Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Russian drinking song
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Champagne is the tipple
In Kokand and Tashkent,
In Leninsk and Bukhara,
In Kim and Osh and Pskent;
So let us down our bubbly,
Let’s drink it as we choose,
We’ll quaff it out of samovars
Or Bolshoi ballet shoes.

Americans sip highballs
And scotch upon the rocks,
The English gulp their bitter ―
And may it rot their socks!
Vodka is a bourgeois drink,
‘The boy’ is for the man:
Let’s send six million empties
Away to Kazakhstan.

In Scotland they drink usquebaugh
From Orkney to the Trossachs,
And tea is for babushkas,
And kumiss for the Cossacks;
But a magnum is a magnum,
And a hundred times more hep
Than chasing droves of mangy mares
To milk them on the steppe.

The lovely road to Samarkand
Is golden, so it’s said,
But all else that surrounds us here,
Except the wine, is Red;
So drink to Marx and Engels
And Lenin’s rosy ghost
In one great glorious orgy
Of not-so-sobernost!


It was reported that six million empty champagne bottles were swamping the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan.  Plans to ship the bottles to Kazakhstan were vetoed by the Kazakhs.

Oxford Times, 4 February 1966