Entering Ukraine in a car without as it turned out the correct insurance, I had to bribe my way into the country with some confectionery. That seemed to subconsciously, consciously, send a message that Ukraine was a country in which anything goes, because despite corrective efforts that was pretty much how I carried on there. Nor was I alone in that with almost every expat sharing similar abandon.
I did a Michael Douglas in Basic Instinct many times – going into clubs for which I was really too old, questionably attired -
But, even more than attempting to match tie and jeans, something I struggled against, or sometimes didn’t bother, was resisting temptation. Temptation is everywhere you look in Ukraine, so many things so appealingly packaged and sold. One of my first nights out in Kiev was with an expat Geordie with a thick neck and Joe Pesci temper who nonetheless almost made me think going into business with him would be a good idea. Right up until he threatened to kill me. The enticingly-priced beer had surely played a part in both my inducement and the Geordie’s later surrender to choler.
Of course, the main temptation is the ladies, but after a little while you can start to think yourself schooled in sussing the bads. Then came the one I completely called wrong. Even having seen Basic Instinct, having been in Ukraine for a good while. This photo is my first seeing her, Yulia, in a modelling competition.
Pursuing things as I did with her was a shockingly error of judgement. Not only because I was in a relationship with an absolutely lovely girl at the time, Ira, but this girl in question proved to be everything that can generally be wrong with girls in one seductive but completely pernicious package. I had even figured that part way through whatever it was that happened between us, but just as Michael Douglas’s Nick, found myself suckered in a slipstream and counter-intuitively chary about getting out lest things suddenly become better.
They didn’t. In the end, it took for for some cash, dignity and damage to an otherwise beautiful relationship. I walked away chastened feeling several shades less streetwise than before and recalling that line from Basic Instinct ‘are you a pro?’, ‘no, I’m an amateur’. This girl had been an amateur, all she had wanted was some money, attention and sport. Ukraine is full of temptations with malintentions, and as an expat you’ll probably inevitably get done by one of them. If you’re lucky, it’s an amateur.