End of a beautiful epoche. Published in May 2001.
By Peter’s Walking Tours.
Dear friends, colleagues, correspondents, photographers,
scribes, paparazzi, officials!
I hereby announce that my world-famed Rooftop Tours
have come to a logical, inevitable end. This is the end of a beautiful
epoch, and I am really sad and mourning, as sure you will immediately
proceed to doing, upon having read this message.
My rooftop tours began some six years ago, when
I, looking for an alternative way to show St. Petersburg to adventurous
visitors, chose the method so near and dear to most young local
residents. Climbing the roof of your own apartment building, be
it on Nevsky or in Vesely Posyolok, has since the times of Peter
the Great been a popular pastime, and was considered a safe, chaste
and healthy activity. It was the best way to see the V-Day fireworks,
have an evening beer, watch the sunset during the White Nights,
confess to the one you love. Before beginning to run the rooftop
tours, I carefully investigated each and every location I knew,
making sure the rusty ladders are strong enough to hold the biggest
and fattest customer. I researched for more locations. I checked
whether the ladders and exits were clearly marked. I picked the
roofs with best views and most dramatic neighbourhoods below them.
I made sure that the bums who dwell in the attics were safe, and
harmless, and well fed. I checked for the times that the topless
girls were going up to their roofs for their innocent portion of
sun tan - to make certain that my rooftop tour would arrive at the
Whilst running the rooftop tours, I was always
making sure that my head torch was loaded with new batteries, to
light the way through the dark, littered attics for my brave little
groups. I was carefully avoiding the unhappy tenants, ascertaining
that no noise is produced while stepping delicately on the rattling
tin surfaces of the roofs. I was offering to my customers all sort
of additional entertainment, such as beer or champagne, although
always observing the appropriate degree of soberness and self-control
between the takers.
During the six years in business, I had countless
representatives of the mass media, big and small, local and international,
taking pictures, asking me questions, filing their stories sometimes
right from the location via wireless telephones. I have several
times taken on the roofs the entire television crews, complete with
tripods, cameras, sound recording equipment, stunts and best boys.
No equipment was damaged, and no best boy ever fell off. Among the
takers of the rooftop tours, I had citizens of most countries of
the globe, thus putting my humble effort into the improvement of
international relations. I took to the roofs lieges of Her Britannic
Majesty and of His Highness the Grand duke of Luxembourg, citizens
of rogue states, refugees, retired guerrilla rebels, personas non
It was a beautiful, golden epoch. But, alas, it
was doomed, when, following the horrible terrorist acts in Moscow
in 1999, residents of apartment buildings all across the nation
rushed to lock up their stairwells, attics and basements, in order
to secure that no stranger with bad intentions penetrate their dwelling.
So, attempting to keep out the terrorists who blow up apartment
blocks, tenants of those blocks thus made it impossible for my little
innocent (I repeat that, innocent) tours to get to the roof. I was
losing great locations one after one. The first ones to go were
the most central and thus the most spectacular places, soon followed
by the ones in the less prestigious but nonetheless equally great
buildings. No need to give addresses - you all remember.
It is no longer a natural, harmless and available
entertainment for the local youth. They, the youth, now have other
ways of enjoying themselves: many great clubs and pubs are open
in St. Petersburg, variety of commercial joints are ready to receive
their customers. Farewell the wild times; you, my friends, join
the happy crowd of the civilised fun-seekers. No more cobwebs, rusty
attics, creaky tin roofs; no more miraculous sunsets - the sun has
set deep below the horizon for my rooftop tours. I hope in the future
I re-emerge with a new, perhaps an even more fascinating theme,
but for no I have to retire. I wish you all wonderful time, and
Yours sincerely, Peter.