My Working World: E is for…
Last month, I struggled to find places beginning with D in which I had worked, and ended up with one country and three cities. This month is going to be even harder. There are eight countries in the world beginning with E. I have visited only two of them; and by no stretch of the imagination could Christmas in Egypt or a long weekend with my niece in Estonia be described as work. I could resort to linguistic tricks and talk about the few times I worked in Espana, but then, what would I do when I get to S, which should be in May 2020?
Consulting the list of cities with over one hundred thousand inhabitants, I find just sixty-six beginning with E. I have visited precisely three of them, all in the UK, and the closest I can get to working is that Exeter is just ten miles up the road from here and so it could be suggested that I work there all the time. So it looks as though I’m going to have to resort to linguistics after all. Back in September last year, the final part of Snapshots of Russia was about Yekaterinburg, a city quite far to the east. I described a visit to the theatre and the effect it had on my mood. But there’s another way of spelling that city’s name…
With a population of around 1.5m people, Ekaterinburg is the third largest city in Russia, after Moscow and St Petersburg. Situated in Asia, to the east of the Ural Mountains, some 1400km from Moscow, it was established in the early eighteenth century and named for Catherine the Great. Between 1924 and 1991, it was known as Svedlovsk, but returned to its original name after the fall of the Soviet Union.
For many people, the city is best known as the place where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were imprisoned and executed by the Bolsheviks in 1917, just days before the arrival of the White Russians who could have saved them. I have visited the Cathedral on the Blood which now stands on the site of the Ipatiev House, where the Royal family met their tragic end. It is a light, airy building with sparkling cream paint and brighly coloured icons; yet there is an air of menace in the background, which one day I will certainly use in a novel.
During Stalin’s time, the city became a centre for heavy industry and it remains so to this day. The company I was working with was in the process of modernising their facilities and seemed to be making a pretty good job of it although it was a little difficult to judge, since the facility wasn’t even finished, let alone operating at the time of my visit! Imagination was definitely called for when auditing this particular factory. There was a lightness of atmosphere and a forward-looking approach to modern manufacturing requirements that was refreshing. The industry as a whole was still mired in the grip of bureaucracy and central control, but this far from the capital, it seemed to have less of an affect.
I was going to repost the piece I wrote last year, but that’s not really necessary, is it? If you would like to read it again, you can find it by clicking here.