A Birthday Party In Moscow
Simon, Lyuba and John
When my friends Mike Stockford and Simon Green suggested that I have my birthday party at Mike’s place I jumped at the opportunity (not to mention the two were willing to take care of the fancy menu!). Mike’s beautiful, tastefully done place (I would almost say venue!) is an inspiration: it’s the kind of place where you want to sing, dance and enjoy a company of your good friends and the host himself is very supportive of artistic endeavors.
I was delighted to bring together nearly 30 of my friends, many of whom happen to be representatives of creative professions. Thus gathered in one space were curators, art experts, musicians, painters and designers, journalists and writers and even professional dancers!
I was thrilled to receive as birthday presents two beautiful paintings created by my friends, Dmitry Fesechko and Anja Remizova, one a professional artist, the other, a decorator; three of my friends sang and played music; and as a culmination of the evening,
Lucia Bellinello and Arseny Olear danced a mesmerizing tango while the Moscow TANGO GOD, Giggio Giovanni, performed a passionate Argentinian song! In the meantime, Mike, Simon and Amor Elboghdady delivered culinary masterpieces. I was swimming in the energy and love of my friends the entire evening, hoping it was mutual. Many thanks to my lovely co-hosts who made this beautiful evening possible.
My dear friend, Lyubov Zolotova had a birthday in the second part of September which alas fell on an awkward day of the week to celebrate: Tuesday; so she decided to have her birthday bash in conjunction with her ‘Angel’s Day’ in which all people called Lyubov, Vera or Nadezhda are recognised.
We agreed that Saturday, September 30 would be the best day and once again, Mike Stockford was kind enough to oblige by allowing us to use his sizeable apartment for the occasion. Unbeknownst to any of the guests, 24 hours earlier a catastrophic water pipe leak on floors four and six above had water cascading down from ceiling to floor causing a massive flood in the lounge, and Mike had seriously considered cancelling the event were it not for a friend who cleaned up and called the necessary people to deal with the sorry situation.
Saturday morning we set off for my first visit to Metro cash and carry with an idea of what we needed but changed menus enroute a couple of times!
This wholesale hypermarket had a disappointing range of wines and not favourable prices either, so after a massive shop, I was dispatched to Auchan to plug the hole so to speak. We got back to find our co-pilot, Amor Elboghdady, waiting for us as he was going to make an ante pasta dish of Chicken Penna, to go with my Coronation Chicken, a Chilli Con Carne and finally Mike’s signature dish: Thai Curry which was to die for. The doorbell rang at 5:30 and the first of 30 guests traipsed in, followed by many others, to the proffered champagne or wine, and we had to double our efforts to “plate up” (Jamie Oliver parlance) and distribute.
People were generous with their gifts as well as bottles, and fell ravenously on the dish of their choice, and in some cases two or more dishes were sampled. I stood up and made a speech which was the cue for Lyubov to start romancing us with her dulcet tones with various songs from many different countries- what a treat. As if that wasn’t enough, a wonderful tango was performed by two of her professional dance friends, followed by an impromtu performance by Mila Moskvitina who brought the house down with her surprisingly skilful guitar strumming and seductive voice.
The wine flowed all night mellifluously and the food was much appreciated by all and sundry. Next stop: Halloween party on October 28- watch this space for upcoming announcements!
I was really happy to be invited to this Birthday Party not least because it gave us the opportunity to celebration another year on the planet of the beautiful and talented Lyuba Zolotova! The atmosphere reminded me of times long gone by, in the late 1980s (sorry all you young, recent arrivals), when parties were of a different nature. People then and last Saturday chatted with other, and not only chatted; engaged in deep conversations about things that really matter to them: Art, music, philosophy, the cat, but very rarely about politics; that omnipresent ‘other’ was left outside. What was amazing was that the foreigners were as into these conversations as the Russians. We all. it seems have a deep Russian part of us trying to get out. The songs which were beautifully performed were mostly Russian which led me to think that the whole western cultural influence in Russia is not as deep as we thought it was. Awful really! We foreigners are only temporary visitors here, the Russian cultural experience lives on; it never really stopped. With such obvious but nevertheless significant thoughts I just about stumbled home well past midnight and wondered if the past 30 years have been naught but a passing dream.