“Adventures of Misi, the squirrel”: An interesting interpretation

Because I have no idea how long I will have electricity I will try to post a short note as soon as possible. According to information received in our little borough (population 5,000)  25% of households are already without power. So, I’d better hurry.

My topic for today will be somewhat whimsical. I just finished listening to a conversation with László Majtényi, former ombudsman, who is now the director of the Károly Eötvös Institute. Károly Eötvös was the MP and lawyer who accepted the job of defending the Jews of Tiszaeszlár who were accused of ritual murder in 1882. So, Eötvös is considered to be a champion of justice in Hungarian legal history. The Institute, as I mentioned elsewhere, is a liberal legal think tank.

Majtényi is a quiet fellow not prone to exaggeration, but the Institute’s latest laundry list of tasks to be performed after the possible departure of the current Hungarian government surprised even him. The task is enormous. I’m still planning to write something about this eight-point list, but I don’t think that today is the best time for such analysis.

Instead I will tell you a funny story that Majtényi brought up during his conversation with László Juszt, a reporter working for ATV. Majtényi expressed his absolute astonishment that a street named after Józsi Jenő Tersánszky, a brilliant and anti-communist writer, was deemed to be objectionable by the Jobbik-Fidesz majority of the Budapest city council and was changed. He can’t fathom why. To illustrate his point he brought up a Tersánszky book written for children. Majtényi added that one reason that Hungarian children’s literature was so good during the Soviet period was that first-rate writers not favored by the regime could publish only children’s stories.

So, said Majtényi, Tersánszky’s “Misi mókus kalandjai” (The adventures of Misi, the squirrel) is actually a book against the regime. The story is about a little squirrel whose tail is black instead of red. When the family notices this oddity they become alarmed and their first reaction is that perhaps Misi’s tail should be painted red. A friend of the family, Aunt Jay, has an even more drastic suggestion: the tail should be cut off. Not surprisingly, Misi runs away and during his travels he gets to know the wider world. After several exciting adventures Misi returns home, but he keeps the umbrella that took him all over the world next to him when he goes to bed.

The reporter was highly amused. Majtényi admitted, of course, that this is his own interpretation of Tersánszky’s children’s story. From what I know about this writer Majtényi might not be very far off.

And now let’s keep our fingers crossed that the storm’s aftermath will be less painful than a year ago.


  1. petofi :
    @ Some1
    Let’s not confuse the US and Canada: as yet, there have been no family hierarchies as such. Of course, it’s the Kennedys that come to mind. Electing a name was an American reality and the reason that electable Kennedys were torpedoed, one way or another. (Hard to torpedo a plane, I know.)
    But Canadians are another kettle of fish–a little more staid and deliberate. What’s more, you don’t rise through the liberal party ranks on name alone. So, let’s just see what Justine is about. But if he does run for office, he will be elected on his merits although the recognition factor of his name will help.

    My response was to a comment made by LwiiH : “I don’t see much of a difference in power hunger between OV and Trudeau.” So I am not really sure how you bring in here the USA somehow contributing to me some mix-up… As far as Justin goes. I do like him a lot, and he worked fine He is an MPP for four years, he was the party’s critic for multiculturalism and youth for two years, and for less then a year now as party’s critic for Post Secondary Education, Youth and Amateur Sport. He himself acknowledged the name recognition factor. He will be followed because of his father. He simply did not show enough yet as an independent person. THis is not to say that he does not have what it takes. Just like with many great actors and filmmakers with famous parents (Liza Minelli, Michael Douglas, Sophia Coppola, Charlie Sheen, Jason Gould, Carrie Fisher) sometimes you have to work even harder to carve out your own legacy with various success. Justin still needs to carve out his. Then again this is totally off subject now, and I will leave it like that.

  2. Jean P: about the widespread breakdown of infrastructure on the East Coast. Yes, I was also wondering that perhaps the whole electric structure is old and outdated. I don’t know, of course, but some of those polls look absolutely ancient.

  3. To Margot, Thank you so much. You lurkers are coming out of the nooks and crannies and I’m very glad for that. Yes, I’m very worried about Hungary. Not in my wildest imagination I thought that something like this would happen to her twenty years after the change of regime that was really exemplary. I’m saying that after finishing Zoltán Ripp’s book on the regime change in Hungary.

    A lot of people was fooled by Orbán and unfortunately there were only very few who remembered what he was doing between 1998 and 2002. And the present situation is much worse given his two-third majority. I pride myself that I was never fooled by this man. I hated him ever since I read his speech at Imre Nagy’s reburial. But more about this in the next few days. For the time being let’s enjoy of having electricity and Internet connection. Long live Edison!!!

  4. Petőfi about Trudeau. I guess in a small way I helped Trudeau toward becoming prime minister. Big smiley. His political career started in 1965 as personal secretary to Lester Pearson, a liberal. I voted for the liberals. That was my first and last elections in Canada. If you want to know more about Trudeau there is a very detailed description of his career in Wikipedia.


  5. “My understanding was that Orban (but Matolcsy’s brilliant fairy-tale plan really!) was blackmailing the 3% to capitulate – otherwise certain state benefits wouldn’t be available to them”


    Yes, that was the threat but anyone with an ounce of common-sense and with more than five years to retirement should have thrown it back in the regime’s face. No state can guarantee, and by logical extension threaten to withdraw, a benefit which any future western society beyond the next ten years can afford to pay for anyway.

    As it happens (and as so often happens when you stand up to bullies) that threat has disappeared into thin air- Ms O’N has kept her private pension *and* is no worse off now than any of the mugs who surrendered their savings to Orban almost 2 years ago, largely because the regime is too lazy and incompetent to put the boot properly in to the very few who stood it up to it.

    It may seem harsh but I have little to no sympathy to those who bent over for the regime as soon as it started wielding the big stick. Little more than 20% would have been enough to make the Fidesz thugs and bullyboys think twice before they pulled off their next trick.
    As it happens, I think the pension surrender was exactly the sign Orban was wanting from the Magyar Sheep. Once he had won that “battle”, then everything else was near enough an automatic walkover.

  6. “In England – among the working classes a man could be expected to enjoy his pension at 60 – for just 2 years in the 60′s!”

    He wouldn’t be enjoying it even that much, as he would have died three years before retirement age!

  7. London Calling!

    Yes – 60 is (was) retirement age for women – and ‘early’ retirement for men.

    I meant the statutory retirement age of 65 for men of course – which is increasing to 67 for both men and women.

    It was a very short ‘enjoyment’ of retirement as many, for example, suffered illnesses associated with coal mining – and of course many smoked too.



Comments are closed.