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Full Circle

Day 22: Vladivostok

Michael Palin - Full CircleMy hour of shame, or glory, with the Pacific Fleet Choir can be postponed no longer.

After lunch I make my way to an intimidatingly large theatre on whose ample stage is a set comprising various naval accessories - rope ladders, flags, nets - against a painted backcloth of drifting clouds.

The band is warming up and most of the choir is already in traditional sailor outfits. I'm half-undressed when a small, muscular man with curly fair hair darts towards me and starts to apply make-up from what looks like a child's paintbox. He makes me purse my lips and applies a slash of scarlet lipstick, swiftly powders my cheeks and is gone. Meanwhile, I can hear the not-so distant sound of the slow, rising rhythms of the introduction to 'Poliushko Pole'. A broad white-brimmed sailor hat is thrust into my hand and I'm on - fortunately in the back row.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 22
  • Country/sea: Eastern Russia
  • Place: Russkiy Island
  • Book page no: 44

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