Issue 1147

Mar 30, 2015

The nation that doesn't exist - and what it says about our future

In this week's Big Issue...

  • Transnistria has its own government, currency, flag, national anthem, police and armed forces. Sitting between Moldova and Ukraine, it is not really part of either, yet not quite on its own. It has been a quasi place, with intentions to move back under Russia’s wing, for over 20 years. It is a great indicator of what could happen in Ukraine – and of the wider implications for Europe and the rest of us. Steven MacKenzie found the nation’s only tourist guide and went on a trip into the heart of nowhere. A great, revealing, funny travelogue delivering a truly unique perspective. 
  • As a companion piece, the great Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov has written an exclusive piece for us detailing what it’s really like in Kiev now – and what he sees coming next.
  • We carry the fantastic story of Big Issue vendor Ralph Jess. It was his dream to take to the sea. So he started saving his earnings from selling the Issue and has now bought a a little yacht for him and his collie Jess. This will lift your spirits.  
  • Our Letter To My Younger Self is with national treasure Brenda Blethyn.  She details the accidental way her career came late and her early family joys. Simple and poignant. 
  • Mark Gatiss has developed into a Zelig-like puppet-master at the heart of so much of Britain’s most adored TV – from The League of Gentlemen to Doctor Who and Sherlock. He talks us through his complex web. 
  • John Bird this week wonders where the accelerating gentrification of major cities (especially London) leaves those who are needed, but can’t afford to live there. What it does for us and those who come next.
  • Samira Ahmed is back. By way of Nick Broomfield’s latest film and a comedy about Burke and Hare, she wonders where the line is drawn on what we find entertaining.
  • Our featured vendor is Shay Monroe, who sells on the High Street in Oxford. He started selling when he lost his job as a school caretaker and he details the catch-22 situation of paying for a hostel when that is your only available place. If you take a temporary job, you can’t stay at the hostel, but you don’t have enough for private rent. If you don’t take the job, you make yourself homeless. Which is where The Big Issue offers an alternative.
  • Can I also direct you to the piece written by Erwin Mortier. It’s a really moving account of nursing his mother through Alzheimer’s, the caustic effect of that disease on those around, and the way he found to cope.
  • Our Pause, by Julian Baggini, considers how to build free will; in Economics we look at the winners as craft beer goes into the ONS shopping basket. And, as ever, there’s a cracking Spot The Ball.
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