Things to know when dating a british man

In their manners the Russians exhibit their usual failure to do anything by halves.

They will apologise instantly if they interrupt you in mid-sentence, kiss your hand if you are a woman, help you find your way if you are lost in a city by actually going with you to your destination, however far it takes them out of their way.

Children are constantly being coached in good manners and ticked off if they do not come up to scratch. They never specify days of the week, such as "next Monday", or "Wednesday", only "the 13th", "the 4th" (of the month).

The general public used to queue almost as readily as the British used to - whether for oranges or to collect their coats from the cloakroom after a concert.

At an inaugural dinner and prize-giving of a major cultural award by a Western European company none of the Russian intelligentsia accepted their place settings, and chaos prevailed as literary and other luminaries roamed around the dining hall moving chairs and making non-sense of the carefully-organized seating plan.

Towards the end of the meal during the whole of which there took place an unending musical chairs as old friends greeted each other and exchanged gossip, the hapless chairman of the mighty Western conglomerate attempted to begin the formal part of the proceedings: the announcement of the winner.

By now, even the top table had been deserted by most of the competitors and his remarks were drowned by a continuing hubbub of conversation.

The Scandanavian co-sponsor then attempted to make himself heard, this time in broken Russian. Finally, the name of the winner was announced to the small group of diners immediately next to the microphone.

The party going on in the rest of the room continued without anyone taking the slightest notice.

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