Walk in the Park – Chapter Ten – Indecent Exposure?

Back to my story.  This gives an insight of the British Squaddie in Germany and his sense of humor.  They really were good times.  Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until we don’t have it anymore. Life has its ups and downs, it is how you handle the ‘downs’ that counts.  Enjoy the next installment and remember, comments always welcome. Lets start off with a ‘Scouse/Liverpudlian’ joke.

Why does the River Mersey run through Liverpool?                  

 If it walked it would get mugged.  

Bless em all!

Chapter Ten

I heard a car horn tooting downstairs and looked out of the window to see our little white Datsun parked there. It should have been renamed ‘the little car that could’.  It had been driven back and forth between Germany and England several times, at one point with a washing machine in the back.  It was a very small, very popular in the eighties though, it was called a 120y. It was sporty looking little car with a ‘go faster stripe’ down the side. Anyone who had a car in the eighties knew what one of those was. We loved that car, which I am sure we paid over the odds for, from a car dealership in Blandford, Dorset. He looked like a crook, and probably was, but we just had to have that car.

With a blue vinyl roof and a blue stripe - this could have been our car

I ran downstairs and jumped in the passenger seat, and gave Les a big sloppy kiss on the cheek, which he immediately rubbed off, not being the affectionate type. He looked bleary eyed and grumpy after his overnight guard duty, so it was a quiet ride to work.  Happy Monday World!  I hoped he was going to get a couple of hours sleep before he went back in or it wouldn’t be a very enjoyable evening. Oh well, it was what it was. The Monday morning traffic was awful, which made Les’s mood even darker. By the time we got to the Barracks where I worked, his mouth was tightly closed and I couldn’t even get a ‘Goodbye’ out of him.  I got out of the car and walked across the cobbles to work. My good spirits had gone and I felt quite sad.  It was funny how the only person in your life who made you happy, was also the only one who could bring you down, even without speaking. The kitchen at the YM was a hive of activity.  I was preparing food and drinks for my ‘NAAFI Wagon’ run and the rest of the staff were preparing food to serve at breakfast and lunch for those hungry solders that stayed on camp to eat.  Because of its convenience, this little canteen was popular, and over the lunch period, filled with laughing chattering Squaddies.  

I worked with a great bunch of girls who all came from different backgrounds with one thing in common.  They were married to someone in the British Army. We were a melting pot of Scots, Welsh, Liverpudlian, even the odd German (and believe me the German’s were pretty odd). We all laughed and joked while we worked.  

I loaded up my big yellow van with sandwiches, coffee and tea urns, and the latest magazines, and off I went on my daily route around the different barracks selling tea, coffee, and sharing stories and jokes.  The guys used to give me a hard time, just because they could, nothing too bad, but always jokes at my expense.  I remember one particular day, when the two doors at the back of my van opened and a guy jumped in and appeared to be ‘flashing’ his unmentionables.  I screamed of course, and threw something at him.  I looked behind him to see all of his friends laughing, some sitting on the parade ground,  tears running down their cheeks. The ‘unmentionables’ were fake, made from rubber, but looked so real at first glance.  I laughed too, it still makes me smile when I think about it. 

Remembering this lifted my mood a little, and by my very last stop of the morning, I was starting to feel a little more cheerful.  I parked my van and opened the hatch, while my customers wandered across to me, I shook the two urns to make sure I still had tea and coffee left, I did!  I straightened up the magazines and turned around to greet my first customer.  

It was that funny American guy, who always asked for a fat pill, or a jelly doughnut.  He made me laugh once I got used to him, and realized both a fat pill and a jelly doughnut were his interpretation of a jam doughnut.  I hadn’t met many Americans, who knew I would end up being one.

German Ghost Story

Dortmund - Borsigplatz

 I told you I was getting organized with a come back, and here it is. This is a story I am currently working on, not finished yet, but close. I was lucky enough to find a photograph of Borsigplatz (don’t you just love google) so hopefully this will give some perspective to my story.  This round-a-bout was just about three blocks from where we lived, it’s where the supermarket and restaurants were. I may go back and visit one day.

 I think I am going to call this story ‘A walk in the Park’, but that could change. I was not going to post this story on my blog, but it actually helps me with my first edit if I do.  This story brings back a lot of memories and reminds me of how exciting life was back then. Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE

It was July 4th 1982 and the weather in Dortmund was so hot it was almost unbearable.  There was no air conditioning and we lived in the Penthouse (so to speak), well at least it was the very top floor of an old building that had been turned into apartments. Heat rises of course, so it felt hotter than hell.  There was no balcony, the window in the living room was actually in the sloping roof, and opened up to the sky.  This window was wide open, but only let in hot air and little particles of silver that shimmered in the sun and although very pretty, I can’t be sure if it was good for the lungs. The shimmering silver shower was courtesy of the huge chemical plant that was less than a mile away.  I probably shouldn’t mention the name of the plant in this litigious society, but it was one of the largest suppliers of pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial chemicals in Europe, the US and Asia. I have to say, I have suffered no health issues from my proximity to the chemical plant, nor has anyone else to my knowledge, but the shower was certainly a spectacle. On that particular day I sat in that rooftop window and with my legs dangling over the ledge and watched the street below. It was a Sunday afternoon and there weren’t many passers-by. I am guessing that people were staying in their homes and away from the heat of the day.  Those people who did pass by were both amused horrified at my position, half in and half out of the window on the third floor of the building.  Those people who looked up either laughed at me and waved as they passed by, or yelled up at me with alarmed voices.  I had no idea what they were shouting about of course, I had only been in the country for a few months and not quite mastered the language yet. Maybe they thought I was about to jump.  My meager knowledge of the German language could get me by in bars (beer and wine was easy to order), or shopping and I could even get around on the local trams, but someone shouting up at me in German?  I just waved down at them and smiled causing most to continue walking shaking their heads as they did so. 

            Let me tell you a little bit about where I lived. The street was called Robert Strasse, and the area was Borsigplatz.  I am sure that spelling is wrong as it’s been a while since I had to write or talk in German.  I loved living there though.  Borsigplatz was an Italian area on the outskirts of Dortmund. Les was in the British army, and due to the lack army housing at the time, we were given what was called ‘overseas rent allowance’ to pay for an apartment.  Luckily Borsigplatz was only a short drive, or tram ride to the both the military base where Les was stationed and the military base on which I worked. We were very happy to find this place, which had been recently renovated.  With the help of a German-speaking friend we negotiated a good price and moved in with our scant furniture.  It really was my dream apartment and much nicer than the army accommodation!  It was on the top floor of a three-story L shaped building and ours was the only door on the top floor so we had some privacy. The living area was beautiful, up in the attic with a sloping ceiling. Stained beams divided the living area and eating area. There were two small bedrooms, a very small kitchen and a small modern bathroom. The living room itself was snug and was just big enough for our typically English overstuffed three-piece suite, a coffee table and our TV. Of course back in the eighties we also had two video recorders, a VHS and a Betamax.  Does anyone still know what a Betamax is??? I swear those machines were way better than the VHS recorders, but VHS were the ones that survived.  Now they are a relic of the past as we use DVD’s and Blu Ray.  How quickly times change. 

 

 

A fond farewell and my first rose.

My first rose

So here we are, at the end of another story.  This one was quite different to most of my others.  Softer, more emotional, and mostly true.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I am taking two weeks vacation from my blog so if you want to keep up with my travels, check out my other blog ‘travelwithsandra.wordpress.com’ (Travel Tales and Mishaps) just click on the link to the right hand side of this blog.  I will be back with new stories and adventures at the end of August.  I still have a lot to write about so don’t give up on me.  Enjoy the last chapter of my snowy Ghost Story and thanks for checking in.

CHAPTER EIGHT

It took about another forty five minutes to get to the A1. The truck pulled over into a service station and I stopped behind it to say my goodbyes once again.  This time I thought I was going to cry.  It had been a very full day already, almost ending badly, but thanks to some old lady I had never met, my guardian angel and the British Army, everything turned out alright. I really had some powers on my side today.  I got out of the car and thanked Corporal Whitesmith and the truck driver for their help.  Sgt Davies appeared from nowhere and gave me a hug, before yelling orders to anything around him that moved (and a few things that didn’t).  Steven looked at me and laughed, “Welcome to my World” he said. We hugged again, to the sound of wolf whistles from passing soldiers.  It looked like an army invasion at the service station as the combat clad group all ran to use the toilet and buy magazines etc. It was still snowing, but not so badly now.  Steven helped me knock the thick layer of snow from my headlights which were currently almost useless. As everyone started getting to their trucks and doors were slamming we shared another friendly kiss and then we parted ways for the last time. Maybe we would meet again (don’t know where don’t know when), who knew?

            I watched all of the trucks pull away, feeling quite emotional about my whole situation.  When the last of the army trucks pulled away I got out of my car and went across to the service station to use the toilets and buy some drinks and snacks for the rest of my journey.  It had taken me longer to get to the A1, than my original journey to Thetford yesterday. Was that only yesterday?  Wow, a lot had happened in two days. The snow had slowed things down, but on the other hand, I had seen Steven again.  I almost felt protective towards him, he was so strong, and smart, but so vulnerable too.  People in the early seventies weren’t so kind or forgiving to people they didn’t understand.

            I could see the cars speeding along the over pass, which was the A1, so after filling up with petrol, I set off for the last part of my journey.  I had only been on the motorway for about fifteen minutes when the snow stopped, and the further north I got, the less snow there was.  It seems like it was one of those isolated storms, for which I was greatly relieved.  The drive home was extremely easy. No more snow, motorway all of the way, I went into a semi trance like state, the way you do on long journeys and re-lived the weekend.  I had set off to meet up with a ‘pen pal’ who turned out to be gay, but very nice.  I drank lots of champagne. I sort of got engaged, well I suppose technically I was engaged. I met the ghost/spirit of someone’s grandma, well I didn’t actually see her, just felt her and heard her, in my head at least. I stayed in a really nice old Inn, which I had actually seen several times on the television. All in all, it was a good weekend. A little over three hours later I arrived at Gatherly round a bout, which meant my motorway journey was over and I was almost home.  A good thing too because it was starting to get dark and I didn’t have much petrol left, and no money to buy more.  Credit cards weren’t used back in those days, well not by people like me anyway.  Ten minutes from home, what a relief, I was tired. Too much champagne the  night before too. I didn’t have a hangover, but I was pretty thirsty.  As I pulled up outside our house I saw my mum looking out of the window, she was obviously a little worried about me.  My brothers Ford Capri was parked outside too. My brother liked his cars, and the Ford Capri was pretty special, although he said he was going to change it soon.  I liked it a lot and wished I could afford to buy it from him.  It was gold with a black vinyl roof.  I walked around to the back door with my little bag and my Bobby opened it before I got there.  He was surprisingly pleased to see me, usually he wasn’t too bothered about me at all. “You did a good job driving in that snow” he told me “We saw it on the television, it was awful, good job Sheila” he said, then he put his coat on and left.  I was touched!

            My mum, as always, put the kettle on. “We ate at lunch time, do you want a lamb sandwich?” she asked “Oh yes please, I would love one, any mint sauce?” I replied.  My mum busied about making me something to eat and my dad came in and sat in the kitchen and had a cup of tea with me while I ate. “So how was your trip to see your pen pal? Did you hit it off, is he your boyfriend now? Wait a minute are you engaged?” I forgot about the ring!  I was caught completely off guard.  I couldn’t really tell him I had spent the weekend with a gay man, neither my mum or dad would really understand that, I actually started laughing. My dad looked at me puzzled. “No Dad, I am not engaged, this is Steven’s Grandma’s ring, I am wearing it because he wanted me to. We had dinner with his Sergeant and Steven is trying to impress him because he is due for a promotion.  His Sergeant thinks family men do better in the army so we pretended to be engaged for the evening, and I just forgot to give the ring back” My dad took a closer look at it. I don’t think he really believed my story.  He probably though I wore it so we could get away with pretending to be engaged so we could have a ‘dirty weekend’. He gave me one of those disapproving looks. “Nice ring though” He said.  “Did you hit it off with the young man? Do you think you will get together again?” My mum had just put a cup of tea in front of me and a big doorstep of a lamb sandwich. Between bites of my sandwich and slurps of tea, I told him we got along OK, but Steven was very career oriented and probably didn’t have much time to think about girlfriends right now, but we would continue to write.  My dad seemed satisfied.

            We sat and chatted a while longer, idle chat about what was happening with the woman down the road, who had lost their cat, village scandal etc. and then I told them I was really tired, which wasn’t a lie.  It was only about eight o clock, but I went to my room.  I unpacked my case and to my surprise and pleasure, I found a bottle of champagne with a rose lying next to it.  The rose was a little worse for wear, but what a lovely thought.  Steven must have slipped them in there, what a shame he was gay.  I put the champagne in the fridge, to keep for a special occasion, and pressed the rose in one of my big books.  It was the first time anyone had ever given me a flower so I wanted to keep it forever.  The very first rose, who knew, it may be the last one.

            I got washed and ready for bed, but before going to sleep, I sat propped up with cushions and started writing a letter.

Dear Steven,

            Thanks for a great weekend, it wasn’t quite what I expected, but I really had a good time.  I hope we are friends forever.  I hope you feel comfortable enough to confide in me and let me help you in any way I can.  You are a great person, and have a lot of obstacles to overcome, I know you can do it.  I hope you made it back to Germany safely.

Take Care and Keep Writing!

 

Your very good friend (and fiancée)

Sheila

 

The letter seemed inadequate, but I had to write something, I really did want to meet up with Steven again. He was gay and I was odd!  It made a good combination! Us against the world! I yawned, maybe I was tired.  I put the letter in an airmail envelope and addressed it, ready to post the following day. I dropped it on the floor next to my bed and settled down to sleep. Before sleep took over, I once again saw a light, a soft light by my bed. There was no shape and no sound this time. Just a gentle comforting glow! I think I may have attracted another visitor, but I had a feeling she was friendly. Comforted by this thought, I slept.

IS THIS THE END?

MAYBE NOT!

Convoy!

I couldn't see and I was very scared

One more chapter to go after this! Attached is a photo that attempts to capture my journey back from Thetford.  I remember the blizzard being much worse that this, but you get the idea.  Norfolk is known as ‘Little Holland’ because it is completely flat.  I felt like I was driving on a huge ice rink and I was truly terrified.  With little driving experience, I slowly ploughed my way through the driving snow, thinking at any second, I would end up in a canal. Tears rolled down my cheeks, but I kept going.  Want to see what happens?  Keep reading.

Chapter Seven

It seemed like I had been on the road for hours, crawling along in the awful blizzard at about fifteen miles an hour.  I glanced at my watch, it had been just over an hour, I had probably only driven about twenty miles.  The blizzard continued.  If someone was watching over me, and helping me through this (if I had actually heard a voice and wasn’t hallucinating or having some sort of ‘flash back’”) why couldn’t they stop the snow?  I laughed a little, who did I think was watching over me, God?  I think he had much more important people than me to take care of. I laughed a little more, that was a good sign, I had my sense of humor still. BANG, my car hit something! I skidded a little and then braced myself for a splash, feeling sure I was going to end up in the icy canal. The car stopped! I think it only skidded sideway a little. I couldn’t see what I had hit. It felt like my left wheel so I had probably been driving half off the road and hit a rock or something. I shifted into first gear and pulled forward, the left side of my car was on rough ground, I had definitely come off the road now.  I slowly eased forward, but my wheels were just spinning, I was going nowhere.  I started to cry. The light at the back window had gone, I was alone again. Or maybe not!  I looked at the ariel on the side of my car, there was something tied to it.  It was a pink ribbon, my guardian angel was with me.  If I had ever doubted this little girl, I didn’t anymore, I had seen her or felt her once or twice (I thought), but usually before something happened. I hoped if something was going to happen now, it was going to be something good!

            I heard something other than the storm behind me, it was loud!  Now I did feel scared, I almost felt the ground shaking. Whatever was approaching was BIG! If it wasn’t for the flatness of my surroundings, I would have thought it was an avalanche. I really was scared. I saw a huge shape emerging out of the snow. It was big and dark, I had no idea what it was, but it was about to finish the job of pushing me into the canal……! I leaned on the car horn in the middle of my steering wheel. I honked and honked, not sure why, or if anyone would hear me, but I needed to make some noise…..my yellow car was usually noticeable, but I guessed that at the moment, I looked like nothing more than an igloo at the side of the road. I tried to pull away, but my wheels were just spinning and I was sliding sideways. I was going to get out of the car and run, but what good would that do, I couldn’t really see where I was going anyway.  I would be lost in the blizzard in no time.  The noise stopped.  I looked in my rearview mirror, the shape was still there, but not moving.  I sat motionless, wondering what to do. I daren’t try to pull away again because I knew I was perilously close to the canal. “knock knock” SHIT! I almost wet myself.  Someone was tapping on my window. Dumbfounded, I wound down the window and just sat there looking at a soldier standing in the snow. Where the heck had he appeared from?  I must have looked stupid because the soldier looking in at me shouted for a medic.  Then I started to laugh and cry all at the same time, what an idiot. The huge noisy shape behind me was a four tonner.  I was being followed by a convoy.  I told the soldier I didn’t need a medic, I was OK, just scared because I didn’t know these roads and had skidded and couldn’t get going again.  He told me he was going to pull me back onto the road with his big truck and I would be OK.  I started to get out of the car and he told me to stay put. “It’s a bit slippery love, and there’s a big old canal just down the bank here. We don’t want to be fishing you out of there” ‘Too True’ I thought.

            So I sat in the car, with the engine running, nice and warm, but a little apprehensive as the squaddie tied a tow rope to the front.  He ran to the front of the big truck and gave thumbs up sign to the driver, who then began to slowly pull away.  The rope trailed along the ground for  a little way and then was taut, the was a funny creaking  noise that felt like it was coming from the chassis of my car, it felt like the car was going to break in half, and then, miraculously, it moved. I was slowly pulled back onto the road. The truck pulled me forward for a little way until the car straightened up and then he stopped.  I was so incredibly relieved.  Ron (Corporal Whitesmith) came back and untied the rope from the front of my car, and threw it into the back of the four tonner, he then came back and said “Looks like you are going to be part of my convoy darling, just until we get to the A1, then we are heading south and I think you are going north” “Who told you I was going north?” I asked “He did” replied the young Corporal and pointed to someone across the other side of my car.  With that the door opened and Steven got in. It was pretty funny actually, he looked quite embarrassed.  Not sure if it was because I had to be pulled out of a snow drift or because he had to kiss a girl again, but I threw my arms around him and gave him a big hug.  “I can ride with you until we get to the Motorway” he told me.  He looked quite pleased about it too.  I was more than pleased, I was thrilled.  I thought I was going to die on that long straight road, now I just had to follow the big green monster in front of me.  There was a loud honking noise from behind, so I pulled away, didn’t want to hold up the convoy.  I swear as I pulled away I heard a tinkling sound in the car, like laughter. It took a little while for my tyres to grip the road, but they did. Steven put his hand over mine on the steering wheel, just to steady me. “Want me to drive?” he asked. “No, I am going to be OK.  I didn’t know you were going to be coming this way” I told him. “We weren’t” he said “The plane we were supposed to be using had to be taken out of operation for maintenance problems, so we are taking a civvy flight instead, from Norwich.  Must have been fate” “Must have been something” I replied “You saved my life” He laughed “A Gay Hero!”  I was glad he could open up to me and joke about things. Life in the British Army wasn’t going to be that easy for him. Following the truck, now that was easy, I almost felt like I was speeding, my speed had increased to a startling 25 miles an hour.  The trip was much more pleasant now that I had company.  “What’s with all the pink ribbons?” Steven asked as he looked at the ariel, where there were now two pink ribbons blowing in the snow.  I had forgotten about them.  “Good Luck charms” I told him. “Speaking of Good Luck Charms, how close were you to your Grandma, the one that gave you the ring?” He asked why I was asking and listened quietly when I told him I thought I heard a whisper from the back of my car when I was crying in the snow.  I told him about the ring sparkling brightly.  He smiled and told me they were very close, and that she had taken care of him during the summer vacations from school when he needed to escape a house full of sisters. He had, in turn taken care of her when she was sick and no one else had time. He spent his school vacations there right until the day she died, and he had been with her when cancer finally killed her.  I asked if he had ever seen her, or felt her presence after she died, and he said he had not, but he believed I heard her in the back of my car because she knew I was special to him and so was guiding me through the snow. Maybe she guided the convoy this way too.  ‘Yes that, and my little guardian angel with the pink ribbons’ I thought, but I kept my thoughts to myself.  One visitation was enough to digest.

Flat Country Snow – Will I Die?

My first Car

So with great amusement, I found a photo of a car that is exactly like the  first car I owned.  My dad gave this to me, it was a Vauxhall Viva!  I loved it. Back in 1975 (yes I am that old), this was quite a car. As I am leaving for vacation soon, I am posting a chapter this week and next week so you don’t have to wait so long to hear what happened to me in snowy Norfolk.  I hope you are enjoying my story.  I wrote this especially for my blog.  I hope you are hooked.  Enjoy chapter six and feel free to comment with your opinion.  I love feedback.

CHAPTER SIX

I got into in my car and drove back along the road to Thetford, stopping for petrol on the way.  The boy who filled up my car also looked to make sure I had de-icer in my wiper fluid bottle as he said it was going to get much colder and the snow was going to set in for the day.  Great, my journey home was going to be a long one.  It was a little before noon when I got back on the road again. The sun was no longer visible and the clouds were dark and heavy with snow. I drove back through Thetford and picked up the A11 again, the roads were pretty easy to remember A11 to A14 to A1(M).  I always memorized the road numbers before I set off, so I didn’t have to stop and look at the map.  As I got out-of-town, the roads got pretty icy and I had to slow down after skidding badly at the stop lights.  Also the wind had increased bringing the snow down sideways.  I had never been too bothered about driving in snow, we got a fair amount in North Yorkshire, but this was a little different, the roads were completely straight and it was very flat so everything was blowing and drifting.  It was really hard to see where I was going.  It was a white wilderness, foggy too. I slowed right down, at first I was very happy that it was a Sunday and there were no other cars on the road, then I became very scared because it was a Sunday and there were no other cars on the road.

            On my trip to Thetford I remember that for the last hour or so of my journey, there were canals at either side of the road, some were very wide, with boats on them, some narrower with footpaths running along beside them.  There were lots of marshes and high reeds too. It was picturesque, so pretty that I had pulled over to take a better look. It had been a bright, but cold day for my journey to Thetford, now it was certainly cold, but it was no longer bright. I was driving through a thick snow. I couldn’t see very far ahead of me, or to either side. Even when the snow eased a little, and I could see further, it didn’t help much, it was like driving on top of a big white iced cake, it was completely flat.  You couldn’t see where the road ended and what was even more perturbing; you couldn’t see where the canal began. I knew the water was there, but I couldn’t see it.  There was nowhere to pull over and ride out the storm, because I may end up in a canal. I couldn’t stop where I was on the road because the visibility was so bad that if anyone did come along the road, they would drive right into me. In 1974 we didn’t have mobile phones, there was no way to contact anyone.  I was completely on my own and I was scared. I was very scared.  I was seventeen with very little driving experience. Like most seventeen year olds, I thought I knew everything there was to know, I wish I knew what to do then.

            I had absolutely no choice other than to continue driving.  I knew the road were straight so I just kept driving slowly, straight ahead.  My speed dropped with each passing mile until soon I was doing less than fifteen miles an hour.  I couldn’t see anything at all, I had no radio to tell me how bad the storm was, or what was ahead of me. I knew I couldn’t stop, I just had to concentrate and keep going, I started to cry.  I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it home.  It had been such a nice weekend, different, an adventure in itself, but very nice. Was it going to end up with my drowning in a canal on the Norfolk Broads?  It certainly felt like it. Something caught my eye, something glistening, I looked at my left hand, it was the ring, the beautiful old ring that had belonged to Steven’s grandma. The tears flowed down my face.  I felt very alone now. The snow grew heavier, pretty soon, there wasn’t even a trace of a road to be seen, I felt like my car was just plowing through a field of snow.  I was so tense, expecting any minute to plunge through a layer of ice into the depths of a canal, never to be seen again.  My knuckles turned white as they gripped the big old steering wheel of my Vauxhall Viva, my beloved car.

            The diamonds in the ring caught my eye again as they twinkled and shone. It suddenly occurred to me there was no light in the car, or behind the car, so what was making them shine. I had barely looked in my rear view mirror since I left Thetford, really no need too as my perils lay ahead of me, not behind me.  There was a light in the back of the car, not a shape, just a light.  It shone like sunlight through the back window, not terribly bright, like a car headlight, just a warm comforting glow.  I watched the road ahead again, and then looked back in the rearview mirror.  The light was still there, but much more faint. “Don’t go” I begged, not knowing why I was saying it or to what.  The light just felt comforting. “I’m still here my child, I’m watching you”. It wasn’t much more than a whisper, and the light in the back of the car was fading. The ring on my engagement finger shone brightly though, as though the sun where shining on it.  Maybe it was Steven’s Grandma, watching over her ring, not wanting it to end up at the bottom of the canal.   It really was sparkling! I took a deep breath and wiped the tears that were running down my face.  OK, I could do this. I focused on the snow ahead of me, and picked out point in the blizzard and just kept driving towards it.  It was hard, the wind was blowing again, blowing the snow directly at me now, huge snowflakes that hypnotized me. I felt like I could see faces in them.  I felt my foot easing off the accelerator more and more.”Don’t give up my child, keep going, don’t stop now”

 

 

Goodbye’s and Pink Ribbons

It looked better with the pink ribbon

 

So here we are again, I can’t believe its been two weeks since I posted the last chapter of my story.  I have been busy working on my travel blog too.  Check out ‘Travel Tales and Mishaps’, click on the link to the right of my blog. I will be posting my adventures and photos from Rome there in a couple of weeks.  Back to ‘Flat Country Snow’ and my friend Steven.  It was sad to say goodbye to him, but I had to.  It was very emotional, I felt like I wanted t protect him and help him. I felt like a girlfriend, older sister and mother all rolled into one.  Chapter five is posted below, I hope you like it. I will post one more chapter before I fly away for may vacation.

CHAPTER FIVE

I started the car and let the engine run while Steven scraped the ice and snow off the windows and put the cases in the boot. As I sat there watching him tackle the ice on the front window, something caught my eye on the front seat. It was a pink ribbon, I was accustomed to seeing these now, don’t ask me how they got there, I accepted them though, knowing my little blonde guardian angel was around somewhere. I suppose I should have been scared, as it was usually a sign of that something was about to happen, but I didn’t feel scared, I actually felt quite calm and warm inside. I picked up the ribbon and stuffed it in my pocket as I didn’t want to have to explain it. “Wherever you are little Miss, I hope you are warm and with your mum”. Did I hear a tinkle of laughter in the air, maybe, or maybe it way my mind playing tricks with me.
By the time Steven had finished scraping away snow and ice, the car had warmed up and he got inside, glad of the warmth. “Are you sure you don’t mind dropping me off at the base” he asked me. “No, and will give you a big sloppy kiss when I drop you off, just for good show” I told him. He laughed, and actually blushed a little. “You just can’t keep your hands off me can you?” He directed me to the base, which was actually on the opposite side of Thetford. It was OK though because it meant I could retrace my tracks and follow the map home. No Google or GPS in those days, just the good old ‘Rand McNally’ and you had to pull over to look at it. It was only about ten minutes or so to the Army Base, Steven told me to drive in and he showed his ID to the guard at the gate. The barrier was raised and in we went. There was huge parking area just on the left as we got on to camp, next to a big parade ground, where despite the sub-zero temperatures, there was some marching going on, with full webbing too. Those guys probably weren’t cold at all. I left the engine running and got out of the car to open the boot so Steven’s cold get his case. It was a drab Military green and somehow his name and ID number had slipped out of its little pocket so there was nothing to distinguish it from any other drab Military green bag. On an impulse I stuck my hand into my pocket and pulled out the pink ribbon. I tied it around one of the handles. Steven looked at me with a question mark on his face.” Don’t ask, just keep it there, tell everyone your girlfriend, sorry fiancée, put it there!” I said. With that he pulled me very close to him and kissed me very gently and tenderly. I heard a few whistles coming from the parade ground and I think one of them may have been from the RSM who took time off from yelling at his men, to yell at us instead. I hugged Steven tight, it was a nice kiss, and probably looked very passionate, but not the sort of kiss that would make you want to tear off your clothes. It was nice though. I didn’t want to let go of him, just because I knew what a tough life he had ahead. I wondered how he was ever going to find true happiness, his love of the Military would prevent him ever having an open relationship with a man. He had to find his way though. I hugged him tight and kissed him again and then he picked up his bag and trudged off into the snowy camp, his head was hanging slightly and he looked a little sad.

Flat Country Snow – Chapter Four – Breakfast

So here we are again, after many distractions, back to my story.  Look at that delicious breakfast.  They call it a ‘Full English’, eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans and of course……black pudding. This would be served with fried bread and toast. Not sure if I could eat all of that now, but I used to love waking up to a breakfast like this. I know back pudding (or blood pudding) is hard for some people to stomach, but I loved it. I hope you enjoy chapter four of my story.  This is romance with a twist. I do believe in love and romance, but in my stories it is a secondary factor. This story still makes me smile when I read it. Not sure why, maybe it just brings back a lot of young and innocent memories, reminding me of how I was when I was 17.  I hope this makes you smile too. 

Chapter Four

Steven (I kept trying to call him Steve, but it just didn’t fit) was still fast asleep on the bed beside me, fully clothed, and looking as if he hadn’t moved all night.  I was very relieved that I had woken up first because I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I looked awful.  Mascara all over my face, dress crumpled from sleeping in it…Yuk! I grabbed my bag of toiletries and my dressing gown and headed down the hallway to get a bath and make myself presentable.  The big grandfather clock at the end of the hallway said 8:30, so we had managed to get a good night’s sleep, and I actually didn’t have a hangover, maybe I should make champagne my regular tipple. I wish I could afford that luxury.  That stuff had been about fifteen pounds a bottle, and we had three bottles last night.  In 1974, that was enough to feed a family for a week, or enough to keep you in booze for a month. 

            I ran a nice hot bubble bath, and lowered myself into it.  It felt good, I allowed myself to relax for a few minutes before washing my hair and getting dried.  The bathroom was getting pretty steamy so I opened the window, but only a crack. Burr, it was cold, it was very cold. It wasn’t snowing heavily, but I could see ice particles glistening in the air.  It did the trick though, the steam escaped out of the window and I was able to clear the mirror enough to see myself.  I towel dried my hair to get most of the wetness out and then headed back to my bedroom.  Steven was no longer sleeping on the bed, so I quickly got dressed before he showed up again.  I sat on the stool in front of the dressing table and put on my ‘face’, I still smiled about putting make up on. My mum always used to sit and put her ‘face’ while I watched her.  She never wore much make up, but always sat there and applied it under my watchful eyes.  I missed those days. Life was much easier when you were young. I had just finished putting on my makeup and was spraying myself with perfume,( j’reviens by worth) when there was a tap on the door. I was about to shout “Come in” and then thought the better of it, just in case it wasn’t Steven. I opened the door to find one of the hotel staff standing there with a trolley loaded with food, some of which was covered with big stainless steel domed lids.  Wow, breakfast in my room, I did feel special.  I ushered him in and he laid out breakfast for two on the table by the window.  He uncovered two plates of egg and bacon, with fried bread and mushrooms. There was a pot of tea, orange juice and also a dish of strawberries. My tummy started rumbling at the sight of it. Just as he finished setting it out on the table my weekend fiancée appeared. He was a wonderful sight, standing there in the doorway in jeans and a big bulky sweater. Clothes just looked good on him, they probably looked good off him too, but I didn’t think I was ever going to see him minus clothes.  He was going to make some man very happy some day, when he found the courage to ‘come out’ anyway.  The porter left the room and Steven and I sat down and had breakfast together.  I thought the morning may be awkward, but really it wasn’t.  We chatted about the night before, and he thanked me for making the evening such a success.  I kept telling him that I hadn’t really done anything, just enjoyed a pleasant evening, with good company.  I had actually been a pretty spectacular evening, but I didn’t want him to know that. We lingered over breakfast, both of us knowing that we would probably never see each other again.  It was a shame really because we were enjoying each other’s company, but it was always going to be a friendship, nothing more. Finally after spending way too long over breakfast, Steven stood up and told me we should get going. His flight was at three o clock that afternoon, so he needed to be back at the army camp by noon, and I really needed to get on my way back home as the snow would definitely slow me down. Steven went back to his room and collected his belongings and I did the same thing. I hadn’t really unpacked anything, so there wasn’t much to put in my case, but I certainly didn’t want to leave anything behind.  I put Steven’s beautiful ruby and diamond ring back in its case ready to give to him.  I checked the room again and stepped out into the hallway.  Steven’s door was open so I went into his room, he was standing looking out of the window in deep thought.  “Penny for them” I said and he turned around and smiled.  He grabbed his green army overnight bag checked around the room again, and then came over to the door. I held the ring out to him, and he shook his head. “No, you keep it” he said “My grandma would have liked you, so you should have it” “I can’t, it’s worth way too much” I told him, it really was an antique.  He looked troubled, as if he didn’t know what to do and then said “OK, well you hang on to it for now, it seems only right, then you can give it back to me when we meet up again, we probably will you know, so just hang on to it until we do”.  I almost felt like singing the old Vera Lynn Song “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day”. I really wasn’t sure we would ever meet again, but it would be nice if we did. Steven actually looked like he may be about to cry.  I walked over and gave him a big hug, and he hugged me back, very tightly and then we turned around and left the hotel.  I stopped at the front desk to pay, but the bill had already been taken care of. I really had been treated to a wonderful week-end. It was all a little overwhelming.

Engagement Dinner – Chapter Three (and four pounds lighter)

His Grandmothers Ring

So glad the weekend is here again! I have lots to talk about this weekend too! World Cup Football, friends, just so much to say, but lets stick to stories for now. YES, I lost four pounds over the last three weeks, tomorrow I will tell you why I didn’t lose five. Below is chapter three of Flat Country Snow.  I hope you have all fallen in love with my friend Steven, and laughed at Sheila and the troubles she got herself into.  I hope you enjoy the Sgt. and his wife.  These were real, and very nice characters from my past, names changed of course.  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Enjoy my story and feel free to leave your comments.  This may be the only way you ever read this story, so enjoy!

Chapter Three

 

We went downstairs hand in hand, and found Sgt and Mrs. Davies at the bottom taking off their coats and waiting to be shown into the dining room.  Steven walked over to the couple, still holding my hand, and Sgt Davies turned around, what a nice round friendly face he had, I warmed to him immediately. Steven introduced me to Sgt Davies and his wife, who was called Edna. “My dear Sheila you can call me Roger, unfortunately, until Steven is promoted to a Sergeant, he still has to salute my and call me Sgt”. He laughed loudly after he said this and added “Just for tonight you can leave out the salute”. His breath smelled of beer and whiskey so I knew he was already in good spirits.  We were ushered to the bar for cocktails.  “What would you like to drink my dear” he asked me.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to drink, I didn’t want a hangover, and I didn’t want to be carried out of the restaurant.  Before I had time to answer, Steven said, “Well as we are celebrating, let me get a bottle of champagne” On cue, I held up my left hand, and displayed my sparkly new acquisition. It really did sparkle, and Edna’s eyes opened wide.  “Oh luvy, how wonderful, congratulations, the drinks are on us of course” “Good Man” Sgt Davies (oops Roger) said and slapped Steven on the back so hard that I thought his eyes would pop out.  The barman popped the cork off the champagne and poured us another glass.  I could easily get used to this.

                We sat on bar stools for about twenty minutes or so, conversation of course split.  Roger was talking to Steven about the maneuvers they had just been through. It was the maneuvers that had brought them to Thetford, from the snippets of conversation I heard, it seemed to me like Steven was a very good soldier, I could tell there was a mutual respect between these two men.  Of course Edna and I talked weddings, babies etc. etc. It was really funny considering Steven’s recent revelation, it was also sad because I imagine he would make a really good dad. I was a great judge of character, and he got an A plus in my books. In twenty minutes we polished off another bottle of champagne, and we were talking about what to order next when we were ushered to a table to order dinner.

                The dining room was a lovely area, not too large but with lots of tables with white table cloths and candles, I had never eaten anywhere quite like it.  The atmosphere was perfect, if I had really been celebrating and engagement, this would have been the place I would have chosen.  We were seated at a round table in the corner and although the dining room was fairly full, it was still quite private. The tables were not packed closely together and because of the dimmed lighting, it felt very private. Roger switched to drinking beer “Got to fly back to Germany tomorrow, don’t like flying with a hangover”. I was thinking it was probably way too late to save the hangover. Edna switched to G&T, Steven winked at me and ordered another bottle of champagne.  I was in love with a gay man, well his choice of beverage anyway. Silence fell over our little gathering while we looked at the menu. We all ordered surf and turf, we had seen it going to another table and it looked and smelled fabulous, how could we order anything else. We had freshly made pate and toast for starters too.  Rodger asked us if we were going to have a military wedding and before I had chance to answer, Steven jumped in. “No we are going to have a quiet wedding in Sheila’s local church. Just close friends and immediate family, Sheila’s dad doesn’t enjoy good health so we are going to keep it simple” I smiled and openly held his hand over the table. He wasn’t wrong about my dad, who had suffered several strokes over the last few years. He did know about this as I had  mentioned it in one of my letters.  The pate was wonderful, and made from local game.  We chatted and laughed, and when Steven left the table to go to the cloakroom, Roger beamed and told me what a good Sergeant he was going to make.  ‘Mission Accomplished’ I thought. Our steaks and shrimp were equally as good as the pate and even though I felt completely stuffed, I couldn’t resist sharing some black forest gateaux with Edna.  Everything was delicious. Edna and I left Roger and Steven to settle the bill and went and sat on the big overstuffed sofa by the fire, yes I got to sit in front of the fire at last.  We ordered Bronte coffee’s (the same as Irish coffee, but with brandy instead of whiskey).  Before the men joined us Edna took my hand and told me how happy she was for me and how glad she was that Steven would get his promotion.  She looked a little embarrassed and admitted that Roger had thought he was a homosexual, and hadn’t dared promote him because of that.  I looked convincingly shocked and assured her that there was nothing wrong with his masculinity. She laughed and told me she couldn’t see why anyone would think there was, especially now.  As the guys approached Edna gave me a hug and wished me all the best.  I felt quite tearful because she was so genuinely happy for us. We sat there for a little longer, enjoying the coffee and the fire. I felt quite drowsy and snuggled up next to Steven with my head on his shoulder. I wasn’t sure if I dozed off, but I suddenly jumped, like you do when you are halfway between being awake and being asleep.  In my halfway to somewhere state, I saw the face of a beautiful little girl, with pink ribbons in her curly blonde hair.  I had seen that face on several occasions, usually before something happened. It was there for a split second and then it was gone. Maybe I was just exhausted from my journey and everything else that had happened since I arrived in Thetford. I called this little girl my guardian angel, but when I first saw her I was about seven years old and was on vacation in Blackpool. She appeared to me the day before a very sad event.   I hoped nothing sad was going to happen now. I looked at Steven and without meaning to, yawned.  He laughed and looked at his watch.  “I think it’s time to call it a night, Sheila has a long drive tomorrow and I am sure you guys want to spend some time together before Roger goes back to Germany”  Everyone agreed it was time to end the pleasant evening.  Roger went off and got the front desk to order a taxi.  I asked Edna how come she didn’t move to Germany, and she told me it was difficult to keep changing schools for the kids.  She said it was hard being apart, but they got together as often as they could. She took my hand and looked at the ring again, and then gave me a big hug and told me she looked forward to seeing me in the Sergeants Mess.  I felt a little sad that I probably wouldn’t see her or Roger again.  Who could know where my life was headed, but probably not into a marriage with a gay soldier, no matter how handsome and nice he was. Roger came over and helped Edna into her fur coat, before giving me a hug and telling me how very happy he was and what a good and lucky man Steven was.  He patted Steven on the back, a little more gently this time and then put his arm around Edna and off they went out of the front door and into the snow.  Steven looked at me and smiled “that went really well” he said “now let’s go up to bed and have wild sex, I’m not really gay at all” I looked at him with wide eyes (half hoping he was telling the truth now), but he just started laughing and told me he was pulling my leg.  We were both wide awake now, the blast of cold air from the front door as Roger and Edna left had revived us, but we did go upstairs. We both went into my room and made ourselves comfortable on the bed with a blanket pulled around us and just talked.  He told me all about his life so far, and how hard it was to be different and swing the other way. There was so much prejudice in the world and so many people thought if you liked wanted a same-sex partner you were a pervert, 1974 was a very tough time. The thought of moving to San Francisco had passed through his mind, just because he had read a lot about Harvey Milk and the gay movement he was part of in the Castro area. But he could never move to the States because he loved the British Military too much to leave. Also Steven wasn’t openly Gay, no one would ever, in a million years think that he was, apart from his obvious lack of interest in the opposite sex. Hopefully this weekend had helped with that. He poured his heart out to me and I hugged him tight while he did.  He said that his sexual orientation had never been talked about at home, although his family knew.  I felt so sorry for him.  He had the perfect life, apart from his  secret. I wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out for him, but for now I just wanted to make him feel better.  I don’t know if I went to sleep while he was talking, or if he finished talking and we both fell asleep, but the next thing I knew the sun was streaming in through the window and I could smell bacon cooking.

Chapter Two – Two Queens and Champagne

We drank champagne and looked out at the snow

Hello again! I have my ‘writer head’ on today. Chapter two is very short.  Looking back over my blog, my chapters were all way too long so hopefully this will make an easier read. Hope you like the photo too. Sometimes these photos do make me homesick for England, but not for long. Don’t forget to send my blog link to all of  your friends if you think they would enjoy my stories.  Or they may just enjoy reading the ramblings of an eccentric Brit.  I won’t disappoint. Read and Enjoy and once again, leave your comments, I love feedback!

CHAPTER TWO 

Two Queens and Champagne

 

                “You look really nice” he told me as he struggled with the champagne cork.  “Well thank you and so do you” I told him.  He really did! I glanced at myself in the mirror just to make sure my make up was OK.  Everything looked fine, I loved the dress, which matched my shoes perfectly! My hair was its usual natural mass of waves and curls, but that was the current style.  We sat down at the table under the window; on the two plush bedroom chairs next to it.  Actually the chairs were so big, we laughed and felt like a king and queen, or in this case, two queens.  We looked out of the window and down to the street, where it was still snowing lightly.  A couple of inches had fallen already, and it was glistening under the street lights.  It looked magical, well maybe the champagne was helping with that.  I picked up the bottle and looked at it. I couldn’t pronounce the name, Verve de Cliquot, I think it said.  It was French, from Rheims, which meant it was real champagne, or so Steven told me.  It tasted good!  We were having a really good time, chatting and laughing.   I felt relaxed, as though I was having a reunion with an old friend. Steven told me a little about himself, how he had never been attracted to women in a sexual way.  His best friends were female, and he had six sisters, who he got along with famously. His dad had died when he was very young, so all of his life, he had been surrounded by women.  Hardly surprising he favored men. Seven women constantly around him while he was growing up would be enough to turn anyone gay.  After my second  glass of champagne I really felt quite tipsy.  It was excellent.  I almost felt sad that we had to leave the sanctuary of my room and go downstairs.  I didn’t want to share this man with anyone else! He was so nice to be with I wanted to sit, drink champagne and chat all night. It made a nice change from the every other boy I had dated who would try to get you drunk as quickly and cheaply as possible, with a view to getting you alone and groping you.  Steven peered out of the window, and said “Look, there he is” I looked down to the street where a taxi had just pulled up by the front entrance and a balding man was getting out.  The taxi driver held the other door open for a frumpy looking lady in a fur coat.  I laughed, and looked across to see Steven looking at me with a puzzled expression on his face, he looked down at Sgt and Mrs. Davies and he laughed too.  They looked like Mr. and Mrs. Frump.  She was wrapped up tightly in her rabbit fur and he had a big military style coat on.  It was black and double-breasted, clearly military style.  It was in his blood.  I bet his shoes we polished so you could see your face in them  “Or see up ladies skirts with them”  I thought, and laughed again.  Now we were both laughing and we didn’t really know why. Well maybe we did, we had finished the bottle of champagne. It came all the way from Rheims and was the best thing I had ever tasted. The Davies disappeared into the front of the hotel, which meant we really must break away from our little bubble of happiness and join them downstairs.  I was hoping we would get something to eat, it wasn’t that long since our last meal, but neither of use ate a whole lot of what had been on our plates, too much talking. Since then we had drunk a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne so we really needed something to eat. Just as I was about to open the door, Steven put his arms around me. “I really like you, I feel a great connection between us, I wish things were different, but they never will be.  I am 25 and for my whole life I have known I was different. I have to come to terms with it somehow. I have never been with a man, which is hard, it makes me feel like I am a monk or something, but it’s a choice I made, and this is the way it is. No use kidding myself that I am something I am not. I hope we can always be friends, always” I hugged him back and felt pretty tearful to be honest. Maybe it was the champagne, I don’t know, but I hugged him tight and told him I would always be his friend.  I meant it too!