What pegman saw : In the shadow of St Basil’s


5 Red Square, Moscow, Russia


His accent was heavier than I’d expected, voice gravelly from endless Asmoloff cigarettes, the buzzing line making him sound distant. ‘Meet me at the cathedral.’

I crossed the glittering Moskva towards the Kremlin hunched on the other bank – a red brick play fort on a grand scale. Broken down Ladas and Volgas zipped like grounded wasps along the bridge, the occasional Mercedes and Bentley, windows blacked out.

The biting cold made me feel my foreignness most – how my movements stiffened, my cheeks turned to drum skins – while the locals negotiated the ice slicked streets with quiet doggedness.

Standing in the cathedral’s shadow, I craned to see the onion domes, let the golds and reds, the zigzags and swirls warm me, distract me from my jangling nerves.

A hand gripped my elbow. Jutting eyebrows, a jaw to match. That familiar, guarded look in the coal grey eyes.

‘Hi Dad,’ I said.


Written for What pegman saw, a writing prompt based on Google Streetview. This week, a stunning shot of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow … and a hint of Cold War mystery. See here to join in and to read the other stories.





26 thoughts on “What pegman saw : In the shadow of St Basil’s

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 Not quite sure what her dad’s doing there, though I wonder if he’s a relic of the Cold War who’s ‘turned native’ … Thanks for the great feedback

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Iain. Yes, I think Dad might be a remnant of the Cold War, abandoned in the field and gone rogue – what do you think? The street view was fantastic – the buildings, the space. Moscow looks like an amazing city

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe a double agent who had to flee to Moscow during the Cold War like Philby et al.? Would love to visit Russia, a fascinating country – not sure what the travel advice is at the moment though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, one of Philby’s lot, or someone undercover who was sucked into staying by a woman – it’s always a woman that spoils things! Russia does look amazing – but I don’t think it’s on my list of countries to visit soon 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question James and a valid one. I think they met when she was tiny but not since, so it may as well be the first time. They really don’t know each other, that’s for sure. And for some reason, I think she’s more keen to kindle a relationship than he is …


    1. Ah, thanks Lorraine. Problem with Moscow, I can’t help but give a taste of every spy movie I’ve ever watched – a bit of John le Carre etc 🙂


    1. Thank you Rochelle. I think perhaps he’s a remnant of the Cold War, too entrenched in Russian life to return to the West – and perhaps less keen than his daughter to renew connections. Thank you for the kind comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. my cheeks turned to drum skins – This line truly captures the feeling of extreme cold.
    I love how this story took me through a bitter cold tunnel from “spy novel” to a meeting with Dad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thanks so much Alicia. Glad the bluff worked … Or was it a bluff? I imagine Dad to be an ex spy, a left over from the Cold War. Maybe he was dark secrets to tell 🙂


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