Belgium 1968-69

The Outward Journey

"Eh Personnel here Paul.

It seems we have a problem about upgrading your passport from Official to Diplomatic!"

“You are on some list that states you are liable for National Service and there is some old correspondence about not being allowed to leave the country "

We got it resolved by again writing to the Department of Labour and National Service to grant me further deferment from my obligation to do National Service - this time upon my return from Belgium.

Subject to my undertaking to return to Australia and do my National Service, I was issued a passport.

This went on until I turned 28 whereupon, under the Act, the obligation lapsed.

Perth - Cairo

Lennie Parle was the Travel Officer. He followed the local rugby and was a stalwart of Wests - a second grade club.

I asked him could I take the following itinerary as I wanted to catch up with some mates:

  • Canberra/Sydney

  • Sydney/Perth

  • Perth/Bombay

  • Bombay/Cairo

  • Cairo/Rome

  • Rome/London

  • London Brussels

"No problem mate. It will cost you nothing extra".


So once again, I kissed someone goodbye at the airport and boarded the commuter aircraft for a Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth.

Maureen and her two children Gail and Wendy met me at Sydney International terminal to also say good bye. The girls were demure dressed in their primary school uniforms

The flight, again a Boeing 707 was uneventful. Rex Maree met me and took me back to his boarding house where I spent the weekend. We did not do much except have a few beer, chat and do a bit of sightseeing. My only impression of Perth was the re inforcement of an opinion that, indeed, it was isolated from the rest of Australia.

The Qantas flight was direct from Perth to Bombay. I remember drinking too much and dropping into an induced sleep but waking up soon after dehydrated, unable to return to sleep and feeling like yuk! in no mode for a "the hair of the dog". I was still hung over during the three to four hour transit wait in Bombay. It was 1968. The transit lounge of Bombay airport was not open at 2am and I sat it out in a large, stark third world room filled with upright wooden chairs with high backs. It was very uncomfortable.

Al-Azhar Mosque

Khan el Khalihi Markets

Dean Y. met me at Cairo airport.

He was the Consul in Saigon and had arrived there just after the 1967 Six Day War between the Israelis and the Arabs.

The Egyptians received a pasting. There were no signs of damage to buildings by the israeli military machine but there were signs everywhere that there had been a post haste attempt at fortifying public buildings and installations.

Somewhat like Saigon, sand bags embankments were everywhere. They were built in front of building entrances. There were no pill box fortifications and strangely not a soldier in sight.

Probably they were still in retreat somewhere near western Tunisia - because no one had told them that the Jews hd ceased following them.

Dean's apartment was lovely. It was located on a fertile island along the Nile and was the suburb of the rich and affluence. It hosted a golf club where the rich and idle like us retired in the mid day for a gin n tonic GnT or two or three.

From Dean's balcony you could see the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids in nearby Giza.
The heat haze did, however, spoil the view.


Dean Y. at the Gazira Sports Club Cairo

We went by taxi to the Cairo citadel and had a good look at the Al-Azhar Mosque.

The mosque is a magnificent piece of architecture. It was cool and clean and rather out of place with the general deprecated and decaying state of the larger metropolis of Cairo.

We went on to visit the Khan el Khalihi markets - one of the oldest known market place. I did my tourist bit and purchased a bust of the Queen Nefertiti. Years later I saw the movie "Gallipoli" I could relate to the scene where the Australian soldiers were training in Egypt enjoyed some time off touring this market and probably also getting ripped off by these crafty merchants and bordello operators.

My overall impression of Cairo was that it looked as though the Israelis had bombed the hell out of it.In fact the Israelis hardly touched this sprawling metropolis. The Gypos had done this to the city all by themselves.

How could a nation that built such ancient edifices go so backward?

It gives credibility to the theory that alien visitors were involved.

"Brace Yourself Brussels!"

My arrival coincided with the annual ceremony of the King's birthday.

It was a Gala ceremony where the Diplomatic Corps went to a reception dressed in Top Hat and Tails to meet with King Baudouin.

He was aged in his late sixties, aristocratic and stand offish. He had replaced his brother who had abdicated in 1951 mainly due to linguistic tensions. He seemed popular with his ?/ of 10 millions Belgians.

I went there accompanied by Brian and Janine Goodwin.

We were like fish out of water. Nevertheless we had fun and made the most of the occasion. I had met lots of "queens" in my time - but never a king.

Job

My designation was Attache (Administration). It was a newly created position which was part of some Canberra Mandarin's grand plan that I did not know about.

The position was not needed. In fact, its seemed to smack of empire building.

Who was I to complain and write back to Canberra and say "Take me home! No work here".

But on reflection I had indeed worked hard in Saigon and if someone was to enjoy this sinecure well why not me?


The Chancery

The Chancery was located over two top two levels of a five story building located in at 51 Avenue des Arts.

It was newly leased refurbished and commissioned in style. Grills protected it - better than Saigon. The furnishings were uniform and modern; works of art in prominent places; defined areas such as a library; storage areas and clean, clean.

But few visitors to the top floor.

The Embassy comprised:

  • Political, Consular and Administration Sections

  • Trade Section

  • Immigration Section


The Immigration Section on the lower level was quite busy rounding up $10 passage for migrants who wanted to go to Australia. There was a waiting area wherein on any day it would be quite full.

The building was located on the outskirts of the town centre hence the building codes allowed for a modern urban environment. It was a mixed, residential (apartment); commercial zone. Interspersed within were many restaurants and pubs.

An electrified tramway went past the building which would take you on a 10 minute trip to the old centre of town - The Grand Place.

The days of the tram lines (cursed things) were numbered. Sections of the city were being dug up and tunneled to make way for an underground train system. Hence the road network and traffic problems were part of the daily routine.

Work Colleagues

Keith Douglas_Scott (Charge d'Affairs)

This person acted as the Head of Mission. The Ambassador had left and the government must have been vacillating as to which sycophant was presenting the best case. Keith was Anglo Indian and very much class conscious.

Dr. Jim Richardson (Minister Trade) head the Mission to the European Common Market. Negotiating import concessions for Australian products hinged on how good operatives could present cases and carry out strategic campaigns. Hence he headed up a very busy unit.

He was an avid follower of Canberra rugby which we could still keep abreast of news as the Canberra Times was part of the Diplomatic mail. So rugby was the common link.

Maggie Smith was a spinster in her mid forties. She was the personal assistant to the Minister (Trade) - she died a few years later.

Col Gorter Counselor (Trade) was a bilingual Dutch/English. His parents had immigrated to Australia after WW2.
Col was affable and well liked. On rare times that we mixed socially. It was nice to be invited to his home and be in the company of his family.

Warren Lang (Third Secretary) was typical of first posting diplomats born with silver spoons in their mouth.

I had experienced the likes in Saigon - painful prima donnas but harmless.

Frank Island. First Secretary (Immigration) was a member of the regular "Thank God Its Friday" triumvirate that retired to a local bar after work and stayed there until about 7pm.

Frank, Brian Goodwin and I would sit in one corner of this small one room establishment and drink the wonderful Belgian lager beer. Frank was a child of the Great Depression 1930's he served in WW2 as a solder and talked a lot about Moratai, an Island in the South West Pacific. He was thickset and looked like a brawler - someone you were always glad that he was on your side.

One time he choose to kick on with me after his self imposed curfew.

I took him to places he had heard about - but only for a look see. The drink was getting the better of him and I had a lot of trouble restraining him. We got split up around 5am and I got home soon after.

Around 7am I got a call from Brian Goodwin demanding “what had I done with Frank".

He still was not home and his wife was frantic. I was forever declared Persona non Grata from that household.

Judy McDonald was the Head of Mission Personal assistant. Like Maggie Smith she was a spinster dedicated to the job. I had met her earlier in the Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Marie Jepperson was the Communications/Registry Clerk.

She was a stunner.

This is a photo of her in the Ardennes region.

We did a lot of traveling together.

British Based Staff

As an economy measure British Based Staff were recruited to Australian Missions in Europe.

They could also be security cleared.

Their terms and conditions were not as lucrative as Australia based staff and they had no concessions in terms of access to Duty Free.

(Duty Free covered any range of goods and services upon which there was a sales tax. It ranged from the purchase of motor cars to food, drink and cigarettes. The savings and difference in Cost of Living given these perk were substantial.)

About four or five girls were employed on these conditions. One girl’s name was Ruth. I cannot recall the other names.

Local Staff

Arlette Hochstraus was the Chief Clerk and matriarch.

She also was spinster working for the Embassy for about twenty five years. She was very efficient and good in her job.

So good that Brian and my roles were reduced to signing requisitions, purchase orders and cheques.

She supervised the local staff and resolved their minor squabbles.

She came from Luxembourg which had dual citizen privilege with the Belgians. She was multi lingual - English; French; Dutch and German.


The drivers were my favorites.

Mr. Yates and Mr. Benning were English. They were in their late fifties. They were British army ex soldiers of WW2 and had met, married Belgian nations and elected to stay as ex patriots.

They had no Flemish and their standard of French was suspect.

But provided they could get you where you wanted without too many detours, everything was fine.

Mr. Rice (pronounced Raos) was a rotund Belgian national - trilingual.

He helped the other two with directions and local knowledge.

All acted as couriers, messengers and removalists.

Mr. Benning was the most amusing.. He was a jockey sized cockney.

His complexion suggested he would never pass any modern day DUI test. He was always "on the bot" for the odd bottle of Duty Free - which I happily obliged. If truth be known he probably asked all the diplomatic staff for these "favours".

He was in awe of my youth, good fortune and bachelor status.

Life in Brussels

I found a one bedroom fully furnished apartment in a modern complex in the suburb of Uccle about six or seven kilometers from the office.The unit was very small, the kitchen tiny and the fridge small. Storing beer was a problem.

I never cooked, I used the oven to transfer cans of ale to the fridge.

The building was one of three where a central park was a prominent feature. The unit was small yet comfortable. The furniture was art nouveau but not glued together too well. I was on the eight floor and looked out on to a park.

You could see a matrix of neighbours in the opposing facade - but sufficiently far away so as not to impinging on privacy.

Within the first month of being there, it snowed heavily. The park was now white instead of green and I was as warm as toast in these centrally heated units.


The landlord was Mr. Mansbach. He was an architect - he looked Jewish.

He was openly concerned that I was single and an Australian and feared for his premises.

One day I returned home to find him and his wife in my unit.

Yuk! His problem - not mine.


Not too far away to the east was the Bois de la Cambre. It was huge. Like Hyde Park in Sydney - only more interesting. There was a central lake; statues everywhere and walking trails in forested areas. So cool, yet inviting, so free and not at all dangerous. The park was astride the Route de Charleroi, the road that took you to Waterloo just outside the city.

Monument at Waterloo

About 12 kms from the centre of Brussels lies the site of the Battle of Waterloo 1815.

The French (Napoleon) vs the British (Wellington) and Dutch (Blucher). It was won by the latter and determined the nature of the regions boundaries up until the present day. The monument is artificial. Originally it was a small mound but was enlarged using soil from the locations of the individual fields of combat. It is a steep climb but once on top an astute student of history can easily image the battle formations, plans and strategies that took place in those three days.

As it happened, the movie "Waterloo" premiered within the same period I was posted there.

Given it historical significance I consider it to be one of my most memorable movies.

The Weather was dour.

The winter was awful. The winter wind was icy. Perhaps eight months of the year we were without sun.

I suggest that his made the Belgians a dour people, overweight from lack of exercise and a predisposition towards rich food.

Beer, Birds and Boomerangs

Beer in Belgium varies from the popular pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish red.

There are approximately 125 breweries in the country ranging from international giants to microbreweries.

The icon is Stella Artois. I used to say if I went on to have a family, I would name the girl Stella and the boy Artois.

In Europe, only Germany, France and the United Kingdom are home to more breweries. Belgian breweries produce about 800 standard beers. When special one-off beers are included, the total number of Belgian beers is approximately 8700.

Belgians drink 93 litres of beer a year on average - ranked 7th behind Australia - 109 litres pa.

I was doing my best to narrow this gap.

The pubs and rugby was how I met people and socialised.

Brussels was the administrative capital of international organisations such as

  • European Economic Community EEC;

  • the Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe SHAPE and regional organisations.


Female secretaries were recruited from home nations to staff these missions. The UK girls mixed it with the Dutch and Scandinavians who spoke English. It was easy to engage in a foreign affair.

Sometimes was harder to extricate oneself as the girls were on local wages, no allowances, duty free privileges and subsidised rent as well as having to travel everywhere by public transport.

My pick up line:

"Hello I am Paul, I am a little bit pissed but I am doing my best to narrow the gap between the Belgians and the Australians."

"???"

If they were still mildly interested, I would say:

"Would you like to see me throw a Boomerang and catch it?"

"Yes please"

In fact, I had a boomerang. I could throw it ...a simple matter of aerodynamics.

Depending on the plane of release, it would go high or low - scathing everything in its path.

It would return, hovering over its initial point of departure and I practiced how to capture it with both my clasped hands.

Unique - but what a “bird” puller

My Ford Cortina

Brian Goodwin's father in law had been visiting long term from Vietnam.

He purchased a second hand Ford Cortina and wanted to off load it. I purchased it for $600.

I thought about buying an American Mustang but decided against it.

This was a wise decision.

Attitudes to Drink/Driving in the 60's had yet to take that quantum turnabout.

Like our official drivers I would have been guilty on many occasions.

The trams lines had their use. If I was really pissed, I would stay in the tram lines and put up with the bumps and rough ride until the trusty car navigated me home.

It often navigated itself.

My rationale was that no other driver would risk the wear and tear on his vehicle/tyres and stay clear of the lines - hence me.

Therefore the chances of me hitting something were reduced.

It was fool proof.

But it was indeed proof that I was a fool.

One section of track was under repair. I did not notice any warning signs and was intently fixing my eyes on the shimmering iron tracks in my headlights.

But this particular area had been completely dug up and the rails were simply propped up with wooden chocks

(somewhat akin to propping up houses during my Canberra/Queenbeyan days - working for my father).

In the dark, the Cortina ran out of bitumen leaving it straddled on the rails - immobile with the back drive wheels simply spinning going nowhere.

Travels and Vistas

Travel and Vistas

Bruges - Canal Area

La Grand Place

Bouillon Castle

Dinant Citadel

I never travelled alone.

It was fun to enjoy a day trip to the seaside, to the Ardennes forests, river/castle towns of Namur , Charleroi and chateaux converted to submerges for the enjoyment of food and drink.

A favourite past time trip was to travel to the Ardennes; leave my Ford Cortina at the base of a town then take a Tour vehicle up a mountain to a location where canoe/kayaks were awaiting us to meander downstream to our end/start point.
All we needed to do was steer the canoe.
The downward current of the river would get us there.
We would take a picnic hamper an stop at idyllic spots along the way.

After Saigon this was euphoric and bliss.

...

My first international trip was a drive to Amsterdam via Antwerp.

Antwerp is an estuary river port located where the Scheldt river meets the North Sea.

Shipping was a major industry which seemed to be built along the canals and tributaries. At that time the highway, no more than a road, followed the land line of the port. You could therefore see ship after ship in port with giant overhead cranes charging and discharging cargo. Compared to Amsterdam, Antwerp was alive.

This area of Northern Belgium and Southern Holland as well as the nearby Rhine industrial heartland was a strategic part of Western Europe as the world was still experiencing the tensions of the Cold War.

NATO bases were everywhere - many manned by UK armed forces personnel who played inter forces sport such as rugby and football to keep fit and counter the boredom.

I remember many a time driving my Cortina crammed with rugger buggers completely lost on some Dutch road trying to find the home base of some armored Corps of the 2nd Division of Royal Dragoons of :what’s y name".

Invariably we would find a bus stop, wind down the window and ask for directions.

To my surprise the Dutch, to a person, all spoke excellent English. We saw a lot of the countryside in this fashion. The down side was that this part of Europe was dead flat and topographically similar.

Back to London

I wrote to my Kiwi chums in London and made arrangements to drive over (via the British Rail ferry).

I took one of the British Based staff (Ruth?) back to her parents' place in the south of the city.

After dropping her off she pointed in the general direction I was to head if I were to meet up with my friends who lived in north London.

Nonchalantly I took off. Five hours later I was still travelling north. I did not realise how big a city London was. I was used to Canberra traffic with its roundabouts. Whereas London had traffic light after traffic light. I was exhausted by the time I got there and was fretting the return trip.

The return Ferry trip was interesting. We were hit by bad weather on the English Channel.

There were hundred on board this large vessel which took five to six hours to cross. Most were sea sick. I was squeamish but not ill. Ruth was violently ill.

I remember her to this day- ashen in the face and mascara congealed with tears.

"Paul, I am but a shell"

One Easter, four friends took a trip from Brussels, through the Ardennes, along the Moselle river a left tributary of the Rhine until we hit the city of Koblenz.

Berbkastel on the Moselle River

Schweicher-Annaberg

Cochem on the Moselle River

The Moselle river hosts a white wine growing region.

It was late spring. The leaves were budding both sides of the river were very colourful.

It was not so much a 'pub crawl" but a 'village crawl".

Each turn in the bend had the same wine bar trying to outdo itself for the tourist patronage.

As peaceful it may seemed then, it was the same region that the American forces in 1945 encountered fierce resistance as this region was where the Germans were first forced to defend their homeland.

Idyllic now ... deadly then.

Klosters Resort Switzerland

Skiing in Switzerland

Given generous allowances I had money to burn.

I went down to a travel agency and purchased a package trip to the famous village of Klosters in Switzerland. Return airfares Brussels/Geneva/Brussels, train from Geneva to Zurich and transfer to a local line Zurich to Klosters and return together with three weeks accommodation in an auberge.

I had never been skiing before but was prepared to give it a try. The first week was fall and tumble; by the start of the second week, I was proficient at "snow plowing" by the end of the third week, I had graduate to parallel skiing and thought the sport to be invigorating and enthralling - but expensive.

A Trip to Paris

Another trip was to Paris - by train.

Taffy Evans, a Welsh drinking mate, David Dance and myself went down for the weekend to watch France vs Wales in the Five Nations rugby championship.

We stayed in the Latin Quarter and made our way to the stadium by combination of underground and train.

It was only a weekend tour. But I remember saying to myself " Wow I really would like to live here"

The Rugby Fraternity.

Early in my posting I was going out with Gladys Goodge - a Scottish lass who worked in the British Embassy.

She came from the furthest reaches of the Outer Hebrides.

She knew where a team of ex patriots played rugby every Saturday and took me there.

I walked up with my kit and asked the team captain for a run.

His name was Jim Edwards. He said "No! Too many reserves".

I was taken back. He was not even going to give me a trial for 10 minutes.

So an embarrassed Gladys and I stood on the sidelines with me glaring at feeble attempts at tackling with no sense of positional play, tactics etc.

I did want to play rugby and asked if I came back the next week could I get a game.

"Yes!"

The standard was Canberra fourth grade equivalent.

I did not have to stand on the sidelines again.

The comradery was great. Female girlfriends were more inclusive and the rugby was a conduit for bonding between ex pats. They were professional and educated accountants; engineers; sales executives even doctors. Unlike the public service environment of Canberra, I was beginning to get better eclectic view of the world through rugby.

The standard of Tom Foolery and "one upmanship" greatly surpassed Australian crude standards and each function was indeed a funny experience where British humour (mainly) was rampant.

You would laugh so much as cry or piss yourself.

The dirty ditties that were sung were all new to me and the parties were raucous.

There was never a brawl or a bad word mouthed over a drink too many.

Our playing calendar was fully booked. We had any choice of NATO teams and fixtures with teams from the towns and villages in southern ferry ports area of England - Dover; Portsmouth; Newhaven; Poole.

These teams saw a trip to the continent as an end of season highlight and reciprocated when we traveled to England for return matches.

I crammed so much in these weekend sojourns.

We were veteran ferry travelers. Once we were almost barred from ever traveling.

It was the dead of winter. We were waiting to disembark. Those in vehicles were revving up their engines waiting for the vessel to finish reverse docking; for the ramp to connect; the chain protection barrier to be removed and the order for the cars to move.

Us "pedestrian" passengers exited through the same rear portal being separated from the traffic by a fixed girder no more than knee height.

One silly rugger bugger, pissed from 4 hours of drinking duty free in the upstairs bar, jumped over the girder and gave the traffic the signal to advance. The ship lurched in a forward direction alerting the crew to the problem.

While the incident was serious and silly, the resulting pantomime was interesting. There was so much noise in the belly of the ship with all the car engines going only frantic hand signals from all the crew and sober pedestrians saved the day.

Then the crew turned their attention to the miscreant with equal and forceful body and facial expressions that demonstrated their displeasure and what they wanted to do with him.

Sobered up this person was horrified as to his action.

We were also veteran road travelers. Black ice, snow and sleet were the normal conditions. There was never a sunny day. Some of the ablution blocks were primitive. We would invariable play in the mud only to go back to tepid or cold showers where the pipes had frozen. It was not pleasant pick at the caked mud and the odd bit of congealed blood. The soft nature of the playing fields mean less likelihood of a broken limb. I gained a reputation of being a ferocious tackler - true!

Summer Vacation Houses - Oostend

There is a coastal region north of Oostend that has large and lavish summer houses built for the rich and famous.

Each year members of the ruby team banded together and leased a 10-15 bedroom villa for a month in the high summer.

You still could not go swimming - too cold and too brown but there was tennis, horse riding and evening socialising.

I paid for a room for the month together with a levy for food. I also provided the household with all the Duty Free.

I could invite any number of friends provided we slept in that one bedroom

It was opulent, decadent and fun.

The horse riding I could not master. Every time I went out I walked back escorting the horse with the reigns - thrown and too gun shy to get back up.


The Language Divide

Linguistic division in Belgium is problematic.

I could only speak French. But I had to be careful of my location - see map.


Yellow - Flemish (Dutch)

Red - Walonia (French)

Purple - German

Orange - Duel (Flemish or French)

In Flanders Field

ANZAC Day

Each ANZAC day there was the annual visit to Menin Gate in the Town of Ypres (Ieper).

It is a memorial to the missing soldiers who have no gravestone and who served in the Ypres salient of World War 1.

The Australian Infantry Force AIF served in this area and also to the south.


The more memorable and poignant reminders are the kilometres and kilometres of gravesites of known KIA along this salient.

In Search of Zillebeke

Zillebeke is where my uncle, Private John James Stuart was awarded the Military Medal MM .

His award was all that remarkable in as much as he was not a front line combatant.

He served in a Pioneer battalion. They were support troops comprising tradesmen - carpenters, miners and the likes who fortified trenches etc.

His citation reads:

"'At ZILLEBEKE on the night of 16/17th September 1917, Private Stuart was one of a party detailed to remove 9.2 inch shells from alongside a burning building. The place was being heavily shelled at the time and, in addition, ammunition and bombs of all descriptions were exploding inside the building. Although the whole of the party displayed the greatest courage, Private Stuart stood out conspicuously above his comrades, supporting his senior officers in a splendid manner.'

Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31

Date: 7 March 1918

He was hospitalized due to a serious chest wound.

He died (aged 23) not from that injury but rather from the Spanish Plague Influenza Pandemic. (he was too weak to resist)

He is buried in the French town of Rouen where he was hospitalised with the virus.

I wrote to the Australian War Memorial requesting details of his service history and received a 60 page document.

I have researched and produced both a hard copy and ebook of his service.

Its reading should be mandatory for a Stuart descendant. It is quite poignant:

  • His meager personal possessions were inventorised (a watch, Rosary Beads and a pipe) and returned to his grieving mother - my grandmother..

  • He appeared to be a Ginger Meggs 5 feet 6 inches tall.


After the ceremony, I asked our Embassy driver (Mr. Rice) to detour to the village located less than two kilometers from Ypres.


VE Day

To the Belgians, Victory in Europe VE Day was more focal in their mindsets - it did not discount what so ever, the sacrifices of WW1. It was just fresher in the memory.

Public parades and holidays were celebrated.

The Jews re-enforced the significance. Those that were incarcerated and suffered donned replica prison uniforms and marched after the official parades.

Their arms were outstretched defiantly showing their infamous tattoos - Never forget!

There were so many of them.

We had our ANZAC days others had their VE Days.

The Population Divide

The population in the north were Flemish and spoke a dialect of Dutch.

The southerners were from Wallonia and spoke French and a minority in the west spoke German.

Brussels was mixed.

I did not attempt to learn Flemish.

1969/71 Denmark

During my time in both Brussels and Paris, I twice relieved the Consul in Copenhagen.

The total period was about three months.

I lived in a hotel and played rugby with a local club.


Denmark is quite a small country. We did a lot of inter city travel and post game entertainment.

One Saturday I cracked a rib. Nothing could fix it except Elastoplast and a lot of the amber ale– which was consumed at a function that evening.

There were a lot of gorgeous Danish girls there.

But I could not get out of my chair.

In frustration one lass came over and asked me to dance with her – not knowing my incapacity.

Despite my protest we got up onto the dance floor – which was excruciatingly painful.

It was much more painful later that evening; through the night and into the morning.

Next time Paul – stick to a parson’s daughter.


Marie Jeppersen

Cross Posting to Paris

Out of the blue, I was given a cross posting to Paris - another promotion.

I have no reason why I was selected.

I may have been random - it may have been still a "Thank You" for service in Vietnam.

But it was indeed it was "First Prize" in the posting stakes.

I had a steady girl friend in Brussels at this time.

But the lure of Paris was too good to refuse. So I accepted it gratefully.

On one September morning I packed up my worldly possessions in my trusty but now battered Ford Cortina and proceeded to Paris - The City of Light.