'Romance in Romania' from What More Can I Say?
A wedding reception was in full swing in our little hotel in Northern Romania. Dancers old and young whirled to folk music, skirts flying, whisking round and round. Mike and I headed for the bar. A video camera zoomed in on us and we were greeted like celebrities, handed champagne and kissed on both cheeks in true Romanian fashion.
We protested that we were not guests. But they photographed us with the bride and groom and so we drank their health. Two brandies later, an elderly wedding guest insisted on dancing with me. Cadaverous and well into his seventies he had high cheekbones and grey hair. His gaunt face was alive with mischief and delight. I took my first and only polka steps then I waspishly told Mike that a general-excuse-me had just been issued and he had to perform. “It would be rude not to,” I whispered. Recognising Mike as the better prospect, my Romanian dance partner grabbed him by the waist and Polkered him away. He span Mike around for a few moments then produced a bottle of vodka, pouring us each half a tumbler full.
We left for our bedrooms and shook hands, grasping the calloused hands of a man used to hard manual labour. We staggered off. It was my birthday. In this remote corner of Romania on a cold November night, these friendly people had wanted us to share in their family celebration. All had delighted in the unfamiliarity of the situation, and in each other’s language, which neither party could understand.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book What More Can I Say?, which is a sequel to my 2009 book, I Didn't Come Here to Argue. The book is a collection of pieces written over many years.
I was persuaded by a colleague to work with him in Romania. We initially worked with a charity that helped cancer survivors, and later, we sought work in industry and commerce. This took us all over Romania – Bucharest, Timisoara, through the Carpathian Mountains to Dracula country in Transylvania. We tried to get into Ukraine but were thwarted by a female border guard toting a gun. Then we drove back to the hotel featured in this piece. It seemed a long way from home.
Home? I came to the Midlands in the 70s and have found it welcoming to someone born in London. It is here that I have found my ‘authorial voice’ - through local writers’ clubs, and university tutorials certainly – but most of all through living and working in Leicestershire.
Discovery, BBC Radio Nottingham, 30th July 1976
The Street, BBC Radio 4 Morning Story, 31st August 1978
Dilemma, BBC Radio 4, Just Afternoon, 31st Dec 1978
Parole, Justice of the Peace, 22 February 1975
Borstal Bathos, Justice of the Peace, 9 April 1977
DIY Training For Your Job, Sales Managers’ Bulletin , USA, 11 November 1977
Gold Leaf Jewellery, Observer Colour Magazine, 25 March 1979
Wood Carving, Observer Colour Magazine, 24 June 1979
The Mighty Orchestrion, Observer Colour Magazine, 7 October 1979
Building A Dream, BPB News, December 1988
A Potters’ Language of Clay, The Birmingham Post, 8 August 1989
1995 – 2010 articles, Psyche, Journal of the Psychometrics Forum
The Cricket Coach’s Guide To Man Management, Nottingham University Press, 2000
Aspiring Writer, The New Writer, March 2003
Dry and Boring Articles – How Not To Write One, The New Writer, July 2004
Making Your Characters Live, The New Writer, Jan/Feb 2006
I Didn’t Come Here To Argue, collection of journalism articles, David Roberts, 2009
Family Legends, Genealogy News, December 2007
Sense Of Duty, Writing Magazine (competition winner June 2012, publication forthcoming)
What More Can I Say?, 2013 (in preparation)