The flat was on the fifth floor of an apartment block overlooking a broken playground, pine trees and the sea. In the tiny kitchen there was a waist-high fridge with a broken handle and re-used glass jars full of something that could either have been pondwater or kvass, but was probably a mixture of the two. An old curtain hung from the living room doorway, next to a 2008 calendar, a double bed and a bookcase with black-and-white photos of stern-faced men in military uniform. In the bathroom, the shower curtain was held up by clothes pegs and old bits of washing line.
We drank vodka in the kitchen then set up the beds for the night, four of us in the same room. I slept in an armchair, which folded down to make a narrow bed as wide as my body. "You knew Lenin, didn't you?" my friend asked his grandmother. "Not Lenin," she laughed, bent double over her walking stick, "but I did see Stalin once."