Greg
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December 1969
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This diary was entered manually from the paper original between on 15 December 2016 and 25 December 2016..


Monday, 1 December 1969 Exeter
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And the end of term approaches at an apparently exponentially increasing rate (well, what would you expect if you think of rate in terms of time remaining/elapsed; for latter case see relative duration of time against observer age). Isn't it horrible what a knowledge of maths does to one? It is veritably soul-rot, and if its cause is as inefficient (or no more efficient) than that of gutrot it must smell pretty awful in my head. In any case, rather than have all this blurb, an arts man would have run out of comment at the beginning of line 2 [middle of first sentence].

And to Chemistry, where it occurred to me that I was quite inordinately tired, and barely managed to do anything more than take down a few odd notes about Cobalt - I really must give up getting to bed so late on Sunday nights, or something.

Then to maths problems, which this week were in fact comparatively easy, and did not have all that much - despite all my tiredness, I managed to find my way about OK.

That, however, was as far as I got; decided to miss Physical Chemistry, and instead back to Crossmead and caught up on my sleep, not waking until some time before lunch, and after that to the Uni for engineering graphics session in which I made an almighty messup. After throwing a couple of sheets of paper away, gave it up and decided to try again at home - I was not by then in the mood to be able to do anything about it.

At home, sat in the car for a while, and then inside, at the same time calling Chris in for some coffee, and did very little in the way of work either before or after makan. Chris came in again afterwards, and once again, as last night, I spoke to him about the concept of dimensions, etc., which he obviously finds very difficult to grasp. I wonder what clear thinking - should one say logical? - must be like for a fellow who has never done science (as in Chris' case).

Did a bit of messing round in the evening with the maths paper, but it was not very obvious either.


Tuesday, 2 December 1969 Exeter
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And on, on. If only somebody would get round to fixing up my bookcase I would be in a much better position to work, but as I am I am in an absolute mess, as I don't know where anything is - the only consolation is that I occasionally come up with something that I have not read in a long time.

In for a 1000 lecture this morning, statistics with Ben, which, for some reason, has suddenly come clear - just as well, to, or I would be in a bit of a spot.

After that up for a tutorial, but Mike was not there, and so off again. As I did not turn up for phys. chem yesterday, decided it would be an idea to get those notes fixed up before going to another lecture, and so back to Crossmead, hoping to get my road tax and my stuff from MDC, but neither arrived, which vaguely annoyed me. Then to see Tilly about my bookcase, which is becoming something of a nuisance. Tilly was of little enough help, and so to the Common room to see what further opinions had been voiced in the suggestions book; this was little of any value.

Doing various write-ups, managed to admirably spend the time until lunch, after which I thought it might be an idea to remove the rear wings of the car in order to clean same, but, as usual, ended up with the odd stripped nut - why do they use such tiny threads to hold this car together? - and spent a goodly period of time trying in vain to do something about that, to little effect. Then started wondering what to do with Ad this evening, and wondered about the disco at the Quay, so down with Chris to find said place, then to early makan, and of to pick Ad up. She was still feeling sore from the football match, and so we went to see a film. She was, to say the least, rather cold. Saw a consequently frustrating “She” and the best part of “10⁶ years BC” before taking Ad home - for the last time. Then to the disco, and narrowly missed picking a bird up there, and back to swear about that.


Wednesday, 3 December 1969 Exeter → Tavistock → Exeter
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And so to the ay of the second lecture strike I have known - and, as usual, I made a point of ignoring it. Up later, as was easily enough achieved when my first lecture was at 1200, and up yet again to look for my mail. I wonder if there is a go-slow because of the fact that Christmas is coming or similar.

Finally off, after reading a somewhat irritating test report on the D19 Special (why do Citroën have to keep juggling the letters with the same car? Everyone else makes the same name last for several models). In room 106 there was a whole lot of stuff set up for a lot of interviewees who must doubtless have been interested by all the manifestations of the strike - at one point someone walked in with a poster saying “1 in 3 graduates become teachers - support teacher's strike”, which somebody removed, and I was just carrying the stick about (to indicate no comment) when all the interviewees, looking far too clean and well-dressed, went past, looking very dubious. Finally John Boyle turned up and told us that only about 1 Chemical engineer in 300 actually became a member of the NUT. More about flip-flops, somewhat amusing, as I was wearing my rubber slippers (flip-flops).

The word flip-flop is used in England. In Australia they're called thongs, and in Malaysia simply slippers.

Then back to Crossmead for lunch, and almost immediately after was asked to take a bloke to a playing field - I don't know why I do it. Bought some magazines in town, then back again, and after a very brief read, gave it up and sat down to work, rendered very frustrating by the fact that I had to search through a good imitation of a pile of rubble for everything. Eventually, after writing half a report in far too long a time, decided to go up to the Common room and read “Punch”, but some bastard had removed it, which frustrated me no end. Accordingly decided after makan to go to Tavistock, and it would seem that I timed it right - they have only had the heater repaired today, which was just as well. Offered to put the anti-freeze in Mrs. Norman's car, who, however, did not tell me she had stripped th head of the radiator drain plug... gave it up after a while.

Watched TV for a while, then off again along the Okehampton way, and in the middle of it discovered that my bonnet release mechanism had shed a nut, and so, while I was at it, almost completely dismantled my tyre pump and nutted up several things. Back in Exeter, down with Chris to the Huntsman, and then back to work late into the night.


Thursday, 4 December 1969 Exeter
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And up, after only 5 hours sleep, to go to an 0900 transport phenomena lecture this morning, and got through that without doing my memory systems any great harm. Then back to Crossmead, as I had my report to write up by this afternoon, and first ascertained that the only mail I had was my road tax - and about time, too - and then down to kick the cleaning woman out of my room and hammer away on the poor little Olivetti as if it has an input buffer to take it all down. Got through that quite happily - I rather like the look of a typed report, and it must surely add to the general impression - especially when compared to the strong negative bias of my handwriting.

Had some morning coffee, and hammered on until nearly lunch time, when, however, I had decided to go to the Uni refectory rather than face the ordeal of a chef interpretation of curry. Met Wolfgang Fischer there, who told me he had decided to buy a VW because they were cheaper to maintain - and the best of luck to him. I don't think that he will find it as cheap in the long run, but I can't be bothered any more to try and persuade everybody in the world to buy Citroëns. After all it would tend to hide my own identity.

To another 20 minute leisurely statistics experiment - another 80 rods to measure. I suppose it would be considered too much work for us to be given the t-test, f-test and χ²-test to do in one week with the same samples of rods: after all, each time we take the samples from the same population.

Back to Crossmead, where I decided to wash the car - I am doing this sort of thing far too often nowadays, and am beginning consequently so obsessed with the appearance thereof that I am getting afraid of going into puddles, etc. in case I get it dirty.

In the evening, met a friend, Berny (or -ey?) of Chris, and down to the Huntsman for a drink, then saw Berney off and back to Xmead to do nothing before hitting the sack.


Friday, 5 December 1969 Exeter
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And to the end of yet another week. Gradually I am beginning to look forward to the end of the term, though I know not why; I am damned if I know where I am going, nor even if I will be able to leave my barang here. I suppose I shall otherwise have to lump the Normans with it, but it would be exceptionally convenient to just stay here the whole time, or at any rate use it as a base when I am not burdening someone else with my company.

To transport phenomena this morning, alone until I picked up Andy, as Snell had decided to go in early to look for something that he had left in the logic labs. TP was nothing of any fantastic value, though I cannot help admiring Mike for his ability to give a good lecture. Then a good 1 hr farce with Mel Gajraj - I think out of all the blokes here, I like him the best.

Back to Crossmead, where finally a parcel had arrived from MDC, although they had not included the flexilight or the quite for the Konis [shock absorbers] - the latter annoyed me somewhat, as I had wanted to order some. Set to pretty quickly to mount the air horns, not the easiest job, as I had not really thought out where to put it, but eventually scattered it over the right front mudguard, which might not be the best place for the compressor, as it is somewhat flimsy, but is the only vertical place I can find for it. Off to lunch in the middle of that, and was stung for a lift, then back and finished mounting the thing - boy, does it ever make a racket - it is much more discordant than the one in the Old Grey Mare.

In Malaysia in the 1960s, the horn was one of the most important parts of a car, and anybody who had any self-esteem had fitted a loud after-market horn. That wasn't the case in England, but it appears that I hadn't noticed yet.

Then into town, and tried to cash a cheque, but found myself quite a bit in the red, and so off, somewhat irritated, to do a couple of chemistry practicals, and rather pleased myself by turning up at 1430,

I think the practical ran from 14:00 to 17:00.

doing both practicals, and leaving again at 1545, while Andy struggled with his single practical.

Back at Crossmead, set to and fixed the other wing mirror, which for some reason did not go on as easily as I had hoped, but eventually got it on and the old one off, and filled the hole up with a screw, which however is just a little small. Shall have to find a 14 mm screw somewhere.

In the evening, did little; I am running a great risk of vegetating, so it is just as well that the holidays are coming and I will get out of the routine. Went out for a drive, mainly to try out the new horn, mirrors, etc., and when I got back ordered a couple of Konis.


Saturday, 6 December 1969 Exeter Images for 6 December 1969
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Had rather naïvely intended to get up for breakfast this morning, though I should have known that I would not make it. Finally woke up at round 1030, and up to find mail from Corinne, saying no go about tomorrow, and a card from the MDC telling ke that the Flexilight would follow in 10-14 days: hope it comes before the end of term, as it would be more than slightly useful when I am living in the car.

Then out, after a bit of dithering round drinking the last of my coffee, and thought about starting work on the underdash rewiring that I had planned . Got as far as disconnecting most of the panels by lunchtime, and also got my soldering iron from Martin, though, suspecting that I would not be able to get any extension wire from him, I decided to leave it all until afterwards when I could have another go at it, and this time just did the basic rewiring, though I did my best to ensure that all was making fairly good electrical contact; nevertheless I shall be happy when I can get round to soldering all the joints, and I rather expect it will make its presence felt in terms or reliability, which to date has not been one of the most outstanding features of the system.

Finished everything, including the horn wiring, much sooner than I expected, and I must confess I am very pleased with it; it is now far simpler to turn on the long range lights independently of the high beam, and being able to dip the fogs is also also a very good idea; good for for including this option on the switch.

Then tidied up generally, and off to tea, where I was asked to go along to Moberly [girl's hall] to pick up girls for this do tonight, and did so at the appropriate time, and found the place completely disorganised, but eventually got 3 girls to come, nearly also another 2 from Freiburg, but they were still tired out, and so anyway, I did not have the space, and so off to Haldon to pick up another couple of girls, and then back.

The party was awful, and after an unbearable half hour I went off for a drive, taking a couple of girls back to Jessie - by coincidence, one of them is the girl I danced with at the Econsoc dance on Tuesday. Then back, off again for some fish and chips, and finally back to sleep to midnight, then up and read for a while before finally going off to sleep.


Sunday, 7 December 1969 Exeter
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And so goes by another weekend with nothing of world-shattering importance to mark it (why do I go on with this sort of bullshit when I can't remember what happened?). Up very late, as might easily have been predicted on the basis of prior knowledge, and did little to wake myself up by making a pot of tea; nuisance that I have run out of coffee. Out to say hello to my Ami (how corny can you get? But that can be the only reason that I go out there first thing every morning, even when I don't intend to use the thing.; I am obviously entering the final stage of fanaticism: as it occurred to me the other day, all cars except Citroëns are beginning to look a bit funny), and then back again, satisfied that nobody had violated her, and did a bit of work to tidy up my desk in preparation fo a go at the drawing exercise for last Monday after lunch.

After lunch, and all evening,

This appears to have been meant to mean “afternoon”.

my room was about as busy as the common room with people coming and going, though fortunately nobody stayed long. One fellow came in with some somewhat belated news about an oboe being available for me as soon as I could get hold of Duncan Forbes,

I had already been given this information three weeks earlier, but appear to have done nothing about it.

and turned out to be interested in buying a 2CV, so had a chat about that with him for a while, and then finally plunged into the drawing, and apart from making a bit of a cock-up by assuming that the sides of my T-square ere parallel, everything went fairly smoothly. In the middle of all, Chris came in, and so had a chat - got him to make tea while I carried on with my stuff. He rather amuses me - he carries on in a sort of passive way as if, although right now he is not doing too well, he is, nevertheless, experienced in handling women, when in fact it is pretty obvious that he has never had anyone. Still, I used to be like that, and I shouldn't ride him. I wonder if it has anything to do with his choice of theology [as a university subject]. I shall have to find him a woman and see if he then changes his subject.

After tea off for a burn, because I felt like one, and then back for makan, after which read and worked all evening, finishing “Send Him Victorious”, which I have been reading for some time, and which improved all the time, until at the end it was quite good. Late to bed, then up again and wrote a letter to Corinne - it has occurred to me, for no apparent reason, that, though we have never had an affair, I could end up marrying Corinne. Tried a lot of the maths, but did not do too well. To sleep about 0545.


Monday, 8 December 1969 Exeter
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This stage of term reminds me of that moment when a plane comes down to land: one is still up in the air, but any moment the flight will be over, as the plane is coming down at quite a rate. Then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, the plane slows down in its vertical velocity and hangs in the air for a while, before changing its mind again and coming down after all. So it is at this stage of term - the end of term is nearly here, but suddenly there is this gap between us and it, which didn't seem to be there before.

And today, as a result of my late night last night, I finally got round to missing an inorganic chemistry lecture - not that there is any harm in that, per se. Got up in time for maths with Mike, where I was not very heartened by how badly I did, and then over to see what the new Physical chemistry lecturer was like; very zombie-like, both in appearance and actions, and his writing is almost as illegible as this [i.e. the handwritten original of this diary]; uses the episcope, which is a grotty affair compared to the Leitz jobs at Hamburg, and so doesn't help.

Then off - who goes to chemistry problems nowadays? - and back to Crossmead for lunch, and found awaiting me a note saying that my instrument case had arrived at the bookshop. Then back again with a couple of other blokes, and up fro drawing, where it occurred to me that I had forgotten to bring last week's stuff in, which annoyed me somewhat.

Then down to calculating roof trusses, which was easy enough, especially as I had taken the trouble to read it up in advance, and so I finished fairly quickly, although Marion equalled my time, and on comparing our drawing, we found that they did not match up, although the drawings were both consistent in themselves. Think I would rather calculate it my way, though I don't know how. Then to the bookshop, and found my credit had been cancelled, as last month's thing had not been paid, but talked my way out of that one, and off with the box.

In all likelihood the bill was paid from Malaysia, incurring a significant delay.

Back home, and had some coffee, and occupied myself little until makan.

After makan, had intended to go down to the Huntsman with Chris, but I was too tired to do anything, and so off to sleep to wake round 1130 [23:30?], and did a bit of work before going back to sleep at 0230.


Tuesday, 9 December 1969 Exeter
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Rather to my annoyance, missed breakfast again, and off as a result to face Ben Ritchie on an empty stomach. We seem to have “done” statistics, and in fact, as far as Ben is concerned, we have “done” everything, for this is the end of the series of lectures; next term it is process principles, and next week it is logic with John Boyle. At any rate things with statistics are beginning to look a bit more comprehensible in retrospect.

Then to a seminar with Mike, in which we discussed integration by substitution, as I foe one was hazy, but it was a great help - not to mention the consolidation of knowledge of cosh and sinh.

Then to zombie for phys. chem. (what is his name?) and more of same - rate of reaction, etc - McGlashan touched on this, and quite a bit of this contradicts what he said.

Then into town to change $5 A, and bought a magazine dated January 1970 - my God, how time flies! The 60's hardly seem to have begun, and now they have 3 weeks to go. Now it occurs to me why Punch brought out a nostalgia edition last week; it is hitting me hard.

Then settled down and was about to get some work done, when in came Tony Sayer with the news that his sump, although unbolted, would not come off. This proved not to be strictly true; there were still a couple of bolts on the thing, but even after that I had a hell of a job getting it off. Finally got it off, and found, as I had suspected, about 3 mm play in No. 2 big end, so off down town town to buy a 9/16" AF socket (for the head) and some replacement parts - gave Tony a case of the funks when I stopped on the double yellow lines [British “No stopping” indication] in Fore Street just beside a traffic warden - and got away with it! Then back and had the head off, and No. 2 piston out - the lock washers were more than slightly annoying to remove, and so I decided to leave the others until tomorrow, especially as it was getting dark. Then in and had a shower, then tea, and messed around on the oboe which I have finally got hold of, and then to makan, where I found the warden and asked him about staying here during the holidays; he was quite amenable, said that he thought we could fiddle it, though the Uni must not know, but Tilley thought otherwise; so Teg suggested I see him on Thursday after makan and see what had happened by then. But obviously it was right to ask him rather than Tilley.

After makan, back to work on the cylinder head - what nasty, timewasting systems they have to hod the valves in place! Finally got them all out, and was just about to grind them in, having decoked everything, when in came Dave and Chris and dragged me off to the Huntsman (which is hardly the way to put it when I drove). Had a couple of pints down there, then back up again, and I finished work on the head. Then to my room, intending to work, but felt too tired, and so comparatively early to bed (round the 0100 mark).


Wednesday, 10 December 1969 Exeter
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Alarm off at 0900, and since it was a matter of getting the A30 back together again, I was up and out like a shot, though it was very cold, and first up to have breakfast. Down again, and decided that, though he had offered to help, Chris would not exactly like being disturbed, and so out to do the work alone. Managed without all too much difficulty to get the big end lock nuts undone, and after that it was plain sailing, apart from nearly getting No. 1 piston stuck in the (pronounced) groove at the top of the cylinder. In the laundry room to clean the pistons, there being accosted by one of the cleaning ladies who wanted to air her views about this weather, how she would love to go to Germany or Australia, and so on. Eventually off and had a shower, and then prepared to go to Uni. Tony returned just as I was going, and came with me, as he still had not got the lockwashers. Told him that No. 2 crank pin was worn, but it did not worry him, so let it be.

That sounds serious, and probably was. But not my car.

Did little in logic - got some more information on computer circuits, etc., and then on to discuss computer structure. After that, to town to get some petrol, and back to Crossmead for lunch, where I got talking to Tony. Then down to reassemble the engine, which took all afternoon, and progressed without much of a hitch, apart from the fact that I bent the oil pick-up pipe when removing the sieve - in any case, the sieve was filthy, and I decided it would be fairer on the engine to leave it out, and did. Got everything else back where it belonged by about 1630, and then cranked it a while and started it up - rather to my astonishment it fired immediately and proceeded to rev violently on an empty throttle and with no choke. On examination it proved that the butterfly valve was 90° out of adjustment, and when we fixed that, all was well.

Then had a shower and to tea, after which back to my room and collapsed. Woke round 2330 and, for the third time today, washed my hair, without much success. There is obviously a market waiting for a mechanic's shampoo.


Thursday, 11 December 1969 Exeter
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After that, tidied up somewhat, made myself a pot of coffee, and set to working out the form of the two phys. chem.practical reports that I still have to hand in, and so set down to that, with the aid (if that is the word) of Dave Snell's report on No. 13, which was all very well until it came to the calculations, when it suddenly all went funny, and after a lot of messing round comparing various functions of his results with a slipstick, I finally found out what he was on about. Finished that, and then on to the t-test, where I had rather a bit of fun with my style, copying bits out of “Das Große Handbuch der Mathematik” here and other works there (“In one word he explained to me the secret of success: plagiarise!”), and topped it all off with a method for simulating the result with the PDP-8, using the computer to produce the information and then to process it.

Then gave that up and indulged in an act of worship (the Goddess, what else?) for a while before catching up somewhat on a neglected diary. Then up to the dining hall for breakfast, where I excelled myself, having doubles of everything, and then to my room again, and eventually off to transport phenomena, where we got through to the end of the period, and I was just rejoicing in the thought of finally getting to bed when Mike suggested we all stay through the seminar to get the section on fluid dynamics finished. In the middle of that, the fire alarm went, which was a bit of a waste of time, and then I went off (finally!) back to Crossmead, where I found a letter from ICI with a cheque for £6, being related to the 3½% raise the were going t give us from the beginning of this year over what they were allowed to give us. Good - just when I needed it.

Then to sleep, and woke round 1530, so off for statistics experiment, but by the time I got there Ben had already packed up and left. Back home, and hung around trying to play the oboe until makan, when I was on High table, and had a rather amusing conversation. After, had a chat with the warden about staying here over the vac - he was happy enough, with the odd reservation.

Then back to my room, lay a while on my bed, and then out again for a drive round Tiverton and Crediton way, and back again, fairly early to bed.


Friday, 12 December 1969 Exeter
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And on goes life - why have I let the term drag to such an extent? Up fairly early this morning, as well I might have done after last night, and after breakfast had plenty of time for a humdinger of an argument with Tilly about staying here over the vacation - I have finally come to realise what a bitch she is.

What I didn't mention was that I was not allowed to stay during the vacation.

To transport phenomena, comparatively sane after yesterday, though we did not, unfortunately, finish all our fluid dynamics - all the more annoying as there was only about ½ an hour of notes to go. Then seminar, which was rather useless, as I had not really had much of go at the stuff. I shall obviously have to do some pretty basic revision of whatever I don't know.

Then, by way of exception, stayed on for a Trifari lecture, which, if anything, has deteriorated since last I was here. The occasion was his Theorem 50, which I suppose is an event - had a violent cheer, clap, and I walked out.

Then into town and cashed my ICI cheque, and to Wippels to buy a scarf, also to Austins and picked up my 135 STak. I am sure that I gave it to them with a lens cap.

To makan, and looking for Andy, but could not find him. It occurred to me that I had not done my chemistry practicals for the past few weeks, and so decided to tell them I had lost my practical book, which pleased Lang no end - he is really a bit of an old woman, and I hope I never have too much to do with him. Stayed quite some time, and then off back to Crossmead to do little at length - this term is dragging at a great rate (is that expressable dimensionally?).

After makan did also little - down with Chris and Dave Snell to the Huntsman (this is becoming too regular a thing) and then back, did a bit of reading, and later down town again to get some fish and chips. These Friday evening meals just do not suffice


Saturday, 13 December 1969 Exeter → Tavistock → Exeter
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Wolfgang in at 0840 to tell me it was 0850, and so up for some breakfast before taking Wolfgang down to the station - the weather had obviously been conditioning him for it, for the temperature was -6°, and there was a hefty coating of ice on the car; thank God the thing was not locked. Car was still violently icy by the time I got to St. Davids, and saw Wolfgang off with an admonition to buy a 3CV, not a VW - he says he would buy the former, all else being equal, but suspects hw will have to pay more for equivalent condition.

To Halfords to complain about one of my wiper blades, which had already gone rusty, and they changed it without any further ado, and so put it back on and back to Crossmead, where the fellow with the Daimler had fortunately decided that there was no point in going to Ottery in this weather. At the Main Hall, found a couple of back issues of “Drive”, and read these in the common room for a while before going down and writing up the rest of my chemistry. Left (with Chris) at 1150 to get to the uni by 1200, and the inevitable happened: I ran out of petrol. Pushed it to the Speedway garage, and got to the Uni by about 1210, but nobody was about. Left my book, according to the notice, at the Porter's lodge, and then into town to buy some coffee, oboe tutor and pipe cleaners, and to ascertain that Baines was still not in the library. Had lunch, then did a bit of practice on the oboe, broke the reed, and in to town to get a couple more, then still later to Tavistock, being somewhat fed up with this side of the moor, and en route came to the conclusion that it was about time I got some new shockers, and fitted the reversing light for Mrs. Norman, though there is still a small matter of warning lights. Then stayed a while until Sukey came back, looking considerably more glamorous for her 1,45 m than I remembered. Off later to test Mrs. Norman's car, which has gritty brakes, and then back, via the fish shop and Okehampton, and almost immediately to the Huntsman, and saw Dave Snell (odd!)

Presumably because he normally went home at weekends.

wearing a Uni scarf (wonder where he got that idea from!). Had our pint, back to Crossmead, and almost immediately collapsed on my bed, and out like a light.


Sunday, 14 December 1969 Exeter
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Andrew the inverse (or something - that bigoted idiot, anyway, whom I find incredibly impractical (is that really the nastiest thing I can say about anyone? (not that I dislike him that much. I tend more to pity him))) came in round 1130 this morning trying to borrow some shampoo, but did not like the look of mine, and so off to borrow some of Dave's - no skin off my nose. Up though, as I had really intended to be up in time for breakfast, and out to see what I could do on the Ami. Messed around for a while, and eventually managed to improve the mounting of the left front wheel arch with aid of a home-made clamp, and then came lunch, highlighted by Rog Cooper's entry with no less than 5 women, which I thought was a bit overdone - but one was French and had a 2CV, and I began to wish I had made her acquaintance (what a wierd bugger you are, Gaston - and it was only an AU!).

AU was the company internal code for this particular kind of 2CV. The Ami 6 was AM.

Then back to the car and tried to patch up the hole that is appearing in the wheel arch - I am gradually coming to the conclusion that the best thing I could do would be to change the whole wheel arch.

After that, back to my room, and read for a while, but could not conduce myself to do any work - instead did a bit of packing; after all, the term is as good as over, do what they others may have.

Then, after quite a while, to tea, and after that felt somewhat irritated, as in truth I would have liked to have gone to see a flick, but as it was I had no cash - this always happens over the weekend - and so instead stayed at home. Then, however, came the carol singing, and off to pick up girls from Thomas [residential hall], and had coffee with them - seems they are associates of the Großcurth/Cooper/Dudman [?] mob, and so had a fair amount to talk about. Then to the Huntsman, where I met Martin the poet, Andrew the dill and Thoomas the athlete and (apparently) social misfit. Took them home, not without the opinion being voiced (catagorically, by Andrew) that I as the most dangerous driver this side of the black stump (or words to that effect). Thereafter managed to hit fairly quickly the sack, but stayed at length away, as always on Sunday nights, and round 0400 to sleep.


Monday, 15 December 1969 Exeter
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Up in time (vaguely) for breakfast today, and then off with Chris and Dave to the Uni, though this time we missed Andy, and for another boring, and, thank God, final chemistry lecture about all the delightful compounds of the halogens - gives me ideas for disposal of Dr. Long.

To maths, where Mike was much more interested in the accident that had occurred outside Duryard [residential hall] this morning than any maths we had to do, and so off again to the town, where, somewhat to my delight, I discovered that I had £40 odd in the bank, and so got out £3, and back to Crossmead, where no mail was, and sat a while in my room wondering how best to occupy myself, and almost before I knew it, perhaps because I was asleep [sic].

After lunch, back to my room and decided to start packing all my stuff, but once again the lack of sleep started telling, and so I went off to sleep, and did not wake until 1550, and thought it prudent to get a bit of coffee inside me, though I did not get round to going and getting any cakes, and was in the middle of all this when entered Chris looking like a man from Mars. Down to the corner shop and bought the odd requisite, including a box to pack some of my books into - I never realised how many magazines I had until I started digging behind my wardrobe.

Then enter Andrew Cannal [? Or Camal?]. and told me we were having a boar's head for the Christmas dinner (not, as I later discovered, for the main course), and this was sufficient occasion (obviously) to sing “The Boar's Head Carol”, and so up to learn it, and also changed into a requisite suit. Later to makan, which was a bit of a farce, and lasted an hour or more. Nevertheless, although very enjoyable, I got a bit fed up after a while, and off to see “A touch of love”, which was nothing like what I expected it to be, but nevertheless not bad. Then back, picking up Mike Halliwell on the way, and to his place for tea and chat, then gave Chris his keys and to bed.


Tuesday, 16 December 1969 Exeter → Exmouth → Exeter
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And the last full day of term! Now we have bumped down, but it was not quite perfect, and so we have bounced (this all reminds me incredibly of Banesh Hoffmann. I really must stop). This morning up at a more civilised hour, and in to have some logic with John Boyle, and was warned by Sue that I had to go to the Ram at 1200 and have some drinks with all the chemical engineers. After logic (John reckons he will need a couple of lectures yet) we went up to see Mike, but he had not turned up, having got thoroughly pissed last night. Accordingly went downstairs, where Dan's car was suffering from a punctured radiator header tank, and he was belting the guts out of it on an empty cooling system. Then into town to buy some stuff wherewith to do something about the left front wheelarch, but when I got back to Crossmead I found the shockers having arrived, and so set to as quickly as possible to fit them, and had it all but done by lunch time - despite the apparent accessibility, it required removal of the bearing face plate, and on the port side the exhaust pipe made a considerable nuisance of itself, so the job took a good 40 minutes.

Then lunch, and after that set off to try out my shockers, and belted down some known bad roads - and rather to my surprise the car still bottomed occasionally - but the ride is now much firmer and more controllable.

Back to do some packing, which sufficed to occupy me most of the afternoon, and then to makan (formal) barefoot, much to everybody's disgust, and then with Chris to Exmouth. There [i.e. in Exmouth] was nothing, and so back again and to the Cowick Barton, then on to the Huntsman, and back for coffee. Threw what remains were yet in my room more or less loose into the trunk store, and to bed, if not immediately to sleep.


Wednesday, 17 December 1969 Exeter → London → So'ton → Stonehenge →
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What an anti-climax! When at school, the end of term was a joyous occasion to be looked forward to, etc., but here it is just a matter of going through more formalities, signing out, etc., and even then just going home.

People were running round in circles at Crossmead, and it was some time before I had got all my barang in the car, located Chris and Dave, and was able to set off for the Uni, where, 20 minutes late, Prof. Lacey had yet to arrive. Took a hell of a long time to get signed out, and when I did I was almost immediately pounced on by Mike Patrick to translate a letter for him, written in Schweizerdeutsch. Took a while to do that, then off to Duryard to get Sue's and Ken's barang, and also John and his barang. Finally, with great effort and scattering round of Sue's belongings, dirty linen, etc.,

The back of the car was packed full, and I took the dirty linen (including at least one bra) and stuck it in the holes. Sue was not amused.

tried to close the boot, and the lock fell apart. Got that back together and found that the bonnet catch had gone, so screwed that back together and off to the bank, by which time it had once again come loose, so checked and found the nut to be the wrong size. Off to Dunn's and got the correct nut, fitted that, and off.

Fortunately, from then on little enough of event happened, and we stopped at Sparkford for lunch, then on again and to Sue's place [in Camberley or Virginia Water—I can't decide which], making quite extraordinarily good time, and arrived there after 3 hours and 10 minutes, not bad considering the traffic and the snow. Had some tea at Sue's place, and then on again, picking up Steve from Engineering Science. To John's place, where we had coffee, and to Ken's place, where I rang up Dave Rozalla and asked if I could stay, though he said no, as Teen was raising hell, but to come up anyway and see what we could do. Accordingly up, and Dave was pretty pissed off with London (not that I blame him), and so we decided to go and stay with the McGibbons, and set off to Southampton, stopping on the way at Sue's place to borrow some notes, and then on - arrived at Southampton about 2300, and either they had all gone to bed or they had gone away somewhere, so we decided to go on to the Lake District or Wales, and first to Stonehenge, where we arrived about midnight, but which was surrounded by too much barbed wire for my liking, and...


Thursday, 18 December 1969 → Worcester → Windermere → Gretna
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... so drove on. Went up through Gloucester way towards the M5, and then got some petrol - I am quite happy with 43,0 mpg [6.56 l/100 km] for fast cross-country work - and on to Worcester, stopping en route to have some coffee on a thoroughly grotty service area. Then to Sabrina Terrace, with a little bit of help from the police, and parked outside Chris' place and bedded down for the night.

Woke up to find the car rocking from side to side, which on further regain of consciousness proved to be caused by Chris shoving on the roof, and so in, shivering violently, and to in the kitchen to warm up over the fire, and when we had somewhat thawed out went and washed, then had some breakfast, after which into Chris' “study”, which I suppose was an effective enough term, and between the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and Beethoven's 9th, managed to catch up to a greater or lesser extent on my diary.

Then into Worcester and had a pint before going and picking up Chris' brother Nick from school, and ended up behind a 1970 D 20 super or similar. Back to the Jones' house after this hand had an enormous lunch - you can see that Mandy's mother is Chris's mothers sister by the amount of food she dishes up for meals.

This is a reference to our visit in Yeovil on 29 November 1969.

After that set off back for the M5 on a very clear afternoon, and all the way to Birmingham without any misadventure, and was somewhat astonished to find the sun shining. Got through the place without too much mishap, Dave navigating furiously round the back streets

This was before the M5 bypassed Birmingham.

and started off on the M6, which was another long, monotonous run. Passed Liverpool and Manchester with little obvious change in scenery, and then ended up in a sort of half-hearted chase with a Bedford van (he was flat out, I on full first choke), and our relative speed was very much a function of the wind speed and gradient. I was, nevertheless, very impressed at the speeds I did keep up - I averaged 67 mph [108 km/h] on 1 throttle, and when I stopped at the last service area I had averaged 42,6 mpg [6.62 l/100 km], which is quite worthwhile.

The car had a “progressive” twin barrel carburettor: up to a certain point only the first one was operative, and only when it was fully open did the second barrel open. There was a distinct resistance to be felt in the accelerator pedal when the second barrel opened.

Then off the motorway and to Kendal along the A6 and A65, by which time it got dark, and then to a bitterly cold Windermere, where we spent a long time looking for a pub, then to a flick house to see “Hannibal Brookes”, which was quite commendable, even without comparison to the somewhat decrepit surroundings. Then out to have some fish and chips, and out through Ambleside to see Helvellyn, and, having been suitably impressed, and put off thereby, on to Carlisle and Gretna, where we bedded down for the night, after a lot of experiment, on the floor of the car, with the seats removed.


Friday, 19 December 1969 Gretna → Manchester → London
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Woken up round 0930 by Dave, and upon examination discovered the car to be surrounded by a large quantity of snow, and so, shivering, put the car back together and set off back to clines [?] with promise of being warmer. Snow was still falling heavily, and in Penrith saw the somewhat amusing sight of a woman running off the road right in front of me on a gentle bend and stop about 40 cm from a lamp post dead in front of her. Stopped a bit later on to fix up a disconnected indicator light, and found large cakes of snow on all my lights, as well as on the front panel. Cleaned things down and carried on through unbelievably frustrating traffic (though I am rather getting used to this nowadays) and finally, thank God, onto the M6, and got back to the same service area which we had left before - and put exactly the same amount of petrol into the tank, which this time corresponded to 43,0 mpg [6.56 l/100 km] - I am naturally very happy about all this. Then on down, now much faster, to Manchester, where we turned on to as much of the M61 as we could find, then on the A6 to Manchester - almost a collision course in fact - and along the M62 to Stockport, getting ourselves lost several times on the way, but finally out in the direction of Chesterfield, where the roads were not too bad. Then through Chesterfield and on to the M1, where it obligingly began to snow almost immediately. Pushed on for a while, then stopped at another service area and had tea and a bite to eat, later still on to the road again following a Porsche with registration LES 1G, who left about 2 minutes before us, and whom we passed about ½ an hour later, after the snow had worsened. Stopped another couple of times, once for coffee and once for petrol, and en route saw 106 cars stopped on the side of the road - stopped and helped no. 100, and was rather happy to be able to get it going with some WD40 (ignition short at the end of the coil).

Probably most of the cars in question had something similar. In those days British cars deservedly earnt a reputation for bad electrics, and ignition problems of this nature were commonplace. My recollection was that the high tension leads (coil, spark plugs) were in no way waterproofed.

Arrived in London round 1930, and somehow got permission to stay the night at the Rozallas, and later over to see her parents (2nd set),

I had met their father and stepmother in Kuching in July. This set consisted of mother and stepfather, whom I no longer recall at all.

and the first thing that struck me (to which doubtless Dave and Teen would protest violently) was how similar Terry [mother] looks to Thea [stepmother] - I wonder if Mike Rozalla had this in mind, either consciously or subconsciously, when he married Thea. Sat watching colour TV for a while (first time ever in a private home) then back to the flat and talked for a while. Teen is not as snaky as I had expected - came into Dave's room later to talk; what does it man?


Saturday, 20 December 1969 London → Beckenham → London
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Up round about 1130 and thought about attempting to establish contact with Pauline, and so went and got the keys from Teen and out to look for the nearest phone box and got onto the Sissons but Pauline “did not want” to talk to me. Damn her. I won't go on like this for ever. Next term it will be somebody worthwhile. Rang up Endsleigh, or rather tried to, about a green card, but they were apparently not open, or at any rate I got no reply.

A Green Card was insurance cover on the European mainland. At the time it cost over and above the standard insurance policy.

Back to the flat, where a fellow called Chris had arrived, and also Teen and Dave were up. Had some coffee, then over to see the McCoys (keeping tabs on Teen and Dave's parents is a bit of a classification problem) and then off to the place in Queensway where Sonny and I went 5 weeks ago and bought, again, mutton beryani and chicken tanduri, and this was well received by all, though the rice was rather cold and therefore greasy - I hope this is not typical. It was a lot better last time I was here.

After that, hung about around the flat at length, reading and trying to write up my diary, in the middle of which Teen pounced on said diary and read up all the saga of last holidays - I wonder what she thought of that. Got a bit more written, watched “Star Trek”, and then off to Beckenham for a pub crawl, and met one Adrian and a John Harvey, and with the latter to sample the pubs of Beckenham. That was, as ever, an occupation of increasing joviality, and by the end of the crawl, 5 pubs later, we had accumulated 3 tankards and 2 ashtrays, as well as a stomach content of lots of chinese coffee. Washed the windscreen with beer, then off, all 5 of us, to Soho, where John did this best to beat the machines, and as a result nearly got himself beaten up. Then back to the flat with all 5 of us, and ended up with the somewhat odd arrangement of Chris sleeping in Teen's room. I have the the vague feeling that she is trying to start something up with me again, and as a result was using Chris to get me into action - what should I do? Is there any point in getting started again? Does she want me back? Do I want to go back? I wish I knew.


Sunday, 21 December 1969 London → Camberley → London
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John up a lot before the rest of us today and made Dave some coffee, though we slept on until about 1230 before we finally got up. That was not much of a change - people began to drink coffee and get dressed, while Teen tried to have a bath. After that, Dave and Teen went off to see their parents, and Chris, John and I went off to get some more beryani and curry, then back to the flat to eat it. In the middle of this enter Teen, alone, obviously very much annoyed, and so I got the rest of us out as quickly as possible - I have had enough experience of Teen in a bad mood to want to get out of it as quickly as possible when it happens again. To King St. Hammersmith and the MDC [Motorists Discount Club?], and after a bit of searching round found a worthwhile car radio and speaker, and so bought it, and back to Douro Place to fit it, aided more than slightly by Robert's [stepfather] drill. This took some considerable time - more than slightly to my annoyance, I put the first hole rather too far forward, and so had to scrap it, and put it a bit further back. Then the wire proved to be too short to reach the radio where I wanted it, and so put it in the parcel space to the right of the speedo - will have to improve on that somewhat. Still later off to Beckenham again, though I had else to do - copying out Sue's notes and writing up my diary - and so back to London, where I realised I had not got a key, and so had to go and get one from the McCoys, and then had a bath and did a frantic bit of note-copying, then off to Camberley [or Virginia Water?] to see Sue, and interrupted a violent orgy in the living room, to which, however, Sue was not attached;

From memory, the party had been organized by her younger brother, and their parents were spending the night elsewhere.

instead she had gone to bed earlier, but got up quickly enough when she heard I was about. I wonder what makes Sue tick - in some ways she reminds me of the girl in “A touch of love”, but I must confess that I like her. Up to her room and had a drink, and spoke with her at length - read her diary at one point - nothing like my thing, but apparently I was the first person to read it. A rather poignant line on one page shows to me that she is very human and vulnerable - “I miss him”, the only entry on the page [and in very large letters, filling the width of the page]. Poor Sue. I wonder what the story behind that is. Has she, too, had a rather unhappy affair this summer? Did she expect me to see that when I read her diary? It is something to do with the fact that I told her that I had had an affair with Teen? I feel sure I could make it with her, but do I want to?

Thinking back to that episode nearly 50 years later, it's clear that she did. And what was my objection? I never wrote it down. If I had got involved with her, it would have had the potential to change the course of my life.

Back to London, where there was still nobody in the flat, and so across again to the Mc. Coys, who were not too happy about me staying alone in the flat with Teen, though, strangely enough, Teen did not mind. Across after a bit of umming and ahing, and then started writing up my diary, and was shortly joined by a Teen in need of company, asking how many girls I intended to pick up in Germany, and, when I mentioned her, why I didn't take Sue to with me to Germany. Poor Teen - I wonder what she wants, and if she knows what she wants.

Poor Greg. Offered two different girls on a plate in one evening, and too stupid to accept either. Sue's parents were gone for the night, so I could have stayed with her, and I suspect that was Sue's intention. And Teen had invited me into her lair bedroom with (now) obvious intent, and I had refused.

Dave came home round 0145, just as I was beginning to wonder whether I would sleep the night with Teen, and proceeded to reduce Teen systematically to tears, having had a bad smoke.

No idea what he had been smoking. I suspect that “bad smoke” was his terminology. He dabbled a bit in drugs at the time, something in which I was in no way involved.

Then in to cheer Teen up again - I must say, I felt horrible hearing Teen in there sobbing away. Deep in my heart, I must have a soft spot for Teen; after all, she is the best I have ever had, and I rather like her anyway.


Monday, 22 December 1969 London → Dover →
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Woke up at a suitably late hour today, round 1230, which I suppose is OK considering the time that we were supposed to leave for the continent, and down to ring up Endsleigh, who said that I could get a Green Card [insurance cover on the European mainland] as soon as I came over to the place, so back to the house to get a few things and off to Kingsway to get the Green Card, which, after an initial wait while they tried to find the right bloke, proved to be easy enough. Then to the Wimpy Bar again where Dad and I went at the end of April, but we did not have the tout attracting customers any more, so off instead to Piccadilly in the hope of being able to buy some Marks, but there was such a queue at the counter that I could not be bothered, so instead just got myself hold of £30 and went back to the flat, buying some tea on the way, and found, as I suspected, I had a flat tyre, so had that off and repaired it - a screw had punctured it, which was more than a slight nuisance. Had it out again and put the wheel back on, just as Dave returned from the bank, and so packed up and set off via Trafalgar Square to drop a friend of Dave's, Pete, at Northumberland Avenue, and then out along the old Kent Road to Dover, getting some petrol and changing the oil in the sump [i.e. motor oil] on the way, and arrived in Dover at 1950 after losing our way by Canterbury - and that with Dave, a Canterbury student, navigating. The ferry to Dunquerque left at 2000, but they had closed loading at 1930, and so we could not get on - and the next boat was to Oostende at 2359, so so off to the Townsend booking office and bought tickets for us and a 2CV,

The fees for cars depended on the length, and the 2CV was cheapr than the Ami 6.

and then off to have some makan, finally at 2130 tothe eastern docks and had a bit of a kip until the boat left, though sleep did not come easy.


Tuesday, 23 December 1969 → Oostende → Lüneburg → Hamburg.
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Lay in the rest lounge in the boat at some length - this is the Free Enterprise IV, and I don't like it - there is nowhere to lie down, and the semi-reclining seats do not really fill the need. Got a bit of sleep on the boat, but it was not at all much. I might better have stayed in the car and slept on the floor - on top of this, it was hardly warm in the rest lounge. Finally up round 0315 and downstairs with Dave to have a typical cup of english Nescafé. Started docking round 0345, and started getting out at about 0400, then through to the customs and insurance people, and then on the road to Brugge and the Autoroute sign, and so decided not to tempt fate and go through Antwerpen, so via Bruxelles to Liège. The other side [of the border between Belgium and Germany], before Aachen, it got a lot colder and we found a lot of snow on the roadside. Had a bit of fun at the border - they were obviously examining my expired Aufenthaltserlaubnis [residence permit], but eventually got it back and via Frechen and another Raststätte [service area] onto the road to Hannover, where I had to stop a couple of times to catch up on my sleep, but carried on with it after a while, keeping up a good 60-65 mph [100 km/h] and at the same time 43 mpg [6.6 l/100 km], which pleased me. Clocked up on my watch an average speed over 1 km of 138 kh⁻¹, which was about 1% less than what I had on the clock, so I am quite happy - I shall have to time myself flat out downhill. I rather suspect I could get 150 up with luck.

The car had a rated top speed of 122 km/h, so I must have been going down quite a steep incline, probably between Köln and Dortmund.

Arrived at Lüneburg at about 1430, having given a lift to a bloke to Lüneburg, and found Mutti and Ulla at home, the former with a broken arm, as a follow up to a cracked skull a few months ago, and the whole atmosphere was somewhat morbid, so after a while pushed on to Hamburg in the hope to find Karen and find out from her what had happened to Matin. Made a long job of it, arriving as we did at the rush hour on the last full shopping day before Christmas. Finally got to Karen's place, and found her there, and Gott sei Dank, Matin also.

My recollection was that he greeted me with a fresh hot chili and said, “I was just saying that you were the only person who know who could eat this whole with no accompaniment”. So I had to, of course. It wasn't too extreme.

Then had some tea and off to Matin's place - after nearly 2½ years he is still bei Plehn [the landlady, where I moved in on 25 September 1967], and next to nothing had changed. Had some makan, in the middle of which we took Karen home. Then had makan and later off to the Reeperbahn, and showed Dave around - the Eros Center is flourishing, prices down, quality up, and Dave wae not the only one who was impressed.

Then through the Herbertstraße and showed him that lot, but the funniest thing was one place where the girls had a Christmas tree being them, and a whole mob of us stood outside and sang “O Tannenbaum”. Back to Matin's, had tea, and presently to sleep.


Wednesday, 24 December 1969 Hamburg → Lüneburg Images for 24 December 1969
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Up late today, as was the custom, and I am happy to have it so, and so, it seems was everybody else. Got up and had tea, and then started thinking about heading down to Lüneburg again. Accordingly got all our stuff together and down to the car, and then off, on the way getting following [sic] an Ami 6 who was in a very friendly mood, and stayed in convoy until Maschen, and then got in tail with a 2CV who was keeping up a hell of a belt - as a result he beat me to Lüneburg, much to Dave's interest - he is thinking of buying a 2CV, and obviously lone of the worries that anybody would have when buying such a car was how fast the thing will go.

To the Fussans, and this time Erika was there as well, but still there was very little happening. Mutti looked and smelt a bit cleaner, and looked also correspondingly happier. Eventually arrived the others, and we had lunch - not that that was any great shakes.

After lunch arrived Elke und Kalli, and we went after a while to see Hannelore's grave - this is the first time that I have seen the thing, and it is pretty big, much more than I had expected. Then back again and hung around for a while before the evening activities began, which started off with makan all over again, then we were sent upstairs to wait while “Der Weihnachtsmann” [Father Christmas had a go at the tree, and then down again to see the tree and collect what presents there were - even Dave and I got something (like a pair of socks and tobacco), which somewhat embarrassed us. Then the drinking began, and after that things carried out much their usual course, and Dave was one of the first to go, not being used to the German habit of drinking coffee in the middle of a boozeup - I am inclined to agree with him, especially as I quickly followed suit and ended up on the couch.


Thursday, 25 December 1969 Lüneburg → Hamburg
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Woke up several times in the night, feeling thoroughly uncomfortable, as indeed I was, since the couch was only about 1,50 m long, and the eiderdown not much longer. Eventually it became about 0800, and I thought about getting up, that though I was hardly any less tired than last night, and so hung around until people started having breakfast, after which I started examining my condition, and found myself not very happy therewith; last night I had puked all over the place, and over all my clothes, and though there was no longer any smell, the things were obviously covered in puke from last night, and I thought it prudent to change my clothes at the earliest opportunity, and to have a bath at the same time. Turned the hot water on, and then off to read Lobsang Rampa “You forever”, and got some clothes tidied up, which involved a bit of ironing, and then had my bath, after which I felt somewhat crook, and so sat around, reading further what Rampa has to say about etheric, aura and so on. Whatever Rampa may be as a priest, he is not up to much as a scientist, as his very poor scientific analogies show. Eventually came the big makan, and I somewhat disappointed everybody by not eating much. Later went in to sleep and thought of trying one of Rampa's things, something to do with detatchment of of [sic] the Astral, and some funny things did begin to happen; first of all I felt as if it was going according to plan, and then I had a violent jerk such as often happens, and came back to my senses; Rampa reckons this means I have been trying too hard or something. Then off to sleep, watching a long procession of mens faces, ending up with Dad - I was trying to look at myself - are these my ancestors? Later saw something although I thought I had my eyes shut; it was in great detail and looked like the room (the downstairs bedroom) as it had been 2 years ago, when I was here, and I also felt very light, floating, which Rampa also predicts; when I opened my eyes, I was looking into the pillow.

Without reading this stuff again, it would be interesting to know how much of this experience could be due to a half-sleeping state.

Later outside, but did not feel like joining in the festivities, and so eventually packed up and went off to Hamburg, where we found Matin and Adil, and shortly later came Hussein, and after greetings, tea-drinking, etc., set off looking for a dance, as Hussein (who is to become a photographer) wanted, and spent oven an hour going round town before going home, cooking some stuff to eat, and going earlyish to bed.


Friday, 26 December 1969 Hamburg → Berlin
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Things started happening round 0500, and so up, dressed and washed, and had some bread, cheese and tea before going off to Berlin, and with the way the others acted, it was about 0550 before we set off, and so on our way - the weather was not too bad, though there was a lot of fog, and soon all went off to sleep, leaving me alone with the radio for company. Adil somehow managed to pull one off the sealing strips off the windows, which caused a hell of a draught, and we did not fix that until just before Helmstedt. Had some coffee after Hannover, though Dave just wanted to sleep, and again at Helmstedt, where we had about 1¾ hour of rubbish to go through before we got across the border - somehow reminiscent of India/Pakistan [i.e. the border, which we crossed 2½ years previously], though that took even longer. Most amusing thing this time was the fellow who wheeled a little mirror under the car, presumably to see if anything was stuck there.

Then across the long, monotonous Autobahn to the Berliner Ring - this must have been the first Autobahn ever, and here one got the feeling that it had not been maintained since the war (I suspect concrete would probably require less maintenance than bitumen).

As far as I can tell, it was far from being the first Autobahn, which was between Köln and Bonn, but I can't find details of the others.

Arrived in Berlin and once again went through much the same rigmarole in reverse, though this time we were spared the mirror. Went looking for Matin's brother, Hamid, but could not find him. Hung about for a while, then Dave and I went for some makan, and when we came back there was still no sign of Hamid. Slept for a while, then Dave and I off again to see a flick, found it was not on, and so had something to eat and see another, “Venus in Pelz, which certainly gives some indication of how pornography has progressed in recent times. Having in the meantime seen posters about Kolle's „Zum Beispiel - Ehebruch“, decided to see that as well, and so down the Kudamm to the flickhouse - this one not as funny as the others, but for a supposedly educational film unbelievably pornographic. Then back, where Matin had thought we had pissed off back to England, had contacted the police, etc., etc., and so off to cancel the police, and to a friend's place to spend the night, as there was still no sign of Hamid. Had some rather grotty makan and tea there, then off to sleep as Hamid arrived. I slept anyway; not being able to speak arabic is a great disadvantage round here.


Saturday, 27 December 1969 Berlin
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Woken up at some apparently very early time, which upon examination proved to be round 1030, and Matin said something about getting a move on so that we could go over to the Studentenhaus and have some breakfast. Slowly up and dressed, and left our stuff there and went down to the car - Abdul Hamid had his VW there as well - and off to the Studentenhaus, though Hamid and Zachariah went on to do some shopping, and returned somewhat later with an enormous quantity - about 50 - of eggs, and then, as it was by this time about 1200, set to cooking some lunch, thereby scrapping breakfast. Then Dave and I hung around reading, and then finally had a passable lunch - considerably better than last night, though Zachariah had the cheek to complain about the quality of the rice

Possibly I cooked the rice. We had continual discussions about how to cook rice. The Arabs put butter and salt in it, the Malays, Chinese and Tamils don't, and I would have followed the latter tradition, probably incorrectly for the food with which it was served.

- and then Dave and I off to look for the wall, which in itself would not have been difficult to find, but Checkpoint Charlie was not exactly in the most accessible position, and I was worried about knocking noises on cornering (proved to be ice in the spring cans) which sounded suspiciously like drive shafts. Finally found the checkpoint, and had all sorts of red tape to get through, culminating in some bloke asking me for my Kraftfahrzeugschein, of which of course I had none, so I showed him my tax disc, which he considered to be a parking ticket, and so, eventually, got by with my green card. Must remember to take my registration book with me next time.

This was really strange. The Kraftfahrzeugschein (powered motor vehicle certificate; who said German words are longer?) is the proof of registration which every Federal German car owner must carry with him. In England, where my car was registered, the closest equivalent was the tax disc, which is stuck on the windscreen. My behaviour was correct, but the border guard didn't understand. I didn't understand then either how people at such a high-profile border crossing as Checkpoint Charlie could not know that. I still don't understand, but I suspect that this was a particularly uninformed guard who was not prepared to ask when out of his depth.

In East Berlin, drove about dirty streets at length and eventually, finding ourselves heading repeatedly in the direction of Frankfurt an der Oder (did the Franks really get that far?)

Frankfurt is, as the name says, on the river Oder, currently the border between Germany and Poland.

ended up in the new Stadtmitte [town centre] of East Berlin, which is in the Karl-Marx-Allee, and after a bit of walking around in temperatures of - 10°, decided to look for a coffee shop in the car, and eventually to the „Mokka“ café, opposite the „Москва“ restaurant, and contrary to Matin's previous experience, had tasted better than any we had so far had in West Germany. After that, drove around a bit further, and after finding ourselves on the road to Frankfurt a.d. Oder again, turned round and found Checkpoint Charlie remarkably easily. Back to the Studentenheim, and arrived just as Abduls Matin and Hamid and mob were leaving for Zachariahs, and so thither and back then into town to have some coffee and chase some women, after which back, and somewhat later Dave and I went to see another film, „Ehepaar sucht Gleichgesinntes“, which was quite interesting, though it suddenly brought 2 things home to Dave and me: 1), we were both guilty of some further heinous crime last summer by throwing the parties we did and 2, we could have made a bloody good film last summer. Home, on the way running into an accident, which, along with the wall, meant we had to drive halfway around Berlin to get home, where we saw the last half of „Die Vögel“ on TV, and then to Zachariahs, got our barang, and off to sleep in a room obtained for us for this purpose.


Sunday, 28 December 1969 Berlin → Hannover
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Matin in at about 1130, saying he was on the way to tow in a car, and would be back by 1300 or so. Accordingly got up at 1300, prepared all our barang and waited outside, reading, until 1430, when they finally came back telling stories of having picked up a fellow who lived at the end of the world (in Berlin?) who waited until they go to the car before telling them he had left his keys at home. Then downstairs again, Matin driving his car (i.e. the one that Hamid had been driving) and off, looking for the Drewitz control to get through, and after getting lost once, found it, and got some petrol - it was today bitterly cold, about - 15°, and the windows stayed iced up. Then through the checkpoint, having more fun about the Kfz-schein, and followed Matin (who promptly seemed attracted to Frankfurt an der Oder, which is becoming a popular place - maybe these “Visit Poland” signs are having their effect) to Helmstedt - he must be one of the worst drivers I have ever seen: if he had not been a friend of mine, I would have stopped him and given him a very large piece of my mind - as it was, I told him at Helmstedt, where he told me 1, my left headlamp was kaputt and 2, he was a much better driver than I would ever be, which, not really surprisingly, more than slightly annoyed me, and we had a great argument about it.

This was the first time I had seen Matin driving, and the last: in the following 47 years, I have not seen him again. The issue with the headlamp proved to be due to the car bouncing on the uneven road surface and “flashing” as a result.

Then on, Matin to Hamburg, we to Hannover, where I first verified that Grete Söhl [the widow of a cousin of my grandmother, with whom I had stayed six years previously] was at home, and then went to see Wolfgang Fischer, who seemed very please to see us, and even offered to put us up for the night, which save us the trouble of asking him.

After having a bite to eat, went over to see Grete, who looked a lot happier to see me than I had expected, and force food and drink down ur throats, and offered to put us up for the night, which was rather confusing, but we turned it down, and eventually managed to get off to sleep at Wolfgang's.

Grete lived at Geibelstraße 12, and Wolfgang not far from there, though I no longer have the address.

Monday, 29 December 1969 Hannover → Oostende →
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Up at 0415, and found Wolf already up, though I had rather hoped that he would stay in bed. He made coffee for us, and then we went down, put in our barang, and tried to start the car, but, try as we might, it would not, so got Wolf to call in the ADAC, who said they would not be able to come until 0630, which gave me cause to swear. There was, however, no point in going on, as the battery was flat, so thawed out inside - it must have been the best part of -20° downstairs - and had some coffee, while waiting for the ADAC man, who arrived, in none too good a temper, at 0740, just as dawn was breaking, diagnosed flooded engine (not really surprising, I suppose, seeing as though I had the choke on even though it would not start), and flattened his battery trying to start it. I suppose there is something to be said for being able to push start a car - I shall have to device some means of cranking with works on another car's engine.

The car had a centrifugal clutch, which meant that the clutch was always disengaged when the engine was not running.

Upstairs, swearing, and decided to cook up the engine oil to save the battery, and then put it back after breakfast, hot, into the sump, and tried cranking it, and all I succeeded in doing was breaking the bracket that held the crank in place. Swore, and off to a place to replace a broken plug cap, and at the same time bought some „Start-pilot“ which, predictably, did not work. Eventually pushed the car to a garage, where we got them to charge the battery, and in the meantime over to Grete's, where I had a bite to eat. Dave stayed at the Fischer's - and then over to pick up the car - though it cost DM 6.50, it started,

My recollection was that the spark plug gaps were too wide (1.1 mm instead of 0.7 mm). For some reason the car really chewed up the spark plugs, and they needed continual adjustment.

and so off, joyously, in the direction of Oostende, and on without much in the way of problems other than monetary, as I had hardly any DM with me, and so changed $4 US to buy some petrol at the next Raststätte, and then on until the Ruhr valley, where we had a drink, on to the border, changed £10 into francs, and bought some petrol, and then on to Gent, getting 100 F for giving a couple of blokes a lift, and then to Oostende, where there was a boat boarding in a couple of hours. Discovered we were £1:10 short and borrowed this from a couple of blokes who were thumbing and needed a lift across the channel (no pedestrians). Then had a hell of a susah with a woman who, of all the petty things to do, stole 2 F from us while we were trying to wash our hands, and this culminated with all the big brass being involved, and, when we got on the ship, our being threatened with difficulties at the other end with the immigration, which seemed rather unlikely, seeing as though we had just been through Pommie immigration (1 month, dammit; if only the bloody captain knew, I have enough difficulties anyway).

I think that the woman in question was collecting fees for use of the toilet, so it wasn't exactly “stolen”. But I should have known that. 2 F corresponds (in 2016) to 0.05 €, so even then it wasn't exactly a lot of money. It seems strange that the ship's crew got involved.

Tuesday, 30 December 1969 → Dover → London → Worcester.
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Up was I at about 0350 woken, while the boat continued its backing and filling into Dover, making more out of it than the Apollo 12 blokes made out of their infinitely more complicated manoeuvres. Finally we were called down to the cars, and after waiting a further few minutes of the other blokes to come down, out through the customs, and, of course, was stopped by them, and, as usual, asked abut my car, and again got away without the book. Then on to get some petrol, and just out of Dover had some fun with a sticking throttle cable, which was somewhat irritating. Stopped in Canterbury for one of the thumbers to make a phone call, and then worked the cable until it was relatively smooth - will have to grease it in the near future. Then on to London, arriving at about 0810, and Teen, now fast asleep, had locked the door from the inside, and Dave could not get in. Decided to leave him, dropped the other thumber at Euston, and off up the M1, picking up a thumber on the way. Off the motorway at Newport Pagnell, and shortly later stopped and went to sleep, and woke up round 1130, and on along the A422 to Banbury, where I refuelled, then on fast to Worcester and Chris Jones', where arrived just in time for a quick bite before seeing with Chris, Barney and Geschwister [siblings] “The Love Bug“ (i.e. „Der tolle Käfer“), all about a crazy VW beetle (obviously!) which was faster than the fastest Ferrari, and at the same time had a mind of its own. I know they make an automatic VM, but this is quite ridiculous. Unfortunately, the whole film was just a little too ridiculus, and by the time I came out, I felt somewhat frustrated. Took Barny and brother and 15-year-old sister home (hands off, Gaſton - haven't you had your fill of that sort of thing already?), then ourselves home for some tea, then to listen to some music and do a bit of reading, later to watch TV, and Chris and I arranged to go out and do a bit of drinking, which was somewhat thwarted by me flaking out at the 1930 mark.


Wednesday, 31 December 1969 Worcester
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Mr Jones in today at about 0830 with cup of tea, milk and sugar [which I don't take], and after knocking that back downstairs to find him the only other one in attendance, but after a process of hanging around a few other people appeared, and breakfast was had by all (ugh!). Then Chris departed himself into town (I really must start using more plausible language) and I sat down to attend to the requirements of a diary as neglected as it has been in 7 years. This took a considerable amount of time, even though no too great a degree of distraction was provided, and at various times I left to return, though somehow I did make reasonable progress.

Then Chris returned, shortly later his father returned, and we all had lunch, towards the end of which a case of cutlery was produced, which proved to contain a flûte, of a design which I have never seen before; basically it is the old 8-keyed flute, but with pads for each 3rd finger, also with a ring system for the left first and second fingers.


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In any case, I was handed it, people expecting me not to be able to do anything with it, and were thus quite pleased when I made a passable sound out of it.

This is not quite the way I recall the event. They told me that they had a flageolet, and brought it out, along with an Otto Langey tutor for the flageolet; I had to show them the illustration in the tutor to prove that it wasn't the same kind of instrument. It was a Siccama system flute made by Chappell of Bond Street. More information here.

Later outside to tackle the mammoth job of cleaning my car, which took half of Chris, Nick and me about ½ hour to do, without cleaning the bumpers or doing anything so complicated. In the middle of this Chris disappeared into town to look for a book, and later Nick and I in to get some money, and inspected for Chris in the process.

I think it must have been on this occasion that I went into a shop, possibly a music shop, where the proprietors had a bad cold. By the time I left, my nose was blocked too, and it took about 15 minutes to clear up. After that, though, I had no further symptoms.

Back unsuccessful in this latter, and had (I suspect) tea, and then I playing some found music on the flûte, and then joined me Chris, and we managed after the obligatory news-watching to passably present an Andrew Parcham recorder piece on the wrong instruments, before going upstairs to change into garments assumed more suitable for going to New Year's Eve dos in. Then along to a Doug's place, hidden somewhere behind the cathedral, and after that to the the old Palace, which proved to be not a dance hall but a bishop's residence. Upstairs, hidden somewhere in the labyrinth, we found a party of sorts underway, and I fairly quickly got, without much effort on my part, a bird of name Annette to latch on to me, which was somewhat thwarted by the presence of a hypotenuse, who claimed to be having her tonight, and did not consider that she was worth fighting about. Then, as midnight approached, we begave ourselves to the cathedral, and more particularly to the bell tower, where too few learned gentlemen were to ring in the new decade with the wrong series of changes.


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