I have, unusually, been spending a bit of time preparing for my trip to Russia. Not least there are the officially mandated preparations: I am so useless at filling in forms, so the visa application brought me out in a cold sweat. The thought of getting something wrong on the form and facing an implacable official to explain my apparent duplicity is the stuff of bad dreams – how do you convince them that I’m rubbish, not seeking to hide something? Anyway, form done (thanks intourist), and on to things sartorial – what kit for the train? It’ll be quite warm, but outside there will be insects the size of Wessex helicopters, so a bit of DDT stashed away might be sensible.
I’m taking the big camera, but I know I’ve got to be sensitive about its use. It is still frowned on to take photos at a station for security reasons, which gets me thinking about the Russian preoccupation with security and (from a Western perspective) slight paranoia. I suppose it comes from having been invaded twice in the last 100 years (including by the Brits), and being done like a kipper by the Germans in 1941. Fair enough then, I suppose.