#TheTippingPoint & #Syria

>> Thursday, 31 May 2012

Do you have blog? If you don't have a blog, do you tweet?  Even if you do neither of these things, tomorrow is a chance for you to get involved in a collective protest about recent events in Syria.

Tomorrow (Friday 1st June) I - and many other bloggers - will be blogging and tweeting about Syria.  In my case, it will be specifically about what happened in Houla last Friday.  We will also be linking to and retweeting other people's posts and tweets, in an effort to raise awareness of the situation there and in the hope that in some small way we can add to the impetus to stop the killing.

We don't have the answer.  And yes, our contribution will be only words.  But if we don't try using words, then the alternatives - as featured in yesterday's Times - are just too horrific to contemplate.

Please join us.

Check here for more details.

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The Gallery: Sunshine

>> Wednesday, 30 May 2012

This post is for Wk 101 of Tara's Gallery - click here to see all the other entries...

So, the prompt for this week's Gallery was 'sunshine'.  And Tara, bless her, threw down a direct challenge to me when she wrote in her post 'I must also apologise to a certain Russian blogger who is going to find this a veeery tough theme . . . '


Once upon a time - before I lived here - I would have agreed with her that finding sunshine in Russia might be a big ask.  But after two and a half years I have to say that in summer at least, finding sunshine is not a problem.  So much so that rather than having to trawl through the archives for a suitably sunny photo, I decided instead to hold fire and simply take a photo on the walk to school this morning.  It's not art - but it is sunny.
















So. Trees, and sunshine.  What more could you ask for, Ms Cain? Unless, of course, you were expecting snow and ice.  In which case, I can always show you this...













Although, just to be clear - the second photo was NOT taken today. That was a March shot from last year...  What do you mean, you don't believe me?

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What If?

>> Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I fell over in the street yesterday.  It was a Proper Incident; there was chance meeting between my foot and the ubiquitous nail-left-sticking-out-of-the-pavement so beloved by Russian workmen, followed by a crazy lurch forwards, a lack of free hands to stop myself hitting the ground (I was just walking out of the supermarket), a set of impressively grazed knuckles, and a nasty thud as my right temple hit the bumper of a parked car.

I lay there for a couple of seconds, wondering why my head was pounding so and whether the noise in my ears was normal after such a blow, before realising that the impact with the bumper had set off the car's burglar alarm.  (Do nothing by half measures, that's my motto.)

I was shaken, but felt fine once I'd brushed myself off, wiped the blood from my hands, and driven home (I know, I know, but it was the only way).  Then I sat down with an ice pack held to my temple for about 3 hours and watched a kids movie.  I was a bit teary, but after a visit from a lovely neighbour who checked my pupils, and some time on the sofa I felt sure I would be OK.  Of course, I wasn't - not completely - in hindsight I had a mild concussion, but all's well that ends well.  Yes, I have a bruise, and a slight headache still, but that's only to be expected when you do a reasonable impression of a crash test dummy without the air bag - or, indeed, the car.

Would I have gone to the hospital to get myself checked out if we'd been in London? Probably, yes.  Not because I really thought I had done myself serious damage, but just to put my mind at rest.  As it is, I picked up the kids as usual in the afternoon, had a reasonably early night, and woke up this morning feeling much better.

But I have a confession.  When I put my sons to bed last night, I made sure that I gave them proper hugs, and told them that I loved them.  Not that I don't do that most evenings, but you know how rushed these things can be at the end of a long fraught bedtime routine.  And whilst we were going through our own long fraught bedtime routine last night, I remembered a woman that I met when Boy #1 first started nursery.  I didn't get to know her well; we'd only chatted a couple of times at the school gate before she left London on a short trip with her 2 year old and her new born son to go and visit her parents in the US, to introduce them to the newest member of her family.

You've probably guessed that the reason I'm telling you this is because she never came back.  She and her family arrived at her parents, they went to bed, and she - well, she never woke up. She had developed DVT on the flight, and died in her sleep that night as a result of it.

Clearly, this made an impression on me.  I don't think of her often; I have to be honest and admit that I can't even remember her full name, but every now and again her story comes back to me.  And whilst yesterday I knew I was going to be OK, that I hadn't seriously injured myself, the thought kept crossing my mind.  What if?

So without making a big song and dance about it, I made damn sure that my boys knew I loved them when they went to bed last night, and did the same again this evening.  I'm sure it won't last long, this new initiative - probably only as long as the next underwear in the loo incident when they get undressed for their bath - but it's already garnered me some extra cuddles and some 'I love you, Mummy's back.

Because you never really know what tomorrow morning might hold.

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Pleasing all of the people some of the time...

>> Monday, 28 May 2012













...Or - On the thorny issue of buying teacher gifts at the end of the school year 

 A Russian friend recently asked me to help her select the end of year present for our children’s class teacher.  I knew that this was as much for my expat point of view as for my exquisite taste (noticing that would be a neat trick when, like so many foreigners here, I live in a home almost entirely furnished by Ikea), so I happily agreed and we spent an eventually fruitful couple of hours wandering through Izmailovosky Market in search of the perfect gift.

It took a while, because my friend was concerned that we hit the right tone with whatever we chose; the class our children are in has a fair proportion of pupils with Russian parents whose expectations were for us to buy something sophisticated and memorable as a ‘goodbye and thank you’ gift.  I, on the other hand, am a hick expat who loves Russia as much for it’s brash in your face kitchness and bling factor as for it’s wealth of culture and history, so my expectations were somewhat different.

Plus, if I’m honest, I don’t much care what the Russian parents’ expectations might be; you can only please all of the people some of the time, and in this case it seemed to me that it was more important to please the teacher – who like myself is an expat, and without baggage about the impressions other people might form of Russia from a simple end of year gift – than to worry what message the gift might convey.

This seems to me to be a recurrent situation here: Russians who are showing off their country are often very concerned with ensuring that visitors know there is more to their capital city than matrioshka dolls, Lenin’s mausoleum, and vodka.  And of course there is; far, far more.  The cultural opportunities available here are astounding, the number of museums astonishing; hell, even a short trip on the metro will show you that this is a city full of unexpected wonders and marvels.  I could wax lyrical for endless pages about the parks, gardens, art galleries, walks, and exhibitions all within easy access of most people here. 

But these are all the experiential foundations of happy memories, and we were looking for something to wrap up in pretty paper and ribbons and hand over at the end of the summer term. Something that can easily be bubble-wrapped at the end of the teacher’s posting in Moscow; not such an easy call.  So it was that when my friend, thwarted in her search for something uniquely Russian that also ticked the boxes marked ‘sophisticated’ and ‘affordable’, turned to me for guidance, I had only one suggestion.

It’s not sophisticated.  It probably won’t impress the local culture vultures. But it is memorable, beautifully crafted, and uniquely Russian, and whilst I’m not going to tell you what we bought – it’s not yet the end of term – have a look at the picture at the top of this post and take a wild guess...


This post first appeared on my other blog, 'Diaries of a Moscow Mum' over at The Moscow Times Online

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Silent Sunday

>> Sunday, 27 May 2012














Click to enlarge.

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I'm navel gazing - again. This time, it's all about anonymity...

>> Thursday, 24 May 2012

God, I wish this blog were anonymous.

If it were anonymous, I could write whatever the hell I liked, about who I liked, when I liked.  I wouldn't have to consider hurt feelings, the possibility of backlashes, the damage that I might do to relationships with an ill-thought out flip sarcastic remark about - well.  I can't actually say what I want to there because, you know, the person I'm saying it about might read this and then they could get upset.  Even if what I want to write is so damn funny that it makes me laugh out loud, sometimes I just can't do it.

Instead, I measure my words.  I pace out my sentences.  I consider my sentiments, and try to ensure that on-screen at least, they are as clearly phrased as possible.  I do everything humanly possible to present myself, my life, and my circumstances in a clean and tidy manner (a place for everything and everything in it's place), when in reality I want to scream and shout and be unreasonable and just fxcking swear out loud sometimes for fxcks' sake.  And I want to write FUCK without using an 'x' instead of a 'u', or worrying that the wrong searches will pick up this blog and get me banned from google or put me on the 'Avoid at All Cost' list for bloggers who care about such things. (For the record, I don't, particularly.  A well placed and relevant expletive is worth more than a glass of wine in lowering my stress levels - or it would be, if I were allowed to use such words as a clean-living mother of two small boys.)

You might be wondering what my problem is.  After all, The Potty Diaries is anonymous, isn't it?  Well, no.  Not really.  Not where it counts.  Sure, there may be one or two members of my family who don't know I blog (my 98 year old grandmother being one of them), but not that many if I sit down and think about it.  And you know what?  I did this.

I. Did. This.

I brought it all on myself.  Oh, I started with good intentions, certainly.  I began writing it late at night, when even my husband was in bed (or away from home), and didn't tell a soul.  I kept it close, kept it secret, worried that if I had to care what other people thought of my writing it would stifle my creativity.  (Yes, yes, I know; it's a blog, not a great novel, for goodness' sake.  I shouldn't be so pretentious about it).  But then - well, then I began to get proud of it.  I started to get readers.  I made friends online.  And not only did it make sense to explain to people what was taking up some of my time (and why, if I'm honest, I was less frustrated with my lot as a stay at home mum, because as you may know; if you do it right, blogging provides some of the best free therapy there is for recovering career women), but I wanted to show it off.

I wanted my nearest and dearest to see how bloody clever I am.  Look at me!  I've taken nothing and made it something!  Aren't I great? Because really, that's one of the big appeals of blogging for me; showing that I still have a brain.

But was giving up my anonymity worth it?

I am aware, of course, that the moment you admit to writing anything online, if it bears any relation to your 'real' life, a determined searcher can find you with very few problems.  So if I'm honest about it, the chances of a blog's author remaining undetected and truly anonymous are practically zilch.  And then there's always the future to consider; once you write something, it's out there.  For as long as this is an internet-fueled world, it's out there.  No matter that you might take down your blog, delete your posts, consign all your musings to the metaphorical circular file; somewhere they will be on record.  So screaming like a harpy about your child's issues / love life / family concerns / general gripes and moans could be seen as inadvisable if you don't want a  curious teen to learn all about mummy's secret thoughts in 10 years time.

So I guess it's a moot point, really.  Unless I want to go back to the old technology and simply write a diary, stuffing it under the mattress for safekeeping and leaving instructions with my solicitor to burn it when I'm gone to save my children's blushes, I need to accept that sometimes I have to self-censor.

I mean, pen and paper is all very well, but I would be the only person to read a diary.  And where's the fun in that?

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The Gallery; Picture Postcard

>> Wednesday, 23 May 2012

This post is for Week 100 of Tara's Gallery; click here to see all the other great entries.

The prompt for this week's Gallery was 'Picture Postcard' as in; the photo you have that you would like to see made into a postcard.  What with my self-imposed ban on posting photographs of members of my family online, I'm reduced to choosing my entry this week from more situational shots.  Except, that isn't quite right.  'Reduced' gives the impression I don't have much to choose from, but Moscow is a city full of photo opportunities, from the grandeur of the onion domes on the churches and cathedrals, to the imposing splendour of Stalin's Seven Sisters, and the sheer bustle of living alongside 15 million people.  Frankly, I wasn't sure where to start.

So I went back to my current favourite photographic hunting ground; the Moscow Metro.  I took this one on Monday.  I quite like it; what do you think?  (Click to enlarge)



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Stop press...

>> Tuesday, 22 May 2012


... I am just a big softy at heart.  And yes, I am smart enough to realise this song is shamelessly manipulating our emotions but you know what?  I love it anyway.

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A few of my favourite things about being a mum...

>> Monday, 21 May 2012


The prompt for this post is shamelessly lifted from @Tara_Cain's post today over at Sticky Fingers.  I know she won't mind - and if she does, well, I'm in Russia...

A few of my (more recent) favourite things about being a mum:

Taking my younger son to Dutch class and hearing him speak Dutch to his new teacher.  I know that speaking the language is sort of the point of his lessons, but despite the fact that he clearly understands most things said to him in it, and my Husband's and the two previous teachers' best efforts, Boy #2 was refusing to actually speak any Dutch himself.  However, a new teacher has recently arrived and it's as if a switch has been flipped; he has now decided that he can speak Dutch.  The first time I heard him doing this, a couple of weeks back, I have to admit that I found I had tears in my eyes...

Listening to my older son speak and read Dutch.  He's so proud that he can - and so am I.

Watching Boy #1 wink repeatedly at me and realising it's not that he has something in his eye, but actually that he is doing an impression of Chief Inspector Dreyfuss in 'The Return of the Pink Panther'.

Listening to the Boys in the bath trying do outdo each other with their best Inspector Clouseau voices.  (And being able to say 'There is a bu-urmb in my rhurm' and knowing they will get the joke).

Asking them to lay the table - and one time in ten, their actually doing it.

Now that Boy #2 has kissed goodbye to his stabilisers (after 2 years of his outright refusal to even consider the possibility of removing them, I simply took them off three weeks ago, he climbed on, and whizzed away asking me why I had left it so long to get round to it) cycling them to school in the morning on what promises to be a beautiful, sunny day.

Watching Boy #1 throw himself confidently into the deep end of the pool and not having to worry about his safety.

On meeting new people, seeing them walk confidently up to the new acquaintance, hand outstretched, as they look them in the eye and introduce themselves.  Sure, the hand they offer may not always be clean, but you can't have everything...



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And this is why I don't post photographs of my children...

>> Thursday, 17 May 2012

I admit it; from time to time, I check the stats for The Potty Diaries.  I try not to, really I do, but every now and again* curiosity gets the better of me and I take a peek.  I know you're not supposed to, not if you want to maintain any sense of perspective, but I can't help myself.  Not that a good or a bad answer changes what I write about, or the way I write it, it's just... good to know.

I'm not making excuses for this, mind you. Any blogger who wants to be remotely professional about their online presence should probably be aware of their approximate number of readers etc.  In any case, I'm only sharing this information to explain how today I happened to come across a search term that somebody out there used to land on The Potty Diaries recently.

It was a collection of words, all of which I had used separately and perfectly innocently at different times, in different posts, but which strung together made my blood run cold.

And that is why I don't post pictures of my children.


* For which read 'at least twice a week'*.  Yes, I'm a numbers wh*re...

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The Gallery: Morning

>> Wednesday, 16 May 2012

This post is for Week 99 of Tara's Gallery - click here to see all the other great entries.

The prompt this week was 'Morning'.  (I'm intrigued to see which theme she comes up with for Week 100, by the way - no pressure Tara...).  It's hard to capture the split-second timing and controlled chaos of our mornings on a school day here - I suspect they are pretty much like yours - so instead I'm going to show you something completely different.

Yesterday morning was the last one of my parents' visit to us, and before they headed off back to the UK my father had expressed a particular wish to see a plane junkyard that is situated around 4 kilometres away.

I think that originally, the planes were gathered together on what is a historically important site for Russia's aviation industry with the intention of creating some kind of museum.  I think - but I'm not sure.  As with so many initiatives here, the real reasons have been lost in the mists of time and the project has been seemingly abandoned.  All that remains of the original grand plan is around 30 once-proud, now dreadfully decaying combat planes and helicopters, graffiti'd, vandalised, and forlorn, herded into a 200 metre strip at the edge of an airfield which is now used by a driving school.

It's a balmy 28degC outside right now, but yesterday morning when we made our visit it was around 12degC, grey, dank and chilly.  The perfect day to photograph what is left of a once-mighty war machine.  It seemed only right to show it in black and white... (as ever, click on the photo to enlarge it).






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It's been oh-so-quiet...

>> Tuesday, 15 May 2012

It's amazing how quickly you can get out of the habit of doing something that previously seemed second nature.  Like, weighing yourself every week.  Keeping a check of your bank balance (casts guilty look at Husband working away at the other end of the table).  Or writing regular blog posts.

I have an excuse, of course I do - my parents have been visiting and I've been busy showing off my current home town to them - but they left today and now... Well, now it's back to reality.  So I plan on posting for Tara's Gallery tomorrow and then having something more interesting (than this, at any rate) to write about shortly after that...

Or - or, it may just end up being the normal drivel.  Yes, that'll probably be it.

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I'm not a Photo-Blogger, but...

>> Thursday, 10 May 2012

There's something about taking a photograph with a 'proper' camera.  We're lucky enough to have a fairly decent one (although it is now 4 years old and in my more day-dreamy moments I do imagine replacing it with something more up to date), and I use it quite a lot.  I love the experience of using it.  The weight of it, the satisfying feeling as you press the button.  The fiddling with the lens - to zoom in, or not to zoom in?  To use the flash, or not?

But recently I've been experimenting with the Nokia N8-00 which I was sent 18 months back to give me the chance to review an app in Russia which - unfortunately - so far hasn't worked properly here.  What has worked though, is the camera.  It is, quite simply, awesome.  And whilst it isn't a 'proper' camera, having it to hand, seeing a photo-opportunity, pointing, and shooting has changed the way I can take photos when I'm out and about.

I particularly like the way it works for me in the Moscow metro.  There's a grainy, action quality to the pictures that, when I look at them in black and white (and yes - I freely admit it - fiddle with the brightness & contrast a little) gives them a vintage, almost reportage feel that I love.

Like this one, that I took in the rush-hour at Park Kultury, today.














(Click on the photo to enlarge it)

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On being reminded of how to find the lighter side of life

>> Wednesday, 9 May 2012


As I mentioned in my last post, my parents are staying with us.  This is the perfect way of being reminded that stuff you think of as normal and not particularly funny is, in fact, not everybody's normal and actually, is pretty amusing.  Well, to people who don't live with small boys every day, anyway.

This evening was a case in point; we skyped with my sister, and it became clear that my parents had been in touch with her by text and email during their visit here, sharing stories they thought were funny and which I just considered everyday happenings.  The following story - which I was a part of - was told back to me, and blow me if it didn't seem a great deal funnier in the retelling than it had whilst I was in the middle of it*.

It was bathtime.  I was trying - unsuccessfully - to get my children to come into the bathroom and get undressed.  After asking them reasonably a couple of times, I yelled that they should come into the bathroom nowRightNOW, and amazingly they did.  As they walked in I wondered aloud why it was that they had ignored me the first few times and only responded when I raised my voice, to which Boy #2 answered "Because we're pooh-heads, I suppose."

Well.

I guess at least no-one's going to suggest that they heard that insult from me...


*Which is, of course, precisely why I started The Potty Diaries nearly 5 years ago - to find the funny side in stuff that would otherwise drive me crazy...

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Who said visitors go off in 3 days?

>> Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My parents are visiting us here in Moscow at the moment.

There's nothing like showing people around to reinvigorate your interest in the place that you live, don't you agree?  Since they arrived on Saturday, we have visited the Moscow Botanical Gardens, seen the ecto-plane and submarine berthed not far from where we live, and taken a stroll down the Old Arbat (once upon a time the hangout for the artistic community of Moscow, now a somewhat less glamorous strip of souvenir and coffee shops).  We've taken them to a friends for dinner where they were royally entertained, showed them around the Boys' school, and my father has made a new - Russian - friend who this morning took him to an abandoned airfield to see old helicopters and dead airplanes in their final place of rest before they are retired to the scrapyard.

We've made plans to see the 9th May parade tomorrow, will throw in couple of art galleries, a walk through Gorky Park, some listening to nightingales, and a train ride or two to entertain the anoraks in the family (I'm looking at YOU, Boy #2 and Dad), and before we know it, it will - much to our dismay - be time for them to leave again.

At which point, I imagine they will be delighted to get home again, for a bit of a rest...

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The kids are alright

>> Monday, 7 May 2012


It has to be said that Russians are not universally perceived as having a caring attitude.  A friend told me recently that when her father slipped on the ice and broke his hip here a few years back, the majority of passers-by simply stepped over him, assuming he was drunk.  Certainly, the Muscovite air of purpose, of ‘get out of my way’, can be overwhelming when you arrive here for the first time and are looking around you with the panicked eyes of a deer-in-headlights.

The customs officials who greet you at the border are cold, the waiters are brusque and rude, the shop assistants clearly have better things to do than attend to your needs, and anyone in an official uniform is downright intimidating if not scary.

And yet...

Arrive in Moscow with young children in tow, and the situation is completely different.  Strangers will go out of their way to offer them a seat on the crowded metro or to show your family the way to the correct office to get your immigration forms stamped.  Elderly museum attendants will – once they have overcome their innate suspicion of children not clad in snow-pants in Septbember – smile benignly and ferret around for cards giving you a translation of the legends on the wall.  And the dreaded queue systems... well.

Not long after we moved over here, my sons (then 4 and 6) and I found ourselves in the old Sheremetyevo terminal, trying to check in for a flight.  It was madness.  There were no staff on the 3 desks assigned to our flight, the crush was getting tighter and tighter, and the minutes were ticking away until the plane was due to leave.  Then, when only 2 check-in staff arrived for the 3 desks, whatever space there had been between aspiring passengers disappeared as the mass of people surged towards the open desks.  It was not a comfortable situation. 

Suddenly, almost out of thin air, we found ourselves surrounded by an honour guard of babushkas.  They pushed and fought their way to the front of the business class queue, having formed a sort of cordon around the boys and myself, and carried us along with them.  Any foreign business-class traveller green enough not to know the score and to question their right to do this was firmly put in their place as it was pointed out that I had young children with me and that they should be ashamed of themselves for not stepping out of the way without being asked.  Needless to say, I was not travelling on a business class ticket.  Needless to say, when faced with my security detail of formidable babushkas, the woman on the check-in desk passed the three of us through without comment...

I have to admit that over the last couple of years, I’ve become accustomed to this preferential treatment when I have the boys with me.  Indeed, I now walk straight to the front of boarding queues in airports, and shamelessly seek out the diplomatic channels with the shortest lines at immigration (although the introduction of the ‘pen’ system at Domodedovo will probably make that unnecessary from now on, thank heavens).  So when recently arriving at Heathrow and dealing with a small boy desperate for the bathroom, with not a working loo in sight and immigration lines of record length I had no hesitation in walking to the woman at the entrance to the empty Fast Track lane and asking if I and my sons could use it to gain quicker access to the toilets which I knew were just on the other side.

To say that her face was a mask of horrified surprise at my request was an understatement.  Go through the Fast Track without the official right to use it?  Just because my little boy needed the bathroom?  The answer was an unequivocal no.  Instead we were sent to the back of beyond – my younger son’s legs crossed as he walked – to find a toilet that was open.  And I was left asking myself where on earth I had thought I was flying into...

It certainly wasn’t Russia.


This post was first published on my other blog 'Diaries of a Moscow Mum' over at The Moscow Times Online

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Silent Sunday

>> Sunday, 6 May 2012


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Living the dream, people...

>> Thursday, 3 May 2012

Recently, our washing machine started to have an unpleasant, damp sort of smell about it, so I made a call to our building manager. "I think it may be leaking at the back," I told her, "but I can't pull it out to check because it has the tumble dryer on top of it."

"Don't do anything" she replied.  "I will send the engineers over to check it out for you today."

In due course, the house was teeming with 'engineers' (handymen, to you and I.  I've written about them before, here and here).  The washing machine was not the only job that needed doing; I also wanted some lightbulbs changing (in our contract we are expressly forbidden to do this dangerous job ourselves, although - sh - I have been known to just do it and not mention it) which took not one but two highly skilled workers; and a shower curtain rail fitted, which needed another 3 guys - one to do the work and 2 more to give instructions and check out the contents of our bathroom cabinet.  With the two extra guys who turned up to check out the smell from the washing machine, that made a total of 7 engineers in the house all at the same time.  Such is life, in a city where 'full employment' is the name of the game.

My Russian, by the way?  Still crap.  So as you can imagine, communication was difficult - but we managed.

After half an hour or so, Engineer Guys 6 & 7 (Washing Machine Detail) came to find me to explain what the problem was.

Now, I have to issue a disclaimer here; Moscow is pretty dirty.  Not generally in a 'dog poo & rubbish on the sidewalk' way (although I have written about that too), but more in a 'lots of open ground which is bare earth 7 months of the year, dust blowing around, too many cars, and power stations in the city' sort of a way.  People wear indoor and outdoor shoes, and it's the absolute height of bad manners to visit someone's home and not take your outdoor shoes off the moment you step inside their front door.

So I have to admit that whilst I was embarrassed to discover the cause of the smell was - according to the Washing Machine Detail - dirt inside the detergent drawer of the washing machine (BAD housewife, PM), I was not completely surprised.  We gave it a good scrub out, and they left, telling me that the building manager would call shortly to explain what would happen next.

The moment they were out of the door, I put the empty washing machine on it's hottest wash and went back to supervise Shower Curtain Rail  Detail upstairs.

Very shortly, the building manager rang me back.  "OK PM, the engineers have told me the problem and are going to get something to sort it out. They will fix it."

"But I thought it had been fixed.  We washed the drawer out, it seems clean, and I'm running a hot cycle now just to be sure."

"No, no.  It needs a very special chemical to fix it.  They are checking if we have it now and if we do they will come back later to finish the job, otherwise we will send someone out to buy it and they will come back tomorrow.  Do not do anything..."

Intrigued, I took her at her word.  Later that day, after the Lightbulb and Shower Curtain Rail Details had left, the Washing Machine Detail returned.  After the building managers' comments about a special chemical, I had been expecting Powerful Medicine.  Possibly, I thought, I might not be able to wash clothes for a day or so whilst the machine was being attended to.  I would not have been surprised to seem them turn up in chemical suits with face masks and have them ask me to vacate the premises whilst they sealed the utility room and dealt with the problem.

This is what they turned up with.



Oh, and by the way?  The washing machine still smells...

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I love comments, but...

>> Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Don't get me wrong; I love it when people comment on my blog.  More often than not, I reply to them (well, 'working from home' as I do, any opportunity to have communication with the outside world is welcome), and it's good to build up a dialogue with people in this way.

But I take exception to spammers using the comment box of The Potty Diaries to scatter their website address all over the internet.  Sure, there's a link automatically included on your name when you comment, and that's fine - more than fine, it's part of the fun of blogging, checking out where people write themselves and what they have to say - but for those people who appear out of the blue and say something like 'Great post. Here's a link to mine' with no justification or aim other than to drive traffic to a completely irrelevant and unrelated site, I have a message.

I can always hit delete - and I will. So please don't waste your time, or mine.

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