Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Last night in the Writers' Union

A dusty event in the wonderful grand room of the Writers’ Union. An event to mark the 135th anniversary of Brancusi's birth; not I thought an excessively significant epoch. Most of the historic centre of Bucharest was like this when I came to live here in 1998. Gilt ceiling in Mid-Victorian taste of the 1870s overlaid by the patina of Communism, the dusty 19th century room shrouded in opaque grey net curtains. Do you know that the heart must stop? From the yellow Italianate ceiling do you hear the plaster drop? Everyone present seems deliciously dusty and the speakers make cloudily poetic repetitive speeches about Brancusi and God. Romanians who are at ease in Zion speak about God in a way that Englishmen do not. As if he exists just as surely as the sun rises each morning. Vlad Ciobanu the sculptor. An artist beside him whose jacket, billycan hat and trousers are all one size too small as if he is starting to increase in stature like the hero of Mircea Eliade’s A Great Man. A long list is read out by the President of the Writer’s Union of dignitaries who are awarded a medallion  for services to culture starting with the Prime Minister. Almost none are present and the list goes on for twenty minutes like a scene from Gormenghast. Everyone here is nice, intelligent and none rich. How little I know of Romania. Florica Pacea is a chic blonde explosion in a black and white film  as she receives a medal for her absent husband.

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