Raisa – Forever in Pussy Bow Blouse

I have always wanted to know what Raisa thought when she was arranging her pussy bows around her neck. We picture men’s moments of meditation when they do their ties, yet at the end of 1980s, women took into blouses with fancy collars, bows and semi-ties, just like Raisa in these images. I have just watched a documentary about her life – one of those that you find on youtube by accident and without paying too much attention to politics, all that’s stuck in my head are her soft, elegant, elaborate blouses.

The woman did not like her neck exposed, or did not think it appropriate…I have an image of her entering a lift and adjusting her bow or even better, seeing another woman in the lift, whose bow has collapsed unaware and Raisa itching to do it up for her…Always interested in fashion and appearance, reframing the image of a Russian working women in media home and abroad.

Yes, there’s other stuff about Raisa you’ll probably read, that she has set up a Cultural Heritage Fund and that she has retrieved and secretly adored Christian Orthodox icons in times when religion was not openly promoted in Soviet Union. Or that she was once filmed shocked that a little girl from one of the Baltic states could not speak very good Russian. There always comes that moment when leaders question their own understanding of the reality – it’s unfortunate when this happens on a national TV.


She was an exemplary student and a First Wife who allegedly studied history and every country she was about to visit alongside her husband also to impress the other First Wives with multitude of nuanced questions. Today, all that remains is the Raisa Gorbachev Fund, occasionally brought to attention by her former husband taking an odd photo opportunity with Mila Jovovich or Eva Herzigova at some or other posh gala dinner.

Still, I love her style, I love her soft timid eyes and have to conclude that she’s retained her grace all the way to her final journey – according to the Russian Orthodox tradition her loving husband gave her a farewell in an open coffin and although these images are freely available on internet, I will not be providing them here out of respect.

Jewellery Quarter Graveyard

Choose the weather on the day you die.

Height of summer,
air heavy and thick
your soul will hardly lift
itself off the bed on
the hospital ward.
The corridor gives off the synthetic smell
your ascent is stalled…
hesitation mid way.

On a grey day, dull and bland
16 degrees in October
women with tight roll necks overdress
making haste through the Jewellery Graveyard
but the soul has nothing to miss.
Up it goes, then sideways, to the tunnel nearby.
The tree opposite your usual spot notices you and
one of his branches gives you a wave,
yet, there’s no breeze.
You look back one more time
then the light sucks you in.

On a winter day between Christmas and New Year
when the Linzer cookies have gone stale
and leftovers are no longer
there’s one and half meter snow at your childhood window.
Somewhere East of Vienna
they think you are already dead but
you linger above the newly plastered ceiling,
hover above the chimney,
check the leafless grape vines.
A little look at the new family, their snotty baby…
Now. I am ready.

Let the scents carry you before the head is tipsy

Cherry, lime, peach, honey, cinnamon, blackberries are only a few from a long list of notes a wine label would mention. To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention. Raised on gallons of Rhine Riesling, some Miller or mixture of the two, then a bit of Wallachian…I could just about tell which which wine had sugar added, which is too diluted and which one is simply crap.

But not after my tour of the Small Carpathian Museum in Pezinok (20 km from Bratislava) that not only gives you an overview of the region’s history, from its terroir to its multiethnic people and their instruments, but takes you down into its bellows where you can roam through the deep cellars and admire very old wine barrels with a good glass of chilled wine.

There – little sniffing pots are lined up, giving you a hint of what scents you could be detecting in your wines. It all depends on process of fermentation and honey bees pollination could be playing its part too, but don’t ask me about science behind it.  All I know is that since I have visited, I have never drunk wine the same way again.

I have had these photos stored since late spring, but as it’s now a season of grape picking, when hot days coexist with spots of sharp rains and very high winds (at least in Western Slovakia). I thought you’d like to have a glimpse into this small tour too.  I highly recommend it. http://www.muzeumpezinok.sk/en


Arab coin breaking in half for thousands of years


When you’re young you don’ give a toss if they found evidence of some major thousand years old fortification somewhere in the woods on the top of your home town. You don’t see the old guys with detectors searching the ground to the songs of birds early in the morning. Not if you live through 1990s velvet revolutions and all you want is to push the boundaries to the West.

It makes me sound like an old person but I wish I was one of those who have enough time to carry their detector to the top of the hill and fiddle with above the ground to the tune of the autumn sun.

But I can’t. It is prohibited – or so the sign nailed to the tree says. Many people ignore it, my Dad knows because he sees them on his walkabouts. Slovakia does not have enough money to police such endevours and most of its heritage has been traded away by amateur collectors.


I visited this place after twenty years years (that makes me feel old even more). The last time I have seen it was getting ready for my first time camping without my parents and we did not say ‘lol’ in those days. One of my friends experienced some real kissing during that ‘pioneer camping experience’ to my horror but I will spear you the detail.


And today I learnt that more research has taken place in this largely unexplored fortification, probably belonging to the Great Moravia rulers now simple called a Slavic Fortification. They even found coins from Al Mu’tazz period, the ruler of Baghdad who was helped to power by Turks but his rule lasted only three years. He died in the midst of chaos which probably explains how the coins have scattered around the world (according to my simplified version of history). I wonder now, how he managed, during such a short rule, to have his image imprinted on the coins but I will leave it to historians to prove.

arabska minca

By the way, the forest ranger stumbled on the fort by accident when he kicked his boot into ancient clay pipes. Since then, archeologists have found Roman and Celtic coins and multitude of tools. And all this with a fraction of funding they spend on projects abroad. The place is worth a visit. I hope you enjoy my amateur photos and the article below. There’s a few stories waiting to be written from those forest grounds, I bet.



In another house

Two glasses of Riesling
steeped in the summer’s air
you are in the shower
a drop is about to slide
from your back
straight into my wine
but I am waiting
holding on to the thoughts in my mind
the two gallinago birds
their beaks too long for their body
their legs too thin for the reeds
searching in the grass
in front of the house
we don’t own
that don’t exist
on the other side of the Channel
where I long to live.