So the fox is well and truly up and running again. In the three weeks since the last episode at the Russian Embassy, it has appeared in a political press conference in Russia, I have received an offer for a documentary to be made about it, and most tellingly, a followup letter has come from ‘Galina’ (the person who I was instructed to reply to in the original letter purporting to be from the Russian Embassy, as featured in article 7).
We’ll start with the new letter. There it is below, in all its glory.
Rank Peacocks!!!! Hahahahahahaha. That’s the absolute killer for me. And what a genius move it is to try and lure me to Lithuania.
Even though the letter has Lithuanian stamps and postmarks I’m now pretty sure this whole thing is the work of a methodical prankster who knows me well, and not, as I originally thought, the work of a Russian barnpot. It just seems too funny to be genuine.
But I can’t be certain. With all theories, there are things that don't quite add up.
The first thing that really confuses me is how the hell this person got hold of my London address. The first letter was sent to my parents’ address up north which makes a lot more sense, given it is where I’m registered for pretty much everything in life. Not too difficult to find. But the London address is a different story. I receive no correspondence here other than forwarded mail from my parents, and to date there is only one person who has been to my current London address.
The next factor to consider is the mention of the email address. It is indeed true I have an email address that pays homage to the overweight Ghanian enigma, Tony Yeboah. What a wonderful notion that he could be my agent - top marks to my correspondent for floating that one - but you’d assume the mention of it is because the sender will have dealt with me at that address at some point in the past. But the address has been active pretty much since Tony Yeboah was in his pomp so there are literally thousands of people it could be, and I guess it’s still technically possible that someone could have done some digging and just found it.
So who is this correspondent? These are the runners and riders:
John Dignum (8/1 favourite)
Dignum showed his hand as a suspect during the following text conversation after the Russian Embassy article was released:
Dignum has the time on his hands, the attention to detail, the grasp of language, and having done my company accounts in the past, my old home address. However, I cannot for the life of me work out how he would have managed to find my London address. That aside, he has the form.
The Lithuania proposal reminds me of a favoured pastime of his when we worked together, which was to turn the tables on internet scammers asking for money to assist with some kind of misfortune (all the rage in 2006) by setting up hoax meetings with them at nondescript European airports. I still chuckle to myself about the irate emails that came in from the Nigerian chap who’d gone all the way to Dusseldorf. There are some similarities here, but would Dignum be so careless as to show his hand in text correspondence? And why would he make it appear less likely that it was a Russian by using my almost-unknown London address? I thought he was better than that.
My Brother & His Mate Will (14/1)
On the grounds that my brother is the only person to have been to the address on the second letter, he’s a decent bet. But he’s got his cushy job in the public sector, he’s got his Observer crossword, he’s got all of his home improvements (it’s the kitchen at the moment)…. he’s always been the sensible one. Is he capable of this? Technically, yes. Could he really be arsed? I don't think so; but maybe just maybe one of his mates could be, perhaps with his help.
His mate Will would certainly be up to this. A quality writer and all-round wit, I can remember many years ago we received a letter to the family home with what we eventually identified as a blackbird’s foot sellotaped to it, qualified only by the caption: "Will became bored…". Between the two of them, they've got enough.
The Real Galina (33/1)
This really is the one. Just imagine if this was actually real? Is it possible that someone could have faked the original embassy letter just to get my attention, and then sent a genuine letter from Lithuania because there is indeed a legitimate need for the fox? It just seems too good to be true, but cannot be ruled out completely at this stage.
The Sandpaper Postcard Sender (100/1)
This would also be a joyous scenario. As I said to Dignum in the text correspondence above, no one ever owned up to this. How fantastic it would be if they’ve left me alone for 15 years but have now decided to inundate me again.
Wearside Jack (10,000/1)
Thoroughbred hoaxer, but not much form since the 1970s.
Putting the Whodunnit aside for a moment, there is further news on the fox front. It was with utter amazement this week that my ex-Russian tour manager posted up a picture from a political press conference, where an image of the fox wearing a brilliantly sharp suit (not the tweed number we made for him) was held up to the media. It wasn’t anything like the political shit storm with the communists and the ex-leader of the opposition - it was something jovial to do with the recess of the Russian parliament - but it’s pretty astounding that it’s still in the psyche of the nation’s politicians. Remember, it's a full four years since all that caper in the Kremlin!!
There is also going to be a short documentary made about the fox here in the UK. Watch this space.
But back to the Lithuania conundrum. Whoever this is (or could it even be multiple people?), the question remains… should I play along and go to Lithuania if the meeting is formally proposed?
I can’t say I know very much about Lithuania. As per Yeboah, the mention of Lithuania strikes yet another chord with my 90s football-addled mind, i.e. Lithuania was one of those teams that suddenly started popping up in qualifying groups for major championships after the fall of the USSR, and despite appearing to be no-hopers, they’d frustrate Scotland in a tired 0-0 draw, and Scotland being Scotland, that result would inexplicably deny them qualification to yet another tournament. It may never have actually happened but I feel like it should have done. I can just hear the commentary:
"You’ve really got to feel for Kenny Miller - he’s run his socks off but it just wasn’t to be for Scotland today."
"Such a brave campaign from Scotland, but in the end they just couldn't break down this stubborn Lithuanian defence."
There really are few things more tragic than the sound of a commentator trying to mitigate Scottish sporting failure.
Anyway, that’s basically what Lithuania says to me (if a country wasn’t on the world map at primary school then it somehow doesn’t really count….. know what I mean?). But despite my appalling ignorance of the place, I must say I’m tempted. It looks like this correspondent knows me well - they correctly assume that going to Lithuania on spec is exactly the kind of bait I might go for. Even if it is ultimately for a "This Is Your Life" moment where this trickster taps me on the shoulder at Vilnius airport and guffaws with laughter (whilst probably filming it), it’s still what I would regard as a decent day out.
I literally cannot wait for the next act, which I’m guessing will go something like this: "A person pretending to be an activist for safer sanitary products in Bashkortostan is going to request the delivery of a badly stuffed fox to Lithuania. They will do this by sending an email to an address which they probably know is mine but are pretending belongs to my agent - that 'agent' being, ex-Leeds United cult hero, Tony Yeboah."
Article by Mike Boorman
Read the rest of the fox story below: