11 Years with No Weekends – Suicides, divorce and mass depression – Lessons for modern corporates from the failed Soviet Calendar experiment

For 11 long years, weekends did not exist in the Soviet Union. Like today’s dystopian novels, manufacturing ran, machines processed, and labour continued non-stop in order to create an industrial powerhouse. But what was the secret design behind this idea?  By Andrew Cook 29th September 1929. For many of the Soviet Union’s working class, it would be the last day they would spend together as a family for the next 11 years. From that moment on, the Soviet Work Week would be transformed into continuous five or six-day working weeks. The Soviet Union The Stalinist Era. Josef Stalin and his political allies ruled the country with an iron grip. After succeeding Lenin, and ousting Trotsky from the country, Stalin set about with the fervour of a visionary consumed by his goals. His goal – to industrialise the Soviet Union, and revolutionise a heavily peasant-based society, into an economic powerhouse. His brutal and myriad five-year plans would go on to change the course of history. Yet one of his less successful attempts included a revolutionised work week. For the working class, life was hard, yet simple. They would work their fingers to the bone for six days, and spend the seventh with their family. This day of rest, would be spent organising the home, spending time with family, gathering with friends, going to church and coming together in groups. Yet while this day of rest occurred, machines stopped running. Across the length and breadth of the country, industry was paused. An entire 24 hours of powered down production lines, of quiet, echoing workshops, and industrial districts devoid of chatter. For a man who envisioned an industrial future for the country, Stalin thought it a waste – Why shut down production?! Why reduce results?! He then found a solution. Yuri Larin Yuri Larin, a Soviet economist, proposed the ‘nepreryvka’ – The revolutionary continuous-working week. While initially shot down and ignored in May 1929, word gradually reached Josef Stalin. Then a month later, Stalin voiced his vast approval for the subject. Of course, once Stalin approved of something, so did every newspaper in the country. Or at least every one that wanted to stay up and running. Directing efficiency experts to begin planning, the continuous work week was up and running from the 30th of September 1929. Nepreryvka Soviet Calendar The Work Week Gone was the seven-day working week, in its place – the nepreryvka. A calendar of working weeks, with only five days in every week, represented on a calendar by a wheatsheaf, a red star, a hammer and sickle, a book, and a woollen working-cap. Days off were included, just not the way we know them. The point of this week was not to increase time off for people, but rather, to spread time off among the working class, so that production was never-ending. To create a country that would bring forth the fruits of labour without any significant pause in production. So, every five days, a worker’s day off was randomly assigned. In theory, this intriguing plan should have allowed the working class to retain days off, yet keep production continuously moving. A way to make everybody win. But, like dating ads in the newspaper, everything looks better on paper. The Problems What’s the point of a free day, if you can’t spend it with loved ones? This was the tragedy that many suddenly faced. They would have the first day off, their wife – the second day. Perhaps a brother would have the third day off, and a best friend the fourth. Days off were no longer about family and friends, but spent by themselves, unless fortune favoured you and you were selected to have free days together. It is a valid point that perhaps this was Stalin’s goal. After all, the Russian Revolution which  culminated in October 1917 swept the Bolsheviks into power on the shoulders of the masses. Powerful working class belief and social ties were part of the inspiration needed to overthrow the old Tsar. A dictator like Stalin feared another movement may be able to do the same to him. To reduce ties and contact among the working class, this would prevent gatherings, organising, and revolution. Religion While the main cause for the nepreryvka was economic, Stalin possessed yet another motive behind it. As an avid reader of Karl Marx, and an Atheist, he viewed religion with disdain. How better to resist it than to throw away organised weekly patterns for the working class? Reinventing the work week, and spreading out free days would prevent people of all religions from gathering in their churches, mosques, and temples. Nepreryvka turned out to be both an economic plan, a way to maintain power, and a war on religion. Soviet Work weekThe Outrage The outrage began as a sea of dissent among the population. The official newspaper of the Communist Party, Pravda, began publishing letters sent in. ‘What is there for us to do at home if our wives are in the factory, our children at school and nobody can visit us? It is no holiday if you have to have it alone.’  This angry letter was a personal tale of one man, but the story of an entire class. Ivan Ivanovich Shitz was a historian, and railed against the nepreryvka in his writings. He was angry against the continuous working week, and stated how it would prevent families and friends gathering, whether in social environments, or political gatherings. He also stated that it had killed off Sundays, and would eventually lead to the abolition of all Christian holidays. These views were not from the benefit of hindsight, but from the mouths of those who suffered it. Eventual Defeat  It was inevitable. The difficulties, the outrage, and the resentment began to force a five-day working week into a six-day working week. Different industries soon had unequal working weeks. The government bowed to more pressure and allowed coordinated days off for familial groups. What began as a concrete, authoritarian system, gradually slid into anarchy year after year. Concessions were made among different areas, different groups, and different industries, until eventually the nepreryvka met its demise. On June 26th 1940, a decree from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the seven-day work week to be officially back in use. While workers once again had Sunday off, there would be other difficulties they would endure. Criminal offences and mandatory prison sentences would be enforced for the slightest infraction. The nepreryvka was gone,  but a Dictator still remained.

In the Footsteps of Frozen – Five ‘Frozen’ inspired holidays your family will love

The film has created such phenomena that people are wanting to experience Frozen in real life and are trying to get all the senses of Arendelle. Surprisingly, there are quite a few options available to make you feel like you are in the magical land of Frozen.  By Phil Taylor It could be argued that no Disney film has had a bigger influence in recent years than Frozen. Considering the first film was released in 2013, it is still as relevant today than it was when it first hit the screens. It is hard to avoid the franchise especially with the latest installment being released in 2019, giving the franchise a big boost in sales and popularity amongst audiences around the globe. The Frozen films have dominated the box offices with both of them topping the charts for the highest grossing animated films of all time and in 2019 Frozen II made $1.32 billion. That is not taking into consideration the amount of money the franchise makes from merchandise. With cuddly toys, t-shirts, hats, pencil cases or basically anything you can imagine featuring the images of Anna, Elsa or Olaf readily available it is understandable why Frozen has dominated pop culture for so long. The main song from the first film “Let it go” grabbed the attention of the masses and was in everybody’s heads. No matter what radio station, TV channel or even social media outlet you went on, you would see reference to Frozen’s “Let it go”. It was even heard in clubs! The song managed to place in the charts across the world. It managed number 11 in the UK, number 5 in the USA and number 1 in South Korea. It has been a real sensation. So it is more than understandable that people are infatuated with Frozen but where can they go to experience what they have seen on the silver screen? Norway frozen fansNorway- The Land of Frozen 1 Nærøyfjord Frozen has massive influences from Norway so a lot of fans head towards the Land of the Midnight Sun. The landscape of the country is incredibly beautiful and very similar to that of Arrendale, especially the amount of fjords that you can see with the flowing waterways. Nærøyfjord in particular is a standout fjord and is often used in tourist brochures to attract people to the country. The Nærøyfjord is situated in Aurland, around two hours and thirty minutes away from Bergen so is quite accessible. 2 Øvre Pasvik National Park Alongside the magnificent fjords and flowing mountains, Norway has an abundance of wooded areas that resemble Frozen. Many people travel to Norway to see the Øvre Pasvik National Park and imagine that they are in Arendelle. The Nordic influence in Frozen is evident from the clothing, the housing and the decorations in the film. These styles can all be seen in Norway and in particular they can be seen at the Norsk Folkmuseum where you will see traditional Nordic items that will make you think of characters such as Anna and Kristoff. 3 Sør-Trøndelag Who can forget the love of reindeers in both Frozen and Norway! Sven, the reindeer is Frozen, is one of the most beloved characters and he grabbed the hearts of the audience. The popular song from the film “Reindeer are better than people” could be the national anthem for Norway due to the amount of reindeer in the country. There are around 70-80,000 reindeer in the country and you can even see wild reindeer close to Sør-Trøndelag and southward. Frozen Epcot Florida4 Florida – Can Disney satisfy my Frozen fix? Yes they can and in many different areas. Starting in Florida you can get the Frozen fix that you need in Epcot. The Norway pavilion, obviously, has dedicated merchandise for Frozen and is a great haunt for people wanting to get all the important Frozen pins. Also in the Norway pavilion is the Frozen ride (Frozen ever after) which replaced the popular Maelstrom ride in 2016. It uses the same vehicle set up and follows the same track as Maelstrom but it has a completely different overlay. You follow the story of the anniversary of Queen Elsa saving her sister Anna, she has declared a summer snow day in Arendelle. The ride features lots of songs from the first film including “Do you want to build a snowman?” and “Let it go”. The main feature of the ride is the incredibly impressive animatronic that is above you grabbing your attention immediately when oyu pass through it. It has rightly been credited as one of the best animatronics at Walt Disney World and makes you want to ride the boat all day long. 5 Frozen future – Eurodisney For the uber Frozen fan you might have to wait a little but you might want to save for a trip to Paris, Hong Kong or Japan as the Walt Disney company are currently adding a Frozen land to their theme parks. The areas are going to be a game changer for the company and are set to rival the already astounding lands of Batuu and Pandora at Walt Disney World. In a press statement about the Paris development the company stated, “As part of the fully immersive land, guests will see in the distance the snow-capped mountain of Arendelle opposite a magnificent lake, with an attraction that will take them to the center of the Kingdom”. It is exciting news for Frozen fans across the world and the wait should only have to be until 2023. However, in the meantime there is always a trip to Norway available.

Shebeens – Scotland’s secret drinking dens

Shebeens are a phenomena that have lasted centuries. These illegal, secretive places were kept under wraps. Knowledge passed on by word of mouth, friend to friend. Yet where did these Shebeens come from? And are they still around today? By Andrew Cook It’s typical of humanity. We created alcohol, we set restrictions around drinking alcohol, then we kept drinking anyway, regardless of the laws put in place. Yet who better to personify humanity’s obsession with alcohol than the Scots? We’ve worked hard to give an international reputation as a nation of heavy drinkers. After all, we perfected whisky – why shouldn’t we perfect drinking it!? Which is probably part of the reason Shebeens were so common in Scotland! Shebeen Shebeen comes from the Irish Gaelic word síbín which means illicit whisky, which probably didn’t help our obsession with them. After all, everything tastes better when it’s forbidden to us! This word has been used as far back as the 1700s, across both Ireland, Scotland, and even South Africa! In simplest terms, a Shebeen is comparable to an American ‘speakeasy. They are privately set-up, illegal places for drinking. The attraction was immediate for numerous reasons. Home-brew alcohol was one reason for many. Home-brew alcohol is not only cheap in production, but with no need to add on tax – it’s even cheaper! Whereas pubs and ale houses had staff, tax, and purchases to cover, many drank at Shebeens because every copper went a little further to getting that warm glow in the stomach. Shebeen stillThe History of Shebeens on Scotland The Old Town in Glasgow had a rather notorious reputation for Shebeens. The North British Daily Mail published a report labelledThe Dark Side of Glasgowclaiming that in the Old Town alone, there were over 200 brothels and 150 shebeens. Although it’s best to take anything from that publication with a pinch of salt. Accurate numbers were of course impossible. After all, these establishments were designed to be a secret, or at the very least the knowledge was kept within small drinking circles. But drinking at these shebeens didn’t necessarily mean good whisky and company. World War Two brought dark times to Scotland. Not just for the sacrifices made by Scotland’s sons during the war effort, but also for the lack of whisky throughout the land! This era brought a low point to all drinking premises in Scotland, but most of all to the shebeens which prided themselves on cheap alcohol – leading to years of drinking Australian wine! No, probably not a bold Shiraz, or vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon, but the worst of the worst. As was the custom, they mixed with various methylated spirits known as Red Biddyor Jake. It’s a miracle we didn’t have a generation gone blind from drinking in these shebeens.
Glen Nochty
Glen Nochty
Locations An impossible task to narrow down. Due to their highly discretionary nature, many shebeens will be unreported to this date. There are, however, a fair few that live in infamy. Eppie ‘lucky’ Thane was one such canny shebeen operator. Living around Glen Nochty in Aberdeenshire, she not only defied eviction by trickery and fast talking, but also set-up a thriving shebeen for the locals. Producing bread and cheese was not going to cut it as a business plan. So she began to sell own illicit whisky from Glen Nochty’s many illicit stills to go with the bread and cheese on offer. Which sounds like heaven after a hard day’s work. While serving the bread and cheese she would ask a half gill, or a gill?. Or in other words – a dram, or a big dram?. On the occasion that she was caught by those authorities investigating, she merely claimed that the whisky was a gift of hospitality! Customers only paid for the bread and cheese! In Glasgow, shebeens were reported to avoid being caught in other ways. Alcohol bottles were deliberately mis-labelled as containing vinegar, or lime juice. Probably best not to put on your fish supper though! Shebeens were a national phenomenon, yet one more notorious than others was situated on Orkney. Now known for its tranquility and scenery, back in the 1940’s it was the home of The Golden Slipper. A house of ill-repute on the outskirts of Stenness, it catered for youths and the numerous servicemen across the isles. The Golden Slipper was quite literally the front room of the house of Willie Farquhar, also known as ‘The Al Capone of OrkneyBy all accounts, it was dark and filthy, with an old bus-seat in place of a sofa. But, like any place where people gather on the islands, it was absolutely alive with music Dark and filthy maybe, but it filled its patrons’ desires, and stayed open for twenty years. Serving illicit whisky in teacups, it was only shut down in the 1960s. Orkney’s illegal party days were over.
Shebeen Namibia
Shebeens have even travelled as far as AFrica – Shebeen Bar Drinking Establishment on B10 Road near Kapako, Namibia
Shebeens Today It is the catch, that truly successful shebeens will rarely be well-known. After all, fame isn’t necessarily a good idea for an illicit business. However there are certainly shebeens that have been discovered to this day. During this era of Covid, shebeens have popped up in Counties Kerry and Monaghan in Ireland. While pubs have been shut down, opening times restricted, and distance laws applied, some have rebelled at these rules. In protest at these laws, shebeens have popped up and promptly been raided by the Guardaí. Some of these were equipped with hundreds of pints of beers in kegs, and dozens of bottles of spirits ready to serve – one even had a pool table available for patrons! For those who prefer a legal imitation of shebeens, one company is making their money by providing replica shebeens for events. By using custom-made, pop-up shebeens, they allow weddings and parties to create the atmosphere of a shebeen while they drink and celebrate whatever they choose. They also don’t have to fear the police knocking down their doors! Perhaps shebeens are still around today. Maybe you even frequent one. But for the vast majority of us, they are a thing of the past. A small fragment of our underground history. The legacy of generations of rebellious alcoholism. They definitely sounded like a lot of fun though.  

We are Over the Hump! Issue 35

We are officially ‘Over the Hump’! It is Wednesday, and the downhill slope to the weekend starts here! Our highlights from across where-i-live.com this week include :  
  • Scotland may be best known for whisky, gin and Irn Bru. But there is a new drink in town – Scottish vodka. Its popularity is rising and there is a surprising variety of flavours and brands to try. Read more here.
  • Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Rock stars promote it, but only one bar truly epitomised the hedonistic lifestyle adored by so many. Bullets in the walls, hundreds of bar fights, and with a reputation for female customers dancing on bar tops, the Hungry Duck earned its infamous standing in history. But what brought the downfall of Moscow’s most infamous bar? Discover more here.
  • Where once, popping round for pot of tea was the norm, nowadays few of us view it as such. Social etiquette has reversed and now, a surprise visit between friends and family is regarded as being both rude, and an inconvenient nuisance. Have we marred social civility by disregarding this quaint tradition? And what are the new etiquette rules on visiting family and friends? Find out more here.
  • The Runrig farming system was once common system of land tenure across Scotland, especially in the Highlands. It was a fair system that sustained large populations in an adverse climate. So why did it end? Find out here.
  • You can follow Over The Hump on Twitter at @Over_theHump
  • Ever since opening in 1995, Denver International Airport has been the subject of conspiracy theories linking it to government cover-ups and the world’s elite. The airport’s artwork which includes a model of a demon horse with glowing red eyes and a statue of the Egyptian god of death have only fueled the rumours that the airport is a centre of evil! Discover more here.
  • This ordinary ship from the Clyde has had an extraordinary life – from rescuing survivors at Dunkirk in its early years to its final resting place where it now features as the backdrop to the most photographed beach in Europe. This is the story of the MV Panagiotis. Read our article here.
  • You can follow Compass on Twitter @WIL_Compass

The Scottish Vodka Boom Coming to a Bar Near You

Scotland may be best known for whisky, gin and Irn Bru. But there is a new drink in town – Scottish vodka. Its popularity is rising and there is a surprising variety of flavours and brands to try. By James McKean With the craft beer market long since saturated, and the craft gin scene gradually abating, distilleries the world over have been experimenting with alternative spirits in order to get ahead of the curve: to secure a stake in the next phase of the craft alcohol movement. The rest of the world has turned to whisky, rum, and mezcal; while Scotland’s distilleries, on the other hand, have focused their energies on a spirit that has never, unlike gin, experienced a lull in its popularity; a spirit that remains, in big brand form, as ubiquitous as ever: vodka. An unusual direction to take when considering that over £204 million worth of vodka is sold annually in Scottish pubs. It’s a wonder that anyone could even consider re-selling the mainstay of every bar speed rail, and yet, the last few years has seen a serious uptake in distilleries throughout Scotland opening with the purpose of producing vodka, and other, already established companies in the drinks game, such as the world famous Brewdog, trying their hand at making the traditionally potato-based spirit. So, what has been the impetus for this unforeseen fascination, what ingredients are the distillers experimenting with, and to which global markets are these brands selling to? Why has the artisan Scottish vodka business grown so much in recent years? Forgoing Scotland’s already established national drink, whiskey, craft distillers have turned their attention to vodka – a drink more commonly associated with, and championed by, such nations as Russia, Poland, and Sweden. Even in 2019, the three top vodka brands sold in Scotland were Smirnoff, Absolute, and Glen’s. So, what has given Scotland the Dutch courage to challenge such a well-defined market? Following on from other U.K-wide craft alcohol scenes, namely, the recent craft gin boom, which made £612m in export in 2018, many distilleries and breweries have been since looking for new, unique ways to profit off the craft alcohol movement. One trend that is noticeable in the typically capricious craft market is that quirky, out-there products tend to work, and sell, best – whether that be unusual craft beer flavours, or unexpected botanicals used in gins. It is within this line of thinking that the emerging Scottish craft vodka distilleries – including the likes of Ogilvy Vodka and Arbikie – are thinking, with vodka being a particularly unusual and quirky choice to fit within the ‘craft alcohol’ bracket. The more unique, the better – and with the market being bereft of any major ‘craft’ vodkas, the desire to fill that gap is obviously strong amongst craft distillers. Although the craft movement is happening the world over, Scotland has contributed greatly towards the development thereof – Brewdog, for example, now operate nearly 80 bars worldwide – which puts the nation in a good position for developing the scene further – now, with vodka. Scottish vodkaWhat ingredients are they using? The ethos of many of the new-age vodka distilleries in Scotland is to re-establish in the public’s eye what makes a vodka; vodka, taken for granted by many, is often disregarded as lacking in variety, flavour, substance, and is oftentimes drowned heavily with mixer, taken as a shot, or considered to be merely the alcoholic element of a cocktail – but never enjoyed simply for taste. The key players in the Scottish craft vodka scene have been looking to, of course, put taste first, but also experiment with a variety of different ingredients during the fermentation process, in order to give the spirit a new flavoursome edge. The Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery opened in 2013 and, prior to experimenting with vodka, found a name for themselves with their popular craft gin, Kirsty’s Gin. They started off with a traditional potato-based vodka, but later introduced their unique Haar Wheat Vodka in late 2017. Made from Zulu wheat- grown and harvested onsite – this vodka is described as being smooth with pastry and caramel notes. The Strathleven Distillers, on the other hand, have given a distinctly Scottish characteristic to their product, the Valt Single Malt Vodka. Like single malt whiskeys, this vodka is distilled exclusively using single malt barley, giving the spirit a richness, and making it totally unique from all other vodkas in the world! Ogilvy’s Scottish Potato Vodka have put a unique spin on the traditional vodka recipe, by using only wonky potatoes that have been rejected by supermarkets. Whether or not this potato selection adds any additional flavour to the vodka, it certainly helps with food waste surplus. Nonetheless, this vodka is described as having earthy, fruity, and creamy notes. Brewdog’s Lone Wolf Vodka focuses less on ingredients and more on the distilling process itself, filtering the spirit only once, and by purportedly using the biggest still in the whole of Europe! The end product is described as being sweet and spicy, and is served with ice. To which markets are they selling? Given how easily the rest of the world caught on to Scotland’s craft beer and gin produce, it won’t be long before many of the country’s craft vodka offerings are available further afield- and some already are! In the summer of 2020, Arbikie signed a deal with a Canadian drinks company, allowing for the Scottish firm’s vodka to be sold in Canadian supermarkets! This deal is indicative that the Scottish craft vodka scene is moving in the right direction, and, like the success of the country’s craft beer, will hopefully continue to grow notoriety on a global scale.