We stood there in the heat for almost 2 hours, waiting for the darn parade to start. I was feeling even more ill now.
We stared and stared at the tanks parked on the road just in front of us, willing them to move. (Or at least I did). It eventually started close to 11am, an hour behind schedule. We heard the tanks roar into life and then jeeps, trucks, and missile launchers went past us at speed. And then a nuclear weapon-type thing (that’s what everyone else was saying it was anyways) and flatbeds carrying decorated original WWII tanks drove past.
People clapped, cheered, whistled and waved. Pretty young ladies did a fair business selling Russian flags, mock-military caps and such. I clambered onto a statue and craned my neck over the crowds. Alex pushed his way up a great vantage point and held his ground, sqeaking with excitement. With the heat and what was starting to feel like an encroaching fever, I couldn’t deal with an overgrown boy-man at the moment.
The journalist went back and forth trying to get something down in writing. He was shorter than me, so I’m not sure what he was able to see…
After the tanks and trucks were gone, helicopters and fighter jets zipped by overhead. Luckily, no matter how short you were then, everyone got a fair view of the sky – except for people standing at the base of a statue. I was looking at jets through Pushkin‘s armpit.
They were impressive and everyone was excited. Red, white and blue colours flew by…and then that was it.
It was over. It took a few minutes for the vehicles to drive off. Then a few minutes for the planes to fly by. I was expecting marching bands, Russian troops, British troops, etc etc.
The journalist told me he was here to report on the much talked about foreign troops. We didn’t see any.
Then the vehicles came back, driving down the same road, past our square, and back to where they’d come from.
Obviously, we were most probably standing towards the end of the “parade” route, where none of the really exciting things were happening, coz they’re all down at the Red Square where the presidents and prime ministers and generals were, and where the world’s media were.
Because of the hype (EVERYONE was talking about it) I felt utterly disappointed and let down, not least because I was feeling pretty shit.
Alex was still the big child. He was grinning and talking to himself in excitement and taking photos of EVERYTHING. We’d lost the journalist. Alex said, “Don’t go! There’s lots going on! I need to take a photo of every veteran here!” Indeed there was. Now that the official parade was over, groups of people were starting to form their own parades. Loud speakers from pick-up trucks. Crazy woman dancing on said truck. People handing roses to uniformed veterans. Crazy uniformed veterans clutching posters of Lenin. I heard there were stages erected somewhere with open-air concerts and such.
But I felt like shit. I said, “Bye Alex, I’m going back to bed.” He said, “You can sleep when you die!” I replied that if I didn’t sleep, then I would definitely die.
So I went back. I had a raging fever. I ate what’s left of my breakfast of bread, cheese and ham, popped some paracetemol and passed out for a few hours.
I woke up in the afternoon and decided against my sightseeing ambitions that I should stay indoors. I watched Fish Tank in the TV room. It’s a sad movie, portraying everything that is wrong with the UK. About a girl, a family, and a community that had no hope, no future.
At the same time, its realistic portrayal of the UK reminded me of places I’ve been to and made me realise I much I missed London, and the UK in general.
I think this journey is made more difficult by the fact that I’m not on just another holiday.
It’s a leaving trip. I’m leaving people I love, I’m leaving a a place I love. Eventhough I’m traveling and should be happy and on holiday, the undertone to this entire trip is that I’m leaving somewhere, and I still am.
This whole trip is about me leaving London.
I miss you Nasty. I miss you so so much.