Sunday 21 March 2010

Selling newspapers

Mihai Florescu from whom I buy my morning paper in University Square came to Bucharest and started as a paper-boy when he was thirteen and fresh from the country. When he arrived in town he was wearing peasant costume for that was in 1935. The newspapers he has sold have born headlines about the Munich crisis, the abdication of King Carol II and the death of Stalin, about Ion Tiriac and Nadia Comaneci and, more regularly than anyone else, about Nicolae Ceausescu. This week they proclaim that Romania has entered NATO. In those 68 years Tudor has never read a newspaper. I don’t think he can read. The events recorded in the papers he sold didn’t impinge a lot on his existence, with the notable exceptions I suppose of the earthquakes of 1940 and 1977. Even the war touched him relatively little despite the German wartime bombing raids and the Soviet troops marching down the Calea Victoriei. And one day in December 1989 a friend warned him to keep away from his pitch because they were shooting people in University Square. Tudor stayed in the basement room that he shared with a widow for a week until it was safe to ply his trade once more.

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