Romanian Book of the Undead

A 73-year-old Romanian man has held a dress rehearsal for his funeral, with grieving mourners and a sermon from the village priest. He even tried out his grave for size and found it comfortable. Had he worked in a circus he'd know that a flawless rehearsal is no guarantee of anything. When the fateful day arrives, his bored kinsfolk will probably be picking their noses during his eulogy. As for the priest, he’ll surely want revenge on the silly old git for wasting his time. Fluffing his lines would be too obvious, so maybe he'll sneak a fart into the coffin just before the lid goes on. I bet the slaves who were buried alive with the Pharaohs guffed into the sarcophagus until their gas supply ran out.

Such morbid events do little for the image of Romania, which has been tarnished enough by the vampire legends. It’s about time our friend Gadjo Dilo got off his Balkan backside and did something for his country’s reputation. Having had the good fortune to grow up among the Thames Valley elite, he has a pastoral obligation to the simple folk of his native land. Although he’s too modest to admit it, he’s obviously become something of a local Bwana since his return. I’m sure the Romanian Tourist Board would make him their Czar if he offered to help.

The first thing for Gadjo to sort out would be the behaviour of the peasantry. Garlic and crucifixes would be out, gay dances and motley costumes would be in. The men would be ordered to trim their bushy eyebrows and the women would be asked to remove their facial hair. As a reward for compliance, they’d be given permission to carve wooden hobgoblins and sell them to the tourists at inflated prices.

Work should then begin on a Dracula theme park in Bucharest, emphasising the positive aspects of the Bram Stoker legend. Visiting matrons could re-live their maidenhood by donning virgin costumes and being chased by saturnine gigolos intent on giving them a hickey. The men could take part in an archery tournament involving the firing of wooden stakes into an effigy of Van Helsing (thereby giving the sadistic twerp a belated taste of his own medicine). A special blood-red cherry cola would be served to the kiddies after a ride in the Flying Vampire Bat. The whole experience would put Disneyworld to shame.

The last thing Gadjo should do is make a promotional TV commercial for the tourist market. The tried-and-tested formula is to show a local celebrity enjoying himself in the company of big-breasted models. The obvious star to hire would be Ilie Năstase, the former tennis champion, who bedded the entire ladies’ quarter-final draw of the 1972 French Open. The sight of “Nasty” munching Moldavian meatballs while ogling Transylvanian titties would have the European masses rushing to their travel agents.

The big growth market for the future is archaeology-tourism. In Africa, guests interested in the origins of homo sapiens will pay a substantial fee to dig up bones and artefacts under the supervision of the Big White Professor (honkus americanus). I’m hoping to persuade some of these earnest humans to dig up insects and roots instead, under the supervision of the Big Hairy Gorilla (gorilla gorilla). An imaginative fellow like Gadjo might offer similar activities to people visiting his own country. Provided, of course, there is anything worth digging up in Romania.

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