British Diaries of a Ukranian Writer

The website Zima Magazine, a russian-speaking media in the UK, publishes the personal journal of Irina Potanina, a writer from Kharkiv, who describes her first months of living in Britain

After Russia had attacked Ukraine, Irina Potanina moved to England to protect her two sons. She now works in a small café, believes in her country’s prompt victory and keeps a personal diary.

“Another problem is I cannot figure out what to start with. One story for example: we took two cars and drove for 56 hours to a relatively safe place. We’ve been spending nights at the roadside in our car, got stuck in traffic, took much longer routes than usual to avoid places where shelling was heavy. I was driving an old Tavria, a car I had never driven before, when I needed to change gear to back up I screamed to my older son ‘we need some force here, push it with all your forces!’” This may sound impressive for some, but nowadays it is a typical refugee story, so banal that it seems inappropriate to waste my reader’s time with it.

Or maybe it is worth mentioning another, funnier, episode to draw attention? When I was packing, I was in such a hurry that I forgot many useful things but… packed two bath suits. I later found out I was not alone in such a situation: just like for so many people, my unconscious mind refused to acknowledge the reality and has concluded that packing up meant going on a holiday, i.e. to the sea. Isn’t this ridiculous?”

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