Yes we made it to the Press Centre at last. Best part of a whole morning wasted standing under a decrepit looking structure where nothing much happened for over two hours. It’s hard to imagine when I have ever seen such ineptitude anywhere on my travels, anywhere in the world, but Moscow gets the prize. For all it’s faults Kiev did actually move. Nothing happened here and nobody was willing to explain why. Lots of people who seemed to have contacts got ushered in and got their passes whilst peak-capped officials kept barking things in Russian, which wasn’t much use if you don’t speak the lingo. When you do get in, for those who’s photo they didn’t take exception to (ie only me out of the four of us), the press cards are in plastic cartons like the kind of things they sell freshly baked cookies in in Tescos.
They are ordered by surname letter but have absolutely no order within their individual cartons so they have to flick through each one every time someone comes up. They had two cartons for the letter K and you can guess mine was going to be in the second one. Again no logic as to whether the cards in each carton were KA, KI, KO, Ku etc. It has to be said though that the girls serving us were very pleasant in their disorganization and took everything in good spirits. It doesn’t really bode well though for a country who don’t seem like they can host a sing song around the camp fire to put on a production of such massive proportions as this and such complexity. If you are heading to Moscow and due to pick up accreditation, leave a large chunk of time for this and don’t plan your day’s schedule around it.
That’s the bad news… now the good news… I don’t actually mind the place. There’s safety in numbers and with four of us we seem to be having fun. There’s much weirdness here as you’d expect and I even forgive them questioning my passport picture at the airport. Ok I’ve just shaved my head and probably put on a few pounds around the chops since the pic was taken but it was quite scary being singled out. The city is full of life however and we went for a cheap tasty meal and some equally nice beer. A 24 hour supermarket is but five minutes walk from our apartment which sells all manner of goods including a sizeable bottle of beer for 40 pence and cakes galore. The street we live on is like a mini Vegas that looks really impressive at night. Our flat is cosy but pleasant and has a great view out to the White House and the lights below. Well it would do when we’re on the 18th floor…… The room I’m sharing with Phil isn’t absolutely designed for two people. The even better news is that Mrs Roy has joined us this year to add a touch of class to the On Europe Team for a change. It also might make himself behave though my threat to stalk him with buttons didn’t seem to make any difference! Our TV has over 600 channels on it from literally every continent and every corner of the globe. There’s even a TV station dedicated entirely to bearded monk the late Padre Pio. Much weirdness as I said, but with excellent food and drink I figure I can get by for 17 days. And it has to be said that the Press Centre once we are now finally in it, is really rather good.
We’re getting some early glimpses of the stage right now which has obviously had some serious money spent on it and will be visually spectacular. Well there’s got to be something to distract you from the rather sub standard musical fair that will be on it from tomorrow.
On the whole though I’m pretty chilled. In spite of all their attempts to unsettle me so far, the Russians have failed and I’m in decent form. Madness probably beckons but I’m sure that will become apparent from my ramblings on here for the next two weeks.
See you all soon.