Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Night of Russian Romance; (1) A London Life(2 ) Dalston Is the Perfect Place to Relive Memories of St PetersburgDalston Is the Perfect Place to Relive Memories of St Petersburg

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Night of Russian Romance; (1) A London Life(2 ) Dalston Is the Perfect Place to Relive Memories of St PetersburgDalston Is the Perfect Place to Relive Memories of St Petersburg

Article excerpt

RUSSIANS are coming to dominate our city. They are the reason I daren't even try to get on the property ladder. They play out fascinating espionage thrillers before our eyes. They are pointing their missiles in this direction.

They celebrate their independence day today: na zdorove.

However, for all the attention lavished on a few colourful figures, it's not all polonium and penthouses for the majority of the estimated 41,000 Russians in London; occasionally you get to see something more representative of the mass.

I used to study Russian and, for the winter of 2001, lived with a wonderful family in the boggy waste around St Petersburg

a frozen, needle-strewn landscape of tramways, tower blocks and the odd garish bar where you would find terrible Russian pop and a surly but soulful clientele. It is not a placeany traveller would choose to go, but I occasionally find myself filled with inexplicable longing for this part of Russia.

Which is partly why I came to be wandering around one of London's least salubrious neighbourhoods at midnight on Friday, looking for a squalid Russian bar called Nu Pogodi where I thought I could slake my cultural thirst. Booze may have played a part.

I had persuaded my friend Nik to leave our comfy pub in Bloomsbury and come along for the ride. Reassuringly, the taxi driver seemed to know the place and announced, to our great delight, that it was to be found on a stretch of the Kingsland Road known as Dalston Waste. Not a neighbourhood where Abramovich is in a hurry to buy property.

We could not find Nu Pogodi. I wonder if I imagined its existence. We left the taxi and stumbled up the road, avoiding eye contact with the roaming gangs. We did find somewhere called, less imaginatively, Russian Bar. Perhaps it was the same place under different management? You probably shouldn't inspectanything too closely in Dalston Waste. …

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