October 14, 2011
You can't keep a dog away from a bone, just as you can't keep me away from writing, so here I am again to share with you dear reader a snippet of another life. I went to look after my adopted child X today at the oligarch family where I am a part time hired hand.
When I arrived the other day, child X was playing in the living room, a child's birthday, balloons covered the floor and child X was jumping up and down on a mini trampoline. Naturally, when writing about child X, I observe strict rules of anonymity and respect, as I do not want to bite the hand that feeds me or to be disrespectful to a family and to a child, no matter how loaded they may be. I gave child X a birthday present and card. Mrs X said nothing, not even a thanks, what is one pebble on a beach of thousands? The play room is packed with toys. Remote control cars and toy tanks line one wall and shelves burst with games. I always feel slightly frustrated in the playroom as the cars have not got any batteries in them and so I can't play with them. When I grew up in the 1970's, we did not have remote control cars but now I have my own kid, I fully intend to buy him all the toys that I never had. Child X, the kid I look after, has inspired my toy spending for Christmas.
I feel even more frustrated in another room in the house of child X as it has a full set of fantastic drums. As a boy in suburban England, I always dreamed of having a drum set. My parents were not loaded but dad did give me one single drum for Christmas when I was aged nine or ten. Later, in fact the next Christmas, I got a high hat cymbal. Still wearing my pyjamas, I would bash the drum in my bedroom at 7 am on a Saturday morning while they were sleeping and annoy my parents. This probably ensured that I never progressed to a full drum set. Child X, has a full set down in the "music" room. Again, I am equally frustrated and child X will not allow me to play with the drums, so I stand there and watch while X plays my fingers itch to knock out a Genesis drum style beat. We went upstairs to the bedroom of a sibling of child X. The bedroom is a young boys fantasy room. It is done out in a popular theme that most young kids like. The room is half the size of my Moscow flat. It has an en-suite bathroom and full size walk in wardrobe. While I play with child X in the playroom, a young gardener from the far reaches of Russian rakes endless piles of Autumn leaves. He has gold teeth and smiles a lot. I like him and admire his spirit. He does the worst odd jobs but is always smiling and cheerful.
It has taken me time to gain acceptance from one of the communities nannies at child X's gated community. She is a woman in her fifties, who openly scorns me. Russian nannies are a force to reckon with, like old tough Soviet tanks, used to cold winters and to rough hard ground, they can go over anything. An English man looking after a kid is no obstacle to these women and a man looking after a kid goes against everything they believe in. In the first few weeks of working there, the old tank would spy on me and phone the house from her mobile and to speak to the other nanny of child X while I pushed child X around in the grounds of the gated community. She would report back anything to her such as a wet nappy that had just been peed in or if child X was not in hat when it was + 10 degrees and sunny. Luckily, I noticed her clumsy covert operations and took evasive action by avoiding her. Frankly, she is a bitter old cow but I have been working the charm on her these last few weeks and she seems to have softened a bit towards me but is still as tough as an old boot soviets army marching boot. I need her as a comrade, since I am in a dangerous postilion. Child X has two nannies, one nice and one a cow, they work on rotating eight or nine day shifts. There have been stories of British tutors and British nannies, being sacked by wealthy families because the other nanny (that is always Russian and these oligarchs have at least two live in nannies) was jealous and made up stories to get them fired. Russian's can be very jealous. Being man, I have to be very careful especially when looking after a child. I am seen as a threat to their jobs, because I am great with kids and a lot of fun.
I had a look in one of the garages the other day, inside there was a full size off road go-cart for four people, a quad bike, two child quad bikes and a full size racing motorbike. I am not so much jealous of this wealth, rather more amazed by it. Like 90% of the worlds population, we worry as a family worry about the financial future and about our own kids future, these oligarch's have not got these kind of worries and inhabit another universe to us. Some say they live like Saudi royalty. In fact, they remind me more of the British aristocrats in the last century. They have gardeners, cleaners, cooks, drivers, private tutors, nannies and all the bells that go with it. They are in name only, the Russian aristocracy.
In Moscow, you can almost smell the thieves. Many of the current rich got rich, not by being honest or by hard work but by nerve, by cheating and by having the right connections. I have no idea what the father of child X did to get rich and I certainly don't ask. When I see him, I feel in awe but also slightly afraid. Mrs X is charming, certainly not personal and never asks how I am or how my kid is but is always polite and always smiles. Child X is also a good kid but I can see the seed of a spoiled kid beginning to show through, when you have eaten lobster two hundred times, the taste becomes boring. All the money in the world can't replace real parenting and real parent time. Contracting out parenting and providing countless toys are not a substitute and the results of this will show through when child X and thousands of other Russian child X's reach their twenties. It's the same in the UK, however parents are not loaded just busy, arrive home exhausted and have not got the time or the energy for their kids, we are seeing the results of this in the behaviour of children now and it is dangerous and very disturbing. I my own opinion, the world and society is going down a blind path to destruction but I don't have the answers or the nerve to suggest any solution's here, I'll leave that to another person. For now, child X provides me with some funds and in Moscow you need all the help you can get so long live the Russian aristocracy. You may also like "Russian bling".
This account could be about almost any oligarch's house anywhere in Russia. There are many of them.
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