Never Too Late!

Never Too Late!
any resemblance to anyone real or imaginary is mere bad luck
we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are trying to get up



'come in, come in! this is igor, he is colonel in soviet... no i mean russian army, and assistant military attache. the attache is also coming soon. and here is freddie. he is a german colonialist.' handshakes all around; the chinese woman off to the side in the tight shimmery top is being paid to be here for decoration, looks on impassively and says nothing. 'here, i present you mikey, he is here representing the queen of great britain. have some vodka.'

and so we are drinking like russians do, standing for toasts and then downing gloopy ice-cold raw vodka. no one else on earth drinks like this. the russian military attache is an avuncular old fellow with a very colonial english-looking ginger moustache. as i have been involuntarily promoted to unofficial emissary of hm the queen for the evening, he immediately sits down next to me and earnestly hand on my knee begins explaining how britain and russia are both countries of great history, culture and destiny, and how it is vital that the two nations cooperate and strengthen their friendship at this critical time. i gravely agree and promise to do my best. he bemoans criminals like berezovsky who emigrate to london to smear the good name of russia. there is a toast to putin.

'putin? what was putin? he was a nothing, a clerk, a paper-shuffler. he was a colonel in the kgb. but really this is nothing special in the kgb, to be a colonel.'

'no, he was in the foreign intelligence directorate.... he was active agent in the west, in bonn...'

'ha, the only special thing about him is he came back...' says the east german lt-col. 'anyway, who is your military attache to berlin now?'

'what, is not zhukov?' the russians laugh.

'but this berezovsky, he is an incredibly intelligent man. you must know this. he was graduate of the special forestry institute,' breaks in the colonel.

'ah, the special forestry institute,' we all nod.

'yes, this is the top secret school of the space intelligence programme. anyone who studies there has to be a genius. there is no question of this, the man has the mind of a genius.'

our host is the german lt-col, also a military attache, fluent in russian and from the east. 'you must have started your officer's career before reunification. how did they assimilate the GDR army into the bundeswehr at reunification?' i am curious.

'they got rid of all the top officers. very few were left. but the only ones they kept were ones who had studied in the soviet union.'

more vodka is poured and the russian attache starts to mumble out yet another toast about british-russian friendship.

'but why is britain so tied to america?' demands freddie the german colonialist, who is also a full colonel in the bundeswehr. 'britain needs to come closer to germany. if britain supported europe more we could build a superpower.'

'yes, it's a humiliating situation,' i agree. 'but we need the turks for greater europe. we can't do it without the turks, and we can't do it without the british.'

freddie thrusts his hand at me, we shake hands. 'yes! you are right! this man understands!' he stands up to proclaim to everyone and promptly falls over.

the russian colonel keeps describing his country as soviet, and then correcting himself to russia.

'it is good to be shuravi ['soviet' dari/pashtu] in afghanistan now. when you say you are shuravi they like very much. it is better than to be american. they say we and you, we fought eye to eye... it was war, it was war with... how you say? honour. yes, it is good to be shuravi now.'

someone helps freddie off in search of a woman. it is only us$100 to rent a submissive chinese chick for 24 hours but i have taken 3 xanax as well as the litre of stolichnaya and don't even remember passing out. it is the smoothest gentlest entry into unconsciousness i have ever piloted.