We often hear the word “Draconian” - normally in relation to rules or laws or budget cuts. But where is Draconia? And how would it be for a holiday destination ? Do the trains run on time ?
The national flag of Draconia, quarters of black and white flies proudly over the largest building in the capital city, Stampia, the Ministry of Tradition. Protocol & Rules in this small landlocked country wedged between Romania, Hungary and the Ukraine. With a population of around three million, it is a country not often visited, and one which keeps itself to itself in international terms - finding the rest of Europe “a bit wishy washy” according to my guide for the two days I had in the country.
“We Draconians believe life should be clearcut, no room for equivocation. Things are right or wrong” he continued as we drove past fields of cows (Friesians, of course) on the 75 minute drive from the airport where we had been deposited by Ryanair. Draconians drive on the right, and there are no dual carriageways. Cars have to travel between a minimum and maximum speed, and there is no overtaking. “Any car unable to keep up with the minimum speed is subject to immediate scrappage”, my guide explains, “so it keeps you focussed on your car maintenance”.
Politically, Draconia is a democracy. Elections are held every ten years for the post of President, in a series of run offs in which the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated. Permanently. This tends to lead to political stability with the complete absence of any opposition by the time the winner has emerged. Much to the approval of the general population.
The trains do run on time, and the quiet coaches are really quiet - lengthy prison sentences being imposed for a mobile phone ringing or the misuse of an iPod. Driving too is well ordered, with a system of fixed-penalty notices in place. Under these, for example for parking on a double yellow line, the penalty, a forty kilo iron neck brace is literally fixed to you, for a fixed period.
The legal code, which runs to around 150 volumes is the main element of the school curriculum, but at least it means that children know what they are in for in adult life. But for the young, life can be hard. School discipline is maintained with a rod of iron, which accounts for the large number of children sporting hand bandages and slings which I saw during my visit. Almost as many as the number of adults wearing eye patches. “Disputes between neighbours, civil law, is based on the “eye for an eye” principle” my guide explains.
No litter, no vagrancy or graffiti, perfectly tended lawns and orderly queues everywhere are my lasting memories of this country. No dog mess either - both dog and owner are humanely destroyed if the pavement is fouled. “Why would I want to leave?”’ my guide asked. “We know of your country - the scroungers, the loony-leftie councils, and the revoting students from the International Edition of the Daily Mail, which is read out on our national news each day” he says. “Why would you want to return to a country which is going to hell in a handcart?”.
As I stepped around three riot policemen who were arresting an eleven year old girl for whistling in public, I wondered if he had a point. This way anarchy begins.