Greg
Greg's diary
December 1972
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This page was entered from memory in April 2017. This is indicated by the text in brown. Dates are in some cases approximate, and may change.

By the beginning of the month I was living in England and had been waiting for a work permit for several months, living off my parent's money.


Sunday, 10 December 1972 Bow → London
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To London to help Dad renovate the flat that he has bought in West Ealing. Why does he want me to live there? I still don't have a work permit, and until I do I can't know where I will find a job. The odds of it being round here are pretty remote. And I'm still interested in the idea of returning to Germany, preferably Hamburg, to be near Mecky.


Tuesday, 12 December 1972 London
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In the tube into town today to do some errand for Dad, but also to get away from the work. In the train I saw a car card advertising computer training from Control Data, with complete finance: you don't need to repay until you have a job.

That sounds like a good idea, and Control Data isn't exactly unknown. When I got back home, discussed it with Dad, who agreed. Made an appointment to talk to them tomorrow.


Wednesday, 13 December 1972 London
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Into town to meet the Control Data people, somewhere near Oxford Street. Yes, all sounds good, and I could go ahead, though their emphasis on ICL (and not Control Data!) hardware sounded rather geographically limiting. But then they told me that there was a similar scheme in Frankfurt, which also took only 4 months, using Control Data hardware, and with a course starting at the beginning of next month. That's still not in Hamburg, but Mecky won't be back in Germany until after I finish the course, so that's not an issue: I just need to find a job in Hamburg.

By chance one of the people from Frankfurt was visiting London, so I was able to talk to him (in German, to confirm that I wouldn't have any difficulty with the language). All I needed was a visa for Germany, which couldn't take more difficult than for the United Kingdom.

Back home again, and we agreed that I should go to Germany.


Thursday, 14 December 1972 London
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To the German Embassy to apply for a visa. Yes, I can get it, but there's a problem: it almost certainly won't be issued by the end of the month. But I can get into Germany without a visa and complete later, so that's not such an issue.

To the Home Office, who still had my passport, bumping into one of my Ugandan Asians while I was there. The place seemed like something out of the Middle Ages. When I finally got attended to, I asked why they didn't use computers. “Ah, we like to treat people as people, not numbers”. And then “you don't happen to have the number we wrote in the back of your passport, do you?”. I did, and after explaining I was leaving the country (so they could cancel the visa application), I got the passport back with a stamp allowing me to stay in the UK for 2 weeks.


Saturday, 16 December 1972 London
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Marek (Mark) Kuleza got married today, and of course we were invited. For the first time I realised that there's more about marriage than the happy couple: a woman with daughter pounced on me and asked me all about myself, what my prospects were, and so on. Clearly in the match-making business. The daughter wasn't that uninteresting, though she had difficulty getting a word in edgeways. For some reason I didn't keep any contact details.


Sunday, 17 December 1972 London
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Mecky arrived today on her way home to Münster. The Dabrowskis invited us over to dinner, but we left early and went home to be by ourselves.


Monday, 18 December 1972 London
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Took Mecky to the airport, which for some reason [I forget the details] was quite complicated.

One reason might be that the airport shut down 12 years earlier. Something in my memry isn't working correctly, but that's what I remember.

She was flying from Croydon airport, and I ended up putting her on a train.


Monday, 25 December 1972 Bow
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Christmas! And nobody whom I knew. Some friends of friends invited me to dinner, but that was more charity on their part than anything enjoyable. Probably the loneliest Christmas I have ever experienced.


Thursday, 28 December 1972 Bow → London → Düsseldorf →
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Didn't sleep well, so round 0200 decided to leave immediately for Germany rather than waiting another day or two in these miserable surroundings. Packed up my old, decrepit 2CV fourgonette with just about everything I owned, including a spare engine for the car, and set off east.

Arrived in London round the morning rush hour. Going round the South Circular Road, the suspension gave out under the load: a tie rod for the left rear wheel failed, leaving it without suspension. Nothing for it: I called a couple of taxis and took my belongings to the nearest railway station and abandoned the car where it could cause the most hindrance.

Took a train to Ealing, where I prevailed on somewhat unwilling Kuleszas to look after the remainder of my belongings, and then set off to Heathrow Airport with an amazing amount of equipment, including a large tape deck. Somehow managed to get it all on a flight to Düsseldorf, where I caught a train to Münster (after fighting off a taxi driver who wanted to take me all the way there for a sum that I could refuse).

This somewhat inauspicious day was one of the turning points of my life. Behind me was childhood, Malaysia, England, and dependence on my parents. Little did I guess what lay ahead, but I never returned to live in England or Malaysia again.

Friday, 29 December 1972 → Münster
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Arrived in Münster in the early morning and found a hotel near the railway station, then off to look for Mecky.

Mecky's parents weren't very positively impressed by my long hair and beard, so off to have it trimmed. That made them a lot happier, and I was even given some old warm clothes, including an army issue leather overcoat that Mecky's father (apparently an officer) had worn in Stalingrad.


Sunday, 31 December 1972 Münster
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Spent the day with Mecky, and back to the hotel to catch up on the time we had missed. Mecky wasn't at all happy at the idea, and we had as much a disagreement as we had ever had. Is it over?

To their place for New Year's Eve celebrations.


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