It’s a day late, but congratulations to all my female readers on International Womens’ Day, which means next to nothing to a Brit.
It means plenty to a Russian though. On Friday and yesterday, every flower shop or kiosk, large or small, was packed with Russian men of every shape, size and form buying flowers of some sort. Most of them looked more than a little panicked, all of them shook their heads in resignation, either at the queues forming outside the shops or at the price they had to fork out for the flowers. This husband of a Russian girl was no exception. A single rose cost $8, and there was no discount for volume, so you ended up paying an odd multiple of $8 for your bouqet (the number of flowers given must always be odd, unless the recipient is dead. Or you wish them to be.) Anyway, whoever decided that the day on which flowers will be given en masse across Russia should fall in early March was either a complete idiot or a flower merchant. Flowers are pretty hard to grow over a Russian winter, so they were all flown in from abroad. We have had a load of Mitsubishi parts on order from Moscow which were supposed to be delivered this weekend, but the freight handler told us the plane was full of flowers and there was no room. If the green movement wants us all to stop making unnecessary flights in order to save the planet, they’re first going to have to convince a nation of Russian women to go without flowers on Womens’ Day. Good luck with that.
Looking at what I paid, I was pretty stupid. It is quite easy to get flowers for free in Russia. For example, on the main road between Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Korsakov there is a particularly nasty bend beside a steep embankment where black ice normally forms. There is a tree nearby which always has a nice bunch of fresh flowers propped against it, with nobody guarding them or anything. They’re there for the taking. Next year I’m gonna nab ‘em.
I’m romantic, me.