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Lancashire Cricket Board - Must tell you about the time I thought I had lost someone in the Kremlin
Home | News | Blogs | John Heaton Blog | Must tell you about the time I thought I had lost someone in the Kremlin

Must tell you about the time I thought I had lost someone in the Kremlin

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Plus do a sales pitch for The Book

Before all that, I can tell you I have been pretty busy having meetings and sorting out dates for the winter coaching programme. Letters are winging their way to the Under 13, 14 and 15 boys with regard to the dates of the Skill Sets Programme. We have more or less finalised the Squad Coaching dates for January through to March and these will appear shortly on this website. I understand that the girls’ Skills Sets and Squad Coaching Sessions are also shortly to be announced. We never rest you know.


There has been much discussion and debate about next year’s programme of matches. It looks like there will be a change to the ECB Cup Competitions with the possibility the Under 13 Boys Cup will be no more. We will not know the result of the ECB deliberations for possibly another month which of course makes fixture arranging far from easy. Our illustrious leaders do not believe in “easy”.


One major announcement from me to you my blog readers – thousands of you.


I have become a Twitterer. About time you say. Social networking here I come.


If you wish to become a follower then my Twitter account is .. @JohnHeaton70.


All I am doing at the moment is straight forward messages. At some stage I will try and grasp the ins and outs of “#hashtags”. I currently follow Ronnie Irani and Gary Neville and they do ever such a lot of “hashtagging”. There are other aspects of Tweeting that I will need to get my head round eventually.


I must also confess that I have just received a titanic expansion to the John Heaton Zoo. This last expansion cost me 200,000 zoo coins. The Good Lady has a serious problem with her Zoo again. She cannot contact the server. She is being very brave about the whole affair but I do wish that her ability to manage her very own Zoo returns fairly soon


Face Book still gives me the heeby-jeebies. I feel as though I ought to be able to handle it but there is so much that just floats over the top of me. The reason I am getting into these networks is to try and build some publicity that may persuade cricket followers to buy a copy of the one and only book I have ever had published.


The History of Lancashire Schools from 1922 to this year is not a boring historical tome, according to Bob Dearden and quite a few others. To help with this sales pitch I agreed with Dipesh that we would drop the price of the Book to just a tenner. After we have sold enough to cover the printing costs then any profits will go to Lancashire Schools. So get the buzz going and twitter away building up a momentum that will see me inundated with requests. Order your copy here at a special offer price of £10 + p&p!


Now then I hinted at the top that I needed to tell you about the time we lost a pupil in, of all places, the Kremlin.


In my last blog I reminisced about two brothers who had almost managed to get me into serious trouble with the KGB in Odessa. The following year undeterred I organised yet another cruise this time on another Russian ship, the Mikhail Lermontov, sailing via the Baltic to Leningrad (now called St Petersburg). From there we flew to Moscow for two nights. There were something like 36 pupils and half a dozen adults in the party, including someone called Colin.


In the preceding months relationships between the USSR and the USA had deteriorated and instead of smiling Russian Intourist Guides of the previous year they had all become Mr and Mrs Grumpies. The previous year we had been taken to the Moscow State Circus – an evening that still remains vivid in my memory. This particular year in the first place we had been placed in the Hotel Moskva which was on the outskirts of Moscow with cuisine from hell and a foyer resembling Euston Station. In the second place our exciting evening excursion was to go and see the ballet “Swan Lake” in of all places the Main Hall of the Kremlin Palace. This Main Hall is where the great USSR Assemblies took place. It seated 7,000 people and had a stage as big as a football field.


It was fascinating to see this place but we had been taken down from our hotel in a convoy of coaches. There were some 600 passengers staying in this massive 24 plus storey hotel. Most of these passengers enjoyed the five act ballet which started at 7.00 and finished at 10.30 as did a number of our pupils. We had told all our party that we would meet outside the Main Entrance. Unfortunately on the one hand we were not seated together and on the other hand there were people at the Main Entrance from the cruise company with placards directing everyone to coaches back to the Hotel.


As we arrived at the coach pick up at different times we simply had to rely on everyone getting on a coach and getting back to the hotel.  We, that is the Mrs and Philip and me, hung around until the last coach left. By the time we got back to the hotel the other teachers in the party had gathered everyone together. The roll call revealed one missing person. He was called - Colin. By now the clock was nearing midnight.  We checked his room which was on the 21st floor. No sign of him.


We sent little search parties around the massive hotel foyer. Eventually we let everyone apart from a couple of staff go to bed. I shared my concerns with the Cruise Director and his staff. We were however totally nonplussed as to what we could or should do next.


We decided to wait until 1.00 am as according to the hotel records there were still some passengers from the cruise who had not collected their room keys.


We just sat and watched the giant revolving doors at the Main Entrance.


With five minutes to go to our deadline – mind you we really did not know what we were going to do - guess what. Colin walked in through the entrance doors in the company of a rather eccentric American couple from the ship. We found out they had seen him wandering around at the end of the ballet and said he could travel in their taxi back to the hotel. They didn’t do coaches. The husband had not cared for the food at the Hotel Moskva and diverted the party to a restaurant where they had fed themselves – and Colin as well.


I could do little other than smile, take Colin to his room and retire with the others. Any chance of a nerve settling Tesco Moment was impossible as all the bars had long closed. To this day I really do not believe Colin has any idea of the potential consequences of that episode.


Mind you the following day as we gathered at Sherimetievo Airport for our Aeroflot flight back to London I could have willingly strangled him on the spot when we found out he had packed his passport in his suitcase against all orders.


Oh happy days.


Quite a number of you may have experienced travelling to the USA recently and will have many a tales about US Immigrations Officials. Believe me they are angels compared with the USSR mafia those many years ago. Remember that all we wanted to do was get out. Getting out of Russia then was so bad we have not been anywhere near since.


Aeroflot even managed to split our party between two aircraft.


It even managed to put my good lady off flying for quite a while.


Enough - the Shakers have a new manager – Mr Kevin Blackwell.


He spent a year at Gigg Lane many moons ago when Neil Whatsit was the Manager. Now Neil Whatsit hogged all the press conferences giving his totally unbiased opinions on Bury’s fortunes so I am not at all surprised I could not recollect Mr Blackwell ever being associated with Bury.


Well his first game away at Stevenage produced a very welcome point and a certain amount of praise for the Shakers. In mid-week any chance of building on that against Carlisle was washed away by the rain. So we, Sophie and Thomas and me, made our way to Gigg Lane yesterday full of hope. We snuck away just before the final whistle more than aware that this could be a very, very, very long season.


Swindon scored after just 26 seconds and in the remaining 89 minutes and 34 seconds we did not have a serious effort to bring a save out of their goalie.


The only entertaining bit was watching the Swindon manager a certain Mr Paulo de Canio. He seems to have the same balanced attitude to football as Neil Whatsit had. To be honest I think he makes Mr Warnock look like a choir boy. I know he has strong Italian blood but oh dear – he was up and down like a whirling dervish either gesticulating at his players, his bench, the referee, the crowd, himself and even the sky. His biggest row was with one of his own players who – bless him – did the full Italian Job as well. Multi bellissimo or Volare or whatever


Ten matches played with four points only in the bag means we are rock, rock bottom.


The night did improve as we had a Party to attend at the Mount. Much news was passed around about impending player arrival for next season and I gave Tom a thrashing at snooker.


We do have something to look forward to as sometime over the next couple of months we will be going off with the Queen again. I cannot say when but I am sure when we return I may have some tales to tell you.


The Toy Zoo Friends programme is still malfunctioning for the Mrs. Please, please, please will whoever has sabotaged her multi-million zoo points effort play the game and get her going again.


Finally do not forget my other plea – I still have a few remaining copies of the Book. Take this opportunity of making an all important decision and get round to buying the blinking thing.




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