John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)




Aleksejs Bogdanovs

e-mail: Aleksejs Bogdanovs










Protagonist, Alex Bogdanov, Latvian emigrant in Britain and twenty two, wakes up in his rented room in Newport, South Wales. Outside Alex is stopped by his neighbour Colin Woods, an old man nearly seventy years old. Colin invites Alex to have a meal with his wife June.
Colin and June find out that Alex’s fiancé that they have met cheated on Alex and returned to Latvia. Alex tells them about his life, why he hates it and why he moved to Britain. Colin convinces Alex that if Alex will follow his plan he will be happy again. Alex agrees to follow it and later discovers how life can change and how much Britain can offer.
Alex is falling in love with the British culture, meets new people, becomes self-employed, separates with his best friends, plans new achievements and meets his future wife.
This novel explores human faith, hope and love when believe in them is lost. I think this book will be interesting for people between the age of 15 to 30. Young man and women are not ready for troubles in front of them and this book will help them to find the way out.

[16 Chapters,~65000 Words]

Chapter I        Winter
Chapter II       Colin’s place
Chapter III      Plan
Chapter IV     Jeff Cox
Chapter V       Fast changes
Chapter VI      Decisions
Chapter VII     Independency
Chapter VIII    Sara
Chapter IX      Conversations
Chapter X       Frustration
Chapter XI      Friday
Chapter XII     Karen
Chapter XIII    Latvia
Chapter XIV    Intense year
Chapter XV     Wedding
Chapter XVI    Future

A bit about me. I am Russian born in Latvia. I have finished Latvian Business College. I am twenty five years old [2014]. I am married to a Welsh girl and I am self-employed window cleaner. I have decided to write a book after visiting Dan Poynter’s seminar in London four years ago. I am a member of “Westminster Russian Forum” they might help with the book.







Sample Chapter

Chapter One


The room was cold and damp. Beads of condensation trickled down the window in to a “pool” on the sill. It was overflowing on to the wall bellow that had been invaded by black mould. The old wooden window frames were slowly disintegrating from years of wear and tear. The wind slipped in to the room through the window and escaped up the chimney that had not been used for years. The fire place was covered only by parcel tape and a charity clothing collection bag and the wind flapped through the unstuck edges. The old red paint that covered the walls had lost its radiance and had started to crumble. The bare floor boards were old and worn; they had been left untreated and unloved like so much of the house.

The big spacious room looked bare, with only a single bed and a small wardrobe. The old wooden bed creaked and groaned with every move Alex made. Alex tossed and turned as he fought with his old lumpy pillow. As he drifted back to sleep he began to dream. Alex was in the middle of a huge forest, he was lost unable to find his way out. He desperately needed to go home, his family were waiting. As Alex walked around the forest trying to see between the dense trees franticly trying to find his way out, he saw figures walking through the forest. As he came closer he began to recognise them, he knew them. He ran to them and begged for their help to get home. But they were not pleased to see him, they would not help him. Instead they insulted him and humiliated him. They would call him “useless”, “worthless”. They would tell him that he is “nothing”, that nobody wants him and that they hate him. He would run to another figure, but the same would happen. Alex ran around and around searching, from figure to figure asking, but could not find his way out. Finally Alex awoke shaking and sweaty unable to calm his self. He sat up looked around the room, inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled watching his warm breath enters the room. Alex’s fluffy fair hair dangled over the forehead hiding it. Leaving only the eyebrows visible scrunched with hurt and confusion. His deep felt hurt portrayed through his clear blue eyes, softening his face, making his strong jaw line and pointy nose seeming less serious. Alex’s tall skinny physic was hidden under his stained baggy old jumper and bobbly jogging bottoms.

Alex reached for his phone to see the time, it was eight o’clock. He slowly eased of the bed and went to the window, gently opening the mouldy curtains and letting in the morning light. Taking a cloth of the cold radiator he wiped away the condensation so he could look at the world around him. The streets were empty and quiet, this calmed Alex’s tension. A person caught his eye walking down the hill. It was Colin.

It was the last week of February 2010 in South Wales. Colin Woods, an old man seventy one years old was walking down the road from his house to buy a pint of milk and a newspaper. You could just about see his soft old wrinkly face between scarf around his neck and hat that protect his balding head from the cold wind. Colin’s eyes are small like tiny slits in his old face; his small round soft nose was resting on the top of his scarf. He squelched through the slush in his green farmer wellingtons that came to the middle of his calf, leaving only his knee visible below his big thick coat hiding his big belly. Colin had lived a peaceful life, he had married his wife June young and they had two children Tony and Alisha.

Colin was walking through St Julian’s area in Newport. Newport is a usual Welsh town with narrow roads and small two storied terraced houses that are stretched along the road. Only a tight pavement was separating main road from the entrance of the houses. A hundred years ago miners and other working class people lived in these houses. In those days a few families would live in a two bedroom house with an outside toilet. Nowadays people are more fortunate. One family owns the entire house with an indoor toilet. Where there are terraced houses it is very hard to see any grass or trees. Everything is made from stone, bricks and tarmac.

Wales is a very hilly place. It is very hard to find flat areas in Wales mostly people need to walk up or down hills. Colin’s house was on the top of St Julian’s avenue, number 102. For local people it is a posh area. People consider this area better because the houses are detached and bigger than the terraced houses. There is more grass and trees around the houses and mostly everyone have a spacious front garden. Visitors probably won’t find the area that attractive; there are far better places in Wales or England. But if to compare it with other Newport areas it would be among the nicest neighbourhoods.

For Colin this walk was important. At his age it was a reason to go out and get some exercise. The weather was gorgeous for February. It was a typical British winter very mild, damp and cloudy. The clouds were very heavy looking and grey, they gave a feeling that it will start to snow soon. Colin wasn’t happy that this winter they had snow. In South Wales snow doesn’t stay for a long time. As soon its snows it starts to melt and becomes slushy therefore instead of a nice walk on a beautiful white road, people need to wear wellingtons and try not to fall on the slippery roads. If people wanted to see snow they needed to go to the Brecon Beacon Mountains or Scotland. Colin came in to the shop, got his milk and newspaper.

‘Good morning Aslam,’ said Colin to the cashier.

‘Hello and Selam to you Collin,’ said Aslam.

‘As-Salamula…’ said Colin.

‘As-Salamu Alaykum,’ said Aslam.

‘That’s right, As-Salamu Alaykum, thanks. Do you remember what I taught you?’ asked Colin.

‘Alright budd!’ said Aslam.

‘No, you said it the American way. You need to say butt. “T” instead of “D”,’ said Colin.

‘Butt. Alright butt,’ said Aslam and smiled.

‘Excellent. By the end of this year I will be Asian and you will be Welsh,’ Colin laughed.

‘I wish. If the boss will keep me here I will be happy,’ said Aslam.

‘I know. Your boss is changing you guys too often. I can’t properly get to know any of you,’ said Colin, ‘Well anyway you take care mate.’

‘You too mate. Take care,’ said Aslam.

Colin went out of the shop. He was thinking about Aslam and the other cashiers. How he heard some of them come to Britain and work illegally. They know that the minimum wage is six pounds an hour. But the “boss” knows that they depend on him and he pays them only three pounds an hour. If they don’t like it he gets rid of them. “How can you use your own people like that?” Colin thought to himself.

Colin was walking on the left side of the road and he noticed that far away someone was walking towards him, but then the figure crossed the road to the right side. Colin tried to see who it was. He had a feeling it was someone familiar. “I know who it is,” thought Colin, “it’s Alex”.

‘Alex!’ shouted Colin, ‘Alex!’ The person didn’t respond. Colin crossed the road to the right side. ‘Alex!’ said Colin again coming closer to the person.

‘Oh, hi Colin,’ said Alex with a strong Eastern European accent.

‘Did you try to avoid me?’ said Colin smiling.

‘No…no, I just woke up, sorry,’ said Alex.

‘No worries. How is life treating you?’ asked Colin.

‘Hmm...not bad,’ said Alex.

‘Did you get that new job at Sainsbury’s after?’ asked Colin.

‘No, I didn’t. A few of my plans changed,’ said Alex.

‘I understand…how is your fiancé? I haven’t seen either of you for a long time. Nearly two months I think,’ said Colin.

‘Um, she went back home,’ said Alex.

‘That’s nice. To see her family?’ asked Colin.

‘No, what I meant is that she went home. She is not coming back here,’ said Alex.

‘Ok. So what are your plans then? Are you going back?’ asked Colin.

‘No, I am not. Well actually I don’t know, maybe,’ said Alex irritated.

‘Uh, I get it now. I am sorry Alex, I don’t want to interfere, but I have been married for fifty years and sometimes relationships are very hard...’

 ‘Look Colin, I should have told you this straight away. Me and Alina split. That’s it. We are no longer together,’ Alex interrupted Colin.

‘Oh, I am sorry to hear that Alex,’ said Colin.

‘That’s ok. Well I better go,’ said Alex.

Colin took hold of Alex’s arm. ‘Alex, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to be nosey I can see you’re upset. Why don’t you come over and have a chat? You look like you could do with a good meal.’

‘I am sorry, but I am busy!’ said Alex.

‘Alex, I haven’t seen you for months! You have been to my place before. You know me, you know June. She would love to see you,’ said Colin.

‘Ok I can come but what will we chat about?’ asked Alex.

‘How about June can cook some lovely food, maybe we can help you,’ said Colin.

‘I don’t need your help,’ said Alex.

‘Fine just come and see June,’ said Colin.

‘Seriously. You just won’t give up then,’ said Alex.

‘I am just worried about you Alex,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, fine! When? At what time?’ asked Alex.

‘Today, about five o’clock?’ asked Colin.

‘I can’t come today,’ said Alex.

‘Why not?’ asked Colin.

‘I just don’t want to come today it’s too fast, I am not in a mood,’ said Alex.

‘Ok, do you want to come tomorrow?’ asked Colin.

‘I don’t know maybe I will work. The warehouse can phone me at any time,’ said Alex.

‘Well do you still have my number?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes,’ said Alex.

‘When you make up your mind give me a ring and let me know,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, I will do that,’ said Alex.

‘Lovely, speak to you soon,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, bye,’ said Alex and went away.

As Colin turned around and went home he heard Alex’s shouting voice, “Colin! Colin!” He turned around.

‘I think I will come today at five, but I don’t promise,’ shouted Alex.

‘Ok.’ Colin had never seen Alex like that before. Alex’s eyes were full of pain and hurt. There were no colours in his face, it was unhappy and grey as the clouds above. Colin came to his house and opened the front door with his key.

‘June!’ shouted Colin taking off his wellingtons in the hallway, ‘June!’ There was no answer. “Oh come on where is she now,” thought Colin. ‘I will put the milk in the kitchen,’ shouted Colin.

‘I’ll be there now in a moment,’ shouted June from upstairs.

‘Ok,’ said Colin.

When June came down Colin was in the kitchen. June was short like her husband, but slimmer. By looking at June you could see she had been a very attractive young women, her skin was soft and clear with a few wrinkles. Her short brown curly hair framed her face perfectly, drawing attention to her thin delicate lips and wide round brown eyes from behind her elegant glasses.

‘How was your walk?’ asked June.

‘It was alright,’ said Colin.

‘Good. I’ll make you a cuppa’ said June.

‘Not yet, in a minute’ said Colin.

‘Ok. Why do you have your coat on? Do you want me to help you take it off?’ asked June.

‘There is something I need to tell you,’ said Colin, ‘We will have a guest later and we need to cook.’

‘What? At what time?’ asked June.

‘It is a long story. Basically what I want you to do is get ready and we will go to Sainsbury’s and I’ll tell you everything on the way,’ said Colin.

June looked at Colin irritated ‘Uhh, I’ll be ready when I am ready,’ said June and went upstairs.

Colin made a cup of tea and toast with jam for himself and June, put it on a tray with his newspaper and went upstairs. Colin came into the bedroom. June was sitting in front of the mirror doing her hair.

‘You are crazy old man you are!’ said June smiling.

‘I’ve made you breakfast’ said Colin.

June finished her hair and ate her toast while Colin sat on the bed reading the newspaper and drinking tea. After five minutes Colin started to whisper.

‘What are you jabbering about now?’ said June drinking her tea.

Colin put his cup on the bedside table. ‘Don’t ask I’m just fed up.’

‘What’s wrong now?’ asked June.

‘It is this stupid paper; I am fed up with it. I open it and what do I see – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, Muslims, Islam, Terrorists, Iraq, Africa! I am so fed up with it. Where is the British news? I need British news! I am tired of those places. They will always fight there, why do I need to be bothered with it? I want to know what is happening locally. I am interested in our island.’

‘That’s why I don’t read the newspapers or watch the news, it is boring,’ said June.

‘It’s not that the news is boring I am interested in the news, I love news,’ said Colin, ‘but only the news that is about us, about our country. Ok sometimes they write about us in those Arabic countries, but mainly modern news is about Arabs in their own countries. I am fed up with it. I’m not buying these stupid papers anymore and I’m not watching this stupid telly either.’

‘Ok, so what will you do then?’ asked June.

‘I will do what Tony told me to do a long time ago. I will search for the news on the internet. Then I can read what I want to read not the stuff they are pushing us to read,’ said Colin.

June laughed, ‘You’re not serious?! We can barely use the computer to speak with them.’

‘That’s Skype. It’s not internet,’ said Colin.

‘What’s the difference? It took us ages to start using Skype. It will take ages to find your news on the internet,’ said June.

‘Look June. I know how to start the computer and start the Skype. It means that I am able to start the computer and start the internet. I will speak with Tony and he will explain what I need to do. Well anyway. Do you know who I saw today?’ said Colin.

‘Let me think. Erm, Margaret?’ asked June.

‘No,’ said Colin.

‘David?’ asked June.

‘No,’ said Colin.

‘I don’t know then, um, Russell?’ asked June.

‘Nope. I saw Alex,’ said Colin.

‘Alex? Let me think. We know a few of them. Whom could you have seen this morning?’ June smiled and said, ‘Is it the boy from Latvia? Who lives with John Nutter?’

‘Yes, that’s the one,’ said Colin.

‘Is it him that’s coming over?’ asked June looking through her clothes.

‘Yes,’ said Colin.

‘I bet it wasn’t his idea to come over,’ said June.

‘I know it’s crazy, but I’ll tell you what happened,’ said Colin.

‘Ok. Go and start the car I’ll be there,’ said June.

Colin and June went to the shop. On the way Colin told June what happened between him and Alex. Colin and June decided to cook roast dinner with lamb and a rhubarb crumble pie for the dessert.

After walking around Alex came back to his place and went to his room. He wasn’t happy about Colin’s idea to go to his place. Alex was thinking, “Why do I need to go to his place! I am fed up with it. What does he want from me? I don’t need anyone. All people are the same…Well may be not. But still I am not ready to go anywhere. I want to be on my own. He is saying that I will come there and we will chat. About what? What nice do I have in my life? Nothing except shit! And I am shit too! Can’t do anything. I am tired to think about it! Shut up you stupid thoughts! I want to have an easy day I am tired of thinking about this crap.” Alex went downstairs to make a sandwich and have a glass of apple cider. After his snack he went to bed for a sleep.



Colin’s place

Alex woke up at four o’clock. He had a bad head; his thoughts didn’t leave him alone. He sat up in bed, closed his eyes and tried to relax. After he came to the window and looked outside, it was still very grey, but it didn’t snow. “Shall I go or not,” thought Alex, “Come on go. When will you have an opportunity for a home cooked meal?” Alex smiled. “Yeah, that’s right, when?! I need to go to work tomorrow and then I don’t know when I can have a free day, so maybe I should go or no? Hmm...I just don’t know. Oh, come on why not?! Am I scared? Me Alex Bogdanov scared of going to people for a meal. I will just tell them not to ask any stupid questions or I will leave. That’s right, go and enjoy the time if I don’t like it I will leave. Who cares what they will think. They even don’t know me. People who know me don’t care about me, so why they would care about me.”

Colin and June slowly prepared everything and left it in the oven to keep it warm. ‘It’s already five and Alex isn’t here. Do you think he is coming?’ asked June.

‘I hope so. We will wait and see,’ said Colin.

At quarter past five they heard a knock at the door. ‘I hope it’s Alex,’ said June.

Colin went to open the door. ‘Hey, it’s Alex! Nice to see you!’

‘Nice to see you too Colin,’ said Alex with a small smile and came in. ‘Where can I put my coat?’

‘You can put it there,’ said Colin and pointed at the banister.

‘Thanks,’ said Alex.

‘Follow me into the dining room,’ said Colin.

As they were going to the dining room June came out of the living room. ‘Hello darling, how are you love?’

‘Thank you not bad,’ said Alex.

‘Go and make yourself comfortable in the dining room and I’ll bring the food,’ said June.

‘Can I wash my hands?’ asked Alex.

‘Yeah, sure,’ said Colin.

Alex went into a tiny bathroom under the stairs. When Alex came out, the dining room was just in front of him. He saw that Colin and June were already sat at the table.

‘Come on in Alex and relax it’s not the first time you are here,’ said Colin.

‘Thanks,’ said Alex and came in to the room. He sat down on one and of the table; June was sitting on the other end of the table and Colin was sitting close to her. The food was on the table in separate dishes and everyone had an empty plate with a knife and fork.

‘The first time you came here you tried curry and you never had it before. Right?’ said Colin.

‘Yes,’ said Alex.

‘Anything else you found out about Britain since the last time we saw you?’ asked Colin.

‘Well no, not really. My work is rubbish. I am not a free man. I go to work when they phone me. The only thing that I definitely noticed is how many different people you have in Britain. I never saw so many different nations and disabled people on the street!’ said Alex.

‘Latvia is not like that then?’ asked June.

‘No, we don’t have black people or Asian people at all just a few. And definitely our disabled people don’t feel so relaxed like yours,’ said Alex.

‘Aw ok,’ said June unsure.

‘Ok, tuck in. We’ve got lamb with vegetables, roast potatoes, gravy and cauliflower cheese.’ Colin pointed to the dishes. Everyone started to put on their plates what they wanted and eat. Alex was eating very fast.

‘Do you like it?’ asked Colin.

‘Oh, yes, very nice,’ said Alex.

Colin and June looked at one another with a smile and June whispered, ‘He is like a hoover.’

After a moment June exclaimed, ‘Oh! I forgot the drinks.’

Colin smiled ‘That’s right, the drinks! Alex, why didn’t you ask for a drink?’

‘I just didn’t think about it. I was thinking only about the food. I didn’t eat anything earlier so when I would be here I would be hungry,’ said Alex.

‘Good thinking Alex,’ said Colin.

June stood up and asked everyone, ‘Ok what does everyone want wine, squash, juice?’

‘I’ll have white wine,’ said Colin.

‘I see. Can I have some ordinary juice, please?’ asked Alex.

‘Sure. Orange or peach?’ asked June.

‘Can I try the peach one?’ asked Alex.

‘Ok.’ June went out to the kitchen and brought back juice for Alex and wine for her and Colin ‘Here you go Alex.’

‘Thank you June,’ said Alex.

Alex tried the juice. ‘Very nice, I never tried peach juice before.’

‘Yes, we like it too, it’s very refreshing and smooth,’ said Colin and it became quiet again.

Alex was eating and Colin and June could see that he was enjoying the food. It made them happy that Alex looked a bit better than when he arrived. ‘Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, mmm,’ said Alex pushing his empty plate forward.

‘Excellent,’ said Colin surprised by Alex.

‘Thank you, I am happy that you like it,’ said June, ‘Well everybody has finished so I’ll clear up and bring the dessert. Does anyone want drink tea or coffee?’

‘I’ll have tea,’ said Colin.

‘Ok,’ said June.

‘I will have tea as well please,’ said Alex.

‘How do you like your tea?’ asked June.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Alex.

‘Do you have milk? How many sugars?’ asked June.

‘You won’t believe me,’ said Alex, ‘but I still haven’t tried tea with milk’.

‘No! I thought that you promised me to try it one day as you didn’t have it last time!’ said Colin.

‘The thing is in Latvia we don’t drink tea with milk and since I came to Britain I didn’t get to try it,’ said Alex.

‘You are like the French. They don’t drink tea with milk,’ said Colin.

‘So would you like to try tea with milk now?’ asked June.

‘Yes, ok and I will have two sugars, please,’ said Alex.

June went away and Alex asked Colin, ‘What’s for the dessert?’

‘We will have rhubarb crumble with custard. I think last time you were here we had ice cream,’ said Colin.

Alex took his phone out of the pocket. ‘How do you spell roobhab?’

‘It r-h-u-b-a-r-b,’ said Colin and looked at Alex trying to figure out what is he doing.

‘Oh I see now. It’s just I never heard this word, so I didn’t understand what do you say. But I know what rhubarb is. I like it. We have in Latvia too,’ said Alex.

‘What did you do with the phone?’ asked Colin.

‘Oh sorry, I used my phone to translate the word in to Russian language,’ said Alex.

‘Here we go.’ June came in carrying the deserts.

‘Thank you! Smells nice,’ said Alex.

‘You are welcome! You look happy Alex,’ said June.

‘Yeah, food makes me happy,’ said Alex and smiled, ‘So what is this yellow’

‘It’s custard,’ said Colin.

Alex tried it. ‘Tastes familiar, but I think I never had it.’ Alex took his phone. ‘How do you spell it?’

‘It’s c-u-s-t-a-r-d,’ said Colin.

Alex looked at the phone. ‘Hmm, “???????? ????” I…I don’t know, I think I never had it.’

‘Do you use your phone to translate the words?’ said June.

‘Yes, I do’ said Alex.

‘You didn’t do that last time,’ said June.

‘I know. That was my mistake. I think I was too nervous to use it. I thought it would be rude,’ said Alex.

June didn’t say anything back she just looked at Colin.

‘Are you sure you never had custard?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, I am positive and I think we even don’t have it in Latvia,’ said Alex, ‘Is it similar to condensed milk?’

‘Well not really…but it is a dairy product as well,’ said Colin.

Alex tried his tea. ‘Very unusual, but it’s not what I expected. I thought it will be not good, but it is actually quite nice.’

‘Good, I’m glad,’ said June.

‘Ok,’ said Alex and started to eat.

Colin and June looked at one another and both were happy how the evening was going.

‘Thank you very much,’ said Alex finishing his desert.

‘My pleasure. Now you know more about British food and you know new words,’ said June.

‘But it’s still hard to believe that you never tried custard,’ said Colin.

‘I know. It’s like we have the same food in Latvia it’s just we cook it differently,’ said Alex.

‘Yes, in Europe we eat mostly the same things,’ said June.

‘Just the way we eat it is different. Like I had cheese before and I had cauliflower before, but I never ate it together or we have milk and we make various milk products, but I don’t think that we make custard,’ said Alex.

‘Yeah, I understand,’ said June, ‘in Europe we are mostly the same people’

‘Yes, as a European people we are all the same except French,’ said Colin.

‘Colin!’ said June and pushed his shoulder.

‘But it’s true,’ Colin smiled, ‘who else in Europe eats frogs? Do they eat frogs in your area Alex?’ asked Colin.

‘No, of course not,’ said Alex.

‘There you are,’ said Colin to June, ‘I think they belong to Asian culture. They eat frogs there’ Colin laughed.

‘Uhh,’ said June and nodded her head.

‘I’m just joking,’ said Colin, ‘I’m just joking Alex. We have been to France and I love it.’

‘I understand Colin,’ said Alex.

‘Alex you said that when you were on your phone you translated the word into Russian. Why? I thought you are Latvian,’ asked Colin.

‘Well I am from Latvia. My mother is Latvian and my father is Russian. And in my passport it’s written that I am Russian,’ said Alex.

‘But you are the citizen of Latvia?’ asked June.

‘Yes, I am,’ said Alex.

‘Okey,’ said June confused.

‘Your English is very good, definitely better than my Russian. How come?’ asked Colin.

‘Well I think I was very fortunate. Since I was six I had a chance to watch “Cartoon Network”. When USSR collapsed a lot Western stuff came into the country and cartoons were one part of that,’ said Alex.

‘That’s interesting,’ said June.

‘Yes, it’s like while I was watching my brain was remembering things and words from the cartoons, so when I went to school and we started to study English language it was very easy for me and I was much better than anyone else,’ said Alex and smiled.

‘Did you spend a lot of time watching cartoons?’ asked Colin.

‘Oh yeah! Lots,’ said Alex.

Colin laughed, ‘Good for you’

‘Sorry I just want to ask again. You said that in your passport it’s says that you are Russian and not Latvian. Why?’ asked June.

‘It will be hard to explain you this, but I will try,’ said Alex, ‘look in Britain if you are born in Wales or in Scotland you will be British in the passport, right?’

‘Yes,’ said Colin and June together.

‘Well in Latvia it’s different, Latvia is very strange country. People are good. Like everywhere around the world. But we have too many politicians that are making their career on nationalistic ideas, which is very sad. For example, in the past if you would come to live in Latvia from Wales and gave birth to a child there. The child would be Latvian citizen, but in the passport it would be pointed out that the nationality is Welsh, not Latvian. I don’t know how they do it now. I think you can choose your nationality. But I still think it’s wrong that in the passport there is a nationality note. So that’s why I am Russian in the passport,’ said Alex.

‘Are there a lot of Russian people in Latvia?’ asked June.

‘Oh yeah. One third of the Latvian population is Russian. So I can speak Latvian and Russian. But Russian is my native language and I learned Latvian language in school,’ said Alex.

‘Why does your government want to separate other nations from the Latvian nation?’ asked June.

‘It’s a very big topic,’ said Alex

‘Because in Britain even if you are from a different country your child will be British if it’s born here,’ said June.

‘I will tell you more, but not today. I am still not in the best shape. I can only say that British democracy and Latvian democracy are very different. Your history and culture is different. The only thing what I can say now is that the native British person is treating another native British much much better than a native Latvian is treating native Latvian,’ said Alex.

‘Uh ok,’ said June.

‘So Alex tell us what’s happening? I remember you as a happy boy and today you are like a different person!’ said Colin.

‘Sorry for that, I know…But…Well I thought I know why I came here, but now I don’t’ said Alex.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Colin.

‘Like all the people from abroad, I came here for work. But not only the work interested me in Britain,’ said Alex and sighed, ‘I came to Britain to continue my dreams, but then many things changed and I don’t see the point of fighting any more. So at the moment I don’t know what am I doing here, but at the same time I don’t want to go back to Latvia,’ said Alex.

‘Aww,’ said June with a sad face and asked, ‘What has happened to make you stop fighting for your dreams.’

‘Too many things,’ said Alex.

‘Like what?’ asked Colin.

Alex got annoyed. ‘Look Colin it’s a big story it will take a lot of time to tell you.’

‘We have time,’ said Colin, ‘Don’t rush, tell us everything slowly. We really want to know more about you. Last time you were here we didn’t even know that you are part Russian! Come on Alex.’

Alex looked at Colin and June and started to think.

‘Please Alex,’ said June, ‘You can trust us.’

Alex took a small breath. ‘Ok, but because I’ll tell you all of this It doesn’t mean that you are my friends. I am grateful to you for this meal, but it doesn’t make me closer to you.’

‘Ok,’ said Colin.

‘As well before I start I will just tell you that it is your choice to listen to everything and I didn’t came here to moan and to say how my life is terrible. I don’t want your help or anyone else’s. I already said to Colin that I don’t want this kind of conversation. But if you want to listen to me fine, but don’t think that it will make me feel better,’ said Alex.

‘Ok, Alex.’ said Colin.

‘I will make it nice and fast. Like how you British people say, “Cut the cheese.” So I am from Latvia. I am twenty two years old. Our capital is Riga. I lived half an hour drive from Riga in a resort town Jurmala. Which is by the Baltic sea –

Colin interrupted, ‘Alex, we remember that. You told us that last time you were here – ‘

‘I am not being funny. This way it will be easier for me,’ said Alex

‘Ok,’ said Colin.

‘So by the Baltic sea with lovely beaches and pine forests. I am from working class family, but we lived in a posh Latvian town with successful people, so since I was young I had some ideas what do I want from life. I started to play football when I was six years old and I was very good at it. When I was a teenager I went to play to football tournaments in different countries. I have been to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and America.’

‘You have been to America?’ asked June.

‘Yes in New York,’ said Alex.

‘Aw lucky you,’ said June.

‘Yeah I was, when I was seventeen I became a professional football player. I started to play in the Latvian premier league and I played until I was nineteen. I stopped at nineteen, because of the injury in my thigh muscle. The doctors could not do anything about it. As soon as I was better and I could play my muscle ripped again. After losing my success I lost a lot of people around me, I thought they were my friends, but they just enjoyed the company with a football player. But I was lucky I still had my loyal girlfriend Alina. After finishing with football instead of having my wedding I went to Latvian Business College on my saved money. After two years when I finished it the world economic crises came and Latvia became from a poor country into struggling country that basically doesn’t have any jobs. So instead of having a wedding after the college I went to Britain. More and more people started to lose contact with me. Even my girlfriend was angry. So in the end of the days the only people who supported me were my parents. But what could I do. I am not a magician! I can’t create miracles. I can’t heal myself and make the economy better! But I hoped to get stable in Britain and bring my fiancé here. So in December my ex came to visit me, as you remember. She came here to tell me that she found someone better, who is more stable and she will be with him. She said to me that instead of living I just run after my dreams. Well maybe I am! I don’t want to be stable like her new guy who works in a shop for two hundred pounds a month!’ said Alex

‘Hmm,’ said Colin

‘As well I forgot to tell you! Remember you asked me why I am Russian in the passport. I am from a country were politicians are very nationalistic and corrupt. Instead of working for the future and respect the past, they live in the past. They discuss the same question all the time who is better Latvians or Russians! All the time! Newspapers, telly, websites same article all the time or Latvians are bad or Russians are bad. Instead of creating a country they only think about votes. Latvian politicians try to have all the Latvian people votes; Russians try to have Russian people votes. And in the end the country is in a mess, everybody is poor, corruption is everywhere, but politicians are happy they are dividing the nation and devastating it. And while stupid people continue to argue, rich politicians have a happy life and don’t think about anything. The most annoying thing was that a lot believe these politicians. Even though my dad is Russian I considered myself Latvian. I love the culture, I love the place. But even when I have learned the language and had many Latvian friends a lot of other Latvian people didn’t consider me as a Latvian. That was ridiculous, I was born in Latvia and I lived there all my life and people didn’t want to recognise me that I am Latvian… So I thought maybe it’s good that I left that place! I will start a new life here! But no-o…! Problems will follow me here. Like I found a job, found a place where to live, but my girlfriend will think that I am an idiot even though she knew that I did my best in everything! So how do I feel now? I am extremely tired, I don’t care about anything, I don’t have any dreams, I just want quietly be alone and forget everyone,’ said Alex.

‘How did you meet John?’ asked June.

‘The John my landlord?’ asked Alex.

‘Yes, John Nutter,’ said June.

‘Oh I didn’t tell you how I came here. So I have paid a Latvian agency to find me a job in Britain. They found me a job and gave the details of the British company. The company wasn’t my new work place it was a recruitment agency. So they told me to come to Stansted Airport, that I will work in London, and that they will pick me up. When I arrived they guy who was waiting for me said that the plans are changed and he will take me to Newport,’ said Alex

‘What a change,’ said Colin.

‘Yes, it was crazy. From London all the way to who knows where! So he brought me in the night to a house in Mandee area. There were already living three Hungarians and two Lithuanians. I had a small room that didn’t have anything except a mattress. So my first night in Britain was in a dodgy house with no quilt or a pillow,’ said Alex.

‘Aww. You poor boy,’ said June.

‘Well that’s life. So then I started to work in the warehouse. The agency promised eight pounds an hour I was getting only six. Thanks to my knowledge of English language I had good relationship with the supervisors who were British. All the other workers like me they were mostly Polish and they had no knowledge of the language. So only that I knew the language helped me a lot. One day I spoke with one of the managers about does he know a place where I can rent a room as I am fed up to live where I was. As my house mates only buy alcohol on their wage. So that’s how I got to John Nutter’s place,’ said Alex.

After a small pause June said, ‘Thank you for telling us that Alex.’

‘Yes, thank you. By the way Alex how are your parents?’ asked Colin.

‘They are alright,’ said Alex.

‘Do they know what happened with you and Alina?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, they know,’ said Alex.

‘And what do they say?’ asked June.

‘Nothing. My parents are quite understandable. They just listened to what I said and they going to wait until I’ll phone them again,’ said Alex.

‘When was the last time you spoke with them?’ asked June.

‘More than a month ago,’ said Alex.

‘Ok,’ said June.

‘There is no point to call them, I don’t have any news. What will I tell them? That I am depressed and I don’t want anything,’ said Alex.

‘Well maybe you can share with them your problems,’ said June.

‘I don’t want to! They have their own problems,’ said Alex.

‘June, I think that Alex is an independent boy,’ said Colin to June, ‘Are you an independent man?’ Colin asked Alex.

‘I don’t know what you trying to say, but yes I am’ said Alex.

‘And you don’t want to be a pain to your parents,’ said Colin.

‘Of course I don’t,’ said Alex.

‘The problem is Alex I don’t see an independent man in front of me,’ said Colin.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Alex.

‘You say you were a good football player. Did you tell your team mates what to do?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, I was the captain,’ said Alex.

‘I think it is about time you tell yourself what to do,’ said Colin.

‘You know what?! This is getting stupid! Just tell me what do you want,’ said Alex annoyed.

‘You say that you are independent. Right? But you are fully dependent on your emotions. I know that we are human and sometimes we are feeling very bad and we can’t do anything. But you haven’t done anything now for two months!’ said Colin.

‘Oh, yes I did. I am working by the way,’ said Alex.

‘But have you done anything to change your life. Do you want to work forever in that warehouse! Ok, I understand. Have a month off, have the second month off. Try to make yourself feel better. But you said to us that you want to continue to live this way. So your two months of siting home didn’t bring you any benefits. You probably feel worse!’

‘It’s not true,’ said Alex.

‘I don’t care if it’s true or not. What I see is a strong young man who had great experiences in his life, probably with plenty of great experiences in the future, is sitting here and not doing anything,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, Colin if you are that smart tell me what do I need to do,’ said Alex.

‘You need to get a grip of your emotions…’ said Colin.

‘Oh, yeah as like it is that easy. Do you know how much pain I have inside of me?!’ said Alex.

‘Look I don’t mean you need to pretend that your emotions don’t exist. What I am trying to say is - have your emotions, feel bad, but don’t stop. Continue to work towards your dreams with your bad emotions and don’t let them to stop you.’

‘Look Colin I don’t have any dreams. My dream was to be a football player, but it didn’t happen,’ said Alex.

‘I believe that we have many talents inside of us. You just need to find your other ones,’ said Colin.

‘Look Colin I am not bothered really. Can I go home?’ said Alex.

‘Alex you said that you didn’t like it when your ex called you a loser, so why do you behave like one! Life got you down! So get up!’ said Colin.

‘Well what do you want me to do?’ asked Alex.

‘I already told you what!’ said Colin.

‘Yes, the amazing plan by Doctor Colin. The cheap rubbish what you said anyone can say that. Talk is cheap Colin,’ said Alex.

‘Calm down Alex, Colin only wants to help,’ said June.

‘Sorry June wait a minute,’ said Colin, ‘Ok, so you want a plan?’

‘Yes, if you are that smart I need some serious plan from you. What you told me I could read in any cheap magazine,’ said Alex.

‘Hm, so you want me to make a plan for you and you’ll do it?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, make a plan how I can get back on my feet and I will follow it. I don’t need just encouragement or friends I need to know what to do as I don’t know.’

‘Excellent I’ll make a plan for you,’ said Colin.

‘Ok,’ said Alex.

‘And I promise you, if you will stick to my plan you will get strong again,’ said Colin.

‘Deal,’ said Alex.

‘Ok. When do you think we can meet again?’ asked Colin.

‘Well no one rang me from the warehouse at the moment. So it means I am free tomorrow until twelve and then maybe they will phone me,’ said Alex.

‘Tomorrow is Tuesday, lovely. We can meet up tomorrow,’ said Colin.

‘Will you have enough time to make a plan?’ asked Alex.

‘Yes, I will,’ said Colin.

‘I’ll come at nine o’clock then,’ said Alex.

‘Sounds good to me,’ said Colin.

‘Me too,’ said June.

Colin and June accompanied Alex to the hall way to say goodbye, Alex put on his coat and left. Colin and June went into the living room to have a chat.

Sitting on the couch Colin asked June. ‘So what do you think?’

‘I don’t know. He needs to understand it’s not his fault,’ said June.

‘Yeah,’ sighed Colin.

‘Alex needs to understand that he is too young and everything will come in time. I remember how you were obsessed with your plans when you were younger,’ said June.

‘Yes, I remember,’ said Colin.

‘That’s what I think anyway,’ said June.

‘Yeah I agree. Let me think. To be independent? Hmph…You know, nothing comes to my mind,’ said Colin, ‘maybe Jeff can help?’

‘Jeff? What Jeff Stone! You want Alex to be a window cleaner?!’ asked June surprised.

‘Yeah, that’s the only way I can see how he can become independent and it’s the only thing I’m sure he can do,’ said Colin.

‘I don’t know. After listening to him tonight I don’t think he will be interested in that type of job,’ said June.

‘Why not?’ asked Colin.

‘He was a football player and he went to a business College, I don’t think he will like window cleaning,’ said June.

‘Well I disagree. Window cleaning will be his small business. And when he will sort himself out than he can decide what else does he want to do,’ said Colin smiling.

‘That’s a good point, hopefully you’re right,’ said June.

‘I don’t see any other option,’ said Colin.

After a stressful day, Colin and June decided to have an early night, ready for tomorrow.


The Plan

Colin opened his eyes and looked at the alarm clock on his bed side table, it was 6 o’clock. It was earlier than he usually got up but he didn’t want to awake June who was sleeping peacefully beside him. Colin quietly and slowly found his nightgown and slippers in the dark and crept down stairs. He went to the living room, put more coal on the fire and sat in his favourite chair that was directly in front of the fire. Colin’s mind started to settle and it became easier for him to think clearly and make a plan for Alex. Colin was wondering how Alex would be feeling this morning, and how he would speak with Alex and what he would say. Colin was so deep in thought he forgot to go on his morning walk for milk and a newspaper.

‘Colin?’ said June sleepy, coming in to the living room ‘what are you doing?’

‘Nothing, I’m thinking about what to say to Alex,’ said Colin.

‘I thought you would wake me up,’ said June.

‘I woke up at six, so I didn’t want to wake you,’ said Colin.

‘At six o’clock? But it’s nearly eight o’clock now. Were you thinking all this time?’ asked June surprised.

‘Yeah I was,’ said Colin yawning.

‘You are crazy,’ June turned around and went in to the kitchen, ‘shall I make you some breakfast love?’

 ‘Ok,’ said Colin.

After breakfast Colin waited for Alex in the living room, June went upstairs to read her book so Colin and Alex could talk alone. June thought this would help Alex to feel more at ease. At quarter past nine the doorbell rang. Colin took a deep breath and went to open the front door.

‘Good morning Alex!’ said Colin.

‘Hi Colin,’ said Alex.

‘Come on in, nice to see you,’ said Colin and closed the door.

‘It’s warmer than yesterday,’ said Alex taking his coat off.

‘Good the spring is coming. Do you want a drink or anything?’ asked Colin.

‘It’s ok. I just had my breakfast,’ said Alex.

‘Well then, let’s go in to the living room. Did you like the food you had yesterday?’ asked Colin walking to the living room.

‘Yes, thank you. It was good,’ said Alex, ‘Where is June?’

‘She is upstairs, reading her book, it’s a murder mystery she desperate to finish it,’ said Colin grinning.

Both of them sat down. For a while Colin was chatting with Alex about the recent news that he read in the newspapers.

‘News are horrible sometimes,’ said Alex.

‘Yes, people are changing our world very slowly,’ said Colin.

‘It doesn’t change fast because our world is crazy. You live, you struggle, you lose and you die. That is our life,’ said Alex.

‘Well I won’t be so negative,’ said Colin.

‘So you don’t agree with me,’ said Alex.

‘Well I agree that the world is tough, but I see many good things as well,’ said Colin.

‘Like what?’ asked Alex.

‘To answer your question tell me what do you hate about this world most of all?’ asked Colin.

‘Well I think that the main problem of this world is that it’s unfair. There is no justice! As well nothing depends on you. You can plan as much as you want, but people change and governments change. Everything is unstable,’ said Alex.

‘I agree with that. Life is unfair, friends leave you, and the governments lie. But Alex do you want to see and experience the good things in your life?’ asked Colin.

‘Colin I just told you everything yesterday. I think you understand why I can’t enjoy my life,’ said Alex irritated.

‘Yes, I know that life can be stupid sometimes. But why do you need to stop and think about it all the time,’ said Colin.

‘But what is the point of doing something when there is no proof that it will succeed,’ said Alex.

‘Ok. You think that life is bad because it’s very uncertain. I agree with that and sometimes it’s very scary, but my personal opinion is that it’s life and there is nothing we can do about it. Yes sometimes you cry and then the next day you can be happy. I had many different moments in my life and experienced many emotions that made my life interesting…’ –

‘Sorry Colin,’ interrupted Alex, ‘but what you are saying is just crazy. It doesn’t make any sense. How my life can be interesting with my problems,’ said Alex.

‘I didn’t say that we need problems to make our life interesting. I said that not knowing what waits for us in the future makes life more unusual. Alex, I am not trying to convince you that your problems are good for you. But it’s your life. That’s how it is. You can run away from it. Try to forget it. But it won’t help you. The only way is to face your fears and experiences. Learn from these situations and apply it in your life. You must keep moving forward…’ said Colin.

‘Well…’ said Alex.

‘To make your life happy,’ Colin interrupted Alex, ‘you need to have balance in your life. Don’t think that there is only one way to enjoy your life. In life you need to focus on many areas at the same time, only that will bring you happiness. People always try to focus on one area to make them happy - their family, the church, the money, work. Do you know why so many people are not happy in this world?’ asked Colin.

‘Because of problems,’ said Alex.

‘No. Problems come and go. You can always change your life. People are unhappy because they focus only on one thing in their life. When really we need everything – loving family, good work that we enjoy, be happy inside, have friends and good health. You need to have a balanced life. Do you know why only a small amount of people have a happy life?’ asked Colin.

‘No,’ said Alex.

‘It’s because the majority of people don’t have enough will and desire to change things. Many people say the most important thing in life is to work hard, well after living seventy one years I can say that working hard is not the priority. The most important thing is to be stress resistant,’ said Colin

‘Stress resistant?!’ said Alex

‘Yes. Stress resistance’ Colin repeated slowly ‘that’s the key to real success. You are only twenty two years old, but you know already that stress comes on a regular basis and it takes away all your power. Can you play football properly when you’re stressed?’ asked Colin.

‘No,’ said Alex.

‘Exactly. First of all you need to control stress and then you will be able to work properly. We know that it is impossible to get rid of stress, because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We can only be ready for it and not let it dictate to us what we do. This is one of the reasons why people are not happy. People can’t hold lots of stress. That’s why we always hear about rich people who have unhappy family life, or people with good family life, but in a very bad financial situation. It’s all because people focus on one thing, they can’t cope with all the stress, so they get busy with family or work or health and don’t develop other areas. We need to live life to the full. We need to have balance in our life and develop each area in our life only then we can be happy,’ said Colin.

‘But what is the point! If tomorrow will be another financial crisis or I will have a car accident,’ said Alex.

‘Well if to think like that you can dig your grave now,’ said Colin annoyed, ‘Alex do you know why I want to help you?’

‘Why?’ said Alex.

‘Because you instead of sitting home and blaming your country for your problems, you came to my country to try to change your life. Life made you feel that you are a loser, that you are nothing. And what did you do?! You stood up and showed that you will fight, but what is happening with you now?! I know that to be betrayed by your loved one is the most horrible thing to happen. But does it mean you need to stop living life and miss all the amazing things that are lying in front of you –

‘You know it sounds so good, but will I have it,’ said Alex.

‘Oh you will! You will, if you want to continue the fight and if you want to move on I will show you how to plan your life and how to try to predict what will happen, so all your efforts will bring benefits instead of wasted time. We can’t know everything. If we could, we would be like God. If you knew that you would have an injury would you continue playing football?’ asked Colin.

‘Of course not,’ said Alex.

‘Is it your fault that you didn’t know?’ said Colin.

‘No,’ said Alex.

‘Is it your parents fault?’ said Colin.

‘No,’ said Alex.

‘My personal opinion is if something bad happens to us that we can’t control, it’s not our mistake. If you did everything that depended on you and you still failed, what more could you have done?!’ said Colin.

‘You think so?’ said Alex.

‘Absolutely! People like to say that you are a loser when you fail, but many times we don’t fail it’s just things happen that we can’t control. A loser is a person who had all the possibilities, no sudden problems, but he still failed. I know it doesn’t sound good, but if you will continue as you are you will be a loser’ said Colin.

‘I am already a loser’ said Alex.

‘No, you are not’ calmly said Colin ‘let us think about it. Did you do the most to be a football player?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, I did,’ said Alex.

‘So you are not a loser then. How can you be a loser? In your situation people would have already fallen into depression. Giving all their life to football without any result, only injuries! But you still had the energy to finish your college, go abroad and start a new life!’ said Colin.

‘Well I don’t know.’ Alex smiled a bit.

‘I do,’ said Colin, ‘Ok let’s take another example where I think you knew what to do, but you didn’t. With your ex did you ever have the feeling that you needed to leave her?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes,’ said Alex.

‘Why didn’t you?’ asked Colin.

‘I just thought that if you love someone you need to forgive them,’ said Alex.

‘That’s right. I agree with that. But for me it’s hard to believe that your ex, for no reason, decided to find someone else. Did you have similar problems with her in the past?’ asked Colin.

‘Well she was acting suspiciously more than once,’ said Alex.

‘You see at that time you needed to think about whether she really loved you or not. You loved her, but in a relationship, especially marriage there needs to be love between two people, not one…’ said Colin.

‘I understand that, but what is your point?’ said Alex.

‘My point is even if you love someone very much you need to leave them if they don’t care about your feelings and thoughts,’ said Colin.

‘But how do you know when to leave?’ asked Alex.

‘Ok listen carefully. Mainly, in a relationship, if you truly love someone and you need to stop the relationship you might feel it’s your fault, even if it’s not your fault. Do you feel guilty after what happened between you and Alina?’ asked Colin.

Alex sighed, thought a bit and said, ‘Well yeah I feel a bit guilty.’

‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a normal feeling, that’s how we are. I will tell you an example that will help you to understand, that you don’t need to feel guilty and from the example you will see when to leave your partner. Imagine a very steep road on a hill with sharp bends,’ said Colin.

‘Ok,’ said Alex.

‘Imagine you live on the bottom of the hill and when you go to work you use the steep road to go over the hill. Your friend lives on the top of the hill and he goes down the hill to work. So you meet your friend each day. You go up, he goes down. He goes up, you go down. When you are driving you try to be very careful. The road is narrow with sharp bends so you are very focused. Do you expect your friend to do the same?’ asked Colin.

‘Yeah,’ said Alex.

‘Correct, you know that even if you will be super accurate nothing depends only on you. So imagine one day you drive and your friend was going so fast that on the turn he nearly bumped your car. Next day you drive and he does it again and slightly scratches your car. So in the evening you ring him to chat about it. He apologises and says he will be more careful. The next morning you are going up the hill and your friend drives fast out of the bend right into you. So you need to pull aside to avoid an accident and luckily you didn’t go down the cliff. So will it be your fault if you finish the friendship, stop using the same road and report him to the police?’ asked Colin.

‘Well of course it’s not my fault,’ said Alex.

‘The same is in a relationship. Family life is very nice, but at the same time very risky like that steep road. Both partners need to develop their relationship lovingly. If one of the partners is constantly hurts the other partner there is no way that the one partner can hold the relationship alone. You asked me how to know when to leave? Well the answer you can take from your own life and my example. If your partner does things that are bad for the relationship and they still continue to do them even after you asked them to be more careful, then probably it is time to leave. If you will wait too long, one day your partner will crash in to you and both of you will go over the cliff and you will have lots of pain and agony’ as Colin was speaking he noticed that Alex had tears in his eyes and a smile at the same time ‘and it happened to you Alex. Because you were waiting you now have enormous pain in your heart.’

‘You know Colin you are right,’ said Alex with tears in his eyes, ‘and thank you.’

‘What for?’ asked Colin.

‘For some reason I feel a bit better, a bit lighter,’ said Alex.

‘That’s good. You see life is very hard and it’s very hard to know when to do the right thing. And believe me you will have problems in the future. You just need to be ready for them. You need to be ready for stress! You need to be ready to take the hit! And I will do my best to help you to understand that not just our work is important, but it’s very essential to know that your efforts will bring the result. It’s very hard to predict what will happen in the future, but I will try to help you to do it and I will teach you how to research and plan,’ said Colin.

‘Colin?’ asked Alex.

‘Yes,’ said Colin.

‘Why do you want to help me? It’s just after all my experiences I lost trust in people completely. I know that people are good, but I just don’t want to bother with any one. So why do you want to help? What is the point?’ asked Alex.

‘There are a few reasons. First, I love my country and I want to show you that Great Britain is Great! This is the country where you can fulfil your dreams. Second, I am just tired of seeing how many teenagers are wasting their time and life being weak. There are so many teenagers in this country who don’t even realize how strong this country is. They are not interested in it. When I met you, you were a good, happy boy. But then when I saw your state yesterday I just thought that I need to help you and especially when you told me about your life. Alex you need to understand there is power in you. You came here to build your life and I don’t want you to stop. I don’t want you to live like the people from the warehouse where you were working. Many immigrants come here and just work all their life for six quid an hour, some of them even don’t learn the language. What a waste of a life! Britain is not just a stable six pounds an hour it’s much more and I want to show it to you. And I think, you will have the energy to do it,’ said Colin proudly.

Alex sighed, leaned back on the couch and looked at the ceiling. Colin didn’t say anything he was waiting for Alex to speak, but Alex was just looking at the ceiling and then at Colin and didn’t say anything.

‘So?’ asked Colin.

‘Just thinking,’ said Alex.

‘Thinking of what?’ asked Colin.

‘I don’t know. Its sounds good, but what shall I do?’ said Alex.

 ‘I will tell you what we will do. Do you want to hear the plan?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, I do,’ said Alex.

‘Will you follow my plan?’ asked Colin.

‘Well yeah if it’s a good plan,’ said Alex with a smile.

‘Ok. Do you have driving licence?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, I have,’ said Alex.

‘I know it’s a stupid question, but do you have any savings?’ asked Colin.

‘Like money?’ asked Alex.

‘Yeah,’ said Colin.

‘I do,’ said Alex.

‘You do?’ Colin was surprised.

‘Yes, I have saved some money before Alina came and we didn’t use it. And because I haven’t done anything since she went away I could save a bit more,’ said Alex.

‘How much do you have?’ asked Colin.

‘About four hundred pounds,’ said Alex.

‘Good, you have licence, you have some money. So here is the plan. I will help you and I will try to make you independent,’ said Colin.

‘Ok,’ said Alex.

‘With my plan I want to make you strong so you won’t be in this situation again,’ said Colin.

‘Excellent. I am listening,’ said Alex.

‘In the beginning of the next week I will have a chat with one of my friends. He has a cleaning business and I will ask him if he can take you on for one or two days a week. You will work for him. Gain experience, buy a car and you will become self-employed,’ said Colin happy.

‘Hm?’ Alex made a sound.

‘But before that you need to start doing some exercises. We need to get you back into shape, because after what has happened with your ex you have lost a lot of power. We need to get your spirit back,’ said Colin.

‘Wait, wait a second. Before “exercises” what did you say?’ said Alex impressed ‘self-employed, cleaning business, car. Uh, what will I do at your friends place?’ asked Alex.

‘If he will take you on, you will be a window cleaner,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, and self-employed it’s like I will work for myself?’ asked Alex.

‘Yes, that’s right,’ said Colin.

‘Will I make money just from cleaning the windows?’ asked Alex.

‘Yes, you will. It’s a good business in Britain, especially the last ten years. Of course it has negative sides, but we will sort that out’ said Colin.

‘Why do you think it will work?’ asked Alex.

‘I just think you need to be self-employed, be your own boss. You have all the qualities to work for yourself. And with window cleaning you will see that in Britain you can build a business from scratch, you will find out more about the local culture, people and language. And when you will be stable enough you will have time to start something else if you wish. I know window cleaning isn’t that appealing, but who cares?! If it will help you, do it. Like before retiring I was a sales manager for twenty years! Hated it! Never thought I would be in that situation, but it gave me the money I wanted so I did it,’ said Colin.

‘Sounds great, but I just don’t know what to say,’ said Alex.

‘Don’t worry Alex. If my friend will give you the job everything else will go smoothly,’ said Colin.

‘Wow great, thanks,’ said Alex trying to hide his smile and excitement.

‘And the last thing what you need to do is relax and cool down. I know it is easy for me to say, but without calming yourself down you won’t be happy. I don’t want you only to succeed in things, I want you to be fully happy and enjoy your life,’ said Colin.

‘I am relaxed,’ said Alex.

‘No, you don’t understand. I can feel that you have a lot of anger in you. You have anger towards your country, towards your ex, towards life. But you need to understand that your life is not just bad stuff. You have parents that are healthy, you have a job, you have a place to live, you have food, you are fine and now you have me and June. You have got lots of things to be happy about. I know you are upset about your past, but don’t allow it to control your life. Learn from your experiences and try to make your life better and happier,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, I see what you mean,’ said Alex.

‘Don’t try to be successful only to prove something to other people. Do it for yourself. Don’t allow anger to motivate you in your life, but allow love to motivate you. Otherwise when you will succeed you won’t feel true joy in your life,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, I understand,’ said Alex.

‘Let us go through it again. First you are doing morning exercises every day. Ok?’ said Colin.

‘Do I really need to? I don’t feel good,’ said Alex.

‘I know Alex, but yes, you need to. You need to make yourself feel strong,’ said Colin.

‘Everyday?’ asked Alex.

‘I don’t want you to do a lot. At least half an hour every morning is enough. A bit of running, a bit of stretching will be good,’ said Colin.

‘Well doesn’t sound hard, so, yeah I’ll do that,’ said Alex.

‘Good. Second you are starting to work for my friend. Third you are getting a car and starting your own business. Fourth you are chilling and trying to enjoy your life. And fifth, when you will get on your feet and be fully relaxed and happy then you can decide what you want to do next. You can continue with cleaning business or you can start something different. Remember Alex we people have many talents, if you are not a football player it doesn’t mean you can’t do something else,’ said Colin.

‘Ok, good, thanks Colin,’ said Alex.

‘Well it’s nearly eleven would you like to have some food with us?’ asked Colin.

‘Yeah, yes, thank you,’ said Alex shy.

‘Good. I will go and tell June. Do you like my plan then?’ asked Colin.

‘Yes, sounds great!’ said Alex.

Colin went upstairs to let June know that Alex is having food with them. Alex was sitting on the couch thinking about his feelings. He had positive emotions, because everything might be good and he will start again from scratch. On the other hand he had very bad feelings. His mind was telling him that it will be another waste of time, nothing will change and he will fail again.  Alex felt if he will fail again his heart will blame him for being stupid and not learning from his experience. But Colin’s words stayed in his mind, to learn from the past and use it to make a better future and there is no need to be afraid.

Colin was speaking with June upstairs. Colin asked if June can help to make some sandwiches. They came down, made the tea with sandwiches and went in to the living room to eat with Alex. Colin and June noticed that Alex was more open and relaxed. Colin was very happy that they had a good chat with Alex and everything went well. Now he really believed that Alex will manage.

When Alex came home he rang his parents, it had been a month since he last rang his parents.  He let them know that he is feeling better and he is dealing with leaving Alina. Alex also told them about his neighbour Colin, how he will help to get a job and maybe later he will help to start his own small business. From parents Alex found out that situation in Latvia wasn’t improving, but his father was able to find customers who wanted building work. As well maybe in the summer his father will go to Germany to one of his friends and they will work together, because people in Latvia have less money to afford repairs and renovations.

The next morning before going to work Alex got up earlier to go for a run. Even though he felt very good yesterday after the chat with Colin he felt sad as he woke up. He looked around his room and remembered how life was amazing when he was a football player. Alex thought “So much, so much I gave to football and there you are. Now I am in this rat hole. My friends think I am a loser, my fiancé cheated on me. Oh man what else will be happening with my life. But as Colin said I need to forget about my feelings and continue to live. Hopefully something will change with this Colin’s plan”. Alex unwillingly put on his exercise clothes and went for a quick run.