Weekly News: Russian’s ‘Wild West’
Published at “Weekly News” on December 19, 1991
THE biggest shock for Peter Reznikov on his arrival in Wales wasn’t the absence of queues outside shops or the abundance of foodstulfs inside them.
For the Russian interpreter from Rostov, who is teaching at Eirias High School, Colwyn Bay twice a week, the greatest surprise was to see bouncers outside nightclubs on Saturday nights.
For a young man whose country has just undergone the most momentous changes since the revolution in 1917 this may seem a an unusual observation.
Bouncer shock for Moscow interpreter outside nightclub
But Peter Reznikov, who is staving at The Continental, 10 Seabank Road, Colwyn Bay, after joining the staff at Bodelwyddan TVEI Centre, is here to discover the real Britain, the real people and the real social life.
With warnings from his mother to be careful in the Wild West’ and not to drink ti» i much, drive to fast or stay out all night. Peter arrived in Wales this Autumn.
He is here not so much to wave the flag as to break down stereotypes and sweep away the mythology which developed during the cold war years.
The 23-year-old language graduate was working as an interpreter in Moscow when a deputation from Clwyd County Council needed his services as a translator during their visit.
One thing led to another and he found himself hired as a teacher of Russian languaf,» and Soviet affairs in five Clwyd schools.
“I also came to improve my English. You can work on any level but if you want to be a professional you have to go to the roots.
“Moscow is full of American businessmen and if you’re not careful you end up speaking with an American accent.” said Peter who has studied English for 11 years.
“I’m very interested in dialects and I’m collecting colloquialisms, something
which we don’t come across when we study from books or newspapers.”
Luckily, he says, that Welsh is easier to him than English and he demonstrates his command of the language with a perfect pronunciation of Llandrillo.
“Welsh is very similar to Georgian, it is quite a beautiful sound, much easier than English which is very phonetic and Germanic.”
Pupils generally have accepted him well, although he grimaces when asked about the differences between a class of British children and a class full of young Russians.
“I don’t think you had better write that in your newspaper,” he laughed and would only say that we are known as a nation of lazy linguists.
Apparently we are also seen as a nation of superior humour, stiff upper lips and straight backs, although even that has a linguistic bearing.
“To speak English it is necessary to speak with stronger lips, the Russian language is more relaxed. I think this is why we think you are more reserved, because of the way you look when you speak,” Peter explained.
If Peters mother was nervous about his visit to the wild and racey West, then he has experienced some caution towards himself as a Russian despite glasnost and perestroika.
“There is still the shadow of the Cold War. especially with older people who say that a few years ago it would have been unimaginable to be riding in my car and going out for a drink with me.”
Peter says British social life is still an unknown quantity for most Russians who tend to know more about America than the UK.
“We know about Major, and the cabinet and parliament, but that’s about it. Your social life is still a big secret for most Russians.”
Hence his surprise at the bouncers on the door of nightclubs and the necessity to wear a suit and tie to get past them.
“I still can’t understand why you can go to a very good pub in a shell suit but to go to dance you have to wear a suit. I think they think perhaps they think you are 1 likely to fight with your glad rags Peter’s contract with Clwyd Is year, then he hopes to expand a travel business, incorporating a Russian-style Camp America for youngsters.