Its just another day

Comments 8 Standard

cossack_dance_02Arcardy is one of our Russian Leaders and visits us each year.    He usually brings about 15 Russian students who are very wealthy but always good fun.    Arcardy used to teach them Ballet, as he is also a Ballet teacher as well as an English Teacher and so they have known him for a long time.   Arcardy is also 65 years old and smokes like a Trooper and drinks like a fish!

The No Smoking signs don’t mean a lot to him. He comes into the Office and never thinks to extinguish a cigarette before entering. His idea of political correctness has yet to be determined!

If we don’t answer Arcardy immediately ( regardless of whether we are on the telephone or not; in a meeting or not or even, ( as had been known once) actually in the Toilet ) he will make a nuisance of yourself until he does get his answer.  I can recall speaking to a mother of a sick French girl and he came right up to my desk. He wasn’t really prepared to wait until I had calmed the anxious mother that her daughter was unwell but safe and so moved nearer and nearer to me until he was almost touching.  ” Out of my space” I wanted to shout!

I moved my seat so that I wasn’t facing him anymore when suddenly a leg whipped over my face and down the other side. It was Arcardy. He was patently not going to wait and was trying to get my attention in any way he could . So whilst I tried to regain my composure, he limbered up at my desk and threw in the odd “ jette” just to show off

Another one of his tactics is to smoke right in your face. I have given up now asking him to extinguish his cigarette before he enters the building but I do object to him sucking hard on his Sobranie and then blowing it out in my face. When I begin to cough – he laughs and feels he has won my attention, if nothing else.

He is always worried about keeping his Charges happy because a lot of them are from ex KGB families. He worries that if they go home unhappy, the father will send someone around to “ have a word” with him and that is something that Arcady doesn’t want to have happen. You can understand his thinking, I guess.


His latest reason for an appearance at my desk is that one of his students has thrown her mobile phone into the river. The father called Arcardy and told him to go into the river and try to retrieve it. Arcardy was torn between being sensible ( it’s a fast flowing river and we didn’t want it to be one man down) and keeping the father happy. In the end he came to me and asked if he could buy a mobile phone locally and have it back in time for end of lessons. He said that if the girl didn’t get her phone by lunchtime, the father would not be happy and he knew where  Arcardy lived in Moscow. Its one of the times I saw Arcardy not only chain smoke cigarettes but drink down 3 triple espressos. You can imagine how nimble he was at doing exercises by my desk that day!!

Another time a Mother called him and said she wanted her daughter to see Edinburgh. I tried to tell Arcardy that Edinburgh was in the north of the country and we are firmly on the very most southerly point. That still didn’t satisfy anyone and he said that if we didn’t get her daughter to Edinburgh for the weekend, his head would certainly be on a plate!

So we spent the best part of the day hiring a private plane from Shoreham Airport to take the daughter; Arcardy and 2 of her friends to Edinburgh for the weekend. Arcardy wasn’t pleased at flying in a small plane and again had a few large shots of Vodka to calm his nerves…… and here is a tip from Arcardy – if you don’t want a hangover the next morning, always eat a whole cucumber when having a shot or more of vodka, Apparently it calms the stomach and settles the nerves, or should that be calms the nerves and settles the stomach )

When he was away for the weekend, he conscripted one of the older girls to be “ in charge” of his group. Of course this wasn’t really necessary because we always have one of our own Activity Leaders with the group, but there isn’t telling Arcardy anything, regardless and anyway, he says that if we don’t do this he will be “ reported anyway”!  To whom, he never eludes!

I am, however, always sorry to see him go. His two weeks with us here in the Brighton always goes too quickly and I am sad when its time to leave. Taking him to the airport is usually quite a sombre occasion but I know that it wont be long before he drops me an email and books for the following year.

As they say in all the right places…. Nostrovia, which for anyone who reallys knows Russian will know that it is a miss-pronunciation of the word Na Zdorovie (На здоровье)

Anyway, in whichever language you speak…. Cheers!.. hic hic..

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Until next year and safe journey home….


Russian dancers; Vodka and illusive nephews.

Comments 15 Standard

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

.   Tango_ballroom_standard        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 .     3-22-12goodellfatherjpg-1411a706f67d4d1c

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.

cossack_dance_02    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.     pickled-cucumber-2-19986024

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……