Sunday, April 02, 2006


Mindaugas Ramonas, the bandy-legged Lithuanian bricklayer who lives downstairs, is moving out. He's waiting for FO passports for himself and his wife Olga and has asked me to keep them somewhere safe until he can retrieve them if they arrive after he's gone. I asked him where he was moving to. He pointed eastwards and said "Odessa", with a noncommittal air. I was a little confused, but remembered that there is an Odessa Road down towards Forest Gate, and surmised that it was to there, rather than to the port on the Black Sea that he was intending to relocate.

Odessa has always interested me because of its historical status as a Free Port. One imagines the streets peopled with misplaced citizens from everywhere on Earth; exiled poets, war-sundered lovers, deserters, agitators, people running away from their old lives and towards an uncertain future. But it is not these streets that await Mr and Mrs Ramonas, not for now at least. The flat roof above their bedroom is leaking rainwater and they are having trouble with the letting agents. It's time for them to move on. To E7.

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