Today is the old folks Christmas lunch. There will be about 400 of them, and I am an honorary member of their association. I have to make a short speech in Romanian, which I have had Alin translate and I have then phoneticised ( if you get my drift.) I will only be saying enjoy the food and drink, keep warm, have a happy Christmas ( phonetically Cratchiune ferrychit) and New Year.
Buying land continues to throw up mistakes made nearly 20 years ago when it was returned from the State to the original owners. A transaction ended in the bin yesterday because the same piece of land in theory belonged to two different people - though everyone knows it belongs to Mrs A. The land court in Sibiu is one of the busiest in Romania, mostly rubber stamping decisions taken at city hall level by the Mayors and endorsed by them.
Yesterday's transaction had an unexpected bonus. The lady in question had not allowed anyone to see the land certificates before getting to the Notary's office - the lovely Ioanna ( Joanna) is now pregnant - so we had no idea there was a problem until the title was checked against the cadastral plan.
On the other hand, she also owned two adjoining pieces of land that bracketed the bit she had agreed to sell to us, but had never mentioned. Would she in the meantime sell these to us whilst the other piece was sorted out?
"Oh I didn't know they would be of interest to you. How much?"
So despite the fact that we are known to be buying all the land in this area, it never occured to her that these two strategic pieces would be of interest. Sigh.
Anyway the deed was done, and Alin and I made our way to the house of another lady who has been very helpful in identifying land for sale and its owners.
No sooner were we inside than the door was flung open and another elderly lady envelopped me in her ample bosom.
This lady was living with a man ( not married) and so had no standing in terms of dealing with his property. Last summer she had negotiated the sale of some land to us, only for it to fall apart when it was discovered that their daughter, living and working in Spain, had put an inhibition on the sale of land without her permission. This isn't as devious as it sounds - it's partly a tax avoidance measure.
Now the daughter was home for Christmas and the sale was on again - but it had to be done NOW as they were all going to visit family in Bucharest TONIGHT! So we all trooped back to Ioanna and did what was required and the money changed hands in time for Christmas.
Alin got the confirmation today that he and Andrea his wife are going to have a baby. I know I'm a dinosaur, but he seems far too young to be a father at 33.
I was 28 and a man of gavitas and demeanour when the first Miss Lear graced us with her presence.
But that's different of course.