The Baltic Notebooks of Anthony Blunt
from Katie
 Dearest Anthony,
How are you my roguish dear? I miss you terribly, at least, I miss the idea of you…you know when I think about the real details of you I become most squeamish, it doesn’t bare thinking about, we are highly incompatible, and yet you forever seduce me with your idealised charm. An idealism that I know can never be – so as ever I shall continue that way, it will never be but I can imagine and dance and think about the endless possibilities and that way we will always remain pure. Oh what a tease I am! And so I write to you as I’ve been locked away in my thoughts. I am back in my homeland at the moment, indefinitely. It’s interminable and just now there is no way out and so I am making the best of my time here – gorging on the familiar before my next famine when the next adventure starts. But I’ve been escaping: today I visited 2004. I shall tell you about it – you may recognise one or two places although you may have to squint as they continue to change apace.
Warszawa is cold for half the year and I left this diplomat’s marble-clad apartment with its vast gilt-framed mirrors (hiding from oneself was futile there) and best views of Stalin’s gift for the night train to Vilno. My metro arrived at Central with the perfect amount of time. Then I checked my ticket. Wrong station! Can you believe it! I was alone, a wee slip of a girl, still fresh from studies, at nearly midnight in the centre of Warsaw at the wrong station. Well how was I to know there was more than one main station – OK London is like that, yes and Paris too, but still I plea naivity. And so I ran through the snow and took a tram east on a hunch. The tram rattled through the near-empty streets, the sodium light bouncing back up from the snowy pavements. I ran up the station steps to meet my train sitting patiently and nested in my bunk.
My cabin contained three: myself, a Russian gentleman who drank and snored, and an elderly Canadian who was planning to find the place of his families birth – a hamlet deep in the Samagotian forests. In the middle of the night he nudged me awake and asked if it was OK for him to use the restroom. Surely he should not need permission? But then I realised he had no intention to leave the cabin. I put my pillow over my head and curled up around my baggage so as not to hear any evidence of his appropriated water-closet. I read Foucault, underlining sentences and promptly forgetting every notion, overwhelmed with excitement and the great hope that Lithuania provided. All that potential – you will understand, Anthony, I’m sure – it was new territory for me!
I arrived to even more snow and a smiling girl with brutal hair and a dark blue padded coat. She was the perfect introduction to the country: warm, sharp, stimulating, perplexing. An orange Miracle driven by a bald, gruff man with an almost fairy-tale beard in its preposterous obelisk-like shape pointing out from his chin, took us down winding cobbled streets with a white-knuckle velocity. We stopped to pick up a toothbrush – for the greater good as ever. Anthony, I am 50% hopeless as remember such basics. We drove to the house, but I will talk about that in another letter to you – that place is a character in its own right – and I miss it awfully, although what I knew doesn’t exist any longer. But on that snowy morning, I was taken by the girl, who was the same age as me, down the narrow alleyways, and crunched through the crisp fresh snow. The buildings Baroque, Scandinavian scale with squat scrolling facades, salmon pink and pale yellow walls, Hansa brick and grey concrete with incidental statues of that were still Barbora and not yet Britney and Christina. The pallid grey sky hung low, a morning gloaming making the white snow even more bright and clean, even the fresh layer covering the urban mogles. The few other people on the street all hunched and striding stoically, some women dripping with furs, gruffness and purpose emanated from them. We reached our café to huddle up with bowls of porridge with cranberry jam and rooibush tea to begin the conversation that still continues. In a Presto we discussed everything. Politics bleed into art practice, history melted into folklore, myth and speculation were as valid as any history or its revisions. And the personal, our own stories and languages fed into our discussion, everything was open and alive, questioned and embraced. I felt deliriously tired, but exhilarated.
Oh Anthony, that was when I fell in love with Vilnius, from my first breakfast there and although I couldn’t stay any longer, and the Wilna I knew has gone, oh, to have that… I am still searching for somewhere that will… but I’ll end this letter here, at the beginning. But I promise to write to you about the household, the space, the time I met Stravinskas and his biggest fan, the unerring trust of the director and his tear, the snooty and the sincere, the centre of the periphery, when I was the voice of the future, and, oh there’s too much to detail.
And so to bed, but I do look forward to your news, Anthony. You are a long way away now.
Katie Jane
10 December 2009