May 30 2011
Just as they thought it was all over and the Russians were behind us, on the plane we coincidentally sat in the same row as our friend the minister of geology for the Russian Federation. This means he looks after the mineral rights. A friend of Mr Abramovic, Alexander was flying to London for Saturday’s Champions League final. He is a Man United fan, which unusually puts him in a minority up against Russia’s favourite: “Chelski’s blue army”.
My wife moved over to sit next to Alexander for the duration of the flight. After an hour or so I was asked by the two if I would like to go fishing on lake Baikal in two weeks’ time. Baikal is the deepest lake on earth and perched smack bang in central Siberia. What could I say? A chance to fish in one of the remotest places on earth with the very influential, and obviously very social, Alexander the minerals minister, I’m making a space in my diary.
We landed at 5pm and headed to our seaside house on the Kent coast. St Margaret-at-Cliffe. Kent has always been a special place to me; I was born in Kent. There is a brilliant mix to the county; the garden of England countryside and the true grit of the faded once-resort seaside towns for day-tripping Londoners such as Margate, Broadstairs, Whistable, etc. Every town carries plaques to Dickens the man, as well as the era.
Our house, perched on the top of the white cliffs, is only overlooked by the French in Calais. Known as “hell fire corner” during the second world war because of the mass bombing, our place is and was no stranger to action. No one will believe this, but literally as I am writing, a second world war Spitfire is flying almost at eye level with our house, following the cliff top to Dover. It’s accompanied by two helicopters, which could be filming it.
Today is a “local” outdoor music festival at Deal Town FC ground. The headline act are One Step Behind, a Madness tribute band. It may not be Glastonbury but the groupies are top shelf, the beer is £2.50 a pint and the sun is shining, though it’s windy.