Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Enkhbayar, 76 Monkeys go "Blah, blah"

Wednesday 11th April
I heard the rain falling against my window last night, a sound I last heard more than four months ago.

President Enkhbayar will be visiting Britain on 17-18th April, so be on the lookout for reports of him describing Britain as Mongolia’s “Third Neighbour”. Actually, on his last visit to the UK he was described as an anglophile in the press, which may not be an exaggeration: apparently he has translated works by Dickens, Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf into Mongolian. Indeed, according to his Wikipedia entry, Enkhbayar studied literature at Leeds in the 1990s. I wonder if he was at any of the parties I stumbled into in Headingley around that time?

Enkhbayar’s a curious figure in Mongolian politics: a man who seems to have quite an air of dignity and trustworthiness about him. I’m not aware of him being directly linked with any of the many scandals and irregularities reported in the press and gossiped on the streets, but I haven’t heard anyone speak with much enthusiasm about him. The most usual comment, spoken perhaps with feelings of having been betrayed, is that he is more concerned to look after himself and his family than his country.

I had a very successful class with my evening college students recently, working on Very Short Stories, as published in WIRED magazine and posted about some time earlier in this blog. The students as previously seemed to really enjoy the exercise (although were universally baffled by the WIRED offerings) and came up with some pretty good ones: “Iceberg hits; he drowns: she lives.”(Titanic, of course) and “76 Monkeys go ‘Blah, blah.’” Apparently there are 76 members of government (or parliament, I’m not sure which), and that is how they are collectively known.