Monday, 6 July 2009


This was one of the tips which Nick, John's control, gave him at the beginning of his career. Whenever John visited Moscow he was reminded of his maiden great aunt whom he used to visit regularly and counted on to utter her favourite expression: "while you are here could you just" (change a light bulb, clear the gutter, dig the garden, etc, etc). She was unfailing in that comment and the request to follow. In Moscow it was "while you are here could you just", and then came a series of requests not quite so banal as John's maiden aunt's requests. The KGB requests involved infiltrating groups of tourists, reporting on the black marketering going on in Moscow, and on several occasions to infiltrate Western embassies. In connection with these extramural activities John became noticed by the local Police and Second Directorate and was picked up once or twice on suspicion. On those occasions John defended his English tourist status and was grateful that the Hotel Rossia was in the habit of retaining foreigners passports which in John's case would not have displayed a visa obtained in London. On one of these occasions John asked Nick what he should do if picked up by the local police again. Nick taught John the Russian words:

Все Ваши вопросы будут даны в первой половине дня

Which mean, the title of this blog post. John was later picked up and these words had a magical effect on the officers who had taken him to the Police Station. Suspicious faces changed immediately, first to surprise and then to big smiles. The rest of the versions of this magical phrase were either learnt, or the most difficult written down, and whenever John was asked to pass through or to visit any of the countries of the Eastern Bloc, he would either speak the words or show the piece of paper. This saved John's bacon on a number of occasions. He visited all the countries below:

всичките ви въпроси ще бъде отговорено на сутринта

všechny vaše otázky budou zodpovězeny v dopoledních hodinách

kõikidele küsimustele saab vastata hommikul

kaikkiin kysymyksiin on vastattu aamulla

alle Ihre Fragen beantwortet werden in den Morgen

minden kérdést kell megválaszolni, reggel

visus jūsu jautājumi tiks atbildēts no rīta

visus jūsų klausimus bus atsakyta ryte

wszystkie pytania będą odpowiedzi, rano

toate întrebările dumneavoastră va fi răspuns în dimineaţa

сва Ваша питања ће бити одговорено у јутро

všetky vaše otázky budú zodpovedané v dopoludňajších hodinách

vsa vaša vprašanja bomo odgovorili v jutro

на всі ваші запитання буде дано відповідь у першій половині дня

We have received a number of questions about the blog so far (through private channels) and to all those people all we can say is "all your questions will be answered (not in the morning but) as soon as possible".


  1. words are in Ukrainian language, not Russian.

  2. You are quite right and they are now corrected. Thank you!

    I was never allowed to speak Russian or Bulgarian, although I applied to attend the Russian and Bulgarian primer courses for foreign students attending Moscow and Sofia Universities. I was not allowed to learn languages for "operational" reasons, the idea being whilst in some foreign country as an English travelling salesman, or whatever, it was not a good idea to possibly lapse into Russian or Bulgarian either in drink or under interrogation. Therefore, I learnt the magic phrase parrot-wise and phonetically as follows in Russian: OTVET NA VSE(c)H VOPROSA(c)H BUDET ZAVTRA and in Bulgarian: NA VSICHKI BASHI VAPROSI SHTE BADE OTGOVORENO UTRE SUTRIN

    The KGB were always anxious to preserve 'plausible deniability', and therefore I could not be linked with them in the event of any sort of disaster.

  3. as a russian mother tongue speaker I can tell that the Russian rendition of this phrase is *absolutely* grammatically and photetically and culturally incorrect. Maybe you wanted to say "утро вечера мудренее" ???

  4. I will pass your advice onto Nick, and I expect he will advise all his agents to wear rustic clothing and adopt bumpkin accents, and if pulled in seriously pronounce their piece of peasant wisdom "oo aah the morning be wiser than the evening, oo aah that it be," tapping their nose with their fingers whilst speaking the key words. And by the way your spelling is "absolutely atroshus".