The weather in Dortmund was hotter than hell. We lived in an apartment on the outskirts of the city, when I say ‘we’ I mean my husband Les and I. Les was a British soldier, who in 1982, was stationed in West Germany. We loved our home, which sprawled across the top floor of a big old building, but it had no air conditioning. On Sunday July 4th the temperatures soared into the mid nineties. Heat rises of course and by mid afternoon it was almost unbearable. The living room window, set into the sloping roof, opened to the sky and offered no relief. A slight breeze wafted through, but it was hot and filled with little particles of silver shimmering in the sunlight, courtesy of a huge chemical plant close by.
In an effort to soak up the sun I perched precariously on the window ledge, my legs dangling below me. The street by our apartment was almost deserted. The odd pedestrian that passed by and saw me on that scorching Sunday afternoon was either amused or horrified by my precarious position, as I sat half in and half out of the third floor attic window. One or two laughed and waved, others yelled up at me with alarmed voices, perhaps thinking I was about to jump to my death.
The British Army kept a presence in the country ever since WWII as part of the British Army of the Rhine. Tax benefits, cheap booze and the active social life in Germany made it a much sought after posting. Army quarters were hard to come by so we were forced to find an apartment within the German community. The British Army subsidized this of course with something they called ‘overseas rent allowance.’