the countryside - a remarkable and too little remarked episode of good Balkan history. A quick lunch with a British diplomat and another presidential adviser and back to the airport. Arrive home to face the Sunday evening "do your homework" ritual with my son. Then back to the . . . index, which (Monday) eventually I print out at 5.30am.

MONDAY. A "normal" day in office. Usual metre or so of in-tray, series of meetings and research seminar given by a visiting friend from Pittsburgh. Then to London and a dinner at the top of the BT tower for discussion of "Britain and Europe" with a group from business, banking, politics and journalism. When the top of the tower spins slowly after dinner I wonder whether I will be able to reassemble the various parts of my body and beat a retreat.

TUESDAY. See succession of MA and DPhil students about their dissertations. Try in vain to reduce the in-tray pile. We are into the high season for writing references. More nice post today than irritating, including a splendid letter from Ernie Haas, the initiator of regional integration theory. He is, as ever, cogently a propos, but shocked by something I had sent him on Britain and Europe. Another research seminar - on EU citizenship - and back home. At last I face up to my reckless agreement to write an article for The THES due tomorrow morning. Struggle with increasing dissatisfaction over draft and go to bed without daring to print it.

WEDNESDAY. Not at all normal. Print and fax article. Spend an hour with team from BBC Analysis programme on eastern enlargement of the EU. Then to Knightsbridge for the big event of the week - reception at the Institut Francais for Jacques Chirac. The president seems to enjoy himself in the melee of guests, staff and journalists. As I watch him and have my snatch of conversation, I admire the ability of a consummate politician to speak to a succession of strangers with courteous brevity and great intensity. His wife is equally impressive - she sounds as if she would welcome a longer chat on the subject that has haunted me this week -Britain and Europe. Then to school parents' evening and my ritual complaints about GCSE French syllabus and praise of maths and science staff.

THURSDAY. Spend most of morning in a university appointing committee. Then speak at seminar on democratic accountability (absence of) in the EU. Then briefly meet Swedish friend who was much involved in Swedish accession to EU, but also discuss latest Dorothy Dunnett novel. Home to read files of 26 students to be interviewed tomorrow.

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