A tangled skein (1): Romanian wedding, 1984

We had driven all day from Budapest and arrived at Oradea (dubbed 'Oh dear' by one wit) well after nightfall. Not too late for the beggars however, who mobbed the coach demanding cans of /kəʊ::kə kəʊ::lə/.

I convinced one particularly pressing lout that I hated coke and therefore had none, whereupon he offered me a wad of banknotes for my Instamatic. This was no use to me: in those days it was impossible to take Romanian lei out of the country and there was precious little to spend them on inside it.

When we finally reached the hotel, which made a Barking doss house look like the Ritz, there was a wedding in progress; ever on the qui vive for a free drink, a group of us gate-crashed the party.

The drink must have been good because I don’t remember much else, except that I got chatting to an extremely beautiful young woman and made a clumsy pass. She fended this off more graciously than it deserved and we ended up swapping addresses.

I received a lovely letter from her about six weeks later, to which I replied, but I never heard from her again. I know now that she would have had to report our conversation to the Securitate and that our letters would have been opened; perhaps mine to her never arrived; perhaps her father intervened; perhaps.

© Simon M Hunter 2010

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