LENINGRAD - a Cold War memory
Let me take you back forty years - to when simple Freedom made me glad
To a different time and a different world - and a March trip to Leningrad.
It was a Thomson Holiday long-weekend - four days away all told,
That appealed you see to a pal and me - adventurous and bold.
We sat aboard that Aeroflot flight thinking what our trip might bring
And I confess to some misgivings when I saw a man out on the wing,
Before we took off I'm glad to say - his sleeves with circles of gold band -
But I wondered just what he was up to - with a screwdriver in one hand.
Then a stewardess appeared at my side to re-focus my attention
It was the size of this crew (she filled my view!) that brings about this mention.
The food was cold fare (red cabbage took more share) but the spirits on offer were hot,
Russian grub and booze to help a passenger snooze when travelling by Aeroflot!!
From the bright lights of the Capitalist West to the dim-lit Leningrad aerodrome
Took some adjusting for those recalling the glows of any well-lit welcome at home,
And the airport staff (never seen to laugh) took their time with an occasional grunt,
You'd think we'd arrived there to grab our share of some newly-opened hostile "front".
Our hotel - so new the shower walls were like stalls - overlooked the River Neva
With its ship (but no crew) that fired the revolutionary brew to impress this non-believer.
As did the Hermitage - the famous winter palace; with its golden summer partner beyond
The last rebuilt by Soviet blood, guts and guilt from the destruction and despond.
Our hotel floor was supervised (and some more!) by a woman like Giles' cartoon "granny",
With a stare to freeze a warm body from the knees and possessed of a yard wide fanny.
What sort of man, I thought, would want to be caught with a biddy like her for a wife,
But when escaping her care, my goodbye "so there!" was leaving my capitalist "Country Life"!
But the city of Tsar Peter, Tchaikovsky and Rasputin has its memorable place in my mind,
To have seen and endured - to death and starvation inured - it lingers as one of a kind.
And its people whose spirit I witnessed, and with a generosity despite all that was bad,
Made me realise how blest were our lives in the west - and the many reasons we had to be glad!