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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

PAPARAZZI: Scots Celebrate Poet's 'Sangs' With Haggis

"Contented wi' little, and cantie we mare,

When ere I forgather with sorrow and care,

I gie them a skelp as they're creepin' alang,

Whir cog or good swats and an old

Scottish sang."

The meaning of the verses is a little hard to follow for non-Highlanders -- something very Scottish to do with singing even though you are poor and miserable.

But Tom Crozier quoted these lines of the immortal Robert Burns with gusto as he welcomed 200 guests to the Moscow Renaissance Hotel on Saturday evening for a charity supper to mark the birthday of the national poet of Scotland.

On hand to provide "old Scottish sangs" as well as dances, pipe music and, of course, poetry were a number of entertainers from Scotland, including Glaswegian soprano Christina Dunwoodie.

Dunwoodie said the society held a Burns Supper in St. Petersburg as well, last Wednesday, but she was pleasantly surprised when she dropped in on a Russian school staging a Scottish-style performance.

"What was really sweet was that there were teenage boys dressed up in kilts," she said. "In Glasgow you can't imagine a high school teacher convincing boys to come and put on a skirt and do some dancing."

There was certainly no shyness about wearing kilts at the Renaissance, where a mix of dancing, haggis and Scotch whisky brought out the Scot in everyone. Michael O'Leary even brought along his own tam, the floppy tartan hat that goes with a kilt.

The climax of the evening was when John Gahagan, dressed in a fine skirt himself, performed the traditional address "Toa Haggis." Sniffing and saluting the evening's prized dish, based on lamb organs and oatmeal sewn up in a sheep's stomach, Gahagan recited the immortal line "'An cut you up wi' ready slight" as he plunged a sharp knife into the haggis. As the applause died down, Gahagan turned his charge over to the kitchen staff, who served it up with the obligatory "neeps and tatties," or turnip and potatoes.

Fine Wine Date

Husband-and-wife team Allen Carney and Masha Shishlina proposed a toast to themselves Saturday evening to mark the first anniversary of their wine-import firm, Rus-Roussillon.

Of course, they had some help. Two dozen guests enjoyed dinner at the couple's apartment and drained a few glasses of choice French wine.

American Carney had no plans to work in the wine business in 1994 when he met Shishlina while working on a USAID project. He "cajoled" her to visit the south of France the following year, where Carney had spent his childhood and where he inherited his father's country house in romantic Caudies de Fenouilledes.

"We had a typical experience of living in France, where wine was an essential part of every meal, and where we were surrounded by vineyards," he said.

Carney said it was the romance of a "classic moonlight walk" that prompted Shishlina's idea of importing wine into Russia.

A year into their enterprise, Rus-Roussillon is supplying quality wines of the Roussillon region to some of Moscow's leading hotels and restaurants.

But business often conflicts with the couple's French idyll. "We'd imagined it was a way to live part-time in France, one foot there and one foot here, but as we rapidly observed, 99 percent of our feet are here," Carney said.

Kiwis Host Nation Day

In a concession to the Moscow winter, New Zealand's Ambassador John Larkindale and his wife, Philippa, played hosts Friday to scores of notables at a formal, lunch-hour reception in honor of Waitangi Day, marking New Zealand's birth as a nation in 1840.

"Of course, it's summer back home, and we'd be having a barbecue right about now," said first secretary Graeme McGuire as he glanced with regret at the snow-covered courtyard of the New Zealand Embassy on Friday.

In a suit and appropriately cow-patterned tie, David Gillingham, CEO of New Zealand Milk Products, enthused about the All-Blacks rugby squad.

New Muscovite Mike Parker, maintenance manager at the embassy and another rugby fan, said that plans are afoot for a new Moscow Dragons rugby club to include British, Australians and, of course, Kiwis. Unlike the six other Russian rugby clubs in Moscow, the Dragons are not playing in the winter snow and will have their first outing in the spring.

Blind Couture Hits Catwalk

Five members of the American Women's Organization took to the catwalk as models in a charity fashion presentation last Wednesday at Planet Hollywood.

Coordinator Jane Winter said the monthly coffee meeting was turned into a fashion show to show off a collection by a new Russian designer, Tatyana Orlova.

Her dresses and suits made from leather, sheerling, fur and knitted fabrics attracted the AWO's attention because they are made by blind workers from the central Russian town of Belgorod. A single mother, Orlova started her business with the help of a $10,000 start-up loan from her uncle, who runs the factory that employs the blind people.

"We thought it was interesting that all the handiwork was done by blind people," Winter said. "It's incredible when you see the detail."

Jo Ann Byrne, who now works as accounts manager with the MV copy center, met Orlova in 1995 while working on a Peace Corps entrepreneurial project in Ryazan and played a big role in organizing the show. "I'm always trying to help women in business," Byrne said.

Byrne said that Orlova, an artist by training, has a tendency to experiment with colors that simply were not available during Soviet days. "It's a question of marketing herself, learning what to tone down and what to promote."

Byrne said that Orlova had invited AWO women to get onto the catwalk partly because she wanted to create an international image and also because she was looking for a variety of body types and ages.

"All of Orlova's models were 6 foot 2 [1.88 meters]," explained Winter, "and we're regular women."

Winter said that the five AWO women to take part included Tamsen Christianson, who has modeled professionally in Japan, and Joyce Moore, who was new to the catwalk.

Christianson was delighted. "It was very colorful -- it wasn't Gucci, black and white simple stuff," she laughed.

Winter said that rookie Moore also did fine. "She had on a short, off-white coat that we all loved, so she had to walk back and forth quite a few times," she said.

Iran Revolution Day

Sampling kebabs and kayma, a rich beef and rice dish, while portraits of ayatollahs Ruholla Khomeini and Sayyed Ali Khamenei looked on, 400 guests gathered Monday at the President Hotel to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Hamid Bodaghi, cultural attache at the Iranian embassy, was 12 at the time but still vividly remembers the Islamic revolution that swept his country in 1979.

"The revolution began on Feb. 12, and because our home was near the main street in Qom, I was out on the street every day with my older brother, my father, and thousands of people as they shouted, "Down with the shah!" and "Peace be with Khomeini!"

Pet Shop Boys Steer for Russia

While the combination of distance and pirated music ensures most Western pop bands steer clear of Russia, The Pet Shop Boys will return to Moscow with a concert Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Luzhniki Sports Palace.

Led by vocalist Neil Tennant, the London-based band emerged on the international scene in the late '80s via the hit "West End Girls," while songs like "It's a Sin" and "Always on My Mind" have kept them in the limelight.

The Pet Shop Boys' "Go West" has become a cult classic at Moscow's Hungry Duck bar, where it's Soviet anthem lead-in prompts the raucous crowd to stand at attention -- be it on floor, table or bar top.