Let's be honest, though. The British are every bit as strange as the Russians are. I was in London when the news broke that Prince Charles was cheating on Diana. My landlady was in tears. "Don't get me wrong, I dearly love the Royal Family," she said to me. "But they are all dreadfully spoiled." Which, in terms of comprehensibility to this particular American, might as well have been a message from another planet. But we take this sort of thing in stride, because . . . well, that's the British for you.
I'm thinking now that there's no underlying explanation for why the Russians act like, well, Russians. They're just very intensely themselves. They eat ice cream in the winter. They buy lots more flowers than we do. (My Russian friend Alexei told me, "If you want to get rich in Moscow, open a flower shop.") They don't see anything wrong with drinking a beer on the Metro. (Well, the men don't, anyway.) And they like dogs a lot.
Even stray dogs. Which Moscow has in profusion. You can read the whole fascinating story, including the explanation of the statue above, here.
And a quick question for any Francophones out there . . .
As was diplomatically pointed out by Pat J recently, my command of the French language is essentially nonexistent. Nevertheless, and for reasons I cannot explain, I persist in including the occasional French sentence in my novels. Here's my latest:
Sergeant Wojtek grinned, revealing more teeth than Kyril would have thought could possibly fit in a single mouth. “Yes. We tricked you. Quel dommage, hein, mon petit vaurien?”
Could those of you who know the language tell me if I need to make corrections?