Drunk Russians are calling up to me from the street. If they can smell my fear, I don’t know why they also blow kisses and wave women’s underwear that they’ve looted from the local Anne Summers.
You’d think I’m in downtown St. Petersburg, not a hotel just a few hundred yards from Manchester’s Town Hall. I’ve turned off the lights and I’m keeping well away from the window. The way these folk fire their small arms into the air, it’s easy to catch a chunk of shrapnel. In fact, as easy as it is to catch the lacy bras they keep throwing up here. Since the Rangers fans rioted last night, the Russians have decided to show them how it’s done. Tonight, the city has the air of the worst kind of African capital. Think Mogadishu but with canals and trendy coffee shops.
(And surely they don’t expect me to fit into anything less than a DD cup?)
I knew there was something wrong once the armoured personnel carrier dropped me at the office which sits in Manchester’s Chinatown, at the edge of the Gay Village. As soon as I ran down the tailgate, I realised there wasn’t the usual abundance of flamboyantly dressed men from the orient whistling to me. Just men with blue football scarves wrapped around their wrists. Or around their RPGs. Whichever was thicker.
‘It’s been like this all night,’ said Art, Eye of the Storm's producer, from beneath his desk. ‘Since they won the cup, the Russians have decided to take the city. The council offices fell at dawn and they’re now working their way towards the Ardale Centre with the intention of taking the last free Starbucks south of Bolton.’
‘Damn their post-Soviet hides,’ I cried and looked to grab the nearest gun.
‘It’s no use,’ said Art, clearly sensing my intention to make a stand. ‘They’ve put snipers in every Greggs The Baker.'
In Manchester that could only mean one thing. 'That's one killing machine on every corner!' I cried.
'Precisely. You better get back to your hotel and lock your door.’
‘But there’s nothing we can do?’
‘Just flee the city at the earliest opportunity, Richard, and be sure to tell the world our story,’ said Art, tears in his eyes.
And what a story that is! I can confirm that Manchester has fallen to the Russians and as the bullets and bras fly outside my hotel window, I'm waiting for darkness to fall. I'll either escape or be captured by men who want to dress me in undersized brassieres.
I don't know if I'll make it home. In fact, you might even say that it's either London or bust...