Yes, me, your faithful Anglichanin, nobbing my hobs (still no biscuits by the way) with the great and the good associates of St Pete (at least those of a more anglophile bent), at the high consulate of Great Britain, no less.
To be honest it wasn’t her actual birthday either, as she has two… (she’s the Queen, she can do what she likes), but her official birthday.
So why does she need two birthdays I (virtually) hear you ask?…
Well I like to think its so that she can get all the insincere congratulations from world leaders she gives not a hoot aboot oot of the way, so she can spend her actual birthday lazing about in bed in her pyjamas and telling the world to “bagger orf,” like what the rest of us do.
Apologies for my poor Scottish accent by the way. The consul (and apologies if I should be capitalising him, but I did my research for once and Google said “no”) is of a Scottish inclination (although I’m fairly certain he didn’t vote for Scottish independence… he wouldn’t have been able to vote against it either though, because the Pochta Rossiya is so slow that a postal vote would never have made it in time).
It wasn’t that hard to get an invite either. I just emailed the consulate information line and explained who I was and what I was doing here, and it was sent by return of (electronic) post.
When I arrived and introduced myself to said consul, he had actual read my email and knew who I was (what a lovely fellow)… Beaming with something vaguely resembling pride, I immediately made plans to get myself outside of a glass of Pimms… closely followed by some delicious canapés, gin, tonic, wine and conversation.
It was a truly lovely affair and I met some delightful people, including the man in charge of the Mariinsky theatre. Now I’m always looking to improve my knowledge of high culture (there wasn’t much opera or ballet where I was dragged up), so I asked him for a business card…
“Do you know what? In thirty…” (I’m making the number up as my memory becomes hazy) “…years I have never needed one.” he replied.
It was all I could do not to point out that, as I was asking him for one, he perhaps needed a business card right now. I think what he meant was that he doesn’t give out his number willy-nilly to oiks like me. “Free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can’t!”
I also spent some time towards the end of the party speaking to a very important Russian politician (I was told… both about his importance, and the fact that I spent so long speaking to him). Not sure if we discussed politics or not because I was being pretty much force fed neat gin by that point (“at the Italian consul party they closed the bar so we should get them in whilst we can,” was a phrase I must’ve heard at least five times in the half hour before we were ushered out… at eight pm!).
Fortunately he was also knocking them back, so if we did talk politics then any, shall we say, differences in political opinion, would have been laughed off as banter… which is not something you should profess an enjoyment for in an online dating profile, but perfectly acceptable at a diplomatic reception…
To be honest I don’t tend to discuss politics here unless asked, and anyway by this point pretty much all of the remaining guests were discussing potential ways of purloining the Range Rovers which one of the sponsors had adorned the driveway with… and they say you can’t buy class!
The next day I had to sheepishly ask someone if we had gone on anywhere afterwards, as all I had was a vague memory of talking to the manageress in one of my favourite trash bars on Dumskaya (but that could have been a memory from any time… other than being suited and booted).
Ah, Dumskaya… but that’s a whole other post.
No Ferrero Rocher (it was a consulate, not an embassy, dummy!), but a bloody good way to celebrate the Queen’s birthday and all things from back home (for once my home felt like England and not here with St Pete)… Makes me proud to be British.