The next post will be on or before Sunday 8th October


My Russian friend Vasily came to see me in some consternation the other day, and he also came bearing his laptop. He is a waiter at the restaurant at the far end of the Kythnos port; vividly blue eyed, muscular, 45, long-divorced  from his Moscow wife, and though you couldn’t accuse him of being conventionally handsome he has a teasing and engagingly boyish grin.  Vasily’s problem like half the world’s is that he wants a nice little girlfriend, and he is pig sick of getting nowhere with the few single and supposedly available Greek women on Kythnos. The Albanian women are all married and with kids, of course, and though there are 2 good looking Russian girls on the island, they both have Athenian boyfriends. Hence it was that with a struggle he had located a dating website devoted to expatriate Russians called Cosmoslav, and soon discovered that there were worthwhile numbers of single Moscow, Vladivostok, Verkhoyansk and other Russophone (from Uzbekistan and the other -stans) women living in e.g. Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, as well as far flung Thrace and Rodopi on the Bulgarian border.

Vasily had only been on the site a few weeks, and had been doing quite nicely with chatting online, sending countless passionate ‘winks’ to anyone as he put it not an absolute gargoyle, a bit of chortling and hilarious Skyping, and so far a single solid invitation to meet for coffee next time he was in Rodopi (in fucking Rodopi, why not Katmanfuckingdu!). What galled him more than anything though was that roughly 10% of the women on Cosmoslav chose to write their profiles and always copious checklists of wishes and prohibitions vis-a-vis acceptable men, in English, not in Russian. Vassily’s heavily accented English was an existential reality right enough, and it obviously helped in the restaurant with all those foreign yachties, but it was unarguably basic and tended towards things strictly alimentary. Hence he knew the English words: sugar, tomato, scrambled, whisked, beaten, stuffed and braised, but didn’t know the words for ear, lips, mouth and neck, which might have come in acceptably handy in an amatory context. The reason why this woman here whom he fancied like nobody’s business, and whose user name was Murmanskgal, was writing in English, was plain enough according to angry Vasily. She was flagrantly fishing for a rich Russian expat or maybe a Russky educated in the USA so now a posh professor teaching in Greece who liked an anglophone Slav beauty to be draped across his arm when he was poncing round Kolonaki or the swisher bits of Saloniki.

Worse still the cruellest of ironies was that it tended to be those 10% of English speaking Russian women who most passionately stirred Vasily’s heart and libido, more than the nice and sensible but frequently wondrously plain and sometimes aggressively squinting lassies who only spoke Russian and Greek. He pointed to his laptop and right enough Murmanskgal really was a beauty. Fine blond hair, delicate bone structure, arched inquisitive eyebrows, a tender little pout of a smile. Vassily then indicated her English profile message and said he had googled 2 of these sodding English words that started her list of necessary essentials in a man, and a) one did not exist, and b)the other one seemed to mean tossing a bloody ball, hence made no bloody sense whatever.

Murmanskgal had written:


Vasily snorted, “I don’t understand that first fucking sentence at all. Why can’t she write in Russian the beautiful little torment?”

I said, “I’m not surprised you’re baffled. So am I. There is no such word as ‘enternal’. Unless she means ‘internal’ and that still makes no sense.”

“But look, Englishman, I understand all the rest. Especially ‘sensuous’ and I like that word. She means she likes to have a bloody good f…”

“Yes,” I concurred.

“And I also worked out she likes to go travelling and having it off with the guys she fancies, that word ‘desired’ eh? But ‘backround’ what the fuck is that? I know the word ‘backside’ cos I’ve heard it on loads of Yankee and British films. ‘No bad backside’? Does she mean she doesn’t want a guy with an ugly arse?”

I sniffed. “No no. Not that at all. She actually means ‘background’!” Then I struggled for some measurable time with my haphazard and always elusive Greek. “Background means personal history, your life story. She doesn’t want a criminal or a junkie or a… “

He looked very virtuous as he swore. “Balls to that! The worst I’ve ever done is fiddle the change at the taverna once in a while. With those pissed Scandinavian yachties, no one else, man, and they would only drop it in the bog if I didn’t. But what the hell does she mean she wishes for ‘enternal lob’. I’ve googled and googled them and it’s driving me mad.”

Suddenly I was seized with the intimation of a monstrous laughing fit, as in a flash the Murmansk woman’s message hit home. I have never done a cryptic crossword in my life but I am sure it needs that degree of lateral imaginativeness and the ability to discern obscure semantic association…or equally it could just be that in Russian and Greek and Bengali and several other languages including that found sometimes in the works of Charles Dickens, the letters b and v are effectively interchangeable.

I said, “She means eternal love. She wants what we all want, Vasily! She wants to be loved by someone for ever and ever. ‘Lob’ is her version of love, you see. So the positive thing is you can relax and be confident that her English isn’t much fancier or fluent than yours is.”

He grimaced his indignation. “Bloody little show off. I’d love to give her…”

“What? A smacked backround?”

“No no! She is so bloody tantalising and so beautiful, dammit. Just a night, no, just an hour, no ten minutes, no…”

But I was still consumed with a mad and shoulder-shaking hilarity and he looked to me for explanation.

“It’s the word ‘lob’,” I said. “Like you said, as a verb it can mean throwing something like a ball. But as a noun and when spoken in many rude and coarse male circles especially…”

His ears pricked up very hopefully. “Yes?”

“It can mean an mm…it can mean an erection…”

“You’re kidding!”

“Not at all. When I was a schoolkid you heard teenage boys all the time boasting about having ‘a lazy lob’ for the whole of the day. Meaning they had a dick on permanent…”

“Fuck,” sighed Vasily. “On permanent standby?”

“Exactly. So what gorgeous Murmanskgal is actually saying, is that she wishes for a man with an eternal erection, Vasily.”

“Eh?” he gasped. “You what!”

“A permanent hard on. As with some of those Indian yoga experts, the Tantric adepts especially, the ones who have sex for hours, days, sometimes longer. And by dint of all that Hatha Yoga they never ever come.”

Vasily looked me square in the eye, shrugged his shoulders and abruptly closed his beautiful new laptop. Then without the slightest effort he said to me in flawless English:

“Fuck that for a game of cards.”

Later I learnt he had heard it on a British film and it had stuck in his mind as these things do.




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