On buildings and peoples

Murmansk concrete
A striking difference between countries is to be found in their approach to managing and presenting buildings.

In England you will find the most beautiful Victorian buildings in the poshest areas of London, yet as soon as you enter through the door you are bound to discover the inverse relationship between inside and outside. Behind the perfectly polished facade lies a dump of an interior. I remember living in Lancaster Gate in London W2; on the outside, the building looked like a five-star hotel, whilst inside the place was a dirty firetrap with worn out furniture and wall-to-wall carpets dating back to the 1950s.

In Russia, on the other hand, no matter how run down a building may look from the outside – and, trust me, in parts of the North there is nothing but run down Soviet blocks – the interior will always be clean, tidy and in a far better state than whatever catches the eye from the exterior.

Perhaps it would be a little too rude of me to draw an analogy to people here. Tempting it is though…

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