I tried making conversation with Alex, the Romanian nurse (not to be confused with Alan). I said I’d never been to Romania, but I’d seen a few films. Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days. The Death Of Mister Lazarescu.

He said (non-committal) that he’d seen Romanian films but had found them stilted. I can imagine why.

I asked what it was like coming from Romania to live in Colchester.

He said: Not very different. Colchester was just like the town in Transylvania where he came from. Alba Iulia.

It certainly looks spectacular on Google. The seven-pointed-star fortifications were partly built by the ‘Austrian Vauban…’ Which means something to me, at least…

But Transylvania was really just Hungary, I said, renamed Romania at the Treaty of Versailles. It had only become Romania in 1918, for punishment.

I was (kind of) joking. I’ve never even BEEN there, after all. But he was interested. At least up to a point.

Alex looks just like aRomanian teenager who’s gone for his first haircut. But he’s so good, and he knows it. People come to him surreptitiously and say ‘can he do a canulation’ on such-and-such. He hums and haws, but says – very grandly – that he can if they do all the prep work.

I say he should do it as often as he can. I’ve had canulations done by people who couldn’t really do them, and the results haven’t been happy…

I suppose what a really good nurse makes money-wise in Alba Iulia is not what one makes in Colchester. So Colchester’s ‘better’.


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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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