A few months ago I bought an old and battered, 1963, East German, Trabant motor vehicle at auction for a few pounds with a view to restoring it to its former glory.
Beneath the spare wheel I found a small cache of letters, bound with hemp gardening twine and bearing the post mark of the former Soviet Union.
I spent the next few hours reading them, and in the course of doing so, discovered that they were written by a Russian man from Vladivostok to his lover in the city of Petrograd in 1965.
How they came to be secreted beneath the spare wheel of the old, rusting wreck is a mystery to me. Perhaps she returned them to him after their love died, or maybe they were never delivered at all due to the chaotic nature of the postal service at that time. Whatever the facts of the matter, I found them rather uplifting and full of a kind of myopic hope for happier times and for an eventual fulfilment of their passion.
I should therefore, with your permission, like to reproduce them here for you throughout this week. Here is the first I read, dated December 24 1968:
My Most Darlingest Lyobochka
I am hoping most earnestly that you are well and that production is up in the glorious bomb factory. The weather here is being very kind for time of year. Last night was being just minus 30 deg Celsius, with periodic snow flurries, so Comrade Wife and I went for stroll to shops for new toilet brush and to collect Christmas ration of beetroot vodka. On way we bumped into Comrade Armski from Apartment Block #29. He told us toilet brush consignment was due in Spring but that we could borrow his. This is typical of the glorious and most noble spirit of our heroic neighbours. I will however report him to local party official in morning in case he is stealing brush from glorious communal toilet bloc.
It is with great sadness that I must be telling you that Comrade Cat is missing and has not been seen since last Tuesday. Despite the unseasonably mild weather I am most concerned. I am leaving saucer of turnip water outside door each night but it is remaining untouched.
How I long to rub industrial tractor grease onto your Soviet buttocks my most darlingest darling.
Apt. Bloc #27