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18 March 2012

I search for Bernadette Devlin at the Emerald Ball

To the Unmentionable Hotel on Leningradka for the Emerald Ball. Though not a ticket-holder, I have kindly been asked to look in by Avril Conroy, the Chair of the Irish Business Club in Russia. In truth, Avril, who is one of Moscow’s dynamos, is not just the Chair of the Club, she is also the Table, the Filing Cabinet, the Ansaphone and even the Window which one likes to sit beside when a mood of contemplative rumination comes upon one.
     I find a seat at the table of my friend Roy Tenderghost, who has brought a Russian girl with burning breasts and a vivid flow of pessimistic conversation about the imminent self-destruction of her own country. I infer that she is hoping to acquire an Irish passport.
      My supplementary reason for attending is that I hope I might bump into Ms Bernadette Devlin who is starring in a film that is currently playing at the Khudozhestvenny Kinoteatr in Arbat Square. The film—part of the interesting Irish Film Festival—is a documentary about the life of the woman who was once called Fidel Castro in a Mini-Skirt. She is best known for having slapped the face of the British Home Secretary, the greasy dipsomaniac Reginald Maudling, when he announced in the House of Commons that on Bloody Sunday the British Army had fired on a crowd of protesting Catholics purely in self-defence.
     My reason for wanting to meet Ms Devlin is to ask an important historical question: did Irish step dancing pre-date Riverdance? Was it, in its modern form, invented by Michael Flatley in 1994, or did she and her co-revolutionists in the old Republican Army spend their Saturday evenings clacking round the pobs of the Bogside with arms rigid at their sides in the chaste fashion made famous by Mr Flatley? Today hardly any Irish event can be staged without a performance of this kind. The Emerald Ball is no exception. A troupe of Russians gives an excellent performance, so excellent that I am distracted from my search for the old revolutionary.
     When the last clack dies away and the hubbub of conversation surges back, I return to the table for a quick stiffener before heading home. As a non-ticket holder, I do not want to overstay my welcome. Also, it will ruin Roy’s evening if his dyevushka starts casting covetous eyes on a Scottish passport rather than an Irish one. All’s fair in love and war, but this is neither, just a good party. Sláinte, old boy!


  1. Poor Mr. Tenderghost! He has no wit, no heart, and no charisma to attract a girl. Only his passport. Well, as his friends infer.


  2. Soooo tired of the deluded expats - please note that you work and earn money in Russia and it would be very polite to respect local people, the Russian 'dyevushka' in this case.. We ourselves create our circle and very often see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear - probably one should open the eyes wider and realise at last that Russian girls are happy and proud to be Russian and live in Russia!