Monsieur Salut writes: 0ur summer faithful will have noticed that I invited contributions from any reader who happened to be in Russia for the World Cup. No takers so far until Andy Falconer, not even a SAFC fan (he supports his home town Boro, where his mum – my sister – has lived all her adult life), was more or less pressganged into promising some occasional jottiongs.
Andy is well known to those who devour our Who are You? series, having contributed some fine responses last season – (‘Newcastle fans are noisy; Sunderland’s are noisier’).
This first item is really just a scene-setter. We’ll see how much else my nephew can provide once he starts seeing some football (which doesn’t seem to have happened for him when Russia enjoyed some shooting practice against Saudi Arabia, though he must have found a bar where he could watch it) …
St Petersburg is incredible.
I’m looking forward to seeing other sides to Russia, but this is such a beautiful city. Every building is exquisite. The people are friendly. Proud, quite reserved, but orderly and elegant.
This country certainly has contradictions and differences but our British stereotypes don’t really stand up. For those worrying about me, I can assure you that I feel very safe. It’s also possibly the cleanest place I’ve ever been to.
On Friday night, after the nation’s nerves were subdued following the opening game, the city was buzzing with Russians, Moroccans, Iranians and bits and pieces of the rest of the world. Shared humanity. It’s mint!
Can’t wait for my first game tomorrow.
* Keep it coming, Andy, the football and the travelogues – whatever your first match is, your impressions of it will be very welcome.