For a few weeks now I get sent the password to a posh club on top of an old factory, but I never get round to going, partly because I was scared and partly because i have SOOO much better stuff to do (like hold conversation classes). This week I persuaded Sergei to go by pulling the 'it's our anniversary and we should mark this special occasion' card. we found the place eventually and they let us in without even looking at us. Must be because it is the crisis and they need business - they have gone slack on face control.
Well it was lovely - great service, soft coloured glitterballs on cream drapes and jaunty house music - and we sat on big white sofas and drank wine and looked at everyone as they looked at us. It is a great feeling for people to look at you with admiration and interest rather than the usual 'oh my GOD' disgust that people usually look at me with here. It is funny how context changes peoples perception. On the street women look at me with contempt because I am not polished on stiletto heels but once inside the vetting filter of this bar, they all looked at me as if I was something rare and dashing. It worked for Sergei too. Sometimes he worries about coming to meet my foreigner friends or meeting new people in general because he thinks that they are scared of him. It is true that he does sometimes look a bit grizzly and wild-eyed, as if he drinks cognac for breakfast and spends his days cutting people up or doing dodgy deals in basements (he doesn't). But in this bar he looked distinguished, famous and original.
It is good having english classes in the flat on saturday morning because it means that I actually get up, dressed and put away the bed instead of lying about smoking weed all day. After the lesson I went out for the day. After a week of staring at the screen and dealing in text with only the odd break to go on the crowded stuffy metro and run through the rain, I was desperate to be among beauty and space. We went out to walk about and it was so beautiful. Not the syrupy golden light of late summer but a sober and clean brightness, pure clarity and happy spacious skies. To live in the centre of such a great city is a pleasure and a privilege. Near the house we have rivers and long bridges, cupolas and old brick buildings nestled next to concrete offices.
My eyes drink it all in with delight, and delight is also what my trainers feel as they grip the pavement with firm and happy purpose. We saw:
a million shades of grey shimmering on the water
grass growing under a bridge
thin metal rods of an unfinished foundation poking up in waves like coarse fur or rusty grass
Went to an exhibition in the Red October chocolate factory. There is the Biennale running now and it was hard to choose what to go to out of so many shows on at one time but I am glad we went where we did: Luc Tuymans's tender paintings did not seem special at first but I found that I could not tear myself away. It is rare that paintings grab you physically and keep you there sucking it in. Up close they were too pale and the brushstrokes incongruous. But stand back and they turned into luminous rainbow pearls of calm reflection. It was beautiful walking about in this big old clean space; cold light falling on the tiled floor. This old factory has the best atmosphere of any gallery I have been in: it has a contemplative spirit and a work ethic at the same time, old yet modern.
Striding across the city to meet someone the lowering sun was sharper and yellower. Met him and mooched slower round old streets going to someone's for tea. So many old houses derelict or under remont, their crumbly pastel plaster facades are a tonal feast under dark green net.