The women are beating carpets in the courtyard. Somehow, single-handedly, they've draped these room-sized rugs over the buckled play equipment and are swinging racquets at them. Kyrgyz boys, clad in Just William caps and jackets, have abandoned their satchels and are playing industriously in the same sand that their fathers played in before the USSR dissolved. A clutch of dumpling babushkas sit at the entrance to my apartment, watching proceedings with grim pleasure, while our resident homeless man smokes a cigarette on the curb. The only people unchanged by this new warmth are the black-jacketed men, all lean and bow-legged, spurred on to other destinations with intensity of purpose. Given that the unemployment rate is over 50%, I don't know where that purpose comes from. But there it is.
In the Crumpler bag I've hauled from school, there are the following items: an increasingly battered Mac Pro; a copy of Gaudy Night; the package of Haigh's chocolate freckles which arrived today by post; a motley assortment of grading (I don't 'mark' any more, I 'grade'); and some yarn and knitting needles which were donated to me by an outgoing teacher. Thus is my weekend organised.