Moscow, August 2005 and one of my Russian friends called me.
“Chris, I need a favour – can you meet a local detective – off to an Interpol conference in Geneva next week – teach them some British police slang?”
I was free that evening so why not?
I sat in the faux Italian cafe Mi Piace on Tverskaya Street and watched the blonde supermodel in the leather miniskirt park her pink Audi on the pavement. I saw the policeman walk up to it. “Ha, a ticket – serves her right” I thought. No, he stood there waiting and watching.
She came up to me.
“Chris? I am Olga Ivanova , Moscow Murder Squad. Talk to me – I need a slang.”
The flash of red knickers as she sat down drained away my focus on John Thaw’s Sweeney lexicon, but I recovered in time. We went through “old bill”, “grass”, “you’re knicked”, “banged up”, ”ten year stretch” and even “sing like a canary”. Olga tapped it all earnestly into her laptop. Until we came to “a stiff” – she was in the murder squad after all. “Translating machine says this is when man is wanting. Yes ?” she looked at me a little too directly. This was not Juliet Bravo.
“Ah yes, quite so – stiff and stiffy .” I think I went through the various connotations accurately enough and in sufficient detail, and we pressed on to “paedos”, “narks” and “bung”. Then her mobile rang – a few words in Russian and, “sorry Chris, colleagues have the stiffy at Leningradsky station. I go now. Goodbye.” Another flash of the knickers and she went to her Audi.
No chance of a night in the cells with Olga then.
Gutted, as they say in The Bill.
(This first appeared on my now defunct Russian blog in 2010 but I still think fondly of Olga.)