...the Communists banned traditional music because they wanted to make Communist music. The country as it matures into a nation loses more music in an attempt to produce something Bulgarian. It is a poignant metaphor - to create a country, it had to ban everything. Solo is a book about what it is to become a nation and what are the things one has to lose to become a nation.We came to the National Palace of Culture, where among trade stands selling tourism in Eastern European, we watched a re-enactment of a rural wedding - showing off the products of local weaving amid chanting and oratory. As the ceremony progressed, we were proffered a small bucket. Uncomprehending, I thought I was supposed to dip my hand in the wine and splash it on my face, which produced kind smiles and giggles, but then, after a shared drink, we were drawn shyly into a dancing circle of singing women for the finale of the ceremony.
In the early hours the taxi booked for us by our hostel manager arrived - "The trustworthy taxi company is OK taxi company, but because there are many fake ones, there should be written 973 2121, which is the phone number. Try to pay attention to the number exactly, because they fake one digit number like 9702121 and it's a different taxi company, which has triple prices." Several of these cab drivers tried to pick us up first. We were driven first to the wrong, but new, Terminal, and then taken on to Terminal 1, and our uneventful Whizzair mile-eating flight to Luton, then coach to Birmingham where our daughter met us to go home, where we worked through mostly unneeded mail, communications that mattered having always been available on the web - unconstrained by place. We greeted the bored cat; our son too, though he'd left a pile of washing and a duplicitous note of apology - "I thought you were getting home tomorrow" - and hugged joyous dog Oscar looked after by our neighbours John and Jo.