Bacon In Moscow

Rachel Cooke at The Guardian:

In July 1986, James Birch, a young London gallerist with vague designs on global domination, set off for the Soviet Union. It was his first visit and he had no idea what to expect. Mikhail Gorbachev had then been general secretary of the Communist party for one year: perestroika and glasnost were in the air (or, at any rate, in the British newspapers). But still, Moscow was a world apart. On the advice of his travelling companion, a “cultural entrepreneur” whose carpet business often took him to the USSR, Birch carried among his luggage a packet of chocolate digestives, just in case he found himself short of food, and cartons of Camel cigarettes, to be used as payment to all the drivers he would have to flag for a lift, there being virtually no taxis in the city.

more here.