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Friday, 28 March 2014

293: Almost Happy Birthday

In Russia it's considered bad luck, or perhaps it's just bad form, to celebrate a birthday before the event. Here in UK if a person is going to be away on his/her birthday we celebrate either before or after (or sometimes before and after).
So, it was perfectly in order for a cake to be baked in honour of my 21st birthday next week. And here it is. Or rather was, because it's half eaten now. I had enough puff to blow out the candle as I did it before I went for my run.
This evening a small, select, group of people is going to the Pike and Eel at Needingworth for a birthday meal.
The Pike And Eel Hotel is situated on the banks of the River Great Ouse.

Here, apropos of nothing, is a picture for my Russian readers. As far as I know the concept of cleaning up after ones dog hasn't reached Russia. Yet ?

I went to see a musical in Peterborough last night (life is just one long Bacchanalia!). It was called Sweet Charity and was performed by a local amateur dramatics (AmDram) group (Westwood Musical Society). Here is a short video clip of the musical (although not from last night).

Monday, 17 March 2014

292: A contrast - old and new

Scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to talk about and show you. Here are two recent pictures, taken through the window of the transport I was travelling in at the time. They show nicely old Moscow and new Moscow.
The ice on the lakes and rivers has mostly melted but winter is not necessarily over yet. We are expecting minus temperatures again this week.  "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out"

I'm not going to make a political comment here other than to say that the situation in Ukraine is at a critical point. Yesterday's referendum, criticized overwhelmingly by "the West", went the way everybody knew it would. What will happen next? Only the major players know. We all hope and pray that they don't get it wrong and that a peaceful solution can be found. The annexing of the Sudetenland in 1938 was a stepping stone towards World War II.  My God, nobody, but nobody, wants World War III but it only takes a wrong move at the wrong time in this still escalating conflict and .........
My video clip is the song "Russians" by Sting. "I hope the Russians love their children too". (Actually, I know they do and sometimes hear the phrase "our children are our future".)

Sunday, 9 March 2014

291: International Women's Day and van Gogh

Yesterday was International Women's Day. In theory that means it is celebrated internationally but in practice it's not widely known about in many countries - the UK included.
Here in Russia on Friday there were tens of thousands of little ceremonies in the workplace where the men laid a table with food and drink and invited the women to join them. Eloquent speeches were made congratulating the women on their special day and those women and men who weren't driving had the opportunity to partake of a little alcohol. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend such a ceremony and witness how women are, for one day in the year at least, revered.
I offer to you, to compare and contrast, the other side of the coin where feminists have hijacked the day to publicize and push their movement. I know it was Luise Zietz and Clara Zetkin who started International Women's Day in 1910 as a strategy to promote equal rights for women. However, some may feel that present day feminists have gone a little further down that road than was imagined at that time.

To change the subject, in case I end up in hot water, I visited, and enjoyed, the "van Gogh live" exhibition last Thursday. The exhibition has been on tour in quite a few cities and is being hosted in Moscow until 26th March. Here is a link to their website which includes a video clip giving an insight into what the exhibition has to offer. It is being held at the Artplay design centre near Kurskiy station.

To finish off here is a video of the Don Maclean song "Vincent". It shows many of van Gogh's works.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

290: Russia hasn't changed much then...

Sometimes, when I'm out and about, I see some really impressive new buildings. They make me think that Russia has changed enormously since I was here in the late 70s. I had my first lesson in this building yesterday with a group of energetic young students. The first of many, I hope, even though it's a good 10-15 minute walk to the metro.
On the other hand, reading the front page of Monday's Moscow Times - which is about an "invasion" and two "political" arrests - I sometimes wonder if it has changed at all.

Still, whether it has changed or not, the birds still need to be fed.

For today's video clip I have chosen Boney M singing Rasputin. I have vague memories of dancing on a table to this music in the early 80s.