A Broad Abroad: Emails to the Big Chief (8)

Back in 2007, when I first started this blog, I wrote a series of posts to my mother; electronic postcards based on a trip to Russia, that would hopefully get home much quicker than the real things, they were called Emails to the Big Chief. They went out in the quiet period immediately after Christmas and were seen by very few people. Now, nine years later, I thought they would bear repeating. In part 1, I talked about driving from Moscow to Kostroma, in part 2, the lack of preparations for my visit , in part 3, about the chalet by the lake , in part 4, about food parcels and feeling like a contestant on reality TV, in part 5 about being home alone at night, in part 6 about an all-day training session and in part 7 about putting on our dancing shoes. Now read on for the final instalment…

As I return to Moscow, I see two sides to Russia. Many of the houses, especially in the countryside, are falling into disrepair. There’s a high level of engineering – but little regard for aesthetics. The snow has mostly gone, but a resulting layer of dirt remains on all surfaces. On the other hand, exquisite carvings or painted decorations adorn many of the houses; the carpets are being beaten and paintwork cleaned; scaffolding around many of the churches points to repair work in progress when money permits. It’s as though Russia is waking, not only from the long hard winter, but also from the harsh realities of Soviet times. Could it be that this country’s journey, if not ending, is at least going places at last?

My experiences in Russia led me to write my debut novel, Gorgito’s Ice Rink, a tale of love, loss and broken promises which was runner up in the 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards. Published on all major platforms and available both as an ebook and in print, you can find more details by clicking here.

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