• 2007-08-15
  • Harry Gaffney, Riga
Nigel Hempshire has taken umbrage with the publicity given in these pages to "a few lads getting rowdy" and urinating indiscriminately ["Leave the Brits Be," Letters, TBT #568, vol. 10, Aug. 9 - 15, 2007]. I notice, Nigel, that you avoided mentioning where the offenses took place, where "the lads" were relieving themselves with such aplomb, some even using it as a photo shoot.

Britons have never had the indignity of seeing their country overrun and occupied by "liberators," although history is awash with examples of hapless countries being granted that dubious distinction by Britain.
So, when Latvians found themselves free of their Soviet masters they looked with newfound pride at their Freedom Monument which has stood in the center of Riga, and whose inhabitants had resisted Soviet overtures to demolish it, since 1935.

This, Nigel, was the target of your "relatively innocent tourists," and if foreign drunks were found urinating on your revered Cenotaph in London no doubt your citizens would be equally outraged, or (as standards have dropped so appallingly in your country) maybe not.
I admire you for fighting your corner and it's not only Brit yobs who have disgraced themselves. Quite recently a bunch of drunks from Portugal abused the Latvian flag. They were dealt with positively by the local police.
The British Foreign Office has for some time been uneasy with the increasing number of complaints from foreign governments regarding the bad behavior of so many of its citizens abroad. Some areas of Spain, Greece and the beautiful city of Prague, to name a few, who suffer the same kind of abuse have raised the behavioral status of these people from troublesome to serious.

You state that your drunks "Contribute a great deal of revenue to the Latvian tourist economy," and I suppose you would advocate that the drunken football hooligans who plague your stadiums contribute a great deal to your football community. Perhaps you meant the Latvian alcohol industry.
No country is free from its criminal element and Latvia is no exception, and since EU expansion much criminality has found its way to richer, more established countries. Here is the latest top ten list of numbers of foreign criminals held in British jails last updated May 28, 2007.

If you doubt its authenticity please go to:
Irish 's 666; Polish 's 290; Portuguese 193; Lithuanian 's 188; French 's 162; German 's 143, Dutch 's  147; Romanian 's 144; Italian 's 113; Cypriot 's 57.
You will notice there are no Latvians on the list 's maybe the ones you speak of have not been caught yet... or are just lucky.

Your reference to toilet facilities, or lack of, is probably a valid one. It's ironic that there are perfectly adequate facilities a short distance from the Monument 's less than 100 meters. However, it's difficult to see them as they are almost hidden from view, and I cannot find any signs indicating their existence.
So please, City Authorities, five signs are required. Two at the corners of Brivibas and Raina. Two more at Brivibas and Aspazijas, and one on the pavement opposite the toilets. Then maybe we can put this subject to bed.

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