"Thanks to God," said the face from the top of the steps. "You don't look like Ukrainian. Can you speak English? Wait one moment." I continued walking, recognising the set up, but he caught up anyway. "I'm a Christian, not scammer. I know a man in Southampton. You know it? His mother was very sick with cancer but, thanks God, she's ok now. I'm very happy to meet you. Nobody in Odessa is friendly. I'm guide but there are no tourists in this season and I need money for a bus to my city."
I made excuses, he persisted for a while, then shook my hand before walking away. I felt slightly guilty until I got to school. "Knitted hat? Friend in Southampton?" asked my neighbour in the staff room. "He spun me the same story twice the same week." "Not that bloke again?" said a voice from behind.