Well, this post was due to be a travelogue-type deal about my (flying) visit to Moscow, which I'm sure those of you who have read my travel 'writing' before will have anticipated as eagerly as turkeys look forward to December 20th. Unfortunately, the one and only opportunity I had for tourism has just been curtailed by some pretty central-casting Russian weather. I struggled halfway from my hotel to Red Square but eventually had to accept that what I was in was a blizzard, and that I was so covered with snow that I was in danger of Aled Jones or Peter Auty singing about me. Now I've made it back to the hotel, of course, the sky is almost sarcastically clear, but I ain't risking it again.
The hotel has provided one moment of amusement, though. In the information/map magazine provided, there are the usual depressing escort ads (Why do some hotels do this? Why? Actually, the answer to that might be even more depressing). In among them was one agency promising 'friendly, sophisticated girls' alongside a photograph of... Girls Aloud. Davina McCall didn't say anything about *that* on Popstars, did she? 'You could live the dream! Your picture could be misleadingly used on an ad for Russian Hookers...'
But that's all I've got, I'm afraid. Tonight was my only chance of breaking the hotel-training room- airport cycle and the snow wasn't having it, so I am unable to discover the magic that so appealed to Olga, Masha and Irina in the greatest play of the 20th century (you may disagree, but I am factually correct and you are wrong).
Actually, since we're on Chekhov, I have a small recommendation to make. I recently watched the 1975 US TV production of 'The Seagull' and it was a revelation. I've written before about a regrettable tendency in British performances of Chekhov for the sets, costumes and performances to be beige. What this production captures so vividly is that unhappiness can be as ENERGETIC as it is torpid. Nobody languishes in this production, and it's all the better for it. Blythe Danner (yep, Gwyn's mum) is the best Nina I've ever seen, and Frank Langella is just extraordinary as Konstantin. A jolt, too, to see how beautiful he was as a young man, when one is used to seeing him as craggy ol' Dick Nixon. But the whole cast (Lee Grant, a heroine of the McCarthy hearings who refused to testify and was blacklisted is ideally mercurial as Arkadina; Olympia 'Anna Madrigal' Dukakis is a wonderful tragicomic Polina) oozes quality. I can't recommend it highly enough.
So, in summary- I went to Moscow and it made me think about a DVD.