Well, I have my new shoes.
Now, I know people buy shoes every day, but these are specially special. The only shoes I have bought in the last 5 years are Timberlands. I am a very conservative in my regal clothes. Whatever I wear, I wear my Timberlands. Unless it's a wedding or funeral.
So, when my shoes fell apart - as it happens they were a pair of another brand I had been persuaded to buy, much against my better judgement - I took a strategic decision that for my mountain goat style surveying I would buy a pair of walking boots. Or shoes.
So I kitted myself up with the equivalent of a couple of hundred quid and wandered off to the shoe shop.
Now I have no real idea of how people behave in shoe shops - actually, I think most men have no idea of shopping at all - but I have to say I was somewhat unsure of how to behave. The young lady behind the counter clearly had no real interest in selling me anything, as the shop was heaving with folk. I spotted a pair of boot-like shoes with big sole - they were bright yellow.
To cut a long story short, I decided they were for me. I asked how much they were.
It turned out they were twenty pounds.
That $40 or Eur 30.
Leather uppers, solid composite soles. Sewn in uppers. Fantastic.
So I put my derelict ex-shoes into a bag and walked off to find my driver.
I was clearly visible from 100 yards away with my yellow shoes.
" Mr. King - what you buy?" I should explain that the Romanians do the names the wrong way round, so Alin thinks my name is Lear King.
" OOh, those are Cluzana.VEEERY important shoose"
It turns out that in Ceaucescu's time, these particular shoe/boots were only allowed to the ruling classes, ie his pals. They were simply unavailable in Romania. If you saw a person walking towards you with yellow shoes, you got out of his way. And it was always "his".
So there I was with my beautiful new yellow shoes.
The lady in the Bank said " Bootiful new shoose! Cluzana! I wish for my boyfrien'!"
The first mayor we met today said ( in Romanian) " Cluzana! VEEERRRY important!"
The school director, to whom I was taking books said " Oh my God, Cluzana! Where did you get them!"
And the lady cooking lunch - and, as it eventually turned out, dinner said " Alin. Where you get heem Cluzana?"
So I'm seriously proud of my shoes. I have spent time, money and effort to make these people like and help me.
And all it took was a pair of shoes that cost the equivalent of a couple of pizzas.
The rest of the day passed in a complete haze. We had a very serious meeting with mayors, consultants, secretaries taking notes, builders and translators. Every one of them asked me about my shoes. Everyone of them insisted on having a drink with me " to yore new shoose."
I have no idea what I agreed to, but my driver and translator assured me, " Mr. King, you do verrry good business today.But Mr. King, why you invite all these people for dinner at Christmas?"