In 1967 I hitch-hiked to Belgrade.
My friend and I would take an over-night train
to stay with our Albanian friends
in what is now Kosovo.
Until then we had some hours to kill.
The local cafe culture called
and we ate a modest meal,
two great slabs
of the ubiquitous cheese puff pastry
washed down with colas.
We went to the counter to pay
but the Server refused our money.
He pointed to a table where some guys
were enjoying a few beers.
They had already paid, he said.
We were mystified.
They had made no contact with us
and we tried to tell them we could not accept.
They explained that
they wished to thank us
for the help Britain had given in WW2.
Fast forward to 1999
when the right to self determination was all the rage.
and NATO bombs were falling on Belgrade.
I thought about them a lot back then.
I think of them now
when territorial integrity is all the rage
and the right to self determination
a forgotten dream.
Yes, I think of them now
when the bombs
fall in Europe
But I still have my friend in Kosovo.
Sometimes we feel human,