Thursday, 6 August 2020


Hello to all the JBs out there, Julie especially who I have tried to email but failed, must go to specsavers!  I am fine, I was simply enjoying a short sojourn.  I have written blogs, but not published them, on the writing front I am all over the place.  Yes, more unfocused than usual, but not in a depressive way.  Due to the wonders of the internet, the best invention in my lifetime, I have been on YouTube mostly, following all sorts of wonderful and adventurous vloggers.  I have always wondered what life is like in Moscow and Beirut, now I know :)

Regarding 'binge watching', 'Ekatarina' led me onto 'The Red Queen', the story of the Russian supermodel Regina in the 50's/60's.  It was of course, a wonderful 'Cinderella' rags to riches story, except even when you get to the riches part, you still have to live in an apartment with your bed in the living room.  Also a dining table which I quite liked, it was great to see Russian hospitality, all the different foods, but especially the ever present bottle of vodka on the table!  Maybe that's why they have the bed handy.  

I feel the good Lord, if there is one, is making up to me all the travels I would have taken if I lived my life again.  Not only can I hone in on places I want to see, but I can, vicariously, with my new found friends, sit and dine with the people who live there!  I can almost smell and taste the food with their wonderful descriptions, less so when the main dish is a plate of raw meat or agile ants on a bed of rice.  I honestly don't think I could say 'hmmmm lovely' to a skewer of boiled fat.  I salute their bravery, and their pallets, but I guess if you are travelling gourmet, you can't say no to anything. And god forbid, you would tell a man standing in front of a furnace with a machete, that it could have done with a bit more salt.   

My love of Russian drama and the last meaningful discussions we had on here were about the 'Eastern Bloc' which set me off on a whole new journey of discovery, cyberly obviously.  No need to read Solzhenitsyn, though I did in the 70's, there are far easier ways to discover what life was like in the Soviet Union.  Solzhenitsyn's book was set in a Siberian Labour Camp, so not much to be gleaned there.

To be fair I have always liked and admired Russians, probably because capitalists didn't. I am a little in awe of them and wish I had a Russian friend, because they seem innately strong and because they are straight speaking.  But mostly I am in awe of them for the way they held out against Hitler in Stalingrad.  I think had there been a Russian 'Highlander', it would been game over for the others.  I also like their habit of randomly knocking back vodka shots without anyone batting an eye.  If my liver and I were younger and healthier I would be knocking on a Moscow door with my suitcase, ha ha.

I think I am now beginning to understand how differences in political ideology work in practice.  We have seen what life in the USA is like through millions of films and TV programmes, but there has never, to my knowledge been a Russian equivalent.  Or maybe there was, I only recently found out Russia had a Fashion House.  The Russian series about Regina was set in the 1950s/60s, when citizens had far less freedoms than they do today.  The women's wear proposed by the Fashion House, for example, had to be approved by elderly white KGB leaders.  Clothes had to be modest and suitable for the office and the field.  And for the citizens of Russia, leaving wasn't an option.

Through the series there is the menacing presence of the KGB in the background, for all citizens, even the most lowly.  That 'menacing presence' surprised me, because the drama is produced by the Russian Federation.  Excellently, I might add, it is comparable to any Hollywood blockbuster.  This is not a review, though it would be 5 star if it were, for me it gave a glimpse of life for ordinary people under a communist regime, a peep at how in an equal society, some are more equal than others.  The acceptance, by ordinary people, but simmering resentment of the government's rules.  Fast forward to now, I am watching 'SilverSpoon', a new Russian drama, where the hero is the spoiled son of an oligarch.  Yes, indeed, it would appear life in Russia has changed dramatically.   

As always happens when you set out on a journey of discovery, there are things you really ought to know before you go any further.  In this case, the entire origins and history of every European country - methinks this is going to take a while.  Happily, no need for piles of encyclopaedias, there are multiple charismatic and not so charismatic vloggers giving potted histories of everything you want to know.  

Along with everything about Russia, I am also (still) obsessed with the lunacy of Donald Trump especially in this run up to the presidential election in November.  But that I will put in another blog, as I am having difficulty prioritising what outrages me the most.   My kindest wishes to all who pop in, take care.....


  1. I flew from Moscow to the UK, last in January, with Aeroflot. It was the scariest flight I've had, (I've parachuted before, that was less frightening). We hit very bad turbulence. I gripped my seat, and asked the Russian guy next to me how he managed to remain nonchalant," It's cultural; we Russians expect things to go wrong, we expect to die, we're a bit sick in the head." Then he laughed.

  2. Thank you for replying Mike. Did you spend much time in Moscow? I would love to hear about it. I am fascinated with all things Russian at the moment, I even tried to make Borsch - didn't like it :(

    From the dramas I have been watching it seems as though (now) everything that is available in the West is available in Moscow and of course Russians are now free to travel abroad. From that perspective it would seem that life under Putin seems much more free, than life under Brezhnev for example.

    From all I have seen of Vladimir Putin, that doesn't make any sense. What am I not getting here? Putin is a KGB man, and therefore must bring all that KGB mentality with him, the constant surveillance, the kompromat. Do the people feel they are always being watched? I have watched documentaries where foreign camera crews are aware of being followed and spyed on. That Donald Trump was enticed or set up in a Moscow hotel room is probably no surprise to anyone, except maybe him and I bet there is a lot more to come on that front.

    Thanks again for replying Mike, take care.

  3. Hey up, I never spent time there. Unless you count several hours in the airport, where I'm convinced I acquired the 'flu; someone clearly unwell, coughed in my face. It was crowded, so few seats, very expensive coffee (can't remember any of those little pastry appetisers you like, being available?). I was travelling back from Vietnam; on a sphere, geodesics make for odd routes.

    I have a friend who used to teach there for a few years. Says it is very expensive. And whilst people can came and go; people with money come and go easier - something we see everywhere. Their system is just as corrupted as ours; the guiding hand of Adam Smith's free trade somehow always ends up not just pick pocketing the populace, but owning everyone's trousers, as well .
    Putin is a thug in chief, and has installed himself in perpetuity by taking over the key institutions of the state, and having the big boy cuts from everyone elses deals.
    Russian humour is famously deadpan, fatalistic and darker than their black bread. (I do love their black bread). I do know one of their well known metaphors for Russia , is the sleeping bear ( A powerful beast, best not to prod with a stick) .. which can be used to speak of their relations with other nations, as well as the silent masses under tyranny. Sadly, Putin tries to use nationalism, and attacks on the LGBT communities, as emotive distractions in well tested divide and rule. Yes, they are used to the idea of surveillance. That inward monitoring that comes from living with constant surveillance, human or technological, is also a theme in Russian literature.
    Oops, teatime for me - take care.

    1. Hello Mike, forgive the delay, I am melting...….. (no to the wags out there, I didn't have a bucket of water thrown over me!)

      You have quite brilliantly Mike, been able to capture the atmosphere and essence of Russia that I was looking for. How deeply imbedded, for example, is nationalism and love of State? From the Russian dramas I have seen, it would appear that ordinary Russian people pay lip service to 'love of state' because it is expected and they are under surveillance all the time.

      I did at one time meet the famous Russian icon painter Sergey Fedorov, in the early 1990's. A good friend of mine was 'looking after him' while setting up an exhibition of his works in an art gallery in Chelsea. The night before a few of us were at the gallery doing the finishing touches - and I was amused to see that all the faces of the icons looked like Sergey! I am sure they weren't - icon painting is pretty niche, so what do I know.

      I won't say too much more, but he was completely crazy as only a Russian icon painter can be, lol. We all went out for a wonderful Russian meal after the event where copious amounts of neat Vodka shots were served from bottles frozen in ice. The food was wonderful fluffy blinis topped with caviar and sour cream! It was an amazing night, I wish I could remember more of it, lol.

      Putin is scary. Is it even possible to 'break the ice with him'. There is nothing warm, cuddly or empathetic about him, prodding with a stick would not be a good idea. I suppose being a tough guy is his thing, his leadership is based on strength, it certainly doesn't depend on his being friendly or likeable. I expect he is highly amused that the USA and other western countries, including our own, put so much store on likeability. As clever as he is, I doubt that is a concept he can understand. He probably laughed even more, when likeability resulted in the most malleable (for him), corrupt and criminal President in US history. Can you imagine him discussing the frailty of democracy?

      Changing direction, I have watched a lot of food vlogs, and can't say the Russian diet appeals. A big thumbs up for the hearty soups (except the borsch :( ) and the black bread I would love to try, but not so much the soggy dumplings that seem to crop up everywhere! So do cabbage pies, hmmm really not sure on that one.

      But good for you Mike that you have travelled so far! I do hope you have written, or are writing all about it. I always encourage everyone to leave a journal or a memoir, even if it doesn't become a bestseller, it is a memory of a moment in time for your children and their descendants, or indeed any future scholar flying around on a starship who wants to know about the old days! My kindest wishes, stay safe.

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  5. No better reason to love Russia and the Russians than Dostoyevsky, Rosalinda. Everything about the country and the people is in there. Not all of it good, of course, but at least they aren't Americans.

  6. Hi Rosalinda, the stars are back on the sky again, foreboding autumn. I’m still alive and healthy hoping that you’re so as well. Here are just a few thoughts on Trump and the UK.

    Unlike you Rosalinda, I can hardly hate Trump, given how openly he manifests his view on women ( at least he’s honest), given how much hypocrisy there is among those who secretly oppress weak people (especially in the USA), while outwardly trying to make themselves protectors of vulnerable young women. In my opinion, Trump is more of a clown than an oppressor of women and I wonder if any normal person really takes all his silly twitter posts about one thing or another seriously.

    Spotting sexual abuse and sexual offenders matters much more to me than Trump’s attitude towards women. So what do we need to focus on then? In the UK it seems to be the titles of nobility given to dubious people like Sir Clement, Sir Jimmy, Sir Cliff, while in the USA it’s the disproportionate idolatry, especially of Hollywood celebrities like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby and others, all of whom have managed to hide their evil behind a glamorous façade of fantasy.

    You may have heard Rosalinda that rumours are now rapidly spreading about more mega-celebrities related to Hollywood, being involved in unethical and criminal activities of the kind I have indicated here. Whatever the truth of that may be, one must always distinguish between the art itself and those who direct and shape it. Evil people can create beautiful art and we, who consume it, do not have any personal relationship with anyone within showbiz and the personal images we get of the so-called ingenious directors and talented actors never reflect reality. Moreover, their staged private lives often make us feel like we know them, but it’s all about manipulation as far as I can see. I therefore really enjoy listening to Ricky Gervais (Golden Globe) as he exposes the falsehood among those who only strive for fame, but he does so in an ingenious and humorous way, making them laugh at themselves. Still I wonder if they really know why they’re laughing LOL.

    With a glass of brandy in my hand and with the sound of the wind from the Bothnian Sea in the background I wish you a good weekend hoping to discuss more topics on your blog later on.