Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Scraper's Diary March 14th, 1947, Dortmund

We played at Wuppertal yesterday, after all, but something had to go wrong, as it has done so far with all our shows.The stand and music lorry got held up, and half the audience waited half an hour for us to begin. The other dozen blokes went out.

Back at the barracks a pontoon school started operations. Being fairly hard up, I stayed out, and, as the stakes rose, I grew more thankful for my impecuniosity. I went to bed at 2.15, and the school went to another room, where they played until 7.30 a.m. One chap lost £8, another about £5.

At three, the dance band returned from the officer's mess. Jock, who is in my room, was rolling drunk, and Harry and Ginger put him to bed.

We woke this morning at ten, with bad headaches and tempers.

About half an hour after the lights went out, I got a terrible fit of coughing. I couldn't stop and was very nearly sick on the spot. My eyes and nose were streaming; however, it passed.

Today, no duty for myself and Mike, so we wandered through Dortmund with Len. It is terribly devastated. Words cannot convey the devastation.

We went into a shop where Len saw a cushion cover he wanted. He picked it up, and an assistant approached.

"Sprechen Sie Deutsch," she said. Len looked dumb.

"Parlez-vous Fran├žais", she said. Len shook his head.

"Do you speak English", she said. Len said "Yes", and "How much is this?"


I've been over here a week now, and I want to attempt to give my impressions of Germany, before I realize how wrong I am. Naturally I speak only of the Rhineland as seen through a bad soldier's eyes, but they are quite compassionate eyes, and human.

Strange as it may seem, the first strange thing to me in Germany is that traffic keeps to the right. To that, I cannot accustom myself.

Somehow, in my innocent, untravelled and untrammelled mind, I thought that this trip would be a great adventure, seeing new places and new faces, and finding strange things and long-dreamt romance around the corner. Of course I was wrong, as anyone could have told me had I confided in them, but I found out by experience, and somehow I wasn't surprised.


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