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In the Mood for a New Year

One of the biggest differences between England and Russia is the length of Xmas-New Year break. In England, the break has finished today. In Russia, people are relaxing (to a different extent) from December 30 until January 8.

So I thought I’d put up this video that I came across a couple of months ago, and hopefully it’ll put you in the mood for work. Thanks to kroneage, although, as he tells us, it’s not his dog, nor his video. Well, sorry, Kyle, but you’re my source on this occasion, so I’m linking to you. I don’t think you’d mind. ;-))

Happy New Year!!!

Although I didn’t write every single day in December, I managed to make it look like I spent entire December blogging about anything from James Last to shoe sizes. So, this is my post #31, and, naturally, it is about the New Year.

New Year is always about dotting the ‘i’. 2006 has definitely made me stronger, as within the first six months I had experienced two losses in the manner more direct than ever before. This has also made me more empathic and appreciative of every moment we spend with those who are dear to us.
2006 was also an amazing year. I’ve met and spoken to many interesting and talented people, the connection with some of whom, I hope, won’t disappear in 2007. I’ve been involved in many different projects, acquired tons of experience, and am looking forward to make it all ever more applicable after 1 January. I also began to publish my poems, and the reviews prove that I didn’t spend time in vain, trying to find my way of putting my thoughts and emotions across.
And in August I began to blog. I noticed some advanced authors have examined the most visited/searched items on their blogs. I must be honest, I cannot always understand, whether I’m creating the interest, or whether I’m accommodating it. But these are the top labels and articles on my blog, some of which, I admit, I expected to be more of an interest to myself. Instead, like with Auden’s villanelle or Last/Zamfir’s Lonely Shepherd, people constantly visit these pages. May I also thank The Independent and Ogonyok for keeping the online copies of the articles, to which I linked in one of the posts on Bondarchuk’s film.
Various keyword combinations leading to Prévert’s poem Cortège
Most wonderfully, someone has been searching for my Russian nom de plume, obviously landing here. I’m very surprised, intrigued, but kind of happy, after all.
Hence here are some of my resolutions:
  • To keep creating/accommodating interest of my visitors
  • To go and see my parents in Moscow. I don’t know, when I go and for how long, but this must happen. I even vowed to blog about my visiting Moscow. I’m being told certain things have changed considerably. I’ve also changed considerably. So, it will probably be too considerable an experience to miss.
  • To travel
  • To find further ways and means to express my creativity
  • To meet interesting and talented people and to continue to know those whom I already met
Although I’m not generally superstitious, there are certain things I prefer to do or to make happen, instead of to talk about. This is why my resolutions end here. However, if any of my unannounced resolutions come true, I promise to let you know.
I’d love to send my New Year wishes to my parents, to my
University in Moscow, to CSV Media Clubhouse and QT Radio, to the BBC Radio Manchester, to Cornerhouse, and to the IWM North. I’m wishing to every single person I met, spoke, wrote to and worked with a very Happy New Year. In particular, the wishes go to: Richard F, Robin H, Linda K, Steve B, Paul R, Andrei R, Victor G, Ian C, Ian H, Daniel J, Constantine C, Manchizzle (who was the first to link to me), Mancubist, and the anonymous American who lives in Moscow and who was the first person to leave a comment on my blog. Happy New Year also to Tony Richards at Lakelandcam, to Ian and Minako at Art in Liverpool, and to everyone who’s been clicking through Notebooks since August.
In Russia, people normally go with a long list of wishes, which include health, wealth, love, success, etc, etc. For many years, I’ve been wishing peace. Let us have peace, let us give it a chance, let us be dreamers, and let us prove that we can make our dreams come true.
Happy New Year! С Новым Годом!
(the Russian phrase reads as ‘s novym godom‘)

PS – The images used are Soviet postcards. They all say ‘Happy New Year’ in Russian and are courtesy of www.davno.ru

Happy Christmas!!!

This picture contains all objects I associate not only with winter festive season, but with cosy living in general. Many years ago in one Russian book I saw a picture of a Scot, wearing a kilt and stockings, sitting by the fire, knitting a sock. A dog lay at his feet. That image has entered my memory forever, except for that sock is usually substituted by a book or a notepad. The picture has never come to life in full, as yet. In Moscow I had a dog (who sadly passed away in January 2006), but no chimney. In Manchester, I’ve got a chimney and even two dogs, but the picture still remains my imagination. Admittedly, the room in my mind doesn’t quite resemble the one on the picture, but that’s not important, obviously.

I must admit, I’m not religious, hence Christmas for me is rather a folklore holiday, than anything more serious. This goes for both England and Russia. But I appreciate its culture (especially being an historian), and I do take some part in celebrations. And so I gladly say to all my visitors and readers who celebrate this holiday today – Happy Christmas!

[You can confidently expect more from me on New Year].

Update: This is a slideshow of the images of Christmas celebrations from all over the world, prepared by Le Figaro. The images come from the following places: the UAE, Indonesia, India (2 photos), Pakistan, Indonesia again, England, Peru, Slovakia, China, Palestine, Iraq, Philippines.

And, sadly for many music lovers, the “Godfather of Soul”, James Brown, has passed away this morning. This is his obituary from the BBC. 2006 has been a strange and difficult year, but maybe it’s because one’s outlook grows bigger and incorporates more people, who, even if you never met them personally, come very close nonetheless.

The Art of Shaking

This is an extract from the film Grand Hotel Excelsior, starring Adriano Celentano as the hotel manager. I thought it would raise our spirits amidst cooking turkeys. I also thought it could provide some inspiration to those who’re short of ideas for their ultimate Xmas cocktail. Or for those who’d want to add that extra something to their cooking routine. Now, unless the kitchen is spacious enough, it may be difficult for a lady to perform her part, but nothing prevents you, gentlemen, exercising your sense of rhythm, stamina, and talent for improvisation. And ladies shall watch in awe…

Many thanks and Happy Xmas to Rivoluzione!


So, I was writing that daunting text about Sikh martyrs. Until then I hardly ever realised how difficult it is to write about something, on which you only hold *second-hand* information. Since I cannot read any of Sikh sources in their original language, virtually every piece of information that I find is second-hand, in that it represents another scholar’s point of view. So much easier to be on my familiar, mega-European, territory.

Whilst researching into those martyrs, I came across this website, which aim is plainly put across in the title – Rate My Turban. Ash Singh, the website’s founder, thus describes his entreprise:

Having visited or lived in Canada, Africa, UK, Hong Kong and Singapore, I noticed most Sikhs living outside India have a pretty boring turban life (they wear 1-2 colours and usually tie the same style turban as their fathers). I wanted to showcase turbans as an art form and try to revive the majestic roots of turbans. Furthermore, todays Sikhs are commonly confused for Muslims and I wanted to think of a creative way to showcase Sikhs and their royal turbans in a positive way to the general public, and also show Sikh youths that wearing a turban is cool and fashionable.

I’m sure I’ve seen some nicely tied turbans in Manchester. Have a look at the pictures on the website, some turbans are really a piece of art. Furthermore, you can navigate to the section of the website, where there’ll be audio and video guides to help you to learn to tie your turban. But – don’t blame me or my blog if after Christmas turbans become the next big thing in fashion on both sides of the Atlantics.

And, since Christmas is really close and we’ve been talking about religion in this post, this is a conversation on the bus that I’ve been told about. I won’t make any comments because it’s got a serious faux pas in it. However, the observations made are quite peculiar – especially considering that The Da Vinci Code is still being sold.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Joseph went to Bethlehem on a donkey. And also, according to the law of the time, Mary could be stoned to death because she was pregnant. Imagine what difference that would make.

Futuresonic Memories – 2

I noticed a lot of Futuresonic-minded people at Simple Bar in late July, where Lee Gosnay & Co presented the performance that earned them a place in the coveted EVNTS section of Futuresonic 2006. The performance’s title, Persona, reminds me of Ingmar Bergman’s film, first and foremost. In it, Lee brings together many individuals, like DJ Neo (scratching) and Tony Watts from Manchester School of Samba (live percussion), and Ju-X5 (live vj-ing). The music styles vary from jazz, through funk and soul, to electronic music.

Now, if you’ve been to this performance and would like to visit again, or if you haven’t been and would like to go, Persona will be at Simple Bar on New Year’s Eve. DeadWasps will be on the warm-up, after which Lee and his team will take the stage. Tickets cost £7, and you can either phone 07723 357 792, or email info@broad-minded. com, for booking. Many other parties will obviously be coming up on New Year’s Eve, but this one will surely put you in good mood for 2007.

You can check out more of Lee’s activities and projects at www.broad-minded.com (via the Moon).

Futuresonic Memories – 1

Whilst looking for something recently, I came across the Art in Liverpool blog, which in 2005 was chosen the Best British Art Blog by The Times. Bearing in mind that Liverpool will be the European Capital of Culture in 2008, it makes every sense to bookmark the site to keep track of what will be happening there (perhaps, this is what you’re already doing). The site is edited by Ian Jackson, and I was nicely surprised to have discovered that I knew this gentleman – I saw him and his lovely wife in Manchester during Futuresonic 2006 in July. I can’t marvel enough at my memory.

And this is the Christmas message from Ian & Minako

The blog will now be in my blog’s list, as I’m certainly cherishing plans to visit Liverpool in 2008, although I may well do so before. I have been there once, in 2002, looking for The Beatles Adventure, which was quite an adventure in itself. I was going to the city on the day of the firemen’ strike. I was woken up by the radio telling me that an old lady had died in the fire somewhere in Wales. A very uplifting piece of news, as you imagine. And in Liverpool it took me quite a while to find the Beatles Museum. I got eventually to the ‘right’ part of the Albert Dock, where I found myself between two poles with street signs, which both had ‘Beatles Museum’ arrows. The arrow on the right pole was pointing to the left, the arrow on the left pole was pointing to the right. One would assume, of course, that the destination point would be in the middle. In the middle there was a Royal Mail post box.

At the end of this Magical Mystery Tour I did find the Beatles Museum.

2006 Xmas

Richard Fair wrote on BBC Radio Manchester Blog about his annoyance at sites that are permanently under construction and also at bloggers, who take a Christmas break. I’m jumping up and down with joy because it’s my first year on the blog, and so I created this new label, 2006 Xmas, where I’ll be gathering and/or narrating some Xmas and New Year related stories. Obviously, I cannot collect them all, consequently, the choice is purely random.

Now, for years they have been observing the British monarchy becoming *modern*, and today it looks like the institution (or at least those who represent it) has become almost totally advanced, at least as far as the use of technology is concerned. This year Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is going to podcast her Christmas address, which was recorded at the Southwark Cathedral. The article states that

a Yuletide institution, the 10-minute broadcast is televised on December 25 at 3:00 pm (1500 GMT) in Britain, as many families are recovering from their traditional turkey lunch.

The opportunity to download the podcast will mean two things. First, you can recover from your lunch without feeling guilty that you cannot properly tune in to what your governor has got to tell you. [It’s best not to watch TV or to read newspapers while eating, anyway]. Secondly, you can enjoy Her Majesty’s address whenever and wherever you want, and for as many times as you may wish. I think this is even better than a one-off chance to see and to listen to your monarch.

I didn’t hear President Putin considering a podcast of his New Year address. The Russian New Year address happens shortly before midnight 1 January (Moscow time). Most people celebrate the New Year at home or with friends, but some go out to the Red Square and other open places. Wherever they decide to celebrate the New Year, they gather solemnly with the glasses of champagne to listen to the address. The address is followed by the traditional striking of the clock on Spasskaya Tower at the Kremlin, during which you make your New Year resolutions. After the last (12th) strike of the clock the New Year has officially started, and so you drink your champagne and carry on watching your entertainment TV.

There is one thing some people do whilst listening to the clock striking. They write their resolutions on a piece of paper, immediately burn it, mix the ash with champagne, and drink it. I know it sounds weird, but this is considered to be the way to make your wishes come true. I never did it – because I’m pathetic at using a lighter. Every other time I’m using it, I end up burning the tip of my thumb’s nail. So I just repeat my resolutions to myself.

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