Greg
Greg's diary
December 1968
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Sunday, 1 December 1968 Tun. Wells → Winchester → Horrabridge
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The alarm went off at 0900, and I called over to Jim to tell him as much, but he just grunted and went back to sleep, so I did likewise. At 1015, however, it occurred to me that maybe Sunny [sic] ought to get up and go to his football match, so upstairs, dragged him out of his bed, which he was sharing with Bev—I am getting used to this—and told him of his situation. Then downstairs and rang up Lynn, who also had apparently been in bed, and who suggested that I pick her up at 1100. Then down and almost immediately had to follow Sunny to the ground to see where it was, but there was nobody there, and so we headed back to check up on it, and came to no other conclusion than that we should eat. Off again, back, and this time there were some people there, and found out it was only due to start at 1100hrs. Dropped Jim, then off to pick Lynn up, who had apparently been having a row with her parents—very indignant that she, at 20, should still be blown up for that sort of thing. Down through the mud to watch the match, and before long Bev complained of being hungry, so she, Jim, Lynn and I set off for the Wimpy, which was closed, and ended up at Fortes, where we had a snack, then back to the match, which was getting on. Took some photos of Alan making a fool of himself—unfortunately, the only time when Sonny knocked Alan, I was up at the car changing cameras. It was very cold, and nobody was too sad when it was over, Sunny's side having won by a long way. Back to Westwood with Lynn, got Sunny's bath robe, then back to the pitch, gave it to Sunny, and took Lynn home. One of these days I must start something with that girl... told her to get herself a provisional license, and then off home to pack up my barang. Everybody is getting fed up about the quality and quantity (or lack thereof) of the food. Packed the car, loaded Jim, Marie-Josée and Marie-Niège into the car, and off to the Wimpy Bar, where we got some food to eat on the way. Sunny and Bev soon took the lead in the Stiletto, and I took the short cut via Nutley/Chailey. Belted on without seeing anything of them, and had a very uneventful journey—Jim did not even want a piss. Picked up a thumber 10 miles from Winchester, whom I apparently terrified: I had my skid lid [crash helmet] and gloves on, and was doing a fair belt. He complimented the handling of the car when he got out. We arrived 10 minutes before Sunny and Bev, which rather shook me. Time was only 2 hrs 5 minutes, quite good. Never took 25 minutes to Southampton.

That's quite impressive indeed, if I understand it correctly. Sonny was a budding racing driver, and his Stiletto was much faster than my Citroën Ami 6. In 2012 Google Maps estimates a time of 3 hours, 5 minutes.

Then took Bev, when Sunny let go of her, and on through Winchester and Stockbridge, where I filled. On through Salisbury, and started hitting patches of fog on the A303. Stopped at Jlchester [sic] for a bit of a rest as well as makan, and met a bloke coming the other way who advised us not to go over the moor, but to stay in Newton Abbot. Belted on, and decided to try the moor, which was almost completely free of fog, at least the Okehampton way.

It's not clear whether we went across the moor or not. I didn't know my way round the area very well at the time, but the A30 via Okehampton, though an obvious choice, does not go over the moor.

Got back at about 2045, and read the literature which ICI had sent. I shall have to go tomorrow. Talked to Vicky for a while—I like her, as I have since I first met her 3½ years ago. But now she is growing up... Late to bed, after some reading.


Monday, 2 December 1968 Horrabridge → Welwyn Garden City
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Bev woke me up this morning, and then apparently disappeared. I soon down for what there was in the way of breakfast before she was. Felt, for some reason, unbearably cold, and spent all of breakfast shivering by the Aga. Eventually everybody was ready to go, and set off for school with the usual load of 5, and plenty of barang—makes me think of how worried I was when I first got the car and had to drive it back from Lüneburg to London/Devon. The load then was obviously less than the maximum, despite the great deflection of the springs. Dropped everybody at school, risking an argument with a bus in the process, and then back to Grimstone, where I started packing, anxiously waiting for the post to come. Eventually it did, and fortunately my car registration was there. Typically, unable to get the whole thing right, somebody gave the serial letters of the car wrong, and quite a difference at that: AM2 instead of AMB2. Will have to write a letter to them about that.

The difference implied a different model of car.

Eventually got all my stuff together, filed my registration stuff, and off to Plymouth with the intention of getting some temporary number plates, in which I was successful, though the things look like nothing on earth: how is it some people get stick-on number plates to look so good? Mine look nothing if not amateurish, and are not helped by the two bumps on either side of the front number plate. Eventually got the things on, nevertheless, though I will not be happy until I get hold of some reflective jobs—these do not look at all good, and I will obviously have the problem of removing the red paint round the border, though I do not actually want to remove the TT plat [sic] (TTA, not c.TT).

The original plates (9763 TTA 75) were French export plates. The registration I had just received was British (OTT 523G).

Off eventually east, getting some petrol at Ivybridge complete with some playing cards, and then picking up a thumber at Exeter—old bloke (well, about 50), delivery driver with a long beard, bit of a bullshitter, claimed Stirling Moss had driven him round Brand's recently—Stirling Moss still means a lot to the older generation. Had fish and chips in Taunton, then along to Bristol, and dropped the bloke just outside, having used my old, rather dated hitchhiking map and thus not taken the best route. On the M4 for about 10 miles, then took the A433 to Cirencester and the A40 to Oxford, where I picked up a down and out heading for Luton, who guided me through Thring [sic], took me to a “cheap” petrol station (no go—same as the others), and whom I dropped in Thring round 1730. On through Hemel Hempstead to the M1/M10, which was packed, and thence on to Hatfield and Welwyn Garden, where I found Handside Farmhouse without any difficulty. The place does not seem up to much, nor for that matter Mr. Mercheant, though there is nothing too much wrong with the food. Took my belongings up to a tiny room and spent most of the evening reading.


Tuesday, 3 December 1968 WGC
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Up at 0725, unearthly hour, and dressed with only a superficial electric shave, still feeling quite cold—this place is centrally heated, but not adequately. Feeling ravenous, down to the dining hall, where I discovered that immediately after getting up and before breakfast is not the easiest time to adapt to new situations, and it took me several minutes today. Got my breakfast down and went back upstairs, where I spent a while trying to work out if I had got everything, and eventually decided I had, and, to be on the safe side, set out far too early for the site, arriving a good 10 minutes early. To the Personnell [sic] department and got things sorted out there—Mr. Cheesemer saw me and suggested I wait a while, which I did reading about biological pest control, and then was taken, along with 2 others, up to the photographer's room to have my photo taken with a Leica and 135/4 Elmar, holding a little plaque over my chest, with my name on it. Back down again, then in to see Mr. Cheesemer, who settled what had to be settled, and then told me I had better get a National Insurance card in a hurry, then worked out that I was just entitled to enough holiday to get the whole of the Christmas week off, so that we will be able to realise the holiday in German after all (hoffentlich).

Then a girl took me over to Mr. Scholes, who asked how I was getting on, did I like my digs, and took me to Mr. Pajaczkowski, who said similar things, and took me to another bloke, whose name I have forgotten, but will doubtless come to know in the near future. He took me round and showed me everything in more detail than I saw it last time, including the High Pressure laboratories over the other side. Finally I was taken back, given a locker and a desk, and handed over to my T.O., John Dunlop, who told me he was doing some catalyst research and then disappeared, so I got permission from someone likely and went down to get my National Insurance card. Back again, and off with another lab assistant, Malcolm, who took me to the canteen, where food is improbably cheap. Then into town, arranged to have my bank account transferred, and then bought some tobacco and back to the site, where John came eventually and showed me a bit more of what was going on, explained that he nearly blew the place up with TiCl₃ this morning, and told me a bit about polythene processes, and suggested, if I were interested, that I read up on it. Talked a lot about Germany—he spent a year at München, and in many ways was impressed with both the Uni and the country. Then he disappeared again, and I off to the library, whence I got a book called „Die Kunststoffe“, the only likely looking general book in any language I could understand (I don't know what the one in chinese deals with, nor who reads it). John came back later and got me something on metallo-organic compounds, then left me until 1700. Then off, bought some stuff, and off to makan, later contacted a woman about a room and subsequently off to see it, but it is a bit expensive at £4, and I don't really like the idea too much, though at the time I was keen enough—anything to get out of this madhouse. Late to bed, after a preliminary sleep.


Wednesday, 4 December 1968 WGC
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Up at a slightly more sensible hour this morning, though still none too pleasant at 0755. Nevertheless got moving pretty smartly, as was necessary if I wanted to get any breakfast, and today found my way around a little better. Was asked for a lift by a playboyish-looking bloke without a coat, who however produced the one by the time we set off for work (again too early).

Into the lab, and read for about half an hour, until another lab assistant came and had a chat with me, a bloke by the name of Owen Pitt (what a name!). Talked to him for a while, until John came long and suggested I came with him to watch him transfer some TiCl₃ from a tin to a jar in a dry box, which is en effect a dried-out changing bag with glass walls. The point is, TiCl₃ is extremely sensitive to moisture. John spent the whole process talking about Germany - he obviously enjoyed himself there. Came back down again, and tried to ring Mrs. Prowes, who was not at home, so rang Mrs. Litchfield to check in the number, but was told that another place was about to become vacant, and would I like to contact Mr. John Cunningham? Did some and got details of a hared flat for £2··10··0, in St. Albans, otherwise quite good. Distance would be about 7 miles. Arranged to go over and see the place at 2030 tonight, and then left it. Shortly later off with Owen and several others for lunch, this time spent entirely in the lunch hour, and then back to the labs, where after a while John came in and suggested we went up to the polypropylene labs and watched them making a Ziegler catalyst, as they would in due course hand the job over to us. Accordingly up, and were showed the apparatus in some stage of preparation, and had to go down to the other side of the site to get some AlEt₂Cl, which proved not to be possible, as somebody else was there, and so left it until tomorrow early. Then back to the labs, where John suggested we make a Grignard derivative, exact details of which I am uncertain. In any case, I was asked to set up a titration of the stuff in excess of acid against an alkali, and this in itself proved hilarious, though we eventually got our results. The amusing thing was filling up a flask with solid TiCl₃, which had to be done under nitrogen, and John managed to blow the stopper out of the jar, along with about 100 gm of TiCl₃, all over the balance, fume cupboard and homself. Eventually tidied that up, and got a suitable quantity of the stuff into a flask, by which time it was about 1700, and time to go home. Went up to Welwyn to see a room, nothing fantastic, but OK. Arranged to contact the fellow tomorrow, then off to Handside for makan, after which up to my room. Started writing a letter to Matin, on consideration of our Christmas holidays, and then off to St. Albans, where I found the house without all too much difficulty, but came too early. Eventually arrived on time, was given the key, and had a look at a room (wrong one, as it proved), and then came John Cunningham and explained that he was moving into that room, and showed me a tiny little room even smaller than my present one. Still, that was not all: Robin (another of the blokes) has an enormous place where John (and subsequently [I]) keeps his clothes, and they share a lounge room, kitchen and bog, so it is not too bad, especially for £2··10··0, especially considering the fact that there is no landlady breathing down your neck. Unfortunately getting the room was not as easy as that. I think John would like me to come in, but the other 2 blokes would obviously want to see me. Still, all seem to share the same interests (though I suppose it is inevitable in people with similar technical training), and there is no trouble bringing women home. Had a cup of coffee and a talk with John, then off back via a short cut to Welwyn Garden again finished my letter to Matin and wrote one to Dad, then latish to bed.


Thursday, 5 December 1968 (St. Nicholas) WGC
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Eventually things are beginning to happen. Getting up in the morning is becoming again the same old grind it always used to be, and at present it is taking me 1 or 2 hours to recover from it all, or even longer. Still, in the lab we finally achieved something, perhaps because John was not in charge today. Came into the lab about 5 minutes late, which seemed to worry some people, though even so I had a further 10 to hang around before anything happened. Then John and I headed over to Polypropylene, while he told me of the sad fate that had afflicted his spark plugs. In Polypropylene met Gerry Lenther [?], who has been experimenting with Ziegler catalysts off and on for 2 years, and has now come out with an idea for a Hexene-1 modified catalyst called H13. He was in the process of putting the stuff in, 9,6 litres of a solvent called EC180, which we left vacuuming for a while, while we went down to get hold of some AlEt₂Cl, which we managed this time, and this was more than a little complicated by the fact that the stuff was not allowed to come in contact with H₂O or O₂, so did it under N₂. Got about 1½ l of that, transferred it to the flask, and had more fun getting a TiCl₃ suspension, 1,2 l of it in EC180, into a dropping funnel, where it separated and confused the whole process by blocking the tap. Got that going, all under N₂ and stirring all the while, and then added our 1,2 l of Hexene-1, which got things moving. Lunch came in the middle of this, but the break seemed to do little harm. Had makan with John, who seemed quite conversant at first, but then clammed up. Back to the labs, saw the rest of the Ziegler catalyst, and then back to polythene and would have helped John get the rest of the stuff ready, so that we can do it down here, had I not been required to move some solvents (We will be at Ziegler Catalysts all next week: Wilton need about 72 litres urgently). That would have been OK, apart from the rather messy process of moving rented shelving. These tea breaks are an excellent idea - cut right into the middle of it. Back to polythene, where John was messing around with lots of assorted pusing [?; tubing, maybe?], and got me to bore a whole in a stopper to insert a couple of tubes in, and I was initiated into the use of an oxy-gas torch in the process, all very useful, softens pyrex like putty (white heat). By this time it was 1700, and into town to get hold of some magazines, then home, noting on the way the reluctance of the car to start. On examination of the plugs, discovered, as expected, that the gaps were too wide, and set them a little close, as it was only that gap across a very small point, and it would probably wear pretty quickly. The effect was immediate: the car started immediately. Back upstairs, read for a while, then rang up Lynn, blowing 1/6d, and learnt that she has got hold of her driving license (or at any rate, has applied for it for Saturday), and the she is (hooray!) looking forward to seeing me. Sounds as if row with parents continues. I must be getting depressed by this place: just to talk to Lynn again for 1 minute (was that all it was?) makes life liveable again. Then felt ravenous, off for some fish and chips, had a burnup (83 mph [134 km/h]) and back, car pinking slightly - will have to remove blind before leaving tomorrow. Then upstairs, read, had a bath, to bed.


Friday, 6 December 1968 WGC → Tun. Wells.
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Things seem to be settling down to a fair bit of work now, though look at it as I may, I still seem to be enjoying it. This morning arrived before John, and did a bit of work on my diary before he came along and suggested we saw how our catalyst mixture was getting on. This it was doing quite well, having by this time developed into a slimy magenta paste, which we then had to transfer into a couple of polydrums, having the usual troubles in the process, which included getting the stuff all over everything - not so much a paste, more a slime. Then down to the alley shed, where we got hold of some more AlEt₂Cl - I am getting the hang of this at last, and John just looked on in surprise as I messed round with the taps and things. Then up and dumped it into the EC180 which we had been vaccing, and at this point I had to go up for a medical, most of which was spent reading an issue of „Motor“ which I already read 3 months or more ago. Then off to lunch, in my lab coat, all very non-u. John joined with me, bringing a couple of Indian friends in the process, one from Delhi, the other from Chandigargh. Off again to polypropylene, then had fun with TiCl₃ until I had to go off to get an optical appointment. ICI are apparently going to pay for lenses with safety glass, but I shall have to pay for the coating. Then off again to polyp., and was almost immediately, after tea, sent off to get some more TiCl₃, which we decanted into a flask, then off to help John take the molecular sieve apart. After that, off in the direction of Tunbridge Wells, a long but otherwise uneventful trip: got myself into a tail slide on the Hemel Hempstead southern approach route to the M1, and ad the other end came across a 2CV (or was it a 3CV?) belting along at 65 mph. Just off the end, it actually belted past me, much to my hurt pride. Then through London City, down to Tunbridge Wells, flashing a white Stiletto in Tonbridge that turned out not to be Sonny. Almost immediately after arriving at Westwood, out for a lousy party, which we spent examining a vert charmille [dark green, same as my car] Ami 6, which had thoughtfully been left unlocked. Then off for a burnup, during which I improved considerably my tail-slide technique: I think I have worked out how to achieve uniform tyre wear on all 4 wheels. Ran out of petrol on the way back, and had fun getting into Westwood for the night; it seems that Mrs. Lane does not like me.


Saturday, 7 December 1968 Tun. Wells
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Woke up late, round 0930, and Jim and Sonny were still asleep. Got up and dressed in my own time and then wandered downstairs and rang Lynn up - this at about 1030. She seemed annoyed at having been dragged out of bed (which I had caused), and did not seem particularly interested in the idea of coming out this morning for a driving lesson. Told her I would pick her up in an hour and got Jim to help me adjust the brakes. Found out how to adjust the handbrake, which was in great need thereof: just adjusted a little screw with my fingers ½ minute, no tools needed. The rest was fairly straightforward, though the studs on the rear l.h. wheel are not in very good condition. Also scratched the driver's door with the jack.

Then off to pick Lynn up and off east of Tonbridge to teach her to drive. I do not know what I would expect of a rank beginner learning to drive in a car like mine, but I was very impressed by the way she caught on - she was very nervous for about the first ¼ mile, then gradually got better, though she was typically slow changing gears - of only there were a way of teaching that without damaging the box. Still, she did it smoothly, if slowly. Back home again, she having covered a stretch of 13 miles, not badly at all, though she got me to take her back through Tonbridge. Then off to have makan and back to see Sonny, who was in the process of applying some more black stripes onto his car. Helped him a bit, though it was bloody cold, and then off inside for a while to write up for yesterday, though worried about the mess the outside of the car was in, only to find that Jim, bless him, had beaten me to it, and got into trouble with Mrs. Lane for doing so. Helped him and finished the kob - he got discouraged after a while - and then hung around inside for a while, while we arranged what to do in the evening. Sonny wanted Lynn to get him a girl and make a 4some of it, but her attempts were in vain. Off then to see the tail end of “Carry on Camel” [? Not in IMDB. Maybe Carry on in the Legion, which was also marketed as “Carry on... Follow that came”], and then “Carry on Doctor”, both fairly amusing. I like the way they depicted them torturing the doctors by giving them an enema - at least they didn't pump any air in. Then off home by a rather devious route, though Lynn does not seem to enjoy burning so much now that she knows what it entails. Dropped her home, then off to Westwood, where I spent a while talking to Jim before going to sleep.


Sunday, 8 December 1968 Tun. Wells → WGC
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Another typical “wasted Sunday”, in which I achieved as good as nothing, unless it be teaching Lynn a bit about how to drive a car. Woke up, as I had expected, on the stroke of 1100, but Jim was still asleep, and I felt lazy, so back off to sleep again and did not wake until 1200. Upstairs to wake Sonny, who swore at me despite the time, and then down to ring up Lynn, who was worried about my safety and wanted to know if I had had an accident. Told her no, and arranged to pick her up after lunch. Then upstairs to wash and shave, for which Jim swore at me for using the wrong soap (which I had not), and gave me some toast and jam. Off after that round the corner to get my car and into town to have lunch at the Po-king, as I thought it were a shame could I not have something better than fish and chips on a Sunday. The makan I actually had was pretty lousy as chinese food goes, though a long way from being inedible. Then off to pick up Lynn, who was her usual bright self, and headed off in much the same direction as yesterday, this time with a little more confidence on her part. Stopped for a while to show her how to steer, then on again I am quite astounded with the progress she is making, and can't help thinking of the old story of the bird who can drive getting bloke to teach her, etc. Only thing is, she is not doing it that well. Caught on with the steering, anyway, and then let her get her speed up a bit. Headed back into Tonbridge, where she got the best part of 70 mph up, and took her up her street, where she was seen by her Doctor, Dr. Forsythe, whom she nearly ran over. So much for her hopes that her father would not find out. Got her to do a 3 point turn on a hill, which did not do the transmission much good when she engaged the centrifuge at 10 mph. Then down through Tonbridge, and up in the direction of Brands' Hatch, where (not Brands') Lynn gained even more confidence, possibly too much. Carried on belting for a while, and I though it would be a good idea to tell her how an engine, also centrifugal clutch works. On, still further, and saw a learner in front of us having a flat, which caused him to run all over the place, and obviously had its effect on Lynn, who promptly belted on past him at 25 mph in 1st gear, which couldn't have done the engine too much good. A bit further on she avoided a lorry in a tight space with a manoeuvre which I would have envied myself - but which nevertheless scared me. Then headed back into Tonbridge - by this time we were somewhere near Rochester - and it got dark, thus catching Lynn out in the dark, which she had not wanted. Nevertheless she did not mind it - after all, there is not that much to it. Then left her at home and headed off to Westwood to change and get all my barang into the car, then off to check with the Curry Inn that I could pay by cheque, and off to pick Lynn up. Upon arrival she promptly ordered chicken Vindaloo, which rather worried me, but she insisted that she could take it, but couldn't, and had to leave half of it, which disappointed both me and the waiter. Then off to see Prudence and the Pill for the 3rd time, and got absolutely nowhere with Lynn - is she playing hard to get, does she genuinely not want it, of is she expecting me to try harder? Anyway, was not quite as frustrated as last time I saw this film, though it did not help when she would not let me kiss her goodbye outside her home. Obviously likes me, as she asked me to ring her up during the week - don't know where she thinks I am going to get the money from. Off back to Welwyn Garden City via London City, and made it in 40 minutes and 60 miles, despite an estimated 5 mile loss of way.

Nowadays (2016) the route would be via the M25 motorway, about 68 miles and 80 minutes.

Quite late to bed.


Monday, 9 December 1968 WGC
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Up later than usual this morning: I had intended to get up as per usual, but just felt too exhausted for anything by the time it came, and so slept on for another hour. Then into town and bought myself a comb, as I had broken yet another one yesterday, and then up to the opticians a full half-hour early, which was fatal, as they had hardly anything worthwhile to read. Was taken in almost exactly at te right time, then thoroughly examined - I wonder what happens if the person under test can't read - they seem to rely almost entirely on reading ability in these tests. In any case, my present prescription was virtually substantiated, with a 20° odd change in the axis of the spherical [sic; should be cylindrical] components, each in an opposite direction. Imagine my eyes going cross-axial trying to focus through the things. The lenses will take about 3 weeks to make, which is considerably longer than I expected. Then to the bank, where all I wanted to do was get some money, but ended up being given a pep talk by the assistant manager. Noticed a few sheets he had with some not-very-nice comments on it. Ever since Outward Bound I have disliked being referred to in the 3rd person as “this young man”, and take particular exception to it from a bank. I'm considering changing same.

It's a pity I didn't note what they were upset about. I had only been at this branch for a week. I recall they didn't like me writing dates with Roman numerals (something I still do), but that would have come later.

Then into work, where Lola told me there had been a phone call for me, and then up to polypropylene to have a look at what John was doing. He had Owen up there with him, and they were decanting the last remains of the catalyst into the last of the polydrums, but unfortunately there was more of then former than of the latter. Gave up John's original idea of a tea chest on grounds of instability and put them in a 200 litre drum instead. Then off to lunch, after which I moved my car to another car park nearer to the research department - a little makes all the difference in this weather. Then in, wrote up my diary (doing this at work is becoming a habit now), and then up with John again to polypropylene. There there was still not much going on. We decanted the remainder of the catalyst for use in the High pressure labs, then started (gradually) working out how to make another lot of catalyst, which in this instance involved titrating some TiCl₃ against Ce(SO₄)₂ in acetone, water, and with solid CO₂ floating on the mixture. Got consistent enough results to conclude that we were dealing with a pretty weak mixture, then off down to the SEB to get hold of some more AlEt₂Cl, which is becoming quite routine now. After that, added the TiCl₃ and Hexene-1 in quite record time, after which I went off into town to buy a magazine, then home, while John stayed behind and watched it all for a while. Read “Neue Revue” at home, nothing fantastic, but of late I have nothing else to do. I shall obviously have to try to fix up my typewriter and rewrite “Where in the World” [a novel that I had written earlier in the year]. Might even add to it and see how I can fit my present way of life into it.

Then over to meet the blokes in St. Albans, as invited, round 2015. Very informal, other people pouring in and out of the place, but enjoyed myself. Future still indefinite.


Tuesday, 10 December 1968 WGC
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What a day! For some reason life seems to be catching up on me, and I am again passing through one of my more or less inexplicable bouts of tiredness. Perhaps this was not helped by my theory that if I only get 7 hrs sleep, I would not feel so tired. Sure, it started off OK, but after that it caught up on me. Up quite bright, and off to work. Since working in polypropylene I have discovered a new car park hard up against same, and am now parking my car there. In the lab, had a pep talk from Peter Clegg, who is research leader or some such thing. He was quite nice, and put it to me quite bluntly that the reason they gave me this job was to see what sort of bloke I was, in order to find out it it were worth employing me after I had got my degree. Then out again, and John had already gone over to polypropylene, where we went through more than the usual amount of trouble transferring the catalyst to a 25 l metal drum with polythene lining, which, it strikes me, would be ideal as a spare petrol can (or tank, for that matter), especially if it were filled with some of the plentiful supply of iso-octane about this place. Eventually got most of the catalyst in the drum, which took until after lunch, and then started worrying about how to clean all the tack out of the reaction flask. For some reason (probably because I didn't know what I was letting myself in for) I volunteered to try, and got myself covered in a sticky, latex-like crap which just happened to be corrosive as well. Eventually put some gloves on, and in the meantime John had decided to accept Gerry's suggestion that we move back down to polythene, which we did. Spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the mess and trying to arrange some sort of equipment and bench space. In the process, broke a tube on the top of the reaction flask, and cut myself - possibility of TiCl₃ or AlEt₂Cl, not to mention solvents, so all over the place to have it attended to. Then back and carried on setting things up, but not completely by 1700 hrs.

Home, buying “Autosport” on the way - this magazine buying is costing me as much as food. After makan, exhausted, straight off to sleep, waking at 2145, when I tried to get on to the phone to Bev, to no avail. Had a bath and back to bed, with thoughts of entering the London → Sydney Marathon.


Wednesday, 11 December 1968 WGC
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Matins's birthday today - done that really make him 26? Also today was the anniversary of the purchase of my DKW, which also is nothing to be proud of. Up as usual, though it was a lot darker and thus seemed earlier. Am more or less leaving at the right time for work - a good 10 minutes it takes me, average speed about 10 mph, which makes me wonder how John Cunningham and lot can make it from St. Albans in a claimed 14. 20 seems a more likely minimum. In the lab, nothing in particular was going on - after a while John appeared on the scene and suggested we got moving with the apparatus, which is now becoming highly boring. To start with, had to take yesterday's catalyst over for shipment, and it was still dawning - thank God I don't live in Finland! Off with John again to get some red take organised, then back to work out what to do with the stuff, and carried on setting up our apparatus. Then put in the EC180 and had further fun trying to get all our seals to work - several started going aa soon as we turned the vacuum on, and to make matters worse Andy Pajaczkowski came along and started complaining about various aspects of the organisation which he didn't like. Then with John over to pick up some polydrums, and subsequently some AlEt₂Cl, he complaining all the while about the setup. Then off to a rather late lunch, and back, wrote up diary as per usual, and then back to it. Andy had apparently been drumming into John all about safety, and we both had to read the safety precautions to do with handling Alkyls and TiCl₄, which mainly involved changing our methods to use impermeable rubber gloves.

Presumably my mishap the day before had something to do with this.

Put the alkyl into the flask, then had more fun trying to get 1,7 l of TiCl₃ suspension out of a flask holding 1,65 l, agitating all the while. Then put in the Hexene-1, and I off to get some more, and nearly ended up with Decene-1 instead. Back, did some tidying up, and into town to buy another magazine, until I discovered that it was half-day. Good thing to interrupt my habits. Played the flute a while instead, then had makan, into town to get some change, and rang KT up in Hull, as I thought it would be an idea to see her, as I had tomorrow off for an interview which proved to be next Wednesday. She seemed delighted, and arranged to meet me at the railway station at noon. Rang up Bev and got her to send £ 10 - she is worried about Dad. I hope nothing has happened to him. Then got some petrol, watched a film on TV for a while, and up early to prepare for tomorrow, and to bed as early as I could.


Thursday, 12 December 1968 WGC → Hull → Newark
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Up at 0715, which took a good deal of effort, especially as I had had trouble going to sleep last night. Put all my barang into the car and then had breakfast, and then off to the North, leaving the Farmhouse at 0745. Belted across the country lanes to Luton, joining by another junction than I had expected the M1. Belted up there in typical Autobahn-like monotony - it dawned about half an hour after I joined - until we hit some of the “killer fog” which instigated the 70mph limit in the first place - and well I can imagine it. Nevertheless, from 0845 to 0945 I cleaned up 71 miles, which ought to confuse anybody who reckons the top speed of the car is only 68mph. The fog cleared up shortly, and after a while we hit a new patch, which resulted in me missing the turnoff to the M18, which considerably annoyed me. Belted off Sheffield way, back, and up to Doncaster, where the fog gradually got worse, with the result that I hardly saw anything of Doncaster. Through to a place called Hatfield, where I got some petrol - looks good in my log book: 2 entries for petrol, both in Hatfield, but one in Herts, the other in Yorks. On, ever on, and the last 40 miles took almost as long as the previous 160. Fog got more patchy towards Hull, and in places I had to slow down to 10 mph. Had all my lights, 5 as they are, on full, but still was obviously not seen at too great a distance. Picked up a thumber along the last stretch, then a bit faster into Hull, which was almost completely free of fog. Met KT, wearing a blonde (no, dunkelblond) wig at the Paragon station, while I was cleaning the front of the car. Then across to a bank, changed 20 DM, and up for a boozeup at a local pub, where I met a large proportion of the local students, and was asked by one Miß Jennifer Browne (“with an 'e'”) if I would take her back to Chislehurst tomorrow, which posed certain problems, as I was due back at work, though I certainly didn't feel like it. Then thought of a pretty foolproof excuse about losing my wallet, and so agreed, though said it might be tonight.

I still don't understand why I thought this would be a good excuse. At some point I would have had to either find it again or take other action, and calling work would have been relatively straightforward.

Off after that with KT, who confided in me that she was crazy about Ian, a bloke who lives next to her here, and who hails from Orpington. This seems to be getting a little out of hand, the way people confide in me - I think this is the first time it has happened to me with a bird with whom I have been trying to go out. In any case, gave my worthy advice in the normal unbiassed (or very nearly) manner, putting in a good word for Gaston [myself] on the way. KT was very apologetic - today she reminded me greatly of Jayne Philpot. Then off for a drive, then dropped her back home and changed my oil and gave the car its 3000 mile service [every 3,000 miles; this must have been at 12,000 miles]. Met Ian on the way, who was quite nice, but not confident, which did not help me in my errand of finding out about his stand for KT. Then off and had some chips and lousy fish, and off for a drive with KT and Ian, after which to some pub or another, where I did not have some beer to drink, and met a girl from KL called Tan Swee Lin. Then, finally, before it got too congested, off with KT, Jenny and another Lynn (or Lin) [Dickens? - no], talking the latest to the railway station, then picked up Jenny's barang from her house, dropped KT home, and off to the South, getting some petrol on the way out of town. Belted down much fast along much less foggy roads - got a bit in places, but hardly worth worrying about, andarrived at the southern end of the Doncaster bypass aroudn midnight, and had a bit to eat at the transport café. Then down...


Friday, 13 December 1968 Newark → Hatfield → T. Wells → Southampton
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... the A1, on the grounds that the M1 might be foggier - as may well have been the case. Belted down towards Newark way before I got too tired to drive, so off the road and tried to sleep, which was not helped by female presence on my lap - as it eventually turned out, after we had tried various positions. Got my hands moving slowly, and could feel my responses coming - rapid heart beat and subsequent trembling, and then we got moving, though she would not let me below the waist, and after a while I did not want to try - she was sticky and unwashed, though she did not smell too bad. I think I probably could have, had I wanted. Slept a bit, then had another go and on, stopping after a while at the nearest transport café for coffee. Belted on like that through fog and so on, which considerably tired me. Also worried slightly about lack of performance, which I attribute to a blocked secondary choke main jet.

Probably correctly. The carburettor was a progressive twin barrel job; the second only opened after a certain position of the accelerator pedal, and it was possible to feel it by the slight increase in pressure needed. The jet was at the bottom of the float chamber, and I had problems with dirt in both Ami 6s that I had.

In any case, my fuel consumption was good - I ought to work out a way to block off that barrel. Stopped again in Hatfield (of all places!) and slept another couple of hours until the rush hour traffic got too noisy and I got scared of being noticed by some ICI bloke. Ground on through London, got lost somewhere in the City, but finally got through onto the A2, and found Jenny's house without too much more trouble. She invited me in for breakfast, though I might not had I known what it was like in advance: place was really filthy, and I felt worried about eating what she offered me. Her father is suffering from what seems to me to be premature senility, though Jenny calls it something else.

My recollection of that was of a man sitting at an old bare wooden table, apparently unaware of his surroundings. It's hard to understand that somebody like that should live alone. Possibly his wife was normally there, but I didn't see her. His condition is consistent with what we now call dementia, though I would have remembered that word.

Had breakfast - baked beans - and then off as quickly as possible.

My recollection was that she had invited me into the bedroom to “get some sleep”. I also recall the aversion I describe here.

Arrived in Tun Wells in time for lunch, bought Exchange and Mart, met Sonny for lunch at the Wimpy, though Lynn did not turn up. Back with Sonny to West Kent,

I think that was part of the name of his educational institution.

then off to sleep in the car - was very much in need thereof. Woke up apparently of my own accord to find Sonny's car in front of mine - this at about 1700 hrs. Got back home to Westwood and Sonny promptly asked me if I would like to help him wash his car, which in the temperature (about 0°) I was reluctant to do. Rather annoyed him by taking seriously Jim's suggestion that we go down to Southampton tonight - he had wanted us to be there to see him take his car round Brands. Set off for S'hampton tough at about 1805, arrived S'hampton at 2010, which is not bad.

Now (2016) Google Maps gives three routes via motorway, the fastest 1 hour, 52 minutes. The time must really have been good for the road conditions at the time. If I hadn't cleaned the carburettor, it would be really surprising.

Did a fantastic drift round one corner on the way. At Greenacres a cocktail party was in full swing, and we stood out in the kitchen and ate makan kechils and talked to Jim's cousin, John, just back from thumbing round Europe. Not very interesting sort of bloke. Then round town, found nothing, and back home, where I went straight to bed, as I was feeling crook - suspect a light chill.


Saturday, 14 December 1968 Southampton
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Woke up late to day to hear Mr. Mc.Gibbon singing a rather personalised version of “Waltzing Matilda”, so joined in and went outside for the usual. Dragged Jim out of bed, then we both got John out, and down for a breakfast. Then Mr. McGibbon peed off somewhere - to work, I think, to supervise the installation of something or another. Mrs. McGibbon soon followed suit and went into town, while Jim and I did our best to wash my car, all of which was hardly helped by an ambient temperature of -5°. The pipes had frozen up, so we could not use the hose, and even hot water froze on the glass. Eventually, after liberal application of hot water, brought the car above freezing point, and leathered it down. Then in for an argument with John, who is a silly bastard really, who insisted that American cars are far better than European ones. It would not have been so bad had he brought any evidence to bear, but he did not. To make matters worse by insulting myself and my best ami. Off with Jim into town, where I left him parked beside a 2CV and went into town to get hold of some bolt to hold on my bumper bar. Also got some assorted screws and washers, and back to find Jim gone. Had a look at the 2CV, Jim turned up and started complaining about insurance or something. Then off home, where I put in my bolt and tidied up the car a little. Then off to see some friends of the McGibbons in a place called West Tytherly the other side of Romsey. Stayed there for a while, then off up a little track to see what we could find, then belted round a frozen up field. Let Jim have a go to see what the wheels were doing - did not look as under control as the ones of the DS do, though it was still pretty good. Amusing watching the change of the wheelbase, very noticable. Then on to the main road, round, and back across a ploughed frozen field - very rough. On, joining the A30 just before the turnoff for Basingstoke/Stockbridge (A33/A30). On through Stockbridge, then tried a little road, marked “Test Road”, possibly a special stage in a rally or such like.

In May 2016, while typing in this diary, I came across a more plausible explanation: this was in the Test Valley.

Belted down it, knocking the bottom a bit on frozen ground, not doing it much good the last time - dented the silencer and front of the underbody guard. Back to the friends, had some coffee, then belted back the hard way, across the fields, and through Southampton, passing the McGibbons in their Zodiac in Romsey.

In the evening, did little: Jim was thinking of going into town, which idea was somewhat offset by Paul Hallett ringing just as we were about to have some makan. Put him off and rang up again later, and talked with him at great length - about an hour. He has got himself a job somewhere near Maidenhead, and tells me that Malcolm is filthy jealous of me - told him to give Jenny my love in Malcolm's presence. Then, finally, hung up and rang Bev, though with no luck. Then with Jim into town, also with no luck, apart from a bit of experience in clutchless gear changes - this centrifugal clutch is perfect for this, as it makes up for the only defect in the normal technique.

Back home, and shortly later came the McGibbons, and then I did my best to catch up with a sorely neglected diary, not helped my Mrs. McGibbon coming in and talking about keeping diaries, and then carried on giving her impressions of the Poms. Then had a snack and Jim came in, giving his impression (more violent) of the Poms. Finally, round 0230 to bed, messing round with cats on the way.


Sunday, 15 December 1968 Southampton → T. Wells → WGC
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Up very late this morning, at 1200, and then only because Mrs. McGibbon came in to tell me that Bev was on the phone and wanted to talk to me. So she was, too, but only just - I could hardly hear her. She has apparently heard from Dad, so nothing all to unpleasant could have befallen him, but I could not make out what he had said, apart from that he had secured some DM, which sounds promising. Supposedly he has written to me at Welwyn - I hope Matin has as well. I wish that bloke were a little quicker of the mark with letters. 'Twould be confusing to arrive in Germany and find him unbekannt umgezogen. In any case, it seems that Sonny has staved the back end of his car in, coming unstuck on Paddock yesterday.

Got fully dressed, then downstairs to where Mrs. McGibbon was preparing brunch (as I discovered later; I had thought it was breakfast). Took a good deal of time over this, and read the Sunday Times description of the Soviet army, which was rather amusing/interesting. Then uptsairs to write up my diary, with which I did not get very far, and decided to have a bath instead. Then down and suggested to Jim that we went back and had another go at that “test road” which we went along yesterday, and did so, though Jim ws not too keen at first. The place had thawed out, and was lovely and muddy, and we belted down it a couple of times at a hell of a belt, going sideways half the time, partially because of the suspension, but mainly because of the ruts, which prevented me doing a 180° spin. Cruising off the last time, I missed a parked Mini by about 6" as I belted past it sideways, and then scared the hell out of some women who were watching. The left front suspension was making a hell of a noise, but I oiled it and cleared the considerable amount of foliage, nettles, etc, stinging myself in the process. Then off home, the squeak disappearing and allaying my fears of more buggered suspension bearings. At home, did little, though this was how I liked it. Read a bit, wrote up my diary, hosed down the car, etc, and then came a makan to make up for the lack of lunch - lamb chops, 2 each: I think Mrs. McGibbon took my comment about the Aussies being the world's largest meat-eaters the wrong way.

Somehow 2 lamb chops don't seem to be very much meat.

After that, off back to Tun. Wells, hitting quite a bit of ice on the way. Saw Sonny, who, far from being daunted by being dented, was inspired by the way his car had handle round Brands, especially when Tony Lefranchi had a look and approved.

Looking at the web, it seems that Tony (Lanfranchi) was only ever active in 1968.

Then, after long discussion as to what he should do to his car next, off home to Welwyn Garden, without too much ice, but late to bed.


Monday, 16 December 1968 WGC.
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Oh, my God, getting up in the morning is going to be my downfall, that I can see. Every morning it is the same, and I have finally refuted my theory that it is all a matter of not sleeping too long - all that happens then is that I am exhausted in the evening, and fall asleep after an all-too-early makan. In any case, today I was definitely more than one under the weather, which made my plans to explain my absence on Friday all the more difficult - it would not have been so bad had I achieved something during the time I was away, but I didn't.

In to work, where Alan was the first to ask how my interview went - balls to that! - and then in to apologise to John, who seemed a bit confused by my deliberately somewhat unlikely sounding excuse, but believed when I explained the details as I had wanted. He then proceeded to tell me that Friday had been a ballsup without my help, and that we were now no further than we had been on Wednesday evening. Was then asked to titrate some TiCl₃, something I had never done before, and discovered that Gerry Lowther hardly had enough to go round, so off to the sores to get some Ce(SO₄)₂ ampoules. Made these up in due course - why is it that ampoules are so hard to open? BDH say one should file a nick in the neck and touch with a red hot glass rod, but even when it was white hot with a completely scribed ring, it had no effect. Eventually knocked it off sideways with a spatula. Did the titration OK - rather fun with the CO₂ floating around. All went well apart from filling the bulbs with TiCl₃. Then it was somehow lunchtime, an off for this, coming back a while before John, who in due course suggested we got moving putting the stuff in. This we did, in a series of ballsups culminating in the breakage of a neck in the reaction vessel as we added the TiCl₃, and John decided to discard the mess, as they were not in any particular hurry at Wilton, being short of an even more basic commodity, ethylene.

We were, after all, making polyethylene.

What John said as we poured the evil smelling but pretty blue mess away may affect my choice of career: “Chemists are better off then engineers: when a chemist makes a mistake, he pours it down the drain; when an engineer makes a mistake, it stands for decades as a monument to his incompetence”. Spent the rest of the afternoon tidying up. Then to Smiths, bought a few magazines and noted that Ogier and Bianchi are now in the lead, after Clark was stopped with diff trouble: they have not had any trouble yet, and, barring an accident, look set to win, as I predicted.

This was the London–Sydney Marathon. Sadly, the comment was prophetic.

Read most of the evening, down to hear the 2200 hrs news, in which they said that Clark had broken his diff and was out of the running, and Ogier/Bianchi miles ahead.

Again!

Rang up Sonny and Lynn about various things - blew a bomb on Lynn, with whom I talk far too long. That girl is an enigma.


Tuesday, 17 December 1968 WGC
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How frustrating when ones watch starts playing silly bastards with one! Such was the case this morning, when I got up to find my watch stopped at 0505, and quite reluctant to start again. Went downstairs and subsequently to the office, to be immediately galvanised into action by John, himself unused to such activity. Said that we had a lot of work in front of us, which was undoubtedly true, but surely it was not that necessary to jump about? Got moving in the fume cupboard room, where we had the job of transferring the TiCl₃ from the polydrum to flasks, not helped by the fact that we did not have a clean dry flask, and had to get one from the stores. Then got moving, and after transferral of the catalyst, John did one of his famous disappearing tricks, leaving me to do the titration, which went much better than yesterday, and to contemplate the fate of Ogier and Bianchi in their DS21, who according to one of the blokes at Handside, had crashed, but according to Gary Lowther had finished first. John came back after a while, and suggested we got moving again, and before lunch we thus managed to get the EC180 in to vacuum - John has an odd insistence of thorough purging between vaccing, which I do not share. Then off to get the AlEt₂Cl, to which I am quite getting used. There seems to be a vacuum leak developing in the system, which has not helped anything much. Then off to lunch, which by all practical methods means 1 hour, and after eating in to town to deposit some money at the bank - Dad has finally replied, and done himself proud by sending me £60, as well as £2··10··0 from Grandma Lehey. Also bought a paper confirmation - Ogier and Bianchi were run into by a Mini out of control on a perfectly straight road - no fault of anybody to do with the race, but what a thing to happen to them when they were 100 miles from the finish and in the lead. It reminds me of what Boris Wilson once said, that if you walk about a paddock with an Australian long enough, he will eventually bump into you, because he is used to the wide open spaces.

After lunch, on again with the catalyst, and everything went more or less as expected, except that John had some idea of purifying his Hexene-1 by putting it through a molecular sieve, which wasted a lot of time, especially as the tap at the top was none too secure, and after it had come out a second time (much to the consternation of Andy “I smell olefines” Pajaczkowski), I tied it on with a rubber band. Then off, leaving John to add the stuff in the evening.

I myself did little in the evening. Did a bit of shopping, buying some underpants and Christmas cards and ascertaining that my watch had something seriously wrong with it, and then home and started ideas on a new book, but eventually fell asleep. Maybe my old idea about sleeping twice a day has something in it. Late to bed eventually.


Wednesday, 18 December 1968 WGC
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Date written as Wednesday, the 18th September December 1968

For some reason I keep putting the wrong month down at the heading for every day - I wonder why. Up as usual this morning, to discover that my old Wingo watch, which I had tried in vain to get started yesterday evening, had done pretty well through the night, but gave up as soon as I moved it, and, in desperation, I tok it off after breakfast and went without a watch to the lab (funny how one gets in a rut). At the lab, John said something about having to get the catalyst (which was still in the mixing vessel) off in a lorry to Wilton by 1000 hrs. Poor Joh, he really isn't a quick worker, and tends to get rather flustered when he has to do anything in a hurry. In fact, with Owen's help, we managed quite well to do the whole thing, transferring, packing, etc, by 0940, and after it all John was so exhausted that he suggested we leave half an hour's rest before continuing. This we did, and then back to the old process, except that this time we were using iso-octane instead of EC 180 as the solvent (John now tells me that EC 180 is in fact 2.2.3[?].6.6-pentamethylheptane

My [?] seems justified. In fact, it seems to be 2.2.4.6.6-pentamethylheptane

and so another of the same group, if a little more dense.). This went without any particular mishap, although there was a little trouble with the vaccing - for some reason the liqiuid gave off a sort of fog under a pressure of about 35 mm Hg. No mishap, though, and off to the SEB to get our alkyl - this really is getting monotonous - and then back, putting it in before lunch.

Lunch was the ICI Christmas lunch, and not much better for it - just more sleep-inducing, and I had a bit of a kip before John came back. Then on, adding the TiCl₃ again smoothly, and then passed N₂ through the Hexene to

At this point comes a header and the first sentence for 19 December, crossed out. I suspect that I had forgotten that the previous day wasn't complete.

rid it of all the other grot. After that, added it slowly to the mixture, and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around doing nothing - I am more happy to do this even than flat out working, and it obvioulsy all boils down to the fact that I am bone idle. After work, straight home - the shops were shut, and I had little alternative. At home, started thinking about our impending trip to the continent, and it occurred to me that the green card situation was far from definite. Rang Bev up, who had heard nothing of it - got a 15 minute call for free, but had to pay for the subsequent call to Sonny, in which I asked him if needs were, to go up to Reading on Friday to get the thing for me.

Then did little - read a bit, considered writing some letters, but decided against it, and went to watch “The Sex Game”, only to be chased out by Mr. Marchant half way.


Thursday, 19 December 1968 WGC
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Oh, how this monotony gets me down! Mine is necessarily a life of change, and this diary, with its continual reminiscences of interesting occurrences to record, does nothing to help. Off as usual to work today, where everything was much more leisurely, as nobody had anything in particular in the way of a deadline. Only mishap (and after all, we are having them all the time) was the delivery tube came away towards the end of the transfer, spewing catalyst all over my gloves. Cleaned that up with IPA, had a breather, and got going with the last lot - a pity in a way, because I was just getting the hang of it all.

But that's monotony!

In the middle of all this, it occurred to me that I had ordered two Michelin XN [snow] tyres from Regional Tyre Company, and they said they were on their way. Got back to my job putting in iso-octane (and a bit of EC180), vaccing, then rang up again after getting the alkyl from he SEB - this is in itself an experience, because somebody had left some in the burette, and it was leaking. Then off to lunch early in order to be there when Regional arrived, but they managed to arrive as soon as I left, and went off, to be back at 1400.

After lunch, rang up the Permanent Insurance Brokers in Reading - apparently there is no restriction on STD calls from the office, which is convenient. The Green Card will cost £8, and he also said he would arrange Bev's insurance for £16··5, which seems reasonable, so got him to do that, along with a green card for Bev, and to give it to Sonny tomorrow.

It seems that we had intended to bring back the DKW Junior to England, and the second Green Card was for it. But I had difficulties and apparently took the easy way out. I never saw the DKW again.

Also out to the car to clean it up a bit, and then was examined by Andy Pajaczkowski, apparently interested. Back to work, put in the alkyl and the TiCl₃, the latter using a modified method to get all but the last dregs out. After that, the tyres came, and out to watch the fellow fit them

No automatic wheel balancing in those days.

- the idiot had not bought [sic] any tubes, and was trying to put tubes for 135-15 into a 165-15 tyre, which seemed dangerous to me. Got everything on - the things are much larger than the others, and I anticipate a bit of fouling. .

In fact, they were far too large. At the time I didn't realize that the aspect ratio of the tyres was the same, so a 165 mm tread width added 6 cm to the diameter of the tyre relative to the 135 mm tread width. They should never have sold them to me.

Back to the lab, where I helped Lola for a while, and then off home, doing some shopping and letter posting on the way. At home, got packing, and did my best to work out how to fit the barang I had into the car. Also put my prayer mat back on the back of the car seat, and then off to Hertford for a burn - the car is not so fast now, and max speed in 4th is little more than in 3rd. Had a bath, early to bed


Friday, 20 December 1968 WGC → Tun. Wells → Reading → T. Wells → Dover →
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Bloke came into my room at about 0010 this morning, as I was fast asleep, to tell me that I was wanted on the phone. It proved to be Sonny, who said he had checked up on the ferries, and that there were none round midnight tonight, and that we would have to leave earlier or on Saturday. Back to bed to consider what to do, and it occurred to me that I could use the phone call to say that I had just been told that Bev had been hurt in a car crash, and wanted to see me.

Somehow, now in 2016, I'm horrified. I had been with ICI for less than three weeks, and this was the second time I had just disappeared without permission and with a false excuse. They should have sacked me.

Got dressed, asked Alan to tell John tomorrow what had happened, and down to the car - good job I had already packed all my barang. Off to Tun. Wells, taking my time about it: there was extensive frost in may places, and I had quite a bit of fun on icy roads between Bromley and Sevenoaks. Could not be bothered to try too hard to get into Westwood, and ended up sleeping in the car.

Woke up round 0900, and decided it would be as well to get a move on over to Westwood and see Sonny and Bev before they went anywhere - they were still in bed, as it happened. Off then alone to Reading to get the certificate of assurance and the green cards, and also got some cash while I was there - took a hell of a long time getting these. Off again back, arriving by about 1440, and Bev and Sonny were not even ready. Got them moving pretty quickly and then off into town to buy some stuff, and would have had something to eat had Sonny not pointed out that we had to be in Dover by 1830 if we wanted to cross the channel this evening, and it was already 1545, so off we set, getting some petrol in Goudhurst. Arrived in Dover at about 1730, and was told there was ice, snow and fog on the continent, so left the XN's on. Onto the boat, and I got to sleep, but woke up after about an hour and went to look for Sonny. After another rest downstairs thinking about Sonny's plan of running his Stiletto in the Monte Carlo Rally next year (I reckon 1970 would be better), went upstairs and found them eating, so had something to eat, and also bought 600 gm Clan tobacco for only £1··10··0. as opposed to £10··7··1 in England or 24 DM in Germany (at that time the equivalent of about £2). Then more fun, and off the boat, belting along the Autoroute to Gent and looking for almost unobtainable petrol from there to Antwerpen. Finally got some in Antwerpen, and changed the tyres at the same time - these XN's are bastards to get off the wheel.

Because they were too big for the rims. I really replaced the tyres on the rims rather than having each tyre on its own rim.

The [sic] drove on to Liège, and left the wheel to Sonny, with the injunction to wake me as we came up to Liège.


Saturday, 21 December 1968 → Hamburg → Lüneburg
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He woke me just as he came off the Autoroute, and we were then stopped by a typical bolshy belgian policeman, who examined the whole car, including Bev, who was asleep in the back, with a torch. Got Sonny back onto the Autoroute, and kept him company until we made Aachen, then on, Sonny still driving, until we came up to Frechen, where Sonny and I got out to have a bite to eat, and brought some oranges back for Bev. Then I took the wheel and carried on for 100 miles, getting a good 90 mph up in several places. Then felt too tired to carry on - by this time we were on the new “Hansa-Line” Autobahn over Münster and Bremen.

And in my recollection it wasn't built until 1974 or so. But according to the Wikipedia page it was completed in 1962, so even in 1968 it wouldn't have been new. On the other hand, the atlas that we bought for the Asia Trip in 1967 shows that most of the distance between Münster and Bremen still under construction. Unfortunately it doesn't have a date, but that stretch includes parts that were claimed to have been completed in 1959. On the other hand, this atlas also shows the British M5 and M6 motorways, which were not completed until after the claimed completion of this part of the A1, so somewhere there are errors.

Woke up after about half an hour and belted on further until I decided I had not had enough sleep. Slept this time for about 2 hours, and then Sonny, who had been doing he best to prove that he could sleep on the floor or under the sates, woke up, probably having decided that he couldn't, and I suggested he drove on. After about 3 miles he had a flat tyre - we always seem to on this stretch

This suggests that we had passed Bremen, on the old part of the autobahn.

- and out to put a knobbly [snow tyre] on instead, which did not seem to worry the car much. I carried on then with Sonny floating between the seats - he had turned the front one around - and on thus to Hamburg, where the weather was none too good. The Elbe and the Alster were frozen, and it was somewhat foggy. Up to Matin's, but he was not there. Found Frau Plehn in Bolle, and she tried to tell me that Matin had gone away. Back there and saw Hussein, who has grown a moustache, and lent him DM 20. Then took him into town, and we had lunch at the KB, and then off to look round a bit, finally off to find Karen, who was not there, tried Matin again, and finally of to Lüneburg, where nobody seemed as delighted to see us as usual, perhaps because the were expecting us. Did not do much there - does one ever? - but had a fair degree of fun, read a bit, messed round, watched TV, etc, while Henry confided in me that he did not think that Sonny suited Bev, to which Erika replied violently to the contrary. Then came Ulla and Papa home and we had makan, while people gradually taught Sonny a bit of German, watched TV, talked, etc, then I decided to get hold of my spare tyre and fix it up, which was no easy matter, as first I discovered that the tube was completely cut through at one point, and had to get another tube, and so round town looking for one, which was by no means so easy. Got a 15ER eventually, then home to take the tube out from the XN, which holds to the bead as if it were glued. Eventually got it more or less fixed, and discovered that the valve would not fit through the hole in the wheel. Pumped it up as best we could, then upstairs to sing Christmas carols. Very late to bed - had to just about chase everybody out of the place.


Sunday, 22 December 1968 Lüneburg → Hamburg
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Up round 0900 hrs, which hardly even gave us time to get our full 8hrs sleep in, and then almost immediately breakfast started, again where Sonny had been sleeping in the lounge room, for there were still quite a few of us about. That dragged out for quite a while, then the morning routine settled down somewhat. I decided it might be an idea to wash my car, which it certainly was, and so out for some reason (probably to keep my shoes clean) barefoot, and then started washing, but it was very cold, and eventually I gave it up as a bad job and came back inside again to where various people were getting bored, Sonny in particular, and so started thinking about what we should do this afternoon. Came to very little conclusion, beyond that Sonny wanted a bath, which, for some reason, he did not have, and then had lunch, which Frau Fussan made, amongst other things, with some of the sambal I had left behind many months before. Then the problem became more acute - I helped a bloke break into his VW, into which he had locked the keys, and pumped up my tyres a bit more, then sat in the lounge room reading and in general doing nothing. Then Ulla and Erika suggested that we go and see Elke and Karli, which we did, both being rather pleased to see us, though we did not in point of fact do much. Then back to drop Ulla and Erika, after which we picked up some barang and headed to Hamburg via Geesthacht, nearly losing our way in the process. How wonderfully this car goes over cobblestones! Arrived in Hamburg round 1700, and straight to Matin, where a number of Arabs were in the process of visiting him, and then they left, leaving only Wilfrid. Talked for a while - quite a while in fact, as it degenerated into a joke-telling session. Then arrived Hussein, who almost immediately disappeared again to call Karen up. In the middle of all this Frau Plehn kept popping in to say that she did not approve of all these visitors. After a while, Sonny and Bev decided that they wanted to go dancing, so with Hussein to the Wikinger Hof, where they got themselves a couple of rooms, and then to the Reeperbahn, where we left them at the Top 10, then back to St. Georg for some makan to take home. Eventually all went home, Matin and I had a talk, and then off to bed, not too early, Matin telling me the latest theories about the pyramids.


Monday, 23 December 1968 Hamburg
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Up early, at 0710, as Matin wanted to get some work, and I wanted to tie up the registration for the DKW. Off first to the Studentenwerk, where I dropped him and promised to meet him at 1000 if I was finished by then. Down to the Ausschläger Weg, where I did my best, and was shuttled round to dozens of different places, and was eventually told I would have to get hold of a German Green Card, as English ones were not valid.

So that was the reason for the second green card.

Swore at that and decided to smuggle the car out of the country. Then to Lichtenfeld, and bought some stuff for the car, including a steering wheel glove, and to Racimex to get my instruments fixed up, which proved to be a waste of time. The temperature guage is apparently buggered. Did not get another, as they do not have the correct fitting. To Matin, who was not home, and so to the Hotel, where the traffic gradually thickened up with the Christmas rush, and I started putting on my steering wheel glove while waiting. Got it all put on and then went off to the hotel, where Bev and Sonny were still in bed. Off with Sonny to have a bite to eat, then back and picked Bev up, and decided to go and do some much-needed Christmas shopping. Off accordingly to the other side of the Hauptbahnhof, and decided to split up, nobody having much idea to get the others. I took Sonny to Lichtenfeld and gave him the idea that I would appreciate a Citroën gear-lever knob, and then off to see what I could find. Tried to get a Beatles LP for Bev, but not much luck. Met at a Konditerei [sic] near Kaufhof, then off again, I to change some money, and also to get the record for Bev (finally). Then back to the hotel, where Bev and Sonny were already, and after that off to have something to eat. Then off to find Matin, but all I found was an empty sump, and no means of fixing it: the screw which connects the oil cooler and engine was loose, and apparently untightenable.

I didn't seem to want to admit in the diary that this was all my fault: I had removed this screw trying to find a suitable place to connect an oil pressure gauge, and on replacing it had stripped the thread. My recollection is that this all happened in the Winterhuder Weg, starting across the road from number 114, where Matin lived.

Did my best, and after that filled the sump again, and emptied it within half a mile, so gave it up as a bad job and swore all the way back to the hotel (by U-Bahn; Matin was not at home), where I gradually calmed down after booking in and finding other people in much worse need than I. What I need more than anything is a girl who understands me; and that is difficult. Early to bed.


Tuesday, 24 December 1968 HH
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Heiliger Abend

Up round about 1000, as it occurred to me that it was about time I got up to go and see how the car was getting on. In to wake Sonny up and tell him what was going on - when he came in last night I was asleep, and not in a mood to tell him anything anyway, so I gave him a brief outline, then we went up to Mundsburg by U-Bahn and walked up - it was extremely cold, and were just getting started when Matin and Hussein walked by, Matin wanting to know what I did last night. Decided that my 12mm socket was worn out, and so down to Tatzelts Esso station, where they lent me another, and so tried that, to little more avail - the universal joint was being bolshy. Then borrowed a flat spanner, coming to the the conclusion in the process that the screw thread inside might be stripped, so back again and rang up the ADAC to see it they could help me - they could not, but put me on to a mob called Buchholz, who said there was nobody who could come and see the car. Then rang up Bev and got her to come to Matin's, then up ourselves to have some makan that looked very Indian, with which Sonny agreed. Bev came along some time later, and we stayed there some while taking and in general acting the way one always does when with Matin. After a while, Bev and Sonny got a bit bored, and so we headed into town and to the hotel, where we decided to give each other our presents - all 3 of them, the record for Bev and the gear knob for me. Then off to have makan, and of course almost everything was shut. Eventually went to the Hauptbahnhof, where a hell of a lot was going on in the Wartesaal 1. Klasse, and so had quite a good makan there, which strangely enough did not work out too expensive. Then back home again, where we considered what a way it was to spend Christmas, and then gradually off to sleep, I upstairs in Sonny's room.


Wednesday, 25 December 1968 HH
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Christmas Day

Up late this morning - after all, there was no reason why I should have got up any earlier than I did; this whole Christmas has been as good as ruined by this trouble with my car, and I once again feel as I did before I left Hamburg so many months ago. Got up eventually - it mast have been afternoon - and down to see Sonny and Bev, who were likewise still sleeping. Woke them up, and people gradually came to life, and we talked for a while. Then off to a little place for lunch, further up the Steindamm, where, as experience shows, they serve an excellent goulasch. After hanging around there for a while - they have a juke box, which Bev and Sonny heard only too eagerly - went back to the hotel, where we hung around yet further while wondering what to do. Eventually I decided to go and have another look at my car, and to remove the alternator to gain access to the nut. Off thus, wrapped up in Sonny's rally jacket and Bev's scarf, which only helped a little, and did my best. The alternator was really firmly bolted on - the spanner broke when I tried to unscrew it. Perhaps it was a result of the extreme cold. Up to Matin then, who was in the company of some Egyptian who spoke very bad English, and (Matin) wanted to know where I had been last night. In due course the Egyptian, who had been doing his best to ask me what the English maths 'A' level syllabus was like, took his leave of Matin, saying he needed some sleep. Had a brief talk with Matin for a while, then came another Egyptian, as I later discovered to be his friend. He spoke better English than the other, which was still not saying much, and started up a conversation about religion - apparently he is quite preoccupied with this, and asked me all my opinion of God, etc. It would all have been quite interesting had he been able to speak English better, but it was quite a struggle as it aws, and often enough I said it in German and let matin translate into Arabic. Then I got fed up, and began to wonder what was happening to Sonny and Bev, then off back to the hotel, where they were not, nor had they left a message, so off to see a film, „Der Turm der Verbotenen Liebe“ which, despite the title, was based on a novel by Dumas. Rather amusing, plot none too bad, and full of naked women. Then back to the Hotel, where Bev and Sonny were. Spoke to them for quite a while, then off back to Matin, who complained that I was late, and then started talking about the future, saying that I should come back Germany and continue studying here, as the period of the course had been shortened. I don't know - this whole thing has confused me considerably, and I don't know what advice to take. Late to bed.


Thursday, 26 December 1968 HH
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Boxing Day

For some reason (quite possibly force of habit) Matin insisted on getting up early this morning, and would not rest until he had got me up too. At one stage he did his best to piss into my face, which I did not find very nice of him. Then he turned his Anglepoise lamp onto me, which I then turned to the door, with the result that Frau Plehn could not make me out when she came in to look for me. Finally got up, dressed, etc, and then Matin suggested that we tidy up his room, which was indeed a good idea - the place was filthy. It must have taken us a good 2 hours to tidy it up into some semblance of order, and then Matin suggested getting some makan ready. I never fail to be depressed by the length of time it takes him (or me, when I am at it) to get all the usual domestic chores done with. Maybe this has some bearing on my idea that a woman's place is in the home, and also that I should get married. I am sure that one of the main things that has been depressing me in the past 18 months has been the motley collection of places I have stayed; in a decent home it would not be so worrying. One of the conclusions to which I am rapidly coming is that I want to go home, either to Malaysia or Australia, where I can have somebody to look after me - not that I am incapable of looking after myself, but more that I am unwilling, and that I get depressed.

Matin's makan was prepared in a wierd and time-consuming way, which did not help the former thoughts - he ground up some grain with onion and meat, doing this several times and moistening the whole affair, then patting it out into little cakes, which he then left to dry out, and we went off to see his Egyptian friends; on the way we saw a Dutch Ami 6 with a dirty great dent in its front wing. It is pleasing to know that I am not the only foreigner who has trouble with his Ami 6 this Christmas. Did not stay at his friend's place long, which was just as well, as it was not very nice, notwithstanding the 240 DM rent which they had to pay. Back home again, while they mentioned the fact that they were thinking of buying a couple of cars and shipping them back to Qahira, as they did not yet have driving licenses. Eventually I was tentatively asked if I would like to drive them back to Qahira by way of Gibraltar, accommodation and everything being free in return for my services. Only snag was, they would want another driver, and I (rather rashly) said Sonny would jump at the opportunity. Had makan, which Matin had altered, as the cakes did not fry too well, and then off back into town to see Sonny and Bev. Rather to my disappointment, Sonny was not very interested in coming to Egypt, as he said he had too much work to do. Now I shall have to try either Jim or Paul Hallett.

Off in the evening to our little Bräterei in Steindamm, then to see „Doktor Schiwago“, and consequently very late back, so I slept in the hotel.


Friday, 27 December 1968 HH
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Had intended to get up early this morning, but, as I discovered, I had forgotten to set the clock on alarm, and woke up only at 0930. Did my best then to make up for lost time, in which I was only partially successful; first I went to the Citroën scrap dealers round the corner in the Rostocker Straße, who were not interested, and suggested that I go to Schlüter, which I did in due course. Had a long wait, spent reading about some East German student with a pre-war Audi - reminds me of my Old Grey Mare, a on which [?] I think I am fonder of than my Ami; I am somehow convinced that the former would never land me in this situation - after all, in the last 115000 miles it did not do so - 10 times the distance my Ami has done (sobering thought - only 10 times!). Eventually got some service, and the bloke promised to do his best, just as a car towed in the Ami 6 with the dent that I saw yesterday - it apparently also had a broken track rod. Eventually off in an Audi to pick my car up, and then towed it back. Amused by the leaning, even at relatively low speeds, also by the smooth appearance of it being towed over cobbles. In the workshop they removed the alternator without all too much trouble, and verified that the whole inside thread was stripped, and said they would do their best to fit an 8mm thread in it and make a screw to match - this being apparently quite easy - by 1515. Off feeling a lot happier to a makan shop in the Grindeallee where I had an unbelievably grotty goulasch which made me feel sick, and gave me the squits by the time I got back to the hotel, where I told Bev and Sonny what had happened, and they did their best to pack me off to Lüneburg. I know how Paul Hallett must often feel when one asks him to do something - it is unpleasant to feel that one is being used, and I feel this often enough of Bev and Sonny in this trip. Off to our makan shop again with Sonny and Bev, where they ate, and then off, rather against their wishes, to Schlüters to see how the Citroën was getting on, which was not very well: apparently they close at 1515 on Fridays, and by this time it was 1545, and only the night watchman was there, who told me that something was broken in the engine, no details available, apart from the fact that it should be ready on Monday at a cost of in the region (in other words, in excess) of DM 200, which hardly made me feel any better. Then had trouble with my watch on the way to Matin's place - the present does not seem to be a lucky time for me with mechanical things. Matin was not particularly interested in my problems - he had his own, mainly how to get rid of Karen before he was due to pick up some other bird, and told me to be downstairs at 2200, and he would come down and open up. Then off to see Bev and Sonny, who were none too happy, and rather inclined to leave the problem to me and bugger off to England as soon as possible. Eventually, while having makan, decided to go down to Lüneburg tomorrow, and then Bev and Sonny off dancing, and I set off to Matin, who was not there, so after freezing a while, went back to the hotel, and then read some of “Gulliver's Travels”, and off to sleep.


Saturday, 28 December 1968 HH → Lüneburg
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Had set the alarm for some time like 0930, but in fact did not wake up until some time later. Got up and down to wake Sonny and Bev, then left them to what they had to do and went up to look for Matin, who, bless him, was not at home. Fortunately Frau Plehn was, and so I managed to get hold of the barang I left there last night. Then said goodbye to Frau Plehn, giving her the impression I was going back to England - I wish to hell I were! - and then went back to the hotel, where Bev and Sonny had not got much further. Went down to collect the bill, which was a bit of a shock: so much for Bev insisting Sonny slept in a separate room: every night, whether or not I were there, they were charged for a double and a single bed, regardless of whether the latter was used. To add insult to injury, on Monday we were charged for 4 beds, to which I took exception, and went to the extent of calling in the police, who were not able to help much, and said that I would have to go to court if I wanted to do anything about it. Eventually paid up - after all, it was only 10 DM. Then off and to the KB for makan, after which to the station, changed some money and bought some tickets to Lüneburg. Then I got down to my diary, which had been in this time more sorely neglected than any other time since the beginning of 1963; I am getting worried about it, having not got round to writing up for Wednesday until today. Unless my memory serves me incorrectly (which could just possibly be the case) this is the longest I have ever left it. I must make a New Year's Resolution never to leave it later than the following day, and then only in extreme cases. Otherwise I can see this record coming to an end, which never before seemed possible.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I expressed similar concerns a few months back, but I can't find it easily.

Off in the direction of Lüneburg and went by Taxi to Igelweg, where we told the people that we had had an accident, which had kept us from coming - I don't want anybody throwing at me that my car is unreliable.

I certainly went to extreme measures to dispel that concern. That seems to be the only reason we stayed in Hamburg rather than spending Christmas in Lüneburg.

Everybody was, as we had expected, convinced that we had been killed, and Elke was apparently particularly disturbed about it all. In any case, had another lunch and I spent most of the afternoon reading a magazine I had bought and watching TV - once again one is reminded how much time one gets through thus. Sonny and Bev seemed pretty bored, however, and spent most of their time playing tabletop football. Quite late to bed, as always on Saturdays, and Sonny had quite a long conversation with me - showed me a sheet of paper on which he had written some thoughts about Bev, as I had once felt like doing, but which I have gradually assimilated in my diaries - it must be difficult not to be able to do so: a diary must make an extremely good confident [sic]: one can confide anything it, at any rate if ones handwriting is bad enough, and it will neither blame me for it nor pass it on, yet will not forget it either, and could at times remind me. In any case, Sonny was in need of a confident, and, as so often is the case, I was chosen - spoke until quite late about all sorts of things.


Sunday, 29 December 1968 Lüneburg
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Poor old Sonny! I know how he must feel about this place, not even being able to speak the language. How often before have I been bored to tears myself while spending the weekend here! Today, and in all recent times, I have learnt to accustom myself to leisure without doing much, though I suppose once a certain itch sets in, one can't do much about it or anything else. Today was dragged out of bed by Papa with all sorts of diverse threats, to which I eventually succumbed. Had breakfast in due course, which Bev did not attend - she had apparently shared a bed with Erika, and presumably the weight shifts of the latter had kept her on her toes. After breakfast, TV would have helped relieve Sonny's boredom had he been able to understand it. I spent the time dreaming - the thoughts of what we were going to do in the future. How I would like to live in a place like the coach house in Netherton again - admittedly I hardly excelled the last time I was there, but that was 6 years ago, and it would be fantastic if I could do the same again now - and it would not be so unlikely if I were to (as I propose) study at Exeter Uni. Sonny thought it an idea if all 3 of use were to go to Exeter, but Bev is thinking in terms of Keele (as opposed to Kiel). Still, there is yet time. As ever, a car came into it, and at the moment my dream is to get hold of an old 15-six nd overhaul it. Discovered a 10-day old Exchange and Mart in briefcase and an advertisment for just what I wanted in it - 1951 Big 6, needs attention, £30. If only I had the money to buy it, and a place to work on it! I am gradually tiring of being a nomad!

Then came makan, after which we had intended to go for a walk in the woods, but Elke and Karli came along, and it was obvious they had come to see us, ao I thought it would be rather impolite to just go away. The afternoon and evening went at a hell of a rate without anything of interest being worth mentioning, unless I degrade myself to precising the plots of the TV shows. Had a bit of a chat in the kitchen before going to bed, in which Paul compared very unfavourably to Sonny, then off to bed.


Monday, 30 December 1968 Lüneburg → HH → Lüneburg
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Up rather latish today in exactly the same manner as yesterday, doing our best not to get up until we were absolutely forced to. Then up and had a sparse wash and downstairs again for breakfast - it has been quite cold of late, round -4°, and it was not too warm inside either. After breakfast, up to the phone box round the corner, which was out of order, and so up to the Bahnhof [1.8 km by foot] to see how things were getting on. Used up an alarming quantity of money talking to Hamburg, and what were told was none too encouraging - whoever I talked to told me that I would in all probability have to wait until tomorrow before I got hold of the thing. Then told Sonny, who, like I, was bloody worried about the whole thing, so we decided to go up and see what was going on. Accordingly back to the house by taxi to get my passport and Bev who (the latter) however did not want to come. Off back again, and got a Personenzug leaving at 1232 and arriving in Hamburg at 1320. Spent the time talking about cars, as we always seem to end up doing, and by the time we stepped out of the Hauptbahnhof into the driving snow and across to our Stammlokal, Sonny had decided to open a garage in Singapore with an accent on service.

Then off to Schlüters, where there were not too many people about, and had a chat with Herrn Dethlevs, who was doing the best he could to get the car ready by this evening, and indeed it looked as if he might succeed, for the car was already fixed, and he was putting everything back in it. He also said that he would be able to have it done on the guarantee, which is a great load off my mind, and all I would have to pay for would be 25 DM for towing the thing. Seems a lot, but what the hell. Off with Sonny up the Fernsehturm, though it could have scarcely been a worse day, as we could hardly see straight down. Had an expensive bite to eat at the self service restaurant there, then down to the ground again and along the Grindelallee, where I eventually bought a record for Lynn. Then back to Schlüters, where all my hopes were dashed: the thing was still leaking, and there was nothing they could do about it tonight, and they reckoned we would have to wait until tomorrow at 1000, when all should be well. Then off to see if we could rent a car, which , after a bit of swearing, we succeeded in doing, even if only a Taunus 12M. Took an hour to come, then formalities to fill in - only 29,70, and 16 Pf/km after 100, which is pretty good. Car has lousy road holding, just like any Ford. Quite fast, though, at least by my standards, doing about 135 on the flat, and we had 140 out of it. Back at home, Bev was not exactly enthralled at the thought of having to spend another night here. Went out for a drive, had a snowball fight, did a bit of practice driving on snow, and then went off the road at one point trying to avoid a VW, missing a tree by 15 cm, but no noticable [sic] damage done - I blame it all on the lousy directional stability of the car. Then did little - messed around, tried (in vain) to sell my car, late to bed.


Tuesday, 31 December 1968 Lüneburg → HH → Lbg. → Oostende.
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Papa in to wake us early this morning, not much after 0700 hrs, and we somehow (how I still don't understand, for Sonny is as great a sleeper as I) managed to get up pretty snappily and get moving. Had rather hoped for some breakfast, but by the time we had a chance to look around Papa had gone off somewhere, where exactly I am not sure. Said goodbye to Mutti and Henry, then off in the general direction of Hamburg, while it obligingly began to snow. Not much of a problem, apart from visibility, though the wheels picked up snow and began to vibrate. Went straight to Schlüters, where we found Herrn Dethlevs in a much more happy mood, having successfully repaired the oil leak, the car then being put back together again. Left the Ford at Schlüters and went off to a little pub in the Grindelallee, where we had breakfast. Then back again, arriving as asked at about 1000 hrs to find Herrn Dethlevs off for breakfast until 1015 - why didn't he ask us to come then? - and waited accordingly. Very little remained to be done - just putting the last few bolts to hold the bumper bar in place. Then outside and repacked, and of in the Ami 6 to Jungs to return the Ford, in which Sonny and Bev followed me. Had to fill the tank, pay for 50 km over the free 100 km, and MwSt. thereto, and it ended up being over 50 DM. That Ford did in the order of 14l/100 km, which is fantastically high.

Probably the tank hadn't been full when we got the car.

Off then to Lüneburg, where we had left our blankets, and picked them up. The snow was much worse now, and gave rise to traction problems, so I hit the Autobahn as quickly as possible. The conditions were not much better there, and the traffic was not flowing at much more than 50 mph,

Why mph? Because that's what the speedometer showed.

and I was passing most stuff. Stopped at the first service area and put my XNs [snow tyres] on the front wheels, and discovered that the wheels I bought the other day do not fit my car - the holes are a tiny fraction closer together.

These must have been for 2CVs. I have no idea why they needed different wheel rims for the Ami series.

Swore, and had the tyre put on one of the other rims. I wonder how much it would cost to put the holes in the right place. Then drove on, benefiting noticably from the extra traction, and just carried belting straight on, stopping for nothing, and not being overtaken - this despite the fact that there is stll something wrong with the fuel system - I am rather suspicious of the fuel filter. Stopped at Herford for some petrol, while Sonny blew the remainder of our DM's on biscuits, etc. Belted on yet again, Bev asleep, while Sonny and I considered the days of Auld Lang Syne, and the fact that we met 3 years ago today, and 3 years before we belted down the Ruhr Valley [really the Bergisches Land] we were belting down Maxwell Road [Kuala Lumpur, now Jalan Tun Ismail, it seems, in the area I was talking about in Sonny's famous Mini, with 12 of us in it.

In fact, this was not the first time I met Sonny. That would have been on 1 September 1965, when he danced with Lesley, much to my jealousy. But we had established that already a couple of months earlier. And I have no record of the event 3 years previously (21 December 1965). The best I can find was on 23 December

Lost our wy (again) at Aachen—I always seem to follow the sign to the Niederlanden - and got some petrol in Liège. My petrol gauge is complaining about something - refuses to admit that I am using any petrol. On uneventfully through Belgium, where the fog was more troublesome than the snow, and discovered that the last boat of the year had already left, and the next would not leave until tomorrow at 0730. Looked round Oostende and found a little pub run by a bloke called Carolus Lahaye, where we ate and were given at midnight wine and pancakes, which we subsequently had to pay for. Made some new year resolutions - Sonny said he would drive more slowly: “I'm going to try not to do more than 50 [mph, i.e. 80 km/h]”. ~Me: “Oh, come off it, at least do 70”. “Oh, no, I meant in the town.”. Off to park by the car ferry place, did a bit to the car, and then all off to sleep.


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