SOVIET HOSPITALITY Part12
Here is part 12. Hopefully no typos.
We got up, had a quick breakfast and left in no panic. We stood at the bus stop for quite some time and then on a crowded bus for over an hour. It stopped for ages with some problem. At five to eight I asked Rabfail when we were supposed to be there.
‘Eight o’clock’ he said with no sign of alarm. At ten past I asked him if we’d make it.
He said, ‘Yes, we would.’
I decided i was all beyond me and concentrated on remaining upright. When we arrived we had, of course, missed the plane although our flight was still marked up over an exit. Rabfail is now standing in various queues for some purpose, maybe to get our money back. He seems to queue in one queue for a while, then try another. I’ll never understand why.
Rabfail finally came to an arrangement with Intourist that if we presented ourselves at 7pm. We might get tickets for the 8pm flight to somewhere near (150 km.) Краснодар . We went home and got keys from Rosa at work. Her work place (Environmental Health) is being done up so there is wet paint etc everywhere. She seemed less than surprised to see us. I was quite happy to be home and dry, or rather warm, and watched TV.
It turned out that Gorbachev had been elected president in the morning, the parliament having suddenly decided late at night that things had come to such a pass that they should stop dithering. They voted to close the session after having discussed all three candidates and having pleaded with the other two not to withdraw mainly to show the world that it was not a one man show. Gorbachev was duly elected in the morning. I was glad we came back as I was able to record his first speech as president. I left the recorder working and we set off again for the airport. This time the weather was even worse. A snow storm was blowing and the roads were sheets of ice. No bus came and we were told the road was blocked by an accident, so we took a taxi in the opposite direction and then a bus. Needless to say we arrived after the plane had flown and once more we went home. I sat up till 2 am. Watching the parliamentary session. Most of what I watched was the run up to the presidential vote, which I’d missed the night before. This was re-run to fill in the programme as the live one was off the air. There was a terrific row and before continuing it they voted not to do so before the cameras. We had been watching a film before switching over and consequently missed the cause of it all. It seems that one delegate had said that the president could not be other than a Russian. The Soviet Union population, of course, included many nationalities. The suggestion that the president had to be a Russian naturally infuriated all the non Russians and also many of the Russian deputies who considered it a racist and imperialist remark. As we switched over one Russian delegate came to the rostrum and waited silently for the buzz to die down, then said,
’I am growing sadder and sadder.’
He then made a long speech and I could see many deputies agreeing with him. One or two others followed him and called upon the first man to withdraw his remark and apologise. He remained silent and they voted to carry on without TV and radio so we still don’t know exactly what happened.