Posted: 10/11/2016


      What on earth have these three individuals in common ? WELL....they are all revered heroes in.... ALBANIA !!

        The new saint is Albanian and has a small statue here in Tirana, the capital, although much of her work was done overseas. MR. PITKIN,  alias NORMAN WISDOM (1915-2010),  is a famous British slapstick comedian whose films were allowed to be shown in strictly Marxist-Maoist Albania  under dictator for life ENVER HOXHA who , to the relief of his downtrodden nation, died in 1987 after more than 40 years of tyrannical rule.   Opponents were murdered, families sent to camps, all religions banned, 2,800 churches and mosques closed and residents not allowed to travel abroad.

    Norman 'Pitkin' was a cult figure with his flat cap and tightly fitting suit, an archtypical western proletarian exploited my his evil capitalist rulers. In 1995 he received a hero's welcome  and made an Honorary Citizen of Tirana, and in 2001 accompanied the England football team and overshone David Beckham in popularity.

      George W. Bush was the first president to visit newly democratic Albania and in June, 2007 made a speech in Fushe Kruje north of Tirana where a statue of him was later unveiled. I drove through the town earlier today on the way to Montenegro by bus but didn't notice it. He is a hero for ending the Cold War isolation and leading NATO in 1999 with the bombing offensive against Serbia who were trying ethnic cleansing against Kosovo Albanians. Albania joined NATO in 2009. There are 2. 8 million residents of Albania, and another 2 million living in Kosovo and hundreds of thousands in Macedonia, and Montenegro plus 2 million more in USA, Germany, Greece, Italy and Canada.

       After Spain beat Albania in front of a sold out Lorio Borici stadium in SHKRODA on Sunday 2-0 I took a shared Mercedes taxi to Tirana for 7 Euros and visited the Albanian Football Federation and their museum. It's next to the US Embassy with its huge imposing wall. There is a gap of about a metre with an embossed seal and US flag, I took a photo and was immediately surrounded by about a dozen armed Albanian police. I deleted the photo , showed them my England fan membership card with my photo, shook hands all round and thanked them for keeping America safe 24/7.

        Tirana is a clean city with lots of new hotels, business skyscrapers, cafes and restaurants all over the place and neat parks and gardens. I went to see where the old national stadium, Qemal Stafa, stood which is now a building site for the new stadium. I looked at the model  of the new one in the Albanian FA museum and was shown round by secretary  Alketa Arapi. 

       The Pyramid is that shape and the then most expensive building every constructed here and designed by Hoxha's architect daughter Pranvera in 1988 to honour her fathers life. NO.. it was made into an exhibition and meeting hall but may be torn doen to build a new parliament building.  The main square, named after the nation's hero 500 years ago SKANDERBERG, who kept the Ottomans at bay until his death, is being rebuilt,. Hoxha's statue was toppled there with just the plinth remaining and that has now gone. A mountain outside the city had ENVER in very large  letters. That was reworked to spell NEVER.!!

         The pyramid PONZI schemes of 1997 brought down the government and there were riots, ruined citizens, bankruptcies and suicides.

        This summer Albania was at EURO 2016 in France. Two losses to Switzerland 1-0 and France 2-0 and a win over Romania 1-0 and they were in third place in Group A. SHQIPONJAT(The Eagles)