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It was in December 1989 and for the first time in seven years I was going to see my father again.
When I had left Romania my one-way ticket was deemed by the authorities as an act of treason and my father was never granted permission to come and see me or his grandson despite his yearly pleadings and various supplications. It was no secret that I was working at the BBC.
Eventually the price of granting a passport was to ask for early retirement and then as an innocuous and rather "useless" pensioner he would be able to make his first ever visit to the West.
My birthday was also coming up and it would be the first chance after many years to spend Christmas and New Year together as a family. My managers and colleagues at the BBC knew about my story and a longer holiday was granted with me leaving the office happily on December the 16th. On the 17th my parents arrived at Heathrow and our reunion was very emotional.
Once we got home my father, a fearless and loyal listener to the BBC since the war, managed to get a weak shortwave signal and listen to his beloved 1800 hours Romanian transmission. He came, puzzled, into the kitchen where I was preparing the mother of all feasts and said: "I think we got the last flight out of Romania". No mobile, blackberry or internet at that time so I immediately phoned the office and was told that the army and police had opened fire on demonstrators in Timisoara, a multi-ethnic city in the south-west of the country. This was the beginning of the Romanian revolution.
The next day my birthday was half forgotten as we were trying to get information from papers, radio and very fragmentary news bulletins. Nobody could ring Romania directly at that time. Increasingly it felt wrong for me to stay at home on holiday. I started dropping back into the office from the 18th, with 24th of December turning into a 14-hour day.
We were putting transmissions together, managed to get our first telephone interviews with ordinary people in Romania, with dissidents, new "revolutionaries" whose letters we had only read and whose voices or even faces we had never heard or seen. The colleagues from other language services were constantly coming to us for information and interviews. Late in the evening I went to the Television Centre to do some translations for a piece being put together by John Simpson.
It was exhilarating: the country I was born in was seeing change - bloody and difficult change - but hope returned!
Together with my colleagues we were thrown in the thick of it, running with tapes between studios, putting together packages and doing live interviews like we had never done before. On the 24th in the afternoon the BBC bulletins had 12 stories and one topic: the situation in Romania.
On the 25th Ceausescu was summarily tried and shot. I felt relieved but also shocked that everything had happened so fast, brutally and differently than I thought it should be done in a new Romania. The days were merging into each other so that by the time I got my first day off, Christmas and New Year had already passed, almost unnoticed.
My parents were dazed, as after seven years of such longing to be with the family. they now secretly wanted to be in Romania and see what was happening there rather than watch it on British television.
When we clinked our glasses to the new year of 1990 little did I know that from my beloved Bush House I had witnessed and reflected history, and that my life as an editor, as well as my own personal life, would never be the same again!
This memory was submitted to the Memoryshare web service by the BBC World Service Memoryshare Team on behalf of Ruxandra Obreja and has been added to the site with the author’s permission.
19:20 - HEARTS OF GOLD - 16 December 1989
20:01 - MICKI AND MAUDE
22:12 - SPORTSCENE - 16 December 1989
22:13 - THE SHOW - 16 December 1989
19:20 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
19:33 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
20:14 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
20:59 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
21:25 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
22:00 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
22:29 - ARENA - ANIMAL NIGHT
22:59 - ARENA - THE ANIMAL NIGHT DEBATE
19:02 - BEAT THE RECORD - 16 December 1989
19:31 - R.P.O. - PREVIN/JULIE ANDREWS
20:20 - DON INNES QUARTET - 16 December 1989
21:30 - STRING SOUND - 15 July 1989
19:25 - INTERVAL TALK - FOR LUCIO CILLA
19:25 - LUCIO SILLA - 16 December 1989
22:20 - POTESTAD - 16 December 1989
19:10 - STOP THE WEEK - 16 December 1989
19:45 - DEATH OF A FLY - 16 December 1989
21:15 - MUSIC IN MIND - 16 December 1989
21:50 - TEN TO TEN - 16 December 1989
22:15 - OPEN MIND - 16 December 1989
22:45 - FACE TO FACE - KENNETH KAUNDA
23:00 - GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS - 16 December 1989
19:30 - NEWYDDION - 16 December 1989
20:40 - MAES CHWARAE - 16 December 1989
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