> Guest Character
Mishka Schneiderova Deborah Kennedy
Mishka Schneiderova 2006
Lived: 24 Ramsay Street
Marital Status: Igor
Occupation: Boutique Owner, General Store Assistant, Air Hostess
After years on his own, with only best friend Harold Bishop for company, Lou Carpenter decided to turn to the internet to look for his ideal woman. After finding a website advertising Russian brides, he got in touch with a woman named Mishka, leading her to believe that he was younger and more successful than he was. Before long, he was arranging for her to fly out to Australia, and breaking the news to Harold and his granddaughter, Sky Mangel, that they would have a visitor. When Mishka then failed to arrive at the airport, Lou convinced him that the younger woman had spotted him waiting for her and done a runner. However, that evening, Mishka turned up on the doorstep and it soon became clear that Lou hadn’t been the only one to lie about his age. Mishka explained that she had gone to a beauty parlour in Singapore and missed her flight, so had been forced to catch a later one, and soon won over Lou by preparing a meal for him.
Mishka’s humour and zest for life quickly made her popular with both Lou and Harold, as she explained that she had always dreamed of living in Australia and visiting her idol, Shane Warne. Although Lou couldn’t promise her a meeting with Warney, he did arrange for them to visit a local wildlife park, where Mishka fell in love with the wallabies, even suggesting that they buy one to take home. Mishka soon made herself indispensable at 24 Ramsay Street, cooking meals for her beloved “Lou Bear” and dishing out advice to Sky on her trouble love life. But there were still a few stumbling blocks to overcome, and Lou was forced to admit to her that he no longer owned his business, The General Store, as it had been stolen away from him by ruthless businessman, and neighbour, Paul Robinson. When Mishka’s attempts to sweet-talk Paul, by making him a quiche, failed, she and Lou came up with another plan. After calling on one of Lou’s old council friends, Chris Kingsley, they arranged a fake building inspection, with the report finding several expensive faults in the store. Rather than pay, Paul thought he could get rid of the business by selling it back to Lou and Harold, little realising that he’d been double-crossed.
Although they were happy together, Lou and Mishka faced more problems, as he tried to change the subject whenever Mishka attempted to get intimate with him. And when Lou came home one day and caught Mishka smoking, he pleaded with her to quit, as he didn’t want to lose her. She promised Lou that she would try to give up, before quickly heading out and trying to find somewhere else to get her nicotine fix. Realising that the problem was more serious than they’d thought, Lou arranged for Dr Karl Kennedy to hypnotise Mishka and try to get to the bottom of the issue. But, once alone with Karl, Mishka refused to be left at the mercy of “Dr Dirty” and admitted to him that she already knew the reason why she smoked so much. She explained that she hadn’t been completely honest with Lou – she actually had a husband and son in Russia. Karl encouraged her to be honest with Lou, so she went to see him and told him that her husband, Igor, was a political prisoner and, because of this, she had to get a fake passport in order to leave Russia and so, was an illegal immigrant. Although shocked, Lou had come to love Mishka and accepted her news, telling her that it seemed unlikely that the authorities would catch up with her now.
Mishka slowly began to settle into the community, becoming a regular at the local Russian club and Lou was delighted to have found love again. The pair went behind Harold’s back and started brewing their own vodka, Old 997, named after Mishka’s former address in Moscow. The vodka soon became very popular, especially with the Russians in the area, but when Harold found out, they quickly had to pretend that it was actually an industrial cleaner. After a quick demonstration of its stain-removing abilities, Harold believed them, and therefore was horrified when he caught Mishka drinking it in the garden. A worried Harold told Lou that Mishka clearly had a serious drinking problem if she was resorting to consuming cleaning products. After finding out the truth, Harold was shocked and decided that his houseguests had gone too far this time. He told them that he was going away for two weeks for a Salvation Army band tour and, upon his return, he wanted them to be moved out.
In order to stay, Mishka hatched a plan whereby her friend, Mikhail Irtenev, would break in, pretending to be a burglar, and Lou would then catch him and save the day. The plan seemed to work well, as Lou saw off the intruder, but, a few hours later, there was a knock at the door. It was Mikhail, apologising for being late. Everyone was confused, before realising that it must have been a real burglar that Lou fended off, but it was all quickly forgotten when Sky, who had accidentally been knocked down as the first burglar escaped, came out of her room complaining about terrible pains in her stomach. At the hospital, Sky was left stunned after being told that she was several weeks pregnant, but Lou and Mishka promised to help her, whatever decision she wanted to make about the baby. After being rejected by the baby’s father, Dylan Timmins, Sky decided to have an abortion and Mishka accompanied her for support whilst, back at home, Lou found a page from the diary of Sky’s mother, Kerry. It explained that Kerry had felt the same way as Sky when she first found out she was pregnant and the discovery made Sky rethink her plans and cancel the abortion.
Upon his return, Harold learnt of Sky’s pregnancy and the support that Lou and Mishka had offered. Although the pair had still been selling the vodka on the sly, Harold asked them to stay, on the condition that they donate all of their profits to charity. Mishka reluctantly agreed and was thrilled when Lou announced that he would be donating the money to Shane Warne’s charity for underprivileged children. Mishka’s excitement grew to even greater proportions when Lou then told her that Warney himself would be coming to Erinsborough to collect their cheque. Mishka quickly organised everyone from the street into collecting CDs, tablecloths and baked beans for a party at the Scarlet Bar. Mishka was thrilled to finally meet her idol and told Shane that it was because of him that she had dreamt of living in Australia. However, back in Ramsay Street, Harold was concerned when two men from the Russian Embassy arrived looking for Mishka. He quickly headed to the bar and told Lou, who decided that he couldn’t risk losing his new love, and they would have to flee. But they changed their minds at the last minute, realising that they couldn’t run forever, and headed back so that Mishka could meet her fate. Once there, Woland Koroviev explained to her that she would be allowed to stay in the country, but would first need to go with him and his colleagues to organise some papers. Lou and Mishka were delighted but, when she didn’t return within a few hours, he called the Embassy, who broke the news to him that they had no idea what he was talking about. Lou quickly realised that they had been tricked and, due to the political connections of her husband, Mishka had been kidnapped.
Desperate to be reunited with Mishka, Lou flew to Moscow where the pair resumed their relationship and had some brief happiness before Igor was released from prison. Arriving at Mishka’s apartment one day, Lou found her telling him to leave and go home to find a nice Aussie girl. When Lou tried to find out what was wrong, Mishka panicked and pushed him down the stairs, in the hope that this would save him from a rather worse fate at the hands of Igor. After banging his head, Lou could remember little of his trip to Russia, but returned to Ramsay Street, determined to put Mishka behind him and find a nice Aussie girl. He didn’t have to look far, and he soon grew close to the bogan next-door, Janelle Timmins. But Janelle and Harold grew concerned with Lou’s unexplained memory loss, and insisted that he had some tests, fearing that their friend had developed early on-set Alzheimer’s. When the tests proved inconclusive, and a mysterious ‘Mishka’ tattoo was found on Lou’s back which he couldn’t remember getting, he agreed to be hypnotised by Karl to get to the bottom of the problem. Once under hypnosis, Lou remembered everything about his missing week, and the events that led to him losing his memory.
Mystery solved, Lou grew close to Janelle as he helped her with some family dramas, and romance blossomed, but their happiness was interrupted when Mishka suddenly walked back into the life of her ‘Lou bear’. Having found work with low-cost Russian airline Air Dochevsky, Mishka returned looking for a perfect reunion, only to find herself receiving a warning, and a glass of water in the face, from Janelle. The two women were soon at war over Lou, resorting to increasingly dirty tactics to win him. When Mishka learnt about Janelle’s errant husband, Kim, she sent some flowers with a note to the Timmins house, but Janelle soon realised who was behind it. She got her own back by leaving a note, wrapped around a bullet, for Lou, from Igor. Fearing for his life, Lou was starting to favour Janelle, until her family problems got complicated and she realised that Lou and Mishka were meant to be.
Finally back together, Lou and Mishka had one more hurdle to cross when Lou found himself unable to get close to her, plagued by constant flashbacks of her pushing him down the stairs. Karl’s hypnotism was called upon once more, this time repressing the bad memories of Lou’s time in Russia, and replacing them with happy memories of their time at the wildlife sanctuary and visit from Shane Warne. Although this had the desired effect, it also left Karl and Harold with some rather unnecessary mental images of Lou, Mishka and a can of whipped cream. Once again, Lou and Mishka’s happiness was brief, as she found out that the airline was cutting the Moscow-Melbourne route, due to lack of interest. They realised that the only way to be together was for Mishka to apply for residency in Australia and their only guaranteed chance of acceptance was to convince the officials that they’d been a couple for more than two years.
They quickly set about creating a back story and taking photos of their first meeting in Fiji in the 80s, then, with Harold’s help, making some home videos of them watching the 1996 Olympics and spending Millennium Eve together. However, when trainee lawyer and new Ramsay Street resident Rosetta Cammeniti found out what they were doing, she urged them to forget the scheme and just be honest, as they probably stood more chance. Lou and Mishka took Rosie’s advice and went to their meeting with government official Keith Gilbert, determined to tell him the truth. Their plan seemed to have worked, and it looked like Mishka would be allowed to stay, until she shook Keith’s hand and passed him a roll of $100 notes, not realising that bribery wasn’t quite as common in Australia as it was in Russia. As he waited, Lou was alarmed to see Mishka being brought out of the office by two officials, who explained what she’d done and told Lou that his girlfriend was being sent straight back to Russia. And so, with no time to say goodbye or even the chance for one final kiss, Lou and Mishka were parted once more.
Biography by Steve