Meet The Family: Gorgito
In a new series of monthly blog posts, Meet The Family, I’m going to release some of the back stories for my main characters. And this month, we’re meeting the man who started it all off: the eponymous hero of my prize-winning debut novel Gorgito’s Ice Rink.
George Tabatadze was known throughout his life as Gorgito, or Little George. When he was young, that’s what his mother called him, and it stuck as a nickname, even though, ironically, he was a large man. He was born in the Georgian village of Tezi in April 1940. He never knew his father, who died fighting in WWII and was brought up by his mother and his sister, Maria, who was eight years older than him.
His eyes, which in later life were hidden behind tinted glasses, were dark brown and his hair was black, although at the start of the book, he was in his mid-fifties and there was a sprinkling of grey among the dark, tight curls. His skin-tone was swarthy, he had a hooked nose and a thick bushy moustache. At nearly two metres tall and more than 100 kilgrammes, he had the look of an aging weight-lifter.
He loved all classical music, especially opera, playing Mario Lanza loudly from his apartment at nights; smoked 30-40 Russian cigarettes per day and drank far too much vodka. His doctor warned him to drink less, quit smoking, look after himself; but he was having much too good a time to listen to such advice.
He was a mercurial and optimistic personality, always coming up with new schemes and ideas. When he got excited, he would wave his arms in the air and stutter slightly as his words fell over one another in their eagerness to make themselves heard. If anyone was perfect for tackling the challenges associated with building an ice rink in post-Soviet Russia, it was Gorgito Tabatadze.