Monday 22 March 2010

Russian invasion

There are some countries that you just shouldn't invade. Afghanistan is one. I learnt that at 'O' level (when we did proper exams). It doesn't matter what you do, it cannot be conquered. So why our dearly beloved politicians think we can now, I just don't know. I'll also mention that in some places western-style democracy doesn't suit either. So why we think that like 19th Century Christian missionaries we can spread the word in places that have no history of democratic process I equally don't know.

Another country that is best avoided when conjuring up plans of world domination by invading their land is Russia. Napoleon found that out, as indeed did the Nazis. And now it is my turn. Not that I was planning to do it with the massed ranks of the local regiment. There's just 14 of us. And to date we have failed in our mission.. So far 4 trips have been undertaken to obtain visas. Amongst our many failures have been to leave blank sections of the application that are optional - when the girl behind the counter was asked why they were being rejected for lack of optional information she declared in heavy Russian accent, "You must fill it in". "Shouldn't it it be marked as compulsory?" "Yes. There is a mistake". " Shouldn't you change the form to show it is compulsory?" Response - a simple shrug of the shoulders. You have to list all the countries you have visited in the last ten years and the years. For one of our party that took her application onto three pages. "You cannot have three pages. It is only two." "But you told us to list everything". A shrug of the shoulders. And on and on and on. So we now have to apply on an urgent track - that's £150 Each. Thank you very much...I could have got a holiday in Greece for that. Including breakfast.

Anyway, we're nearly there. The women behind the desk are everything you would expect. Quite pretty, but as stern as stern can be. Completely humorless. And clearly decades of bureaucratic process are part of their DNA. I'm not sure that Russia will ever develop a tourist industry like Marbella.

The boy and I will in any case be beating an early retreat, having messed up with previous arrangements for him to go on adventurous training. At the moment he is odds on for travelling by train to Windermere, assuming that we can get him from a British Airways plane that lands at 5.30 to Euston by 7.30.