I was back at the airport. I don’t like those places at the best of times, too sterile, too organised; give me a train station or a harbour any day for a real sense of adventure. The state I was in didn’t make things any better. I needed help and I needed it fast, knowing full well that the kind of help I was after might quite possibly make things worse. It might mean that I’d be turned away at the boarding gate but I had to chance it. Needs must and all that.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part seven: an epilogue for now”
I was in the taxi taking me back to Boryspil, sweating beads of booze and my hands shaking violently, when the events of the past 24 hours or so, brutally came back to me. Luckily the driver was a man of few words, giving me ample time to ponder the previous day and its significance.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part six: taming dragons”
It had started like a perfectly regular day, slightly hungover but happy with ourselves. In five days, we’d filmed four great characters who’d all swanned through the interviews like real pros. They all had different life experiences but signs of a common thread had started to appear and a narrative was slowly emerging. Our film was taking shape and we all thought it had legs.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part five: a rude awakening”
Odessa is a five hour drive from Kiev, a straight line stretching south for 475km on a desolate highway, with nothing but the Ukrainian outback on both sides. Pushing 200km/h, we were making good progress, on every level. We had clocked up two interviews the previous day and were on our way to film another, our fourth. We’d set off early which hadn’t been easy, seeing at how intense yesterday had been.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part four: the Fury Road”
I am not what you might call a risk-taker. Yes, I did a buy a company in the throes of death, in an industry that more and more resembles the sun deck on the titanic and yes, when most tend to treat their bodies as temples, I mostly manage mine as a casino but my tendency to imagine the worst possible outcome, usually prevents me from being a daredevil. Occasionally though, often helped by some lubricant or other, I can conjure up some bravado and accomplish feats that with hindsight, always make me say “what was I thinking”, on condition that those “feats” fulfil either one of two criteria: they have to be productive or they have to be fun.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part three: vertigo”
I arrived in an empty airport. Those places are always eerie but this was on another level. I guess Ukraine is not at the top of most people’s list as a summer destination. At the border control, I was greeted by a sign advising me not to bribe the officials. It felt a bit like when someone adds “no, seriously” after paying you a compliment. The fact that someone thought that it had to be said, spoke volumes.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part two: burnt fingers”
The flight from Heathrow to Boryspil should have been an indication of what to expect. I shared it with a group of Ukrainian students returning from a school-trip. iPads, beats headphones and the latest trainers made me assume that these were the offspring of Ukraine’s ruling class. They behaved just like any teenager in the “West”: in equal part plainly enjoying themselves and making their best effort not to show it too much. At sixteen, being happy isn’t cool. You’re supposed to have outgrown infantile bliss.
Continue reading “Gonzo in Ukraine – part one: travel prejudices”