Dark side of the Moon

Nicholas Quirke was mildly frustrated by the weather on 21 January 2020. He had a whole day in the city before his train left and he had intended to go to Gorky Park. Unfortunately the weather was not good. The rain was  pouring and as he sat in ‘Fresh’, a vegan bar next to the hotel, Watching the world go by, waiting for the rain to clear and making use of their free WiFi, the time drifted and he discovered he had sat drinking a pot of Green Oolong tea (which lasted all day, thanks to the generosity of the waiters who kept topping him up with hot water), eating brunch and afternoon tea for nearly 6 hours. He thought it mighty odd behaviour but there were at least 3 other people who had been here for almost as long as he and he felt vindicated. Although the train did not actually depart till 23.45 he wanted to be at Yaroslavskiy station with plenty of time to manage any potential pitfalls. He bought some take away food from Flora not Fauna, and went back to collect his baggage. Maggie the Concierge was back on duty and called him a taxi.He left, promising a positive review. The station seemed surprisingly easy to negotiate and after finding where he needed to be and what time to board, he had two hours to wait. He made himself comfortable in a cafe, the friendly proprietor who was from Krishsthan republic, set him up with WiFi and kept him supplied with green tea. He had a welcome phone call with Cole. Finalised plans for a deep clean of his flat and started reading another Maigret novel, ‘At the Gai Moulin’. He felt oddly nervous, which was a fact he revealed to his friend Terry who sent him details of the new super virus sweeping China! Nicholas was prepared, had his face mask, courtesy of Harvey and Grace. He was disappointed that he did not get a chance to speak with Harvey who would be 26 the next day. The butterflies continued as the time to board arrived. He asked the guards at the gate if he was at the right platform and they implied after examining his ticket that it was indeed platform 4. As he stood looking at the empty platform, once again examining the departures board, he realised something was wrong and that he should be on Platform 1. It was not a mad dash as he had time but it was a potential disaster avoided. The Express, Chinese carriages from another older world,  pulled by a Russian engine and with a Russian dining car, was not as imperious and imposing as the trains that had bought him into Russia and once on board and he was shown to his compartment he discovered how very, very basic the train was. The seats weren’t even upholstered. There was no mattress provided so he would be sleeping on what was a board. He had chosen to travel 2nd class as he wanted to socialise with other travellers. He was therefore disappointed that he seemed to have his cabin all to himself. Nicholas heard English voices from the next door compartment and went to introduce himself. Lyusaku, a Japanese man and Qifang, a Chinese. Australian woman both travelling to Beijing. They sat and talked for a while, then the train started and they were off on the long journey. It was a relentlessly urban view from the the window once they left Moscow of factories, high rises, churches, stations, trains in sidings, graffitied walls, streets poorly lit and it was a good hour before a darker, tree silhouetted landscape was discernible in the gloom. At about 1 am he decided to go to sleep. After making his bed and settling down to what he imagined and felt would be a poor nights sleep he drifted into oblivion.


  1. I’m really getting into checking in with your news each day….I feel I’m on the journey with you….but without the ‘I have to endure’!!!!! Don’t drink too much green tea or you might be unrecognisable when you come back to Brighton……’ who the hell is that green man’????? Xxxxxxx

  2. Good to hear you’re back from the dark side! That train though, not quite the same as the other one 😱 xxx

  3. I am worried about you. When you have sorted your WiFi please let me know where you are. I have visions of you somewhere in isolation and unable to continue your journey.The journal is wonderful. At last i have some specs and i can read and enjoy your pictures. xxxt

    1. Mr Sadler. Do not fear I have reached Beijing and it is calm quiet and seemingly safe. Everyone in face masks but not many people around. I am careful. Thanks for worrying. Much appreciated. Missing our chats and eats. I hope all is well with the new visitor. Good luck with the kitchen

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