Part Two: Reference Books and Spartak Moscow

Spent the morning in the local library, trawling my way through an interesting local history book in the reference section. I’m sure the library assistants were looking at me suspiciously. Just because I’m under forty and like to frequent their premises, does that make me a weirdo? I suppose they’d rather me be lying in bed with an enormous hangover of a morning, stinking of kebab and next to a woman whose name I don’t even know. It sounds quite fun in a way, but I don’t think I’ll ever be your typical twenty-something bachelor.

 Spent the rest of the day on the web, and had a nice surprise in the shape of an email from Vladik, my former pupil:


Jonathan, hello!

I have your email address from writer Saul Pope. I hope is OK I write you. I very much enjoy our lessons when you live in Russia, I think we have a good relationship. I know there is problem because of my father’s car, but now all is OK. He fix it, and all blood is gone. But of course it is expensive to do. I hope one day he forgive you and again you will be my tutor. Write me please, and tell what you do now. Do you live in famous pork pie city Lester?


So the so-called writer Saul Pope has permeated every nook and cranny of my personal life. How does he even know Vladik? They probably met at the Russian launch of the novel, held in a hotel near The Kremlin and an event that I, dear reader, leading protagonist of Russia, The Man and Jonathan David, was not even invited to. But at least he’s got me back in touch with Vladik who, despite being ten years my junior, was one of the nicest people I met in Russia (a list that also includes Scottish Paul, and the obvious person whose name I cannot bring myself to say right now). Having nothing else to do now that even the local library staff have me down as some kind of oddball, I replied straight away:


Hi Vladik,

How lovely to hear from you! I hope that you and your family are well, and I’m also pleased that your father’s car is now OK. I knew the blood would wash out – I tried to explain this to him at the time, but he was shouting at me rather nastily. I would love to come and teach you again – how is the football practice going? I haven’t seen you in the English Premier League yet!


Leicester (note the correct spelling) is not actually the home of pork pies – that’s Melton Mowbray, which is just down the road. And you should know that there’s a lot more to Leicestershire than simple food production – for example, it was the first place in the UK to have a multi-storey car park. I don’t live there at the moment, because I’m hiding out in a converted municipal garage just outside London; this is because London Mark (you probably remember him from the book) keeps trying to contact me. I know everyone thinks he’s a great guy for what he did, but I don’t trust him and I’ve decided to get away from where he can find me. Besides, The Man may also track me down to Leicester, seeing as Mr. Pope was kind enough to write my home address in his novel…


Anyway, take care and write back soon.


Your friend and teacher,



After ten minutes of messing around on Subway Navigator, I checked my mail again and found a reply. Doesn’t he have any schoolwork to be getting on with?


Jonathan, hello!

I think you ‘chicken shit’ because you hiding from London Mark! He also was at book lunch, he is small and very quiet, and you are big and very quiet! I think you win in a fight. I know The Man also, maybe I tell him your new address (joke)!

I am not in Premier League now because you don’t help me. In Russia you teach me much of wing backs and attacking full backs. I think one day I will be like Steve Guppy from Leicester (note the correct spelling!). But maybe my new chance will be soon. We have new trainer from Spartak Moscow at International School St. Petersburg, he teach me more good than you (joke)!

You live in London! At first I don’t know what is ‘converted municipal garage’ but I look in Google Images and I see this is terrible! You will come to live at my new flat for 2 weeks. Next Friday I will come to London with security guard to see flat my father buy me in Bayswater. It has 2 bedrooms, is comfortable, no mushrooms on walls!

Write me, and we will meet next week.



Should I take charity from a boy in his mid teens who calls me chicken shit, mocks me for being afraid of The Man and is already far richer than I’ll ever be? Of course I should. If it means a brief holiday from my freezing converted garage, which does, incidentally, have mould on the walls, then I’ll take it. It sounded so urban and hip in the advert. Oh, where did it all go wrong?

I wrote straight back.


Dear Vladik,

I understand that you’re only joking about me being ‘chicken shit’. Also, my garage is probably a bit nicer than the ones you’ve found pictures of on the Internet, in fact it’s rather urban and hip, but I’d like to slow down a little so it’d be nice to spend a couple of weeks in Bayswater. We can catch up on your football training and revise some English (I see that you’ve forgotten, for example, that in England we don’t include an exclamation mark in salutations, a simple comma suffices). Let me know which flight you’re on, and I will meet you.


Your friend and teacher,



PS Don’t tell your parents that you’re meeting me

PPS Be careful of bogus coaches. I know that your school is very prestigious and expensive, but this makes it more likely that your coach is a fraud and not really from Spartak Moscow. Football was invented in England, and I still believe we produce the best coaches. One day I’ll come back to Russia full time and teach you properly.


I write that I’ll be back in Russia full time more out of hope than anything else. I can’t afford it at the moment, and I’ve got no reason to go back. In the meantime, roll on next week…


Mr. Pope is still demanding that I plug his book through this blog – apparently sales have not yet topped the million mark, and if they do he promises to give me a modest share of his fortune. So if you’d like a copy of a reasonably good novel which has totally exploited its lead character, then click here.


Let’s finish with a song once again. Another happy early nineties tune, this time Wind It Up by The Prodigy. Equal rights and justice is the slogan in the video…from my new temporary residence in Bayswater, I can maybe start planning the day when Mr. Pope will have to give me both…



One thought on “Part Two: Reference Books and Spartak Moscow

  1. that’s great!
    i really liked it)) and now am sitting with the vocabulary checking my every word :)) but won’t promise everything is correct:)
    excellent sense of humor!
    poor you, you had to read all our works and correct all the “Lester”-kind mistakes. But it was to the good, i guess)) as i hope they helped you somehow to write this beautiful story)

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