Fischer (USA, right) playing chess with Spassky (Russia, then USSR, left) in 1972 in Iceland. A family member recently bought me a super book about this called “The Sporting Scene: White Knights of Reykjavik” by George Steiner. The picture is from

Предложение для двух документальных фильмов телевизор

When I was a boy the world was dominated by a dual superpower system between the USA and the USSR.  I went to secondary school, the Royal Grammar School in Guildford in the UK (the same school that Monty Python’s Terry Jones went to decades before) in 1989, just as that dual superpower system changed.  Today, the world is a more complex and multipolar one, particularly with the rise of the other BRICs (Brazil, India and China) along with Russia.  When I was a boy, it seemed at times to be a kind of chess game between the USA and USSR and that was part of why I learnt a bit of Russian at the age of 11 in 1989 when my mum bought me the old BBC Russian course which was very thorough indeed.  I also remember very clearly spending enormous amounts of time playing both sides in the computer game Balance of Power written by Chris Crawford which came out in 1985 when I was seven years old.

Which takes me to a proposal for two programmes where I basically get to suffer the awful pains of travelling round the world, like Michael Palin for his superb BBC series, but with the primary focus on literature and on interviews with other writers.

My first proposal is to travel across Russia, primarily via the Trans-Siberian railway, interviewing Russian writers and a few other interesting people.  Then my second proposal is to travel across the USA, primarily by Greyhound bus, interviewing American writers.  I love both Russian and American literature very deeply indeed and have a great deal to learn about both traditions.

And that’s it.  Obviously I am open to the view that this proposal is basically one that fulfills my own pleasure principle.  I suggest if I had the right research team and camera-crew, though, we might cook up something of some interest at this time of world changes that is, arguably, as profound – though different from – those of 1989 and the end of Communism.  And I suspect that the views and perspectives of people in Russia and the USA about what their countries are like today, in literary terms and beyond, may unearth some interesting parallels as well as contrasts and may reap some interesting reflections over what has happened in the past two decades.

The picture below is called

and features my friend Cvetanka Jaguz in the middle.  I took the images from Wikipedia open source sites apart from the one of Alexander Blok which is from the “Bhopal Post”.  The image of Cvet is by Walter Violani.