I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that I found out that my meeting at number 24 Leinster Gardens was a ruse thanks to a fifteen year old Russian, or the fact that I went there anyway, just in case. Vladik texted me in the night to tell me to look at my emails when I woke up:
I think you still do not know about how to use Internet proper. I Google 24 Leinster Gardens and see it is ‘false façade’. I do not know what it is and Internet does not help me but my new English teacher tell me that it is not real balding. He laughing when I explain what you do there. One more time people fool you in England, as with garage that they tell you is flat!
My new teacher also tell me that Hereford is not ‘coming up’ team and is not near to London but it is in Whales. Dear Jonathan, please sell my sausages soon and please find me good football team. International School Trainer, he is from Spartak Moskva, tell me that my off ball play is as Juninho or Andrey Arshavin – I think they will not play at Hereford.
Take it easy, man!
His new English teacher, whoever that may be, is not only teaching him tacky Americanisms to close his messages with, but even has the cheek to mock me. I’ve got a feeling that I should be going back to St. Petersburg soon, to reclaim my old job and try and get in touch with Olesya. If I can find the strength…
I went to Leinster Gardens anyway, just in case the buyer still wanted the sausages and had just chosen the address as a post-modern comment to show that it’s possible to do business even outside the façade of a supposed prestigious terraced house. He hadn’t, and I waited alone for about an hour. Never mind – I’ll sell the sausage somehow, and it was quite interesting to see how convincing number 24 is – it really looks like a house, though on close inspection (which I had plenty of time for) there’s no letter box and the windows are blacked out.
Back at home – having decided that as I don’t like confrontation I shouldn’t go to Portobello Road market to challenge the idiot trader who sent me to Leinster Gardens – I was relaxing on my bed, on the fifth consecutive listen of Usura’s Open Your Mind. I’d even got the Margaret Thatcher morphing into Stalin thing from the video going on in my head, when suddenly my mobile rang, causing me to spasm in shock and almost crush my Walkman. Nobody ever calls me…
‘Erm, hello. Who is it? Vladik?’
His is the only number saved in my phone.
‘Saul Pope here.’
‘Oh. How did you get my number?’
‘Vladik. I popped over to see him while I was in St. Petersburg – we’re planning locations for the film.’
Vladik is a traitor.
‘Oh. Will I be in the film? I am the main character in the book.’
‘No – they want someone a bit more photogenic. The search is on for a young Hugh Grant to play you.’
‘Well, I’m quite free these days; I haven’t got a lot going on if you need anyone for a crowd scene…’
‘Thanks, Jonathan, but I think we’re fine on that score. Look, I’m phoning about the book. The publishers are on my back, sales are dropping, and they say the blog’s not helping – it’s too boring.’
‘Well, let me stop writing it, then.’
Pope, the so-called writer, laughed.
‘No, no, no, we’re not going to do that, Jonathan. We just need to tweak it a bit.’
‘Well, you need to start doing more exciting things with your day. Trotting around Paddington Library talking to yourself or selling salami to your neighbours is just not cutting it. Remember when you were in Russia? You tried to chat up those two women who turned out to be prostitutes?’
‘The ones that tried to rob me?’
‘Yes, those ones! The readers loved that. Or remember when you pretended to be a secret agent when you were tracking The Man, but then had to run home because you got scared?’
‘Of course I was scared – he was looking through my kitchen window and shouting abuse!’
‘Exactly! It was entertaining! And you need to become entertaining again. You need an aim, rather than sipping Coke and listening to nineties music all day. Why don’t you phone Vladik up and tell him to piss off, then give all of his salami away to the homeless? Angry, but still in touch with humankind.’
‘I’m not going to tell a fifteen year old boy to piss off. Besides, he’s probably my only friend.’
‘Ok then, what about going to visit Scottish Paul? The readers found him charming.’
‘I haven’t spoken to him for more than a year. Don’t think your book did him any favours either.’
‘Well, you’ve got to do something. I didn’t want to say it, but what about the ‘O’ word?’
‘How about you go back out there, go and wait outside her flat again – the readers found that cute – and when she comes out you can declare your undying love for her. You never know, maybe she’ll…’
‘No, no, no, no, no!’
‘Well, you need to do something. You’ve got no aim in life. You can’t even plug my book properly. If anyone reading this blog wants a copy, by the way, just click here. Jonathan, you’ve got to sort yourself out…’
I cut him off here, because I’d already stopped listening. He’s right, I do need an aim. I don’t want to turn thirty still living in this flat, alone and without a proper job. I’m going to go back to St. Petersburg. Once the sausage is sold, I‘ll buy a one-way plane ticket and get myself back out there, Man or no Man after me, Olesya or no Olesya at my side…