I have just waved Arcady off at the Airport. I listened to a 1.5 hour conversation all the way to London Heathrow ( Airport) about importing spoons; matches and batteries. He hopes to start a small business but because of the Russian Mafia being rife in his home town, is worried they wont like him having a new idea without running it past them. I kid you not!
Arcady usually comes to visit us once a year and I am very fond of him
. A ” dancer” of indeterminate years as well as which actual type of dancing that’s performed, he usually manages to find a dozen or so white Russians who are happy to come to us and learn English and then fly to exotic places ( Well Edinburgh and Newquay) for the weekend to take in more of his British Cultural Immersion. He also usually brings his ” nephew” to help him with the administration of the group. Such nephew usually changes in appearance each year but we all pretend not to notice this… ho ho ha ha !
He always insists on 2 single rooms with his host family for himself and the nephew but most hosts always state that they hear the patter of large feet along the hallway usually around 2 in the morning. Arcady insists that quite often his nephew cant sleep and comes in to chat with him. I refuse to be drawn on this in any way, shape or form. I suggest you do likewise.
Arcady also enjoys a liquid breakfast and eschews any sort of fibre or carbohydrate when offered. He has a double espresso; a couple of fags and if he thinks no one is looking a quick slurp from the vodka bottle. I have to be careful and choose a host family with a sense of humour and a huge pinch of tolerance. They usually only welcome him once, as once is often enough, especially when he is here for three weeks.
However its hard not to love him and he does look after his students very well, caring for their welfare; level of lessons and the host family we place them with. One such student went to her host and asked if this was their ” summer cottage”. Another asked when the maid would be coming in to tidy her bedroom and was literary speechless when the host mother said, ” its your job to keep it tidy” and declared that no one had every asked her to do ” housekeeping” in her life. Arcady was worried by this stage that she would report such actions to her father who, so we are reliably informed, runs a protection racket and if his daughter was upset, then all of us could either end up in the river with rocks in our pockets or dogs heads in our beds. I shrugged it off. Arcady having an artistic side can quite often run to exaggeration .
By lunchtime Arcady is well away with his questions and concerns and it can be quite tiring. Whilst he is waiting for us to either get off the phone or book an extra excursion which is not on the programme, but which he insists his students should experience, he limbers up with a few barre exercises, usually on the desk of the person he is waiting for. If I tell you that he has almost taken my head off not once but half a dozen times with his leg thrown up and down over the back of my chair, I would not be exaggerating.
Sometimes his leg is so close to my head that it brushes my hair. I give him a glare and carry on as best I can. Sometimes if he is feeling particularly testy he will do a few pirouettes around the room and see who is watching. \it is usually only Irma who is fascinated and asks him if he can do the splits.
He also blatantly ignores the ” no smoking” signs absolutely everywhere. And in fact if we ignore him for too long then he knows full well that the quickest way to get our attention is to start smoking in the office. It usually works after the ” pas de deux” around my desk doesn’t!
I have also realised that if I ask him to dinner I have to keep an eye on both the cucumber and the alcohol. The first time I invited him , I make a lovely salad and chopped my cucumber up and served it with mint and elderflower syrup. He took one look at it and after sticking his fingers in the syrup, declared it ” apocalyptic ” and asked for a whole cucumber. Before I could even ask “why?” he had stuck his head in the fridge and pulled out a whole one.
He refused my offer to peel or slice it and chewed it au natural. It took its place on his side plate and he chomped on it all night. When another guest asked him why he did this, he looked at them and said ” it doesn’t give me a hang over in the morning! ”
” drinking less, might also do that” the other diner replied. To which Arcady gave him a stare as cold as a Siberian Winter and turned his back on him. By the time we had reached the cheese course Arcady had polished off a bottle of vodka and whilst he was still standing he had become quite belligerent. Having excused himself to the bathroom he didn’t bother to lock or even close the door and we were privy to various noises and sounds which of course we all politely ignored and conversed more loudly. When it went quiet for more than five minutes we began to wonder if everything was ok and when LM went to investigate, found him passed out on the floor, slumped against the bath panel. As you can guess, his trousers were around his ankles….being another man who obviously urinated sitting on the toilet as opposed to standing up. Although maybe by that time he couldn’t be trusted to stand up and aim accurately into the toilet bowl.
Now some of you may think that he was quite an unwanted guest but in truth even though he is a bit of a bolshevist we love him really. Life is never dull when Arcady is around. So we propped him up more comfortably against the bath panel; put a towel over him and closed the door. We would check back on him in the morning……