Due to some unwelcome personal circumstances, I haven’t been in Albania for a few weeks. Annoying in many ways, but quite useful for getting research done. During the course of which, I came across a rather lovely quote from one of SOE’s Liaison Officers, Lieutenant Roy Bullock.
Bullock’s field report (National Archives, ref HS5/131) deals with the events of summer/autumn 1944, rather than winter 43/44, where my focus lies, but this little gem is timeless –
“As a race they [Albanians] can be described as neither industrious nor warlike; on the contrary the males pursue a life of indolence and ease, relegating all domestic and agricultural tasks to their womenfolk, who are invariably kept in a state of serfdom, seldom appearing in public… With this basic valuation of the opposite sex it is somewhat natural that the ALBANIAN youth, grows into a man full of self-importance and vanity…”
Couldn’t resist sharing. Sure it’ll raise a knowing smile from the women of Albania – which outside Tirana often feels like a surreal female-free alternative universe, populated exclusively by overly macho young men with immaculate shark-fin hairdos and respectable older gentleman with equally immaculate moustaches.
What am I saying? That’s often the case in Tirana, too. In fact I can think of only one bar, The Ruin – Mon Cheri, that employs female staff front-of-house. It really is very weird.
Next time I’ll return to SOE officers running around the mountains and being chased by Germans, promise.