12th december 2005
a lisp of lapel

"Get your coat," says one of my co-workers. "We are going to meet some Russians."
Neither of us have met these Russians before, but in the café they are easily singled out: they inhabit a cloud of tobacco smoke which they push aside with their hands, allowing us to enter. They smoke all the time, seamlessly, lighting each other's cigarettes without missing a beat. The brands are unrecognizable to the non-smoker: Captain Black; Vogue. The people we're meeting look just not quite ordinary. They remind me of Barthes saying of a William Klein picture of a May Day in Moscow, the photographer teaches me how the Russians dress.
We are high up over the city. Mist is clearing and letting the sun through onto domes and towers. The Russians look out over everything and tell us about telephones. They are providers of content to the big mobile phone companies in Moscow, they might like to buy some content from us, we have some nice things. They look at our things and smoke some more. They are already slightly bored with what they're doing, they're thinking ahead. They have lots of ideas to go forward with, like location-based blogging, like stuff their translator gives up with trying to explain to us. Meantime they're stuck looking at what we have to offer them.
The meeting fritters away: we're sitting in warm sun and no-one can be bothered to wrap it up, so we wind down into silence. One of the Russians gestures with his cigarette to the Abbey's hull, sinking in golden haze. "Nice," he says. "Like medieval."