Wednesday 15 September 2010

A celebration...Tara's gallery

I won't pretend this is the greatest picture I've ever taken....but that doesn't stop it having a good story behind it....and this one worthy of any John leCarre novel.

The balloon indicates a celebration...I just wonder if you can guess what for? If you look closely at the signs behind Queen Anne, you will see they are written in Russian. And I can tell you that getting a helium balloon in St Petersburg in no easy task. Fortunately that labour of love didn't fall to me, rather to our American travelling companions....and , of course, they are rather good at that sort of thing. They asked at the hotel that we were staying at where they could get one. No Clintons in Russia you know. They were given a my head this was hurriedly scribbled on a piece of paper and surreptitiously passed to them by a rebellious receptionist in a dark corner of the hotel lobby. That may not have been the actual case. The Americans then made various phone calls to people who did not speak English. Perhaps they were waiting for the right password. Eventually they found the person who could supply them with this secret merchandise and were directed to a door in a back street of suburban St Petes. It wasn't a high street. In fact there were no shops at all. Just a big wooden door. They knocked. I'm sure it was a rhythmic three knocks followed by silence and then a further two brisk bangs. The door opened slowly, and they were ushered inside. Money was exchanged. The deal was done. The only challenge was to get it back without being seen, so they walked side by side with the balloon hidden behind them. They side stepped quickly into the hotel and made for the dining room where it was secured to a chair. The victim was, shortly afterwards, brought in to the room....and utterly charmed by it. Queen Anne's balloon accompanied us all for the remainder of our holiday, but sadly was unable to arrange an exit visa, or manage an escape over the border, so remained trapped in enemy territory.