14 July 2010

dreams of my russian summers



An excerpt from a short story that is threatening to evolve into something much larger...




...


Before Vienna there was St Petersburg. Under the boulevards and canals of the city was an underground Georgian restaurant with beer on tap and simple blonde wooden furniture. Most traktirs are held in ill-repute, seen by the aspirational class as little more than subterranean drinking dens. This class preferred sushi shops and Euro-renovations on their tiny pre-Perestroika apartments. The ceiling in this place was so smoke darkened that when you threw your eyes up, it disappeared into itself. Licks of red paint on folk decorations became like Chagall’s fantastical flying goats, their apple cheeks resting on the wood of violins. Once, artists seemed to take inspiration from the smoke curling from an opium pipe – slowly and deliberately, into thick, still air. Smoke curl even formed the pattern on brocade curtains at Tsarist theatres before they were rent in half by concrete and Communism. Smoke seemed appropriate –  it was impermanent and untouchable like empires or dreams. Smoke only leaves stains behind as a memory of itself.


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