Wednesday, 28 July 2021
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

My two worlds collide and my balloon nearly bursts

Written by  Oct 20, 2018

That was the week that was. It has been a turbulent week to say the least. As my mother would say “I haven’t known if I’m coming or going.” It’s not often that I get to listen to God Save the Queen played by a British military band in front of a red double-decker bus overlooking the walls of the Old City of Dubrovnik.

Yes, the British Days in Dubrovnik event swallowed my week whole and spat me out the other side. My emotions were running all over the place. I was celebrating the connections between Dubrovnik and Great Britain. If I can’t be happy, proud and passionate whilst being involved with something like that then there is something wrong with me. “How do you feel being part of this event?” asked one journalist. “My heart is the size of a balloon,” was the first answer that came into my head.

I opened an art exhibition, presented a pub quiz, opened the whole event and sang with The Beatles and that was just in the three days. Standing on Pile with a cup of English tea in my hands in the shade of a London bus from 1964 whilst watching tourists enter into the historic core isn’t something I get to do every day. I sipped English gin which isn’t a drink I’m particularly fond of as it was the first alcoholic drink that I got drunk with, but I didn’t care.

One minute I was speaking English to the Military Attaché from the British Embassy and the next Croatian with a local restaurant owner, my brain was like mashed potato after day one. My two worlds were colliding right in front of my eyes and I was loving it.

The only event that would bring me as much personal joy would be organising a Dubrovnik Days in London, but I better whisper that as someone might take me up on that idea. And every event was so readily embraced, so well attended. As the first chords of “Love Me Do” opened the concert by The Beatles Revival Band in front of the St. Blaise and I saw the mixture of locals and tourists all singing along and dancing my balloon-sized heart nearly exploded. “Does this happen every night? It’s great!” a slightly elderly man from Manchester asked me. “Not every,” I smiled back.

To see so many people just having a good night out, well, that was enough for me to know it was a successful event and it all added to the rich Dubrovnik entertainment program. Yes, rich program. To all those people who say “Oh, there isn’t anything to do in Dubrovnik.” I say, get your lazy backsides off the couch and get out. This year the festivals of different events have rolled from one to another. I can honestly say that this has been the busiest year on the event calendar that I can ever remember. But if all you want to do is sit around and drink coffee and moan, well that’s your prerogative. But I don’t want to concentrate on the negative, god knows there’s enough of that around anyway.

Brexit was forgotten as the two cultures joined. In the pub quiz, a pub quiz that only involved questions about the UK, there were four teams from the UK and nine from Dubrovnik. But, to my pleasant surprise, there wasn’t a huge difference in the scores. Yes, a team from the UK won but they did have the slight advantage of having a Cambridge professor on their team. But “local” teams finished second and third. I say local because all week I have been mixing up “ours” and “yours”. I guess I am now neither “yours” or “theirs” but somewhere in the middle.

Of course there were slightly Monty Python moments – the English guests forming a queue to get on the London bus was eyebrow raising. And as quickly as it came it went. And life goes back to normal. Who am I kidding. Life is too short to be normal.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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