Ann, itís at times like this that a man knows his true feelings. Believe me when I tell you that I love you dearly.

But I have to tell you also that I may not be coming back.

Itís not that I donít want to. Believe me, I actually quietly prayed that we would return and I donít do that very often. I just donít think that we are going to make it. Did you know what Phil had planned for this Ďfuní stag holiday? I canít believe that you did because, surely, you would have stopped him. Surely you would have said to him Phil, that is not a good idea. We got on the plane and Iím thinking Corfu, Jamaica, Greece? Those would have been good ideas.

We are on an official Russian naval ice breaker in the arctic! This is a very, very bad idea.

Everything is gray! The sky, the sea, the ship, the food. The contents of Philís sick bag. Itís all gray. Weíve been on board for about ten hours and I just found out I can email Ė at least for the next hour before we go out of range. So I get a final word. Treasure this note, it may be my last for, if we survive the ship, I doubt we will survive Ivan and Ruggy.

There are actually four of us. Me, my used-to-be-best-man-now-great-fucking-pillock Phil, Ian, who is into wildlife and stares expectantly at the sea, and some bloke who came with him who we just know as Ďthe anorakí because weíve never seen him. I mean, I presume that there is a bloke in there because the anorak moves and stuff, but itís just this huge coat that huddles in corners. This is all part of the Russian government's new policy of paying for military expenses through tourism, although they are also promoting it as a new openness. ĎNo secrets anymoreí the Russian captain said, as we came on board. I felt like telling him, let me get back alive and Iíll never tell anyone anything.

Anyway Iím losing the point, the point is Ivan and Ruggy. They are our guest services contacts. Ivan has a face like a rat, he speaks a little English and can also poke and prod in English. Iím sure he is very dangerous and carries a switch-blade that opens without even a tiny click. I bet he was a Soviet assassin and now has to do this because they donít kill spies anymore. Ruggy is too big to be a spy, though he could be an embassy because heís the size of a small building. Heís just this huge monster of a man and he has befriended Phil. I think he called Phil ĎBabooskaí, and Phil and I agreed that this was not a good sign. Phil is no longer saying anything, though I think heís wishing he was me and that being knifed in the middle of the night by a rat faced Russian is a much better fate than the one facing him. Donít say anything to Caroline, we can tell her that Phil was lost at sea. So far heís adopted the ploy of locking himself in our cabin and throwing up constantly for four hours, but we both know that at some point in the next ten days heís got to come out, and anyway there canít be much left in his system for him to expel.

The communications officer is telling me I have to send this now so remember that I love you and I did want to make the wedding. Phil wanted me to be sure to tell you to tell Caroline that he loves her and that heís sorry about the curtains (some argument they had before he left).

Anyway I really have to send this

Love Simon.


    Back to Stoney Grove