Saturday, 5 May 2012


My ironing is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all. I iron once every 15 years, very badly. 

But I do shave myself. The man who used to cut my hair at Trumper's when I occasionally splurged on a haircut there, a Hungarian Jew called  Mr. Lewis, used to shave daily the brother of the Earl of I forget who. This always seemed to be truly grand and very nineteenth century.

Mr. Lewis left Hungary when the Hungarian Prime Minister, whose hair he cut, advised him to. The Prime Minister asked Mr. Lewis if he had thought of leaving Hungary. Mr. Lewis replied that he intended to do so in a couple of weeks. The Prime Minister said 'I'd get out today if I were you' and so Mr. Lewis did.

We learnt that in the USSR it was normal for men to be shaved when the HIV vaccine began to be spread by safety razors in Gorbachev's Russia. The BBC showed pictures of barbershops that reinforced my suspicion that I might find the USSR more congenial than the UK, as a foreigner. I wonder if people were shaved each day here in Romania too. I recall seeing men being shaved in a barber's shop in a small drowsy town in Cuba, Spiritus Sanctus

How wonderful to be shaved each day. On the handful of occasions when I have gone off without  a shaving kit and gown a light beard, and have gone to the barbers in Boulevard Regina Elisabeta to be shaved, the experience has been quite delightful. It takes half an hour but makes me feel wonderfully relaxed and male. Putting collar studs in has the same masculine quality but I left my studs and shirts with detachable collars in England. I suppose for women stockings and suspenders are the equivalent. But not waxing and those other pragmatic female ordeals. 

My lightbulbs are changed by my neighbour which sounds like a joke. Tonight he extracted my key which had been stuck in the lock for a day.

I am not rich but have never had to do housework. It surprises me that some Englishwomen (but no Romanian women) get annoyed when I tell them this. When I go onto say that Romanian women do not want feminism to come to Romania they sometimes get very cross.

Women are born to sorrow.

I told a cousin of mine that I rarely went to the supermarket and his striking reply was, 'You don't live in the real world.' I thought, 'But I live surrounded by child prostitutes and gypsy beggars' (this was an exaggeration but the old town in Bucharest was a slum in those not far-off days not a collection of restaurants and bric-a-brac shops.) But perhaps my cousin was right. Perhaps the real world is one big hypermarket and shopping centre, plus Facebook. It may be so.

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