|Not so much a library, more of a cathedral (St Basil's, Red Square)|
Melvyn Bragg has just been there for the first time for 20 years, when I was involved with his visit. He writes today:
'And so to Moscow. The centre of Moscow is much smarter and more handsome than I remember it from about 20 years ago. Much. Almost every building is six storeys, which gives it a pleasing and old-fashioned uniformity. Many of them are being painted up and they look very attractive in seaside colours. The shops do not advertise themselves as shops and so streets can seem rather dull, but there are word signs outside and if you look through the windows you see shops full of produce. The great department store GUM in Red Square is massive. It's like Venice enclosed in stone. Wonderfully worked stone. Inside there are canals of the latest European shops, with bridges stretching from one side to another two and three storeys up. You feel that you are in the centre of the world's luxury trade.
Red Square has one of the most eccentric and wonderful churches I've ever seen. St Basil's. It is in fact about a dozen chapels with onion domes and murals and marvellously worked icons. It looks like something out of a scene in the Arabian Nights. There are over 800 churches in Moscow and those I went to are extraordinarily well-preserved. And then there is the inner circular park walkway; there's the Conservatoire which is dedicated to Tchaikovsky ... And I saw a magnificent production of Educating Rita by a young, English-speaking company at a small theatre in the middle of the town. Too much really to absorb in too little time. But changed it has since I was there last. How deep, I don't know. How long-lasting, I don't know. But how striking!'
Well, Melvyn, you have whetted our appetites. A meeting will be held soon in Moffat to discuss the exhibition we have been invited to participate in - Russian photographers will be back in town and interviews with people will take place in May 2014 to complete the work started when our Russian visitors were here last month 18-23 Sept. By the way, for collectors of useless but I hope interesting information, the word 'Red' applied to 'Square' here has nothing to do with Communism. In old Russian 'red' meant 'beautiful'.