This Ed Lucas piece on how much better Russian people are able to withstand cold temperatures is really quite amusing, attracting praise even from the Putinophile set.
I used to visit Moscow’s Sandunovskaya baths, the oldest and grandest in the city, with two British friends. It was a fascinating experience-not least because of the overheard conversations, often conducted in gangster argot, among the rich and powerful Russians who made up most of the clientele.
Russians think Westerners are wimps. They usually are, but we wanted to show we were different. So the three of us plunged into the ice-bath – and started a rather jerky rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’.
A gaggle of heftily built and tattooed men gathered, incredulous that we were breaking sauna etiquette by staying in the icy water, rather than emerging gasping after a few seconds.
‘There’ll be nothing left of you,’ one of them said, anxiously, worried that frostbite might be attacking our most precious body parts. We emerged to cheers and handshakes, and toasted our new friends in vodka and tea.