"I want to make a purchase for 182 rubles, I have the money, but unfortunately I will have to give you two 100 ruble notes instead of the exact amount, and moreover I don't have a 2 ruble coin, which would enable you to give me 20 rubles change instead of 18."
Nurse! Quick! We have a cardiac arrest here!
We carried our purchases down the street and found House 4 Building 21, which was (obviously!) positioned in between House 4 Building 5 and House 6 Building 12. Ascending to the fifth floor, we entered the apartment, and one look around immediately dispersed all ideas that there really is a middle class in Russia. Through the fetid stench of alcohol, cigarettes and BO, I could make out brown floral wallpaper and about 20 Russians stumbling around completely drunk. Sure enough, at one side there was an abandoned table of long-forgotten bowls of "salad"–-small unidentified cubelets of food swimming in ponds of mayonnaise.
I was accosted by a stumbling teenager brandishing a bottle of whisky.
"Khello! Where you from?" he shouted in slurred barks.
"I was in England in 1996."
He said something incoherent that I thought was "I was on tour with the circus", but on the fifth repeat turned out to be "I went to Piccadilly Circus."
"Reeeeally?" asked my friend. "And what did you do there?"
"I went to the Hip.. the Hipp... the Hipp... the Hippod... the Hi... the Hipp"
"Yes! The Hipp... The Hipp... The HIP... The H'..." He almost fell over from the exertion, splashing whiskey from the bottle across the room.
"Tell me again, where was it you went?" I asked, beginning to enjoy myself.
"The Hip... The Hi... The Hi...." He contorted his face into ever weirder shapes trying to get the word out. My friend nudged me.
"Mate, you don't think he's...? You know, not quite right?"
"Nah," said another friend. "Fuck off, there's no way a Down's Syndrome kid could speak English."
"The HI... The HIPP... The H'..."
"Well, I'm not sure 'speak' is the word I'd use."
Just in case we'd actually been laughing at a mentally disabled person, we decided to move into the other room. There was a typically Russian "shoes off" policy, which might be a good idea if you're having your relatives round for Sunday lunch but is pretty disgusting when drunken Russians have been soaking the floor with vodka and whisky for the previous two hours.
"Hello my name is Katya how are you?" said a horrifically obese Russian caked in makeup, to each of us in turn, kissing us inappropriately close to the lips.
A chubby bald guy wearing a sweatshirt saying "PRAGUE: CZECH ME OUT!" came up to me, put his face about three inches from mine so that I could smell the vodka, and screamed "AMERICA EEZ SHEET!"
"Really? Thanks for letting me know," I said. "I'm English, by the way."
"English? London? LONDON EEZ SHEET!"
"Fucking hell, mate, we need to get out of this place," said my friend.
We grabbed our coats and made a speedy exit. On the street outside, we began to wonder–-perhaps this was all an elaborate Borat-style set-up. Perhaps we were being secretly filmed, and our awkward, half-trying-to-be-polite, half-patronising responses would be material for a new Russian TV show. Right now the drunk spastic, the chubby Czech-me-out guy, and the obese Katya were back out of character, reviewing the footage of the hilarious foreigners who didn't know what to do when faced with such buffoonery.