Obediently, Emil pressed his nose against the glass pane in the bolted door. Through dingy glass, he could make out a counter and a shelf behind it. The shelf was graveyard for flies. That was its main function, but at the end, as an afterthought, some rusty cans of kerosene had been stacked, and blocks of sugar wrapped in blue paper.
‘There’s a supply problem,’ he said uncertainly.
‘No,’ she said, ‘there isn’t.’
‘There isn’t,’ she said. ‘This is the back of the queue, that’s all. Always the back of the queue’
— Francis Spufford, Red Plenty, Page 69
While reading Francis Spufford’s great book of short stories inspired by true events in communist Russia it occurred to me, that this short quote from elegantly and succinctly summarises the constant shortages of almost everything in practically all of the Eastern Block countries from early fifties (and well before that in Russia) till early nineties. To anyone who lived or been in Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland or East Germany before 1990 this must sound terribly familiar. Twenty years later, it feels like a distant history. And yet hundreds of millions of people still remember this all too well. Or do they?
- milanjuza posted this