Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Memories of a sausage...



In 1964, in the international restaurant at the only campsite in Leningrad, I ate a small piece of sausage, which the person behind the counter had taken off the counter (with her sausage like fingers*) put into a saucepan of theoretically hot water, pulled out, cut into four 2" long chunks put onto 4 flyblown plates and put them onto the counter. She put her hand out for the roubles, which was about £10 (a helluva lot of money in those days). It had so much gristle in it that I could not finish it. 

We came across her sister driving a huge road engine, laying tarmac, arms as thick as my thighs.  This was in the middle of Leningrad.  I'd like to tell you the name of the street, but because it was the cold war, there were no street maps available, apart from one in a 1901 St Petersburg Baedeker my father had purchased from a second-hand stall**.  All the road names were in Cyrillic script, without Latin equivalents...  This 'great adventure' as my father called it, started to turn into a film noire when one of the traffic policemen (loudhailer on chest, red in face, brandishing pistol) got off his platform, shouting at us to stop.....

We had been driving the wrong way up a one-way street... matters were not aided by my brother whispering "burn on, Dad, burn on!" while this bloke, now almost purple with rage at these law-breaking capitalists sitting like stupid oxen with total ignorance on their faces at his language. We were, in fact, lying capitalists, because we could certainly understand the word passport, and we had no intention of giving them to him... we made our escape by being shepherded in reverse all the way back down this street by the by now furious cop!

(A picture of a very similar dormobile)

Back at the campsite after these twin delights, my mother decided to cook us egg and chips in our battered old dormobile. One of the simplest, but most welcome meals we had.  But there was a catch: one of the proscribed items listed on our visa was potatoes, so we had to dispose of the potato in an open drain.  There was to be more clandestine disposal before we would leave the Soviet Union, but perhaps another time.

*she looked like a gurning Arthur Mullard, and you could see tracks of all the food she'd handled and 'cooked' on her off-white apron, her face set in a permanent scowl....
**Sadly this was worth a lot more than he realised, in today’s prices £1,652!