Hello! Here in Smolensk butcher shop, we exhaust. Why? Oh usual. Been rioting.
It start like this. We relax in shop. Slow day. Few customer. Assistant Yuri, me, local egghead Student Arkady.
“So, if he believed in reducing the power of the regulator all along,” Arkady muse aloud, “Why was he completely silent on the issue until after the McTaggart lecture…”
“Whuh,” I reply, trying read Smolensk Sun. Well, look at pictures. Well, picture.
“And if the Euro collapses, then how will we avert a global depression…”
“Huh,” say Yuri, busy deciding who he bet on for win this year Smolensk Is Have Talents. (I like Falinka, lapdancing otter.)
“Of course, if Hilary Clinton is right, then Syria could become a flashpoint between us and the US, leading to a new Cold War, or worse…”
“Shut up, Arkady,” I say, trying to see if there any chance my Ivan revive.
“Oh and I see the council closed the access road to the Square.”
“Whaaaaaaaaat!” I scream.
“Whaaaaaaaaat!” thunder Yuri.
We run out of shop. It true!
Our butcher emporium is on Smolensk Central Square. Complex one way system . Anti-clockwise every day. Except Wednesday. When it clockwise. Owing to by-law intended to catch deviationists out during Great Terror. Which no one bother repeal. This layout mean delivery and customer vehicles only access square through entry road at north-west corner. Except on Wednesday. When access at south east.
We run towards north-west road. Small crowd already gather, among them familiar face – Gayev baker, Suslov fishmonger, Kaganovich, manager Smolensk branch Ann Summers – together with shopper and passersby. Already animated, already noisy, big fury, shaking fists at sign, implacable, unappeasable, inexplicable, bureaucratic sign:
As I listen to crowd, scale of catastrophe dawn.
“This will inconvenience my shopping today…” say voice.
“My deliveries will have to stop in next street and walk…” say another.
“It is threat to liberty….”
“…attack on our dignity…”
“…just like the SS…”
“…freedom of thoroughfares…”
Then huge noise rise from crowd, great wordless cry of indignation. More and more people gather. Shouting, screaming, chanting. Soon people rend their garments and tear their flesh in frustration. Arkady frown.
“Shouldn’t we ask them wh…” but he interrupt by man with face redder than an evasive Prime Minister.
“What! What! You aren’t ENRAGED? You don’t speak for THE NATION! The Nation is ENRAGED!”
“Yuri,” I say, sudden concern, “I not think you look angry enough.” So I punch him. He hit me back. We both hit Arkady. This raise our temperatures (and almost reignite old squabble about why no one got Russia in Euro 2012 sweepstake). But I still worry.
“Arkady. Run back to shop. Get toothpaste.” When Arkady return, we gargle plenty quantity minty Nicovanish and start foam at mouth. By now crowd swell. Farmer Rayev distribute pitchforks and, though it broad day, chandler Makarov hand round flaming torches.
“To City Hall!” scream one. And to my amazement, it me. And everyone.
“City Hall!” scream all. Soon we march, leaderless, formless, egging each other on to new heights of indignation. Yuri pitchfork my ass repeatedly and I beat him in face with torch to keep our blood boil. We chant and sing:
“What do we want?” shout someone. Again it me. And everyone.
“Open roads!” shout most. But some shout “Vengeance” and soon we all clamour for blood. Plenty excitement. Crowd maintain rage, but there also great togetherness. People throw their arms round each other, hug, kiss. Unity!
“This brilliant!” shout Yuri!
“It wonderful!” I cry, feeling as alive and full of joy as I did on my wedding day, at birth of my sons, or night we trash old iron factory when beloved Smolensk Sputniks win cup.
But greatest change is Arkady. He kiss everyone in crowd, shout louder than all, and sing for joy. “Pavel, Pavel,” he cry, plenty excite. “I haven’t had a complex thought for an hour. Life is simple. This must be what it’s like to be Grant Shapps. I’m happy!”
Soon we arrive City Hall and mob action take usual course. Since Smolensk riot police on secondment in Damascus, we get in easy, despite attempt at resist by bureaucrats, standing on Stalin era battlements, who throw cooking oil on us in old-fashioned gesture, but without first take trouble heat up. Soon, we overwhelm Transport Department, drag Director out his office, and drive him towards hastily improvised stake and bonfire.
Then, old alarm bell toll. Voice ring out.
“We have closed the road…”
We look up. Standing on Town Hall roof we see local pornstar and leader of Smolensk Council, Afansy Dzherkov. Crowd go quiet.
“We have closed the road in preparation for putting big screen in Central Square to show live relay of Russia game against Greece tomorrow.”
“It is a reason,” say Yuri.
“It is,” I say.
“It is not a good reason,” say Arkady. He hurl back many objections at Afansy – timing, inconvenience, overkill, lack of consultation. Soon, we release Transport Director and Arkady lead delegation from crowd. Soon compromise reached. Road stay closed. But council assembly pass bylaw, which expire at midnight tonight. Law declare today – Friday – is Wednesday. So drivers can access Square at south east.
Soon we back in shop.
“I wonder if Romney will win…” say Arkady.
But we ignore him. And switch on TV. It time for Smolensk Is Have Talents.