Dnipropetrovsk Episode One: The Northern Menace.

It seems a million years away reading our last post about Kiev and even from the point in time when we were writing it! So it seems we have been brought back a billion years to getting off the night train in Dnipropetrovsk. Despite the horrendous hour of 6:30am, Sexy Jill (as she is now named to avoid confusion with our half a cup Jill) and Stuart had dragged themselves out of bed to come and meet us so we were treated to the most joyful welcoming greeting ever. We were impressed with Sexy Jill’s adopted Eastern European grim demeanour, fur coat, high heels and full make up even at that hour. We were escorted through the wide almost empty streets of Dnipro, trying not to smile at people as apparently it makes them jealous that you are happier than them, enjoying some strange looks for wearing vests in what apparently was -1 but we don’t believe it was, and can now understand “What are you doing! Put your coat on, you’ll get sick!” in both Russian and Ukrainian. We arrived at Jill’s lovely apartment – aka The Hammered and Sickle – where she proudly displayed the amount of alcohol she had bought for our visit, a challenge we were afraid to accept in our delicate condition, but we did manage a refreshing breakfast Sommersby over a nice catch up before poor Sexy Jill had to go off and teach her nursery class. Despite Stuart’s kind offer to show us around we were craving some quality sleep after a somewhat restless night train night, and he was obviously not too fond of being awake at such an ungodly hour either, so we retired to bed in our luxury abode without any arguing Ukrainians keeping us awake. We finally roused ourselves at around 1pm and headed out to see the heady delights of Dnipro, the highlight being the huge market where you could buy a pigs head and a variety of guns. Unfortunately, despite our wanderings we did not find either of these, but did find lots of nice winter coats and a meat market with muscled babushkas chopping giant slabs of meat with axes on a tree trunk, and a big rat (who Susan would probably of tried to adopt should she of seen it). This had obviously given us an appetite so we went for a spot of lunch and some beers whilst swapping our festival and travelling stories. Joined Jill back at the Hammered and Sickle and tucked into the boozes stash whilst getting ready and were steadily joined by her friends/colleagues who lived in the same building, who all we instantly became good friends with and who would provide us with lots of entertainment for the next 2 days. Stef was a sensitive wee soul from Czech Republic who was disturbed by Stuart’s clips from his upcoming zombie movie as she already had trouble getting to sleep for fear of “The Cornflake Man” (or Jigsaw Man, turned out actually to be Candy Man, but we prefer Cornflake Man and have made Sexy Jill promise to glue cornflakes on her face one day and jump out on her), Rob was from Oldham but had lived all over the world and regaled us with his hilarious tales from working in Uzbekistan and the Bahamas, whipping boys and setting fire to caretakers in sheds. Julia was a 17 year old local girl who I think we baffled a lot but she coped with it very well and we think she has a lot of potential to be a good Northerner.
We finally assembled the News Team and set out for Dnipro’s hottest nightspot – Mr and Missis Schmidt. Upon our arrival we found it was movie night, so we took a table onto the dance floor in the other room so as not to disturb the movie watchers (and being joined by more of Sexy Jill’s friends, Mark and Nicola her colleagues, Alan her boss and Oleg, Julia’s father. Our exclusion did not last long as we were so kindly welcomed onto the big table, like exotic animals on display at the zoo. Before we knew it the movie was over and the guitars and accordions came out and we were ushered into the main room and treated to some live round the table music from the local Ukrainians. The guitars were passed around and Alan treat us to more than a few rousing choruses of some songs while we kept a lively percussion section in the back, and Jill kept getting told off for accidentally hitting things with her maracas (not a euphemism). It was then that Sexy Jill finally said the magic word of “Karaoke!” and microphones and screens magically appeared and everyone joined in the first song “Ra Ra Rasputin” (lover of the Russian Queen, he had a cat and it was black), which further cemented our friendship. Next up was Jill and Susan’s duet with the ubiquitous “Touch Me” by Sam Fox, which as you can all imagine was sexiness itself. A new group of boys (featuring a good beard) turned up and sang and danced with us, who turned out to be tomorrow night’s band and were great fun and again, very welcoming and amazed to see such exotic creatures in Dnipro. Many vodkas, many songs (our highlights being Prince Charming, La Isla Bonita and Relax), many laughs and many attempts by Jill to make us go home only to be dragged back to the microphone, a vodka thrust in her hand and forced to sing yet again, we finally relented and staggered off around 2am to the promise of drinks at home, with Susan trying to bring the band back as they were cute and she had yet to cross Ukraine off her list. Sexy Jill being the gracious host that she was was OK with this but Susan realised the error of her ways as people had to be up for work in the morning so left the boys in the pub with promises to go and see them play for an hour before catching our train the next evening. More drinks and laughs and putting the world to rights was had at Sexy Jill’s, mainly concerning ridiculous health and safety regulations and political correctness gone mad (do you know you can’t say “brainstorming” anymore in case it offends an epileptic, it’s “thought showers” now (we were going to say offends a retard, but we might offend a retard)). The workers and Stuart retired to bed, with the exception of Rob, who decided to live for the moment and went to retrieve the honey and chilli vodka from his flat next door, which is apparently hideous but we were too drunk to remember if we had any or not, never mind what it tasted like. The three of us bonded like super glue, as us worldly alcoholics tend to do, and had shared more than a few deep dark secrets before the hint of sun forced Rob to drag himself to bed, the long walk to the flat next door being quite a challenge by this point. We happily collapsed into our bed beneath the glowing neon sign of The Hammered & Sickle, Jill with her head in a bucket that Sexy Jill had provided “just in case”, been puu puued by Susan who’d tried to tidy it away then to her disappointment have it returned by non-Sexy Jill. And that, dear friends, is where we leave you for this chapter. Dnipro Episode 2: Attack of the Dniprawns – coming coon!
Again – sorry not many pictures as too drunk – our thanks to Stuart Rochester for the photographic evidence below!
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