Nina Potapova: a woman I cannot forget (1)

When I was about eight or nine, I was intrigued by a book in our local library in South Derbyshire:

Last year I bought a second hand copy off the Internet. A book from Bangor in north west Wales. Probably the very book used to learn Russian by the defector (or is he a defector?), Richard Burton, in “The Spy who came in from the Cold”. Still, at least I learned the Welsh for ‘stock’:

I was intrigued by the copperplate Russian alphabet. Here’s the first 16 letters. :

There are 33 altogether because our ‘ch’ or ‘sh’ or ‘ts’ are single letters in Russian. Here’s the full 33 from Wikicommie:

With Nina, I loved the artwork:

And here’s the text. It looks childish and moronic, but not if you’re in MI6. If you are in Moscow and ask the right person the question “Is the house there?” and they replied “Yes, the bridge is here.” you got to spend the night with Ursula Andress:

Here is Moscow. The Moscow Kremlin to be precise:

And here’s Leningrad. For me, some things will never change:

That’s all for now. I have people to meet in a park near Helsinki. Please excuse the uneven shapes of some of the pictures. They were taken under difficult circumstances, using a MasterSpy Mark 4 Nasal Camera in a small stoc cupboard in Bangor Library at 3.00 in the morning.

In ze meantime,    До свидания





Filed under History, Humour, Personal, Russia

16 responses to “Nina Potapova: a woman I cannot forget (1)

  1. Tony Wilkins

    Look at all the full stops with a microscope in case one of them is a microdot with details on how to build a pulse jet engine

    • I had completely forgotten microdots. There must be thousands lying around with all kinds of information that used to be absolutely vital. And what happened to all those Manchurian Candidates who were given a code word on the phone and then rushed off the kill somebody really important?

  2. You did just fine with the pictures, John. I’ve tried learning other languages but seem to have some sort of mental block – jeeez, I guess that isn’t too hard to believe, eh?!! 🙂

    • From what I’ve read, once you reach about 40, your brain finds it virtually impossible to remember all the words. Children learn them best and it is such a great pity when one or both of the parents has a language to gift them but they don’t do it. Speaking to somebody in their own language is a huge advantage when you are dealing with them, of course, either in business or in politics. It shows your interest in them and your respect for their culture.

  3. So Mr Bond, you have discovered our code book, such a pity, I was just beginning to like you! See to it oddjob!

    • It must be really embarrassing though, when you approach somebody in the local library, say the code words “The cranes fly high this summer” but you’ve got the wrong person. And as for Oddjob, I bet he wishes he had a £1 for every British schoolboy in the early 60s who skimmed his cap across the classroom at a deadly enemy on the front row. Golden days!

  4. I cannot even imagine learning Russian. Oh my gosh! I do not have a brain for languages unfortunately and Russian? No way!!! Great post! I loved the illustrations! ☺️

    • Thank you. Russian is definitely a difficult language, not because of the alphabet but because of the fact that very few of the words are like English. That isn’t the case with French, Spanish or Italian where words are much more easily memorable. I would suspect that languages like Arabic or Chinese are even more difficult.

  5. I remember all those thrillers where the bad people were Russians and the good ones Americans 🙂

    • So do I ! They were really exciting films although I do remember that I often found it difficult to follow exactly what was happening. My favourites were James Bond films.

  6. abushiestale

    John, As a great fan of John Le Carre I am delighted that you found out how Leamas learned Russian. I really love his books. And was the town you purchased the book from Hay-on-Wye? The greatest secondhand book shop in the world!!.
    PS. I was thinking of your posts regarding the people who owned Slaves and thought how sadly ironic was your timing when you consider what happened in Charlottesville. Are you planning a follow up?
    PPS. This is still me in alter ego.

    • Hello! Both answers are negative, I’m afraid. I got the book off the Internet and I haven’t got anything scheduled about slavery at the moment. I try not to limit myself to one special topic so I will be ranging widely in the future about a number of different topics. The best thing I have read about slavery is the book I mentioned by David Olusoga “Black and British: A Forgotten History”. For an Englishman it is a real eye opener. I think the Americans have a long. long way to go to start improving the situation. The first step would be to sacrifice the sacred cow of free speech and make race-hate pronouncements illegal as they are in Britain.

  7. Pingback: Phonetic Alphabets (2) | John Knifton

  8. Pingback: Why I am what I am (2) | John Knifton

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