'European Stupidity', by Ultan Banan. Ruminations on politics.

European Stupidity

I lived in Russia for a year. Life was good. Rent was reasonable, internet was dirt-cheap and super-fast, eating out was incredible and there was quality food everywhere – Tatar, Tajik, Georgian, Uzbek, you name it, you could find it, and it was low-cost and delicious. In winter, it was minus 35 degrees out but my house was boiling hot. I had to turn the heating down to minimum. Yes, it was a good year. To be fair, I was on a European wage and wanted for nothing, but even with a thousand dollars a month in Russia you could live well. For many Russians, working for half that, I’m aware that life is not so easy. Perhaps they face the same problems that I face now, living in Italy, where month to month making ends meet is a struggle. I pay fifty per cent more on rent than I did in Russia for an even shittier apartment. Internet is three times the price and slower. Monthly phone costs are double. Food costs are also double. Bills, forget about it. Last winter I had gas bills coming for 150 a month, and this on a self-employed wage, where I’m making a third of what I did when I lived in Kazan. Yeah, you might call me stupid for leaving, and you might be right.

Now we’re hearing about Europe’s ‘energy crisis’ and talk is of rocketing gas prices. According to the article linked, gas prices have surged in Europe by 600 per cent this year. What does that mean if I stay in Italy? You do the maths. It’s unsustainable.

I am astonished at European shortsightedness regarding their independence energy-wise. For years the Europeans have allowed themselves to be bullied by the Americans over the Nord Steam project, our US ‘friends’ across the water concerned about the evolution of the European-Russian partnership and the threat to transatlantic relations (read ‘domination’). Also, if Europe gets it gas from Russia, who’s gonna buy that US LNG at four times the price? European MEPs (in American pockets, perhaps) even went so far back in January as to demand that the European Parliament put a stop to work on the Nord Stream 2 project. Why? Ostensibly, because of the supposed Novichok attack on Alexei Navalny. Who gives a fuck about Navalny? It’s just more shit to fling at Russia, like that other fiasco, the whole slippery, suspect Skripal affair. Throw enough shit and some of it will stick. Meanwhile, as Europe cries ‘Energy crisis!’ and simultaneously tries to put a stop to the project that might solve said crisis, the rest of us are left wondering how we’re going to heat ourselves this winter.

No, I’m leaving. Life in Europe is untenable. Where am I gonna go? I’m not going back to Ireland anyway, where the housing crisis is in full swing, the cause of which is the government’s refusal to stop vulture funds from buying up all the property for the rental market, driving up prices and leaving families all over the country unable to climb on the property ladder.

Nope, it’s out of Europe for me. Maybe Georgia. I don’t drink anymore, but if I did, I’d be sitting over there with a half-litre of that lush amber wine, watching Europe implode, collapsing under the yoke of its idiotic policymakers. But hey, with enough khinkali and kharcho in my belly, I won’t even need to heat my apartment.

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 ‘European Stupidity’, by Ultan Banan. Please note: flash fiction, nonfiction and all other content is the sole work of Black Tarn. Ask before republishing.

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