I accidentally became a Moscow specialist: not an academic nor a journalist nor a linguist, nor anything that makes any sense, or even much money. But I know that city; I can tell Russians how to get to places because I spent near 16 years roaming around the place on the metro and the busses and the trams. There have been years where I spent four or five hours daily on the metro, heading to where the lines die amidst a wilderness of concrete block houses, shabby kiosks selling vodka, and then selling filthy fried pies to the poor bastards who had bought the vodka. I got off trams after they had slammed into Ladas and Mercedes driven by leather jacketed guys who decided crossing the tramlines would save them a minute in the minus 27 December morning. The same morning that I now had to walk through to get to a shitty office where a tired bunch of 40 something accountants had been forced to gather at 8 am by a corrupt and idle boss whose fat mistress was trying to read Harry Potter in English.
I have spent hundreds of hours on their long slow escalators watching the faces pass a few yards away, an endless crowd in distracted single file, and I have walked all through endless glorious summer days and summer nights in the labyrinth of side streets that Mayor Luzhkov seemed to hate so much; it really was a more beautiful city in 1997.
The point of all this is that I don’t really know what this blog is anymore. It just seems to be random flashes from a random archive. And when I went wrong and left it alone in the middle of Russia going wrong I couldn’t see what to say about it all anymore. 2016 taught me that Russia followed me home, or that what I thought was a Russian disease was really global, so maybe I should dig back into that hard drive of anguished observation and cast it before an indifferent world once more.
I know how Moscow was from 1997 to 2013. I can’t pretend to know why it was that way: nobody knew what the hell was going on, though some had pretty good guesses - “You are stupid English idiot: The whole Fucking Russia is just people stealing now.”
Anyway here we go again…