Last night, I was temporarily evicted from the flat as Tania, my gorgeous wife, awaited our landlady. The reason for the eviction was simple, I am foreign which means I am money. Tania did not want the rent to suddenly double when the landlady hears me speak pidgin Russian with a broad Surrey accent.
So I went for a beer. There is a little bar at the end of our block that sells a quite palatable Ukrainian beer called Avalon for 10 Grivna a pint, about 85p or $1.20. Seeing as my pidgin Russian does extend to “Good evening one large beer please”, I found myself with aforementioned beverage on a comfy seat in the Dolce Vita bar on Shevchenka Avenue.
I had barely put hops to tongue when a late mid aged guy came in, bought a pint, and carefully avoiding the thirty or so spare seats in the café, plonked himself down next to me. Very next to me. It didn’t take a rocket scientist, and I am not one incidentally, to work out that he was drunk, exceedingly drunk.
He started chatting to me in Russian despite my valiant efforts in Russian to tell him I was English. Eventually the penny dropped and he started to talk to me in pidgin English, the pidgin being the identical twin to its Russian Surrey counterpart. He was a writer, he told me, brother of Pushkin and Chekov he added. I was surprised at this, as although I would never win Mastermind using 19th Century Russian authors as my specialist subject, I did know that a. Pushkin and Chekov were not related and b. they died a long long time ago.
He continued, mainly in Russian swapping into English to say something derogatory about the lady owner of Dolce Vita before whipping out a book. It was his book he told me. He was going to write a dedication in it and give it to me, he declared. So he got out his pen, which oddly had no refill in it. Did I want the dedication in English or Russian he asked, I dodged the question fearing that this gift would require some for of payback, either monetary or alcoholic.
It took some moments for him to realize that despite his frenetic scribbles inside the book cover, nothing was happening. He looked over at the young waitress and asked her for a pen. Whether she saw the pain in my eyes, or whether she was just the world’s most inefficient waitress, I don’ know, but the fact was, she did not have one. I breathed a sigh of relief, gulped the last 200 mls of Avalon, made my excuses both in Russian and English and bolted for the door.