Saturday, 7 November 2015

German efficency

Things are not always as you imagine

Germany is regarded as a world leader in technology but in some cases this isn't the case. One such instance almost ended in tragedy for a friend on leave from RAF Laarbruch and me.

The E9 is the major freeway from the Hook of Holland into mainland Europe. The road crosses the German border north of the city of Kevelaer and this is where the fun starts, it leaves Kevelear from the south side. Can you imagine having a freeway entering a major city from one side, and with no connection or directions leaving from the other side?

German television
 Television in Germany - at least on the RAF bases - is so bad, I was glad to be charged with insolence towards the end of my tour - it got me out of watching junk. The sets look lovely until the cameras pan out, then you see the real set, below waist height it's just bricks and stanchion poles.

When I was there in the late 70s, BFBS was less than a joke. UK TV piped to Holland, dubbed into German, then sent to Germany to be re-dubbed back into English. Rarely did the mouth of the person talking link with the words.  Game shows were the worst, all the men wore the same socks held up by suspenders. 

Near death experience
Coming home on leave one Christmas with my friend Chris Perrot, we almost didn't get to my parents home in Clevedon, North Somerset and if I hadn't seen something terrible; I have no doubt in my mind, Chris would have died in a car crash. 

Two weeks before we left, Chris put his Rover into a garage for an overhaul. On the day before we left he collected his car. 

After changing the route given to us by another friend, my route was easier and more direct, we set off. We crossed the channel and landed at Dover in the late evening. After circumventing London, we made our way to the M4 and headed west. At this point, things could have gone bad for us in a big way. While travelling down the middle lane at around 50 mph - we were slow because it was raining and pitch dark - I was navigating and could only see a few feet in front of the beams - I noticed a car stranded in the middle lane, Chris acted on my frantic call and we missed the car by a few feet. 

It was while we were at my parents house that I noticed something terribly scary. I called to Chris "Chris, you'd better come here and see this." 
Chris replied, "What's up, Al?"
 I said, "You'd better come and see, you won't believe me if I told you."

Chris, and my parents, came to find out what I had seen - all the bolts on all the wheels were held on by only a few threads - and we'd travelled hundreds of miles at high speed. If I hadn't spotted this danger, I am sure Chris would have had an accident. After leaving us, he still had to travel across the Severn Bridge to his parents house in Symonds Yat, Gwent. To this day, I am sure he would not have completed the journey, had I not spotted the danger.

Don't forget the car had only just come out of a major garage. Wheel nuts don't get that loose unless they're not put on properly.


  1. Wow, you have had some close shaves, haven't you? I can just see your guardian angel sitting beside mine, both of them with their faces in their hands shaking their heads because we're both awake and moving around (Of course, our guardian angels are friends because we are.). I can hear it now. One looks at the other and asks, "What do you think they'll get up to next?" The other answers, "I have no idea, but I'm sure it won't be long till we find out." Other guardian angels are standing around them running a pool on how long it will be, what we'll get up to, and which one of us will do it, LOL.

    1. LOL I agree, this is only a small section of my close encounters. Two years ago, I almost died in my sleep after a week of struggling to breathe. If I was to do my biog, you wouldn't believe how many times I had escaped.