I'd like to respond to the impressive historiography of the Skopjan Risto Stefov whose outpourings on Balkan – and particularly Greek history, on which the man has an unhealthy fixation – often appear on the internet, and particularly on American Chronicle. Following the same rigourous standards of intellectual honesty and historical accuracy as Mr Stefov, here's my version of the history of the Skopjans in the Balkans:
The Skopjans or Vardaskans or Fyromians or Bulgarians – a Turkish tribe from Mongolia – took a wrong turning looking for stray horses on the Central Asian steppes and wound up in the Balkans on Friday the 13 November 698 AD; and soon became famous, according to the great Byzantine historian, anthropologist and stand up comedian Steve Archimedes, for indulging in goat worship, playing music with their armpits and eating the toenail clippings of their sisters-in-law. Archimedes writes; 'Of all the barbarian tribes, we [the Byzantine Greeks] encountered, these proto-Skopjans made us laugh the most. I made a fortune in Constantinople regaling the emperor with stories about their funny ways.'
The proto-Skopjans carried on with their bizarre, primitive customs and way of life for the next few centuries, gradually shedding their Turkish identity and adopting a Slavic one – until the Greek monks Kyrillos and Methodios, from the Greek city of Thessaloniki, the second most important city, after Constantinople, in the Byzantine Empire, took pity, decided enough was enough, the joke had gone too far and introduced the uncouth tribe to Greek letters and Hellenic Christianity.
In the nineteenth century, an escapee from an Adrianople insane asylum, named Darko Kokov, a Skopjan from the village of Skataov in Illyria, started to have visions that he was the great Aztec leader Montezuma and that the Skopjans were not Turko-Bulgarians but Aztecs.
The well-known nineteenth century English traveller Lord Alfred Bigwig, who befriended Kokov, describes in his 1877 classic, Travels among the deluded spacemen of the Balkans, his first encounter with Kokov: 'He was a squat man with long arms and big teeth, his hair grown to three feet in length. He wore animal skins, lipstick and expressed great interest in what the fashionable women in Piccadilly Circus were wearing this season. He drank cat urine, just as he claimed his ancestor Montezuma did, and had a virulent, paranoid hatred of all things Spanish, even though he admitted he had never met a Spaniard and thought Spain was in India. "The Spaniards stole my country and are trying to destroy me," Darko, or the Son of Montezuma as he now insisted his fellow Skopjo-Aztecs call him, declared to anyone who would listen.'
In a short space of time, Bigwig records, Darko, or Montezuma, by sheer force of personality and a good line in mother-in-law jokes, was able to attract a number of followers among the Skopjan peasantry, and rallies and celebrations were held in which old Aztec customs – goat races, nose picking contests and the 'is it a dog or is it a bitch' festival, were revived; or at least Darko said they were Aztec customs, since Bigwig – a pre-Columbian dilettante – notes that his pet monkey Charlie knew more about Aztec civilisation than Kokov.
At the height of his powers, Bigwig writes, and just as he was preparing to embark on a military campaign to recapture Mexico City from the Spanish, Darko caught a cold and died, but not before a strange deathbed confession – that Bigwig witnessed – in which Darko admitted he was not the reincarnation of Montezuma and that the Skopjans had nothing to do with the Aztecs. 'I am, in fact,' Darko declared, according to Bigwig, 'the reincarnation of Alexander the Great and a myrtle tree named Branka and my people are not Aztecs but Macedonians. Tell my people, a five-headed chicken in a dream made this revelation to me. I repeat: tell my brothers and sisters that we are not Aztecs, we are Macedonians. Also tell them to put five pounds to win on Bonzo the Bulgarian in the Grand National.'
Darko the Great soiled his bed, then passed into the next world. Bigwig writes: 'Never has there been a crazier cat than Darko Kokov. My pet tortoise Frank made more sense than he did.'
Baron Fritz von Dingledoff, the freelance German archaeologist, who was in the Balkans at the same time as Bigwig, records in his classic Aryan excursions among the Skopjans and other fantasists that there was much grieving among Darko's followers on the news of their leader's sudden end, but also confusion after it was revealed to them that they were not Aztecs and the descendants of Montezuma but Macedonians, descended from Alexander the Great.
Von Dingledoff says 'Darko's followers had grown accustomed to their Aztec identity and wanted proof that it had been revealed to Darko that he was Alexander the Great and they were now Macedonians. There were dark murmurings and strife in the air. Surely Macedonia is and always has been Greek and the Macedonians are and always have been Hellenes. Then a man with only one leg emerged from a cave and spoke to the crowd: "Brothers and sisters, I was there when Darko copped it," Bisto Jerkov said, "and I can confirm that my sheep – who is my constant companion – addressed Darko and revealed to him that he, Darko, was Alexander the Great and that we, the Skopjo-Bulgarians, are not Aztecs but Macedonians. I admit there was confusion over whether the sheep said Macedonians or Mozambicans, and we all had to cock our ears to hear better, but I am certain, as certain as I am of my one leg and bladder condition, that the sheep, who has been my closest friend for 25 years, said we are Macedonians. In all the time we have been lovers, the sheep has never lied to me or let me down. We are what the sheep says we are. If the sheep says we are Macedonians, then we are Macedonians. Long live the sheep!"'
Von Dingledoff goes on to record that on revealing the pronouncements of the sheep, some in the crowd threw stones at Jerkov, but others said Jerkov was an honest man and they would be condemned to hell if they went against the sheep.
Since the Skopjans could not decide whether they were Aztecs or Macedonians and the rivalry between the different camps threatened to spill over into violent confrontation, it was decided by the leading Skopjans of the day to hold a wrestling match between the strongest Skopjan at the time, Madam Svetlana Titsov, and a bear.
If Madam Titsov won, the Skopjans would be Aztecs, if the bear prevailed they would proclaim themselves Macedonians. A circle was formed and a long struggle ensued. After three hours, 30-stone Madam Titsov finally managed to pin the bear to the ground and sit on the poor animal's face, suffocating him with her fleshy rear. It seemed all over for the bear, the end was near, until, drawing on its last reserves of strength, it dislodged Madam Titsov and bit her head off.
Thus, it was, according to Von Dingledoff – who went on to become Hitler's favourite manicurist – that the Skopjans came to believe they were Macedonians. 'If Madam Titsov had managed to keep sitting on the bear's face for five more seconds,' Von Dingledoff writes, 'the bear surely would have perished and the Skopjans rather than regarding themselves as Macedonians would be promulgating the idea that they are Aztecs. On such small details,' the German concludes 'are the fates of crazy peoples decided.'