THIS IS NOT A DAIRY FARM!

by Petar Popdimitrov; illustration by Gergana Shkodrova

What do William Shakespeare and Todor Zhivkov have in common?

misleading advice 05.jpg

Just likeWilliamShakespeare, who is considered responsible for the coinage over 1,700 words and phrases in the English language, including "housekeeping", "break the ice" and "the naked truth", the former number one Communist Todor Zhivkov also contributed his mite to the richness of Bulgarian. This is the only similarity between Tato, or "Dad", and the Bard, researchers claim, and give the popular idiom "This is not a dairy farm" as an example of the examateur actor's linguistic creativity.

During the heat of the Second World War, when the Kingdom of Bulgaria was allied to Germany and the opposition consisted mainly of pro-Communist guerrillas, Todor Zhivkov, under the name of "Yanko", was the courier of the Chavdar unit. Its main source of subsistence was what relatively welldeveloped dairy farms there were. Any time they got hungry, the guerrillas would come out of the bush, beat the farmer, and take away some tins of feta or cakes of cheese.

One day Yanko went to his native village of Pravets to collect some registered mail from the post office. He took the letters and started on his way back. But while still trudging along the mountain path, he impatiently began opening the post.

One of the envelopes contained an encoded message from Georgi Dimitrov, the Moscow based foremost Bulgarian Communist boss. In it, the "chieftain" ordered his local lieutenants to blow up a German armoured train on a certain date.

Used to the comfort of dairy farms, Todor Zhivkov could hardly believe his eyes. "Come on!" he exclaimed. "This is not a dairy farm!"

"This is not a dairy farm" means "Nothing is as easy as it seems" or "All that glistens is not gold". The latter is of course an English expression invented by William Shakespeare.

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