Archive for June, 2004

Song: “The Libby Purves Megamix!”

A mate of mine, also called Bruce, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 by Libby Purves the other day, and asked me to burn a CD of the interview. While doing so, I hit upon the idea of splicing up some of the dialogue and making a dance song that had Libby mocking the size of mate’s dick. I don’t usually like dance music (cos it’s piss-easy to make) but I’m rather proud of this!

And, sorry Bruce!

More Moscow Memories

ladies with placards of Lenin and StalinIt was an amazing time to be in Moscow in 1993. Although I was there only 2 days, I got a great impressionist swirl of a nation in flux. I remember distinctly the rudeness of people in the service industry (I guess because, until very recently, they’d all been state employees where there was no reason to be polite to comrades; salaries were guaranteed).

Teams of ancient babushkas behind trestle tables sold coupons for the Metro, rather than automatic ticket machines, because the recent communist government wanted full employment, no matter how menial – and no matter that the recent currency crash meant that I could buy 400 metro tickets for one pound. Someone told me that no-one could use public telephones any more, as they all used 1 kopek coins, which were unavailable as people were melting them down: the value of the scrap metal was greater than the face value of the coins.

I remember walking round Red Square for hours, feeling hungry and realising that I had seen nowhere to eat at all – and ended up at the new McDonalds, filthy food though it is, simply because I had seen nowhere that I could identify as being a restaurant.

3 punk rockers by a graffiti-covered bust of Marxold babooshka at a demoI recall being amazed that people would still carry banners of Stalin – but I guess the certainties, however evil, of the past were better than the craziness of the present.

In contrast to the “never change” brigade were the punks that I met, posing in front of a graffti-covered bust of Marx. They invited me to go and see Iron Maiden, who were playing somewhere on the opposite side of the city, but I didn’t fancy a solo ride across Moscow in an unlicensed taxi cab back to my cheap hotel near the airport, even thought the collapse of the USSR was so new that the mafia hadn’t completely taken over. And the fact that Iron Maiden are shit, of course.

It was an extraordinary two days, though I wasn’t sorry to leave – and get some food. For someone who’d been a member of various far-left parties as a student, it was odd to see socialism being so comprehensively rejected, except for a few old people and diehards. I’d be tempted to go back, though, especially after seeing the Commie ladies on the National Bolshevik Party web site.

Doesn’t time fly when you’re not in a Russian prison?

me in red square, moscow

On 4 June 1993, I flew into Moscow from Malaysia for a 3 day explore (I was flying to London on Aeroflot, so had to change planes in Moscow anyway). Here’s a discoloured Polaroid taken by a local entrepreneur of me looking rather camp in front of St Basils’s, Red Square. Little did I know that, as Boris Yeltsin had just called conference to discuss the new Russian constitution, there was going to be an anti-government demo, and I was unable to resist the chance to take photos of communists demonstrating against the Russian government.

Everything was going swimmingly; I had my Russian hat that I’d bought earlier with a CCCP design (the one in the picture, bought for camouflage rather than devotion to the Pet Shop Boys), so people assumed I was a leftie too and let me take pictures.

red flag

cops and placard of Stalin

russian police

And then .. disaster! I pointed my camera at Mr Big Russian military big nob (guy on the left) who came over and tried to take my camera off me. I protested in English, and presented my passport causing him consternation and panic in me when I was led to the back of an army lorry. "Film!", General Boris demanded. I opened up my wallet and produced a fake BBC press photographer’s card that I’d had made 3 months earlier for £3 in Bangkok.

You could see the General’s mental cogs going round; a couple of years ago, and he could’ve had me in a saltmine for spying, but now (curse that glasnost!) Russia was a democracy and Western journalists were to be respected. Seeing him looking from the press card, to my camera, to my passport and back again, I thought this might be the right time to produce a packet of decadent capitalist Marlboro Lights, and offer him one. He took the whole packet, and said "You go back to Hotel now". I went straight back, stopping only for a big bottle of vodka.