A hungry dog believes in nothing but meat
Built by an enlightened reformist …. sorry? Say that again! You can’t seriously be saying that this place was built by an enlightened reformist? Yup! It is part of the Peterhof – Peter the Great’s Summer Palace which in modern terms is about an hour from the centre of St Petersburg (as the architect of its conception, birth and building modestly called it and it remained until being renamed Leningrad and abruptly returned to its original name after Glasnost in the late 1980s). St Petersburg was the icing on the bun of Peter’s vision. He felled forests and built it as ‘The Venice of The North’ as a celebration of his victory in the war against Sweden. I have noted before that you would if you could. I’m honest enough to admit that I might ….
When I was raising my daughters I used to challenge them regularly when they asked for something they ‘needed’. I used to ask them what they really and actually did need? Mean wicked mother that I was, I started to gently confront them when they were about 3 years old. Because from where I’m sitting what I really NEED is little. I need enough food to fill my belly and no more. I need shelter. It can be as simple as you like but would ideally keep me warm in winter and cool in summer and would clearly vary according the climate I live in. My body is my greatest gift and to have it functioning fully is preferable. At the moment I have a rickety leg as a result of a foolish fall 4 weeks ago and I am learning how frustrating it is to NOT be able to move fluidly if at all. Clothes on my back, shoes on my feet are probably a need. And enough money to buy what I can’t grow or make myself. Those are needs. The rest – the car, the travel, the extensive wardrobe, the TV, the wireless, the CDs, the phone, the IT paraphenalia etcetera etcetera ad tedium – those are wants. And I think it is extremely important to do an audit from time to time and remember what the difference is. Call it a sanity check – call it a ticket to self-righteousness but I do believe it’s important. Peter, THAT Great Peter, you see thought that this extraordinarily extravagent building (which is just a tiny wing of one of his Palaces) was needed … I’d say it’s the icing on the cake, le cerise sur le gateau, the cherry on top which is why I’m having this little moment of pondering cherries because it happens to be the weekly photo challenge this week ‘The Cherry On Top’ and here you can see the rest of the entries, all wonderfully creative and worthy.
PS: The title – Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ (I would, wouldn’t I?) – one young intellectual (Pishtchik) to another (Trophimof) when talking of borrowing money notes that just as all he can think of are bank balances and interest rates a hungry dog thinks of nothing but meat, a metaphor for single mindedness born of discontent … in this epoch the Chekhov generation of intellectuals were exchanging earnest views which led to the discontent that in turn gave birth to the Revolution of 1917 … I think we might do well to learn from that – after all that revolution led to a system of government that most in the ‘modern’ world believe to be unworkable. It is also perhaps worth noting, given that the Cherry on the top of the photo for me is the modern Russian flag a-fluttering in front of the ludicrous affectation of the supposedly enlightened Peter, that the US, the UK and France all seem to be craving strong Government whilst simultaneously being afeared of the strong arm of Putin …. perhaps a return to understanding what we need as opposed to what we want is required. Perhaps.