____In Radauti, by chance, I came across my collection address without having to ask for directions and the night-watchman helped see me back into the factory yard. It was no surprise when the factory manager came along the next morning and told me the load would not be ready for a couple of days. Optimistically, I thought the delay might give the weather a chance to warm up – but it did not. The goods I was taking to Britain were barbecues – the cheap, circular tin type that only last for one summer if you leave them out in the rain. The old metal work factory made other things as well, there was even a blacksmith department for shoeing horses, but all production seemed to be directed towards my barbecues and was held up by the spray shop where the cold weather refused to let the spray paint dry.
____Half way through my first morning, one of the factory girls came up and asked for a cigarette. I offered her a packet of 20 if she would go off and get me some bread. It was a job to make her understand English, so I tried “brot” and “pain” before she got the message – the Romanian for bread sounded like “ping”. As the boiler-suited worker went down the road with a pack of Kent king sized, I wondered if I would see her again; but I need not have worried, for she soon re-appeared with six large loaves. Her name was Marina, she looked about 17 and was shorter and chunkier than the average Rumanian girl. I told her to keep half of the bread, because I would never have eaten all of it before it went mouldy. We chatted away, using sign language with some German words. I asked Marina to dine with me that evening at the Scania Cab Motel. The message must have got across pretty well because she turned up at just after 7.00.
____Marina had a great sense of occasion which showed by the amount of effort she had put into her appearance. Under her long black Crombie-style overcoat and silver fox fur hat she wore what seemed to be the Romanian national costume. Elegant, lace-up black leather ankle boots, embroidery trimmed, calf length black skirt over a slight longer lace trimmed petticoat; frilly long sleeved white blouse, done up at the neck with a blue, red and yellow choker; a black satin waistcoat, trimmed with the same national flag colours and a matching headband pulling back her long black, wavy hair. Whether her mother had told Marina to get dressed up, or whether her get-up was standard eveningwear for Rumanian girls dining out with foreigners, I do not know. Maybe it was worn as an excuse to get out of doing the washing up. Whatever it was, Marina looked great. After seeing her in army boots and dark blue overalls, I thought she looked alright. Now seeing her in all the old fashioned gear, I fancied Marina like mad.
____With such fine company, I should have done better than camion stew. The meatballs, new potatoes and baked beans were well received, also the pineapple rings for dessert were a new taste for Marina, but all through dinner, I was thinking I should have been serving roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. To finish the meal, I made some proper coffee. As we sat back to relax, Marina sorted through my tape collection. She selected Dire Straits, “Brothers in Arms” which came on just at the start of the title track. Somehow, it complimented the moment perfectly. At the end of the evening, I caught Marina’s eye and glanced at the bunk, tapping my hand on the sleeping bag as her eyes followed mine. But, as they say in the Sunday papers, she made her excuses and left. Later, as I lay alone in my bed, I reflected that it was good to know that not every Romanian girl was available for a few marks, a packet of smokes or a jar of coffee.