Moorcock, Michael - SS - The Romanian Question.pdf

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The Romanian
Michael Moorcock
Scanned & Proofed By MadMaxAU
* * * *
All that day the train travelled at high speed westwards,
through Roumania. It did not stop, but slackened speed
slightly as it passed through the larger towns en route. Only
the higher officials of the Roumanian main railway line knew of
the passage of the special, heavily-screened train, its
destination or its passengers. Towards midnight, the
Yugoslav frontier lay only a few miles ahead. As the lights of
Timisoara, capital city of Banat, the rich wheat province of
Western Roumania, began to glow through the darkness, the
driver sounded the engine whistle to warn the station of his
approach. The train slowed down to pass through. Just as it
left the station platform and was again gathering speed, sharp
flashes and the staccato cracks of rifle fire burst from the
thick undergrowth of the steep embankments by the side of
the railway track. Bullets spattered sharply against the steel
framework of the carriages and crackled against the
reinforced glass of the windows. The driver quickly
accelerated and the train shot forward at full speed towards
Yugoslavia - and safety. The would-be assas-sins, it was
discovered later, were members of the Iron Guard, the
Fascist terrorists of Roumania who, at the behest of Adolf
Hitler, had brought about the downfall of King Carol, brought
his realm to ruin and degraded it to the level of a province of
Nazi Germany.
King Carol, Hitler and Lupescu,
A.L. Easterman, 1942
MOURNING THE EXCESSIVE fantasies of an unhappy celibacy, Jerry
Cornelius split with some feeling from the Car-pathian convent where, for
the past few years, he had been holing up. Life looked to him as if it might
just be worth living again. Eastern Europe was perking with a vengeance.
Though it had to be said, some people were already waving goodbye to
their first flush of Ruritanian innocence.
“My view of the matter, Mr C, is that we should’ve nuked the bastards
where it hurts.” In middle age Shakey Mo Collier was growing to resemble
the more disturbed aspects of Enoch Powell. His pedantry had a tenancy to
increase as his enthu-siasm faded, and Mo, Jerry thought, was nothing
without his enthusiasms. He blew Mo a kiss for old time’s sake and climbed
into his coat-of-many-colours, his leather check. It still had the smell of a
hundred ancient battles, most of them lost. “Down these mean malls a man
must shop.” He checked his credit the way he had once checked his heat.
These were proving easy times for him. But he missed the resistance. Who
had given him all this unearned power whilst he slept?
It was then that he realised he had dozed out a class war in which the
class he had opposed, his adoptive own, had won back everything it had
seemed to lose and now had no further ambition but to maintain its
privileges with greater vigilance than last time. He was the unwilling
beneficiary of this victory. He became confused, too sick to spend. He felt
his old foxy instincts stirring. He grew wary. He grew shifty. He stepped
* * * *
What Jessica Douglas-Home observed as she touted the
polling booths with her interpreter and driver was that only
members of the Salvation Front were represented at the
polling stations. Opposition members had everywhere been
prevented from turning up. Opposition workers reported
posters torn down and offices ransacked, even by the police.
Opposition newspapers were mislaid or destroyed and
despite a decree that campaign-ing must stop two days
before the election, there was the last-minute distribution of a
free newspaper publishing photographs of all the official
candidates. “Every one from the Ceausescu era,” says
Jessica sadly. “Simply a game of musical chairs.”
Sunday Telegraph, 27 May 1990
THE TIME MACHINE was a sphere of milky fluid attached to the front
lamp-holder of a Raleigh ‘Royal Albert’ Police Bicycle of the old, sturdy
type, before all the corruption had been made public. Jerry hated the look
and feel of the thing, but he needed to take a quick refresher in 1956, to
see if some of the associations made sense. At the moment, as he wiped
the Bucharest dust from his handle-bars and checked his watches, he was
down-right terrified.
Was it just the threat of liberty which alarmed him, or was the world
actually on the brink of unimaginable horror as, in his bones, he feared? He
shuddered. Whatever they might say, he had never relished the worst.
Especially when the best seemed so much more within his grasp.
Yet this was the dangerous time. It always was. “As power-holders lay
down their arms, those who have known little power are quick to seek
advantages.” Prinz Lobkowitz bent to pump up the front tyre, his wispy grey
hair falling over eyes in which humour sought to disguise the concern he
felt. “And there is nothing to say they won’t abuse that power as thorough-ly
as their predecessors down the centuries. It’s the same in the Middle East.
Most of these people have never experienced anything like the familiar
democracy of the West. They have no faith in it. They have been supplied
with myths which prove how degenerate and immoral it was. These are
deeply conservative people. They worship their ignorance since that was all
of their religion that was left to them. They defend their ignor-ance as others
might defend a principle.”
“Sometimes you don’t sound a lot different from the party hacks.”
Jerry gave the front wheel an experimental bounce. “That’s a lot better.
Prinz Lobkowitz fitted the pump back on the frame. “They are all
shades, I suppose.”
Jerry got the bike into the proper rhythm and was gone before he
could say goodbye. The pearly grey mist opened before him. It was good
to be on the move again. He only hoped no-one had changed the old
megaflow routes.
This would not be the best moment to be Lost in Time, though God
knew, it looked as if the whole of England was now in that situation. He had
never imagined a future as miserable as this. He had thought the Sex
Pistols had meant something more than a trend in T-shirts. They had all
been bought over by lifestyle magazines.
He gazed wonderingly back at this unbearable future and found
himself suddenly in a coffee-bar in Soho talking to some-one called Max,
who waxed his moustache and wore a pointed beard, about Blind Jesse
Fuller and Woody Guthrie. These were the years of private obsession, of
small groups of enthusiasts never acknowledged by the common media,
not even Melody Maker which was full of Duke Ellington and referred to
Elvis only on the cartoon page. “This was before your enthusiasm became
the common currency of the sixties,” said a Shade, “and you thought you
had achieved a better world. Then you sold it back to them for shares in
Biba, Mary Quant and Ann Summers, just as they merged with the City.”
“Humbug!” Jerry desperately attempted to disengage from a morality
he thought he’d discarded years before. “I don’t want any of this. Where’s
my mother?” She would understand. He had missed total immersion. When
he was this aware of actuality, he tended to retreat in every complex way he
knew. Time experienced at such relentlessly close quarters gave him the
heeby-jeebies. He shivered. 1956 had been bad enough without this as
It was time to split again.
* * * *
In the case of Roumania and King Carol, Goebbels had a
superb opportunity to demonstrate his perverted talents. Ten
years’ experience as Hitler’s supreme disseminator of
calumny and hatred had made him master of every trick and
twist of this iniquitous profession. Since he had made the
science of Jew-baiting with the poison pen his specialty, he
found no difficulty in applying his evil genius to the peculiar
conditions prevailing in Roumania where, for many decades,
the ‘problem’ of the Jews had been raised to a front rank
political issue.
King Carol, Hitler and Lupescu
BUT THE SIXTIES and seventies made him cry. He couldn’t stand the
sense of loss. How had they all been persuaded to hand their keys back to
their jailors?
Was freedom really so frightening?
Evidently a lot of Romanians thought so.
* * * *
President Ion Iliescu pledged yesterday to keep Romania on
the road to democracy and to end what he called the
country’s moral decay.
Reuter/Majorca Daily Bulletin, 21 June 1990
“DON’T TELL ME!” Jerry smiled at the air-stewardess as she laid her towel
at the edge of the pool. He leaned his arms beside it and tried to drag his
pale body higher from the water of Tooting Bee Baths. “You’re psychic
too!” Her answering sneer would have sunk the Bismarck. “I knew it!” Jerry
was in a fairly insensitive mood that afternoon. “I like your taste in
boob-tubes,” got him reported to the life-guard and, “Come fly with me,”
thrown out of the pool area.
As he slouched off across Tooting Common, whistling to his horrible
dog, he wondered if his grandma was home from work and maybe good for
half-a-crown, or at least a bag of toffees (she did half-time at Rowntree’s).
He jumped further backward until he was comfortably unaware of his free
movement through Time and was able to turn his attention from the
stewardess, still baffled by his sixties’ slang, to the toy-soldier shop back
near St Leonard’s Church in Streatham Hill, a few minutes walk up the main
road and down towards the Common. He wanted to make sure his naval
gun-team was still there. He’d given the man 9d a week for it and he was
only another l/6d away; but he couldn’t be sure of anything any more. Was
he creator or the created? This unlikely thought made him pop in to the
quiet of the church and glare with some respect at the stained glass
prophets whom he now completely confused with God. For him, God had
become a plurality of saints and angels. He’d had Rudolf Steiner to thank
for that. Jerry - or someone like him - grinned into the dusty shadows of the
Anglican sacristy. There was nothing left to steal.
Jerry tipped his hat to the new generation and turned back to his toys.
Two more weeks and he could land a team on Forbidden Island. His
sailors almost within his grasp and the summer sun melting the sweet tar of
Streatham, he sauntered down towards Norbury and Jennings’ second
hand book shop where he planned to trade his wholesome volume of The
Captain for a novel called Monsieur Zenith by Anthony Skene, his current
literary favourite and inventor of Zenith the Albino, the smoothest crook that
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