March 24, 2023

A visit to Moscow on the eve of the Olympics, 1980 | Life and style

On the eve of the Moscow Olympics, the Observer Journal (5 July 1980) visited ‘the metropolis Margaret Thatcher doesn’t want our athletes to see’ to uncover what Moscow existence was definitely like. ‘It is simple to conclude that all Russians likely impassively about their business need to be some form of automatons,’ the file mused. ‘The clues to the hearts of these disciplined and viewed-more than individuals are uncommon, and therefore startling and important when a person discovers them.’

Writers peered guiding that facade by means of experiences, interviews and probability encounters, accompanied by ‘endless toasts to better understanding’. Fresh new from a seven-encore recital, the Bolshoi’s star bass Yevgeni Nesterenko held court docket in his riverfront pad, providing vodka, snacks and anecdotes. A vacation accompanying a local reporter to a bread plant that experienced exceeded its target output quota expanded into an exploration of the workings and editorial plan of the Moscow press.

Shortages were being practically a character in their have right: ‘The phrase niet shortly becomes depressingly acquainted.’ On the streets, ‘the average housewife queues for two several hours a working day,’ reportedly, although in the journalists’ lodge ‘we survived to some extent on bread and whisky’. No phone listing – paper shortages – appeared specifically shocking and cars and trucks had no windscreen wipers: ‘Prudent motorists maintain them in the glove compartment so they really do not get pinched.’ In spite of that, there is a thoughtful appreciation of the city’s attractiveness and strangeness and of the hospitality and resilience of its inhabitants.

The past Soviet citizens the Observer satisfied ended up travelers, competitors winners from Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, admiring ‘the greatness of our country’. If that title appears to be familiar, the city is household to just one of the nuclear electricity crops Putin shelled with such menace in late November.