We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

DMZ glass

I remain unapologetically fascinated by the Brexit phenomenon. The campaign, the result, and the aftermath of the result, are all things that I have been finding hugely diverting. It is already the greatest domestic political upheaval in my country during my lifetime, and not in a bad way. And that is not even to mention its possible impacts on Abroad.

But for the time being, what with the weekend approaching, here is a very Samizdata-ish photo which I would like to show you:


I took this photo last Sunday, at the home of our very own Michael Jennings, just after he had got back home from his latest jaunt. The receptacle it features is one of a set in which Michael served his guests a most agreeable round of drinks, the name and exact nature of which I forget, but which I do remember greatly enjoying. (I have a vague recollection of tea being involved, in some way. But that could be quite wrong.) I was sober enough to take this photo, and to get the glass in approximate focus, but not sober enough to get all of the glass in my picture.

Was this the expedition during which Michael acquired these glasses, or was it a later one? He probably said, but again, I don’t recall.

Demilitarized Zone. You can’t help thinking that this particular demilitarized zone is a hell of a lot more militarized than the word “demilitarised” ought to mean.

But what I really want to say is: cool, even though no ice was involved. I mean, being served a drink in a glass decorated with a barbed wire fence, topped off with more barbed wire in a roll. Cool? That’s downright frigid.

For some reason, this reminded me of a visit I once made to the home in Cornwall of my late uncle, the one who got parachuted into Yugoslavia during the war and who was as a result awarded an MC that he never talked about. On his mantelpiece, he had a miniature trophy on which were inscribed the words: “School of Psychological Warfare, Bangkok, with grateful thanks”, or words to that effect.

Alas, this was back in the 1970s and I did not then possess a digital camera. Nor was there then any means of showing people photos that was easy for them to ignore if they were not interested.

7 comments to DMZ glass

  • Michael Jennings

    That trip from January 2007 was indeed the trip upon which I purchased the shot glasses in question. I have only been to the DMZ once. (It was covered with snow, which was possibly appropriate). If you scroll to the end of that post, you will indeed see the same shot glasses, in that instance still in their packaging. A trip to the DMZ was an odd thing in itself, but finding myself in the DMZ gift shop was one of the weirder moments of my life. (Important rule of the universe – there is always a gift shop). I have since been to the Stalin gift shop in Gori in Georgia, but in that case I really couldn’t bring myself to buy anything, whereas I wish I had bought a truckload of stuff from the DMZ gift shop, as they would have made great Christmas presents for everyone I know.

    We were drinking Tatra Tea, a tea based liqueur that I procured in the Slovakian mountains last year. It’s customarily served hot, as I served it on Sunday, possibly something to do with those cold mountain winters.

  • Frederick Davies

    I remain unapologetically fascinated by the Brexit phenomenon.

    And so you should be…

    We have just seen one of the layers of government in Britain being abolished altogether; not diminished or reined in, but abolished in one fell swoop. That is not something that happens every day, and I would have expected a more exultant response from Samizdatists. Now go out there and dance in the streets!


  • Mr Ed

    If Mr Corbyn gets in, we may be the ‘northerners’ on the 37th parallel.

    Or maybe the Irish border will be our DMZ. The irony of Brexit and the Republic complaining about the UK leaving the EU seems lost on some in that fair Isle.

    One of my regrets in life is passing on the chance to buy an East German Border Guard uniform from a soon-to-be-jobless Grepo Oberst in Berlin in August 1990, it might have made for a great way to protest the apparent westward drift into the UK of East Germany in the intervening years.

  • Mr Ed


    All human life is here on Samizdata! At least I didn’t line the pockets of a murderous Commie bastard.

  • TomJ

    Have you read Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy MacLean? It’s a memoir starting in the Soviet Union in the late ’30s, where the author was with the British Embassy, then tracks his wartime service in the army from Private to Brigadier. The reason I ask is the last third of the book covers his time in Yugoslavia, as Allied liaison to Tito’s forces so it may be of familial interest. For those without the personal connection it tells of


    his sneaking through Soviet Russia to Afghanistan to see how far he could get, getting elected to Parliament in order to join the Army, joining the SAS and attacking Benghazi, kidnapping Iranian generals and other derring do.

    The day after, I asked my pilot, a cheerful young New Zealander, if he thought we really needed an escort. He said that, unless we had bad luck, he could probably get away from anything except a very up-to-date fighter. I asked him if he would get into trouble if we went without an escort. He replied cheerfully that, if we came back safely, no one would say anything, and if we didn’t, it wouldn’t matter anyway. This seemed sound enough logic, and so we sent off a signal to Robin, announcing our arrival, and set off on our own.

  • Laird

    As long as we’re recommending books (and we’re on the subject of North Korea), I suggest “A Kim Jong-Il Production” by Paul Fischer. It’s specifically about a bizarre and true episode in which North Korea literally kidnapped (from Hong Kong) a famous South Korean actress and her movie-director husband to make movies for the North (including the cult classic Pulgasari, his answer to Godzilla). In the process of telling that story Fischer provides a wealth of information about the history of the DPRK and life under the Kims’ rule. Fascinating.