They are very other-worldly but are often materialistic. Romanians are very much friendlier than the English but much, much more formal.Respect is terribly important – because power is terribly important.The Romanians who were continuously oppressed by their rulers and foreigners take pride in their kings.Romania has so far escaped the worldwide cultural revolution – not Mao’s one, but the one that happened in the capitalist world starting in the 1960s and which is showing no signs of abating.I suppose that was how it was in Victorian England too, except with less wine.Romanians who were twenty or so in 1989 are usually much better read than the English.They tend to be conventional and conformist but my friends are not.You can be eccentric in Romania and bohemian, but it takes more courage than in England, where eccentrics are not tolerated but admired.
In Romania under Communism television only broadcast for two hours a day meant until the Revolution the Romanians were spared a huge amount of idiocy and had time instead for reading, conversation, drinking wine, and the national sport, seducing one another.People become adults when they start work, just like in England until the 1950s.But if feminism and political correctness have not arrived, two even more important legacies of the 1960s in the West, consumerism and celebrity culture, are here and Romania has a tabloid press like everywhere else.Someone told me when I came here that ‘Romanians have no gratitude and no mercy’ and that is certainly true of very many, though by no means all.They are very mystical yet have their feet on the ground. They are very suspicious and live in an atmosphere of fear.Taxi drivers become very dull when they talk about the political class in general (we know they are thieves and bandits) but they have much to say that is very interesting about God, how things were in the old days, love and death. Despite the terrible damage that Communism did to this country, which it maimed, there is still a tremendous sense of cohesion and common values.People are assumed to be Orthodox, unless proven otherwise.Catholics are considered odd but are regarded as slightly grand – but Adventists, Baptists and adherents to other sects are not considered true Romanians at all. I only wish this cohesiveness went with a sense of public spirit, but this seems to be absent in all the Orthodox as well as all the post-Communist countries. So Claudia Pendred says and she is an expert, but I usually drink plonk.I do however love the only grape which is unique to this part of the world, Feteasca Neagra. Bucharest, the European Havana, is still probably the most interesting capital city in many ways in Europe.Those who are not well read nevertheless have a surprisingly large amount of information about their medieval history and take pride in it.Only a minority of people in England, I was shocked to discover recently, know who were Hengist and Horsa, the first Englishmen recorded by history and our Burebistas.