Seem to be some great new Moscow blogs - see sidebar - or maybe I just missed these before. Got an increasing awareness of how naïve I am to think I can write about my experiences here with any confidence when I speak no Russian (and do not seem to be improving in that area in the slightest).
For example, had another very minor, but confusing, experience with my landlords N + A. The new custom-made, and very thin, double mattress has arrived. I happily laid it across the two existing single mattresses/beds, stuffed some blankets down the gap and held everything together with the elastic corners provided.
But then the owners came down and appeared shocked: it seemed that such a chore had to be done by another neighbour (E) who is very good at these things - he had already been summoned on a previous occasion to attach a plastic lid to a plastic bucket. My landlord literally seemed to droop with dejection when he saw I had already done the job. So neighbour E was nonetheless called, and having poked idly at the mattress edges and declared the task completed, was thanked profusely.
I assume this is a tiny example of blat (блат), a term, defined by Wikipedia, as describing the use of informal agreements, exchanges of services and connections in the old Soviet Union. But I could be completely wrong.