No real post tonight because I have been at a Moscow debrief evening, i.e. listening to 30 young women (aged 16-18) reporting back on their recent school trip. The history, politics, entertainments and culture of this fractured country, so conscious of its own nobility, told through the eyes of these students over a period of a few days – plus the unintentionally hilarious exhortations of Lena the tour guide – were most charming.
However, we do now know that Pushkin is a more famous and greater poet than Shakespeare, that Tchaikovsky composed Swan Lake at the lake of that name in Moscow, and that the KGB building at Lubyanka is exactly equivalent of the MI6 building in London and hence unworthy of stopping to look at or any other comment (whatever may have been promised in the tour documentation). Oh, and a trip to the Moscow state circus is not an adequate substitute for the opera or ballet visit also promised in the tour literature - but we shall draw a veil over some of the turns there, which if nothing else provided the UK visitors with a culture shock. (The loudest applause of the evening from the locals was for the waving of the Russian flag, even so.) And the Hotel Cosmos, built for a 1970s Olympics – forget it.