With an eye out for surveillance, with the world kept at abeyance, Going by the English alias "Mr John Lancaster Peck", ’Cos of fingerprints forever wearing gloves made out of leather, In the Soviet Hotel there lived a most un-Soviet guest. John Lancaster on his lonesome, usually waiting till the moon shone, Clicked his nose which had an infrared-type lens tucked right inside. On exposure to some more light it portrayed in such a poor light What we most respect and love, what makes us comrades swell with pride. The Nagornaya club for instance was a drab public convenience, Our beloved Central Market was a warehouse caked in dirt, The microfilm transformed our GUM store into a hut that was an eyesore - And what it did to our Arts Theatre was so indecent it still hurts. Now to work in isolation can be dull and cause frustration But the foe was quite the pro - he forged a cheque and forged a plan. At the farthest restaurant table the un-Soviet man was able To tempt from the straight and narrow a certain Comrade Yepifan. Yepifan seemed sly and greedy, he was lusty, clever, seedy; When it came to beer and women, holding back held no appeal. So in short John’s new right-hand man was a godsend for the spy and That can happen if you’re drunk and have no trace of moral steel. "Let me give you your first task now: three fifteen be by the bathhouse; Maybe earlier, maybe later, watch a taxi stop outside. Once you’re in tie up the cabbie, like a common thieving baddie, And the BBC will broadcast all the details far and wide. Next you’re going to a trade show at the Manezh - have a shave, though - You will see a man approaching, with a suitcase he will be. He’ll ask: “Would you like some cherries?” You say: “They’re my favourite berries.” He’ll then give you some explosives in a stick; bring it to me. And for this, my drunk Iago, there’s a mansion in Chicago, Lots of money, cars and women", said the spy to Yepifan. The silly foe had no suspicion that he’d entrusted with this mission A very fine KGB major and an upright family man. He had always been the master of deceit, this John Lancaster, But this time was a disaster for the famous Mr Peck, For they’ve neutralised and nailed him, even shaved his head and jailed him, And in the Soviet Hotel there lives a peaceful Greek instead.
© Margaret & Stas Porokhnya. Translation, 2007