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Drawn, Hung and Slaughtered

At a time of unprecedented strain between the commerces of Dorset and their counterparts in Russia, it is good to be reminded of the once harmonious relations between the two super power blocs that were the DCU [Dorset Capitalist Union] and the “democratic” Russia’s somewhat authoritarian predecessor the USSR. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s such were the bonds of mutual interest that it was almost inconceivable that either partner could make socio-economic progress without the full support of the other - be it in the realms of technology, business, culture, education or hosiery manufacture.

A golden era was sealed, as many will know, by the agreement freely to exchange information and personnel in activities surrounding the so-called “space race” - that headlong and financially crippling dash into the unknown that symbolised the Cold War tensions between the USSR and the USA. Perhaps no figure embodies more readily the contrasting spirit of amity between the DCU/USSR than the still juvenile Professor Thrupiece - poster boy for the project and inventor of the methane-based rocket fuel that would literally propel the scientific world into the future. As one propagandist put it at the time. «[Он] попал в учебники истории» [«[On] [popal v uchebniki istorii»] or “[He] has farted his way into the history books”*

*Catchy and appropriate to the zeitgeist as this doubtless was, it was also wildly

inaccurate. It was, in fact, the cows which did all of the farting.

Here is not the place to recount the extraordinary story of Professor Thrupiece’s seminal role in the Soviet project [or for that matter his equally seminal role in its US equivalent]. Several magisterial accounts exist [see for example]. Rather we celebrate those extraordinary times here - some 60 or more years later - by publishing for the first time a contemporary portrait of Professor Thrupiece by Honoured Soviet New Realist Artist of the People Макар беспорядок [Makar Messovit].

Professor Thrupiece or the young Dmitri Shostakovich? The jury is still out.

The portrait taken from life during more than four 5-minute sessions in the artist’s Moscow studio [and squeezed between space-suit fittings at Mossov Bros Red Square Retail facility] is thought to have hung for a short while in the Grand Gallery of the Moscow Conservatory where it was wrongly identified as being a painting of the young Dmitri Shostakovich - perhaps - following his Leningrad Symphony - the most famous young buck in all of The USSR [with the obvious exception of Professor Thrupiece himself]. The confusion is, says Soviet historian Lev Wellalon «вполне понятно» [“perfectly understandable”] since «хотя гениальность проявляется во многих формах, в России в то время почти каждый человек определенного возраста хотел бы подражать профессору Трапису, особенно если он искал пышку“» ["though genius comes in many forms, in Russia at the time, almost everyone of a certain age would have wanted to style himself after Professor Thrupiece especially if on the lookout for crumpet”.]

The portrait was not well received. Правда [Pravda] described it as « слишком импрессионистично, чтобы быть формалистом, и слишком формалистично, чтобы быть выразительным - ребяческая мазня, которая умаляет свой предмет, подчеркивая как его близорукость, так и близорукость художника» ["too impressionistic to be formalist and too formalist to be expressive - a puerile daubing which diminishes its subject by emphasising both its subject's and the artist's myopia".

One of many portraits of Andrei Zhdanov taking tea. Those pictured with him rarely survived to see the finished product though happily in this case Professor Thrupiece did. Many have described the meeting as "more imagined than real".

Several admirers of the composer [Shostakovich] still maintain that the portrait is of him rather than Professor Thrupiece. Alas, we may never know, since the artist himself disappeared in 1948 after taking tea with Andrei Zhdanov, Stalin's cultural enforcer*. This, say some sceptics makes the date on the portrait [1961] somewhat problematical.

*Rumour has it Messovit requested an extra lump of sugar in his Russian Caravan infusion - a foolish move given the price of imported sweetners and Zhdanov's publicly expressed aversion to excess in the glucose and glucose-substitutes arena.

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