CHALK AND CHEESE



Senior teachers Diana Dockerell and Clement Mayfield respect each other professionally but their differences prevent a closer relationship developing . . . until circumstances change. But circumstances also reacquaint Clement with Luisa, a German lady he met many years previously during the Berlin Airlift. Another twist of fate brings together Clement's son, Stephen, a pop singer in Hamburg, and Katharina, the daughter of Luisa. The five of them must all adjust their lives accordingly, at the same time - like every other person in the world - trying to ignore the threat of nuclear war which has arisen because President Khrushchev of the USSR has decided to site missiles on the island of Cuba.
 

   


Copyright © Julien Evans 2014
Published by Steemrok Publishing
This edition published 2021

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied, recorded, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the Publisher. Paperback version available here.


All the characters and events in this book are fictitious



Also by Julien Evans: Fiction
Madeleine's Quest
The Sommerville Case
The Damocles Plot
Flight 935 Do You Read

Non-fiction:
How Airliners Fly
Handling Light Aircraft





Steemrok Publishing
steemrok.com
 



CHALK AND CHEESE

CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 2
CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 6
CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 8
CHAPTER 9
CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 11
CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER 13
CHAPTER 14
CHAPTER 15
CHAPTER 16
CHAPTER 17
CHAPTER 18
CHAPTER 19
CHAPTER 20
CHAPTER 21
CHAPTER 22
CHAPTER 23
CHAPTER 24
CHAPTER 25
CHAPTER 26
CHAPTER 27
CHAPTER 28
CHAPTER 29
CHAPTER 30
CHAPTER 31
CHAPTER 32
CHAPTER 33



CHAPTER   1






As soon as she opened the door to the Senior Staff Room Diana Dockerell knew that Clement Mayfield was in the room. The aroma of smoke from his pipe tobacco was sweeter than the general fug of cigarette smoke. But not less irritating to her. A frown settled on her forehead as her eyes swept round the room looking for the source of her irritation. Of course he was in his usual chair by the window, engrossed in a newspaper.
    "Mr Mayfield, can't you put that thing out?" Diana tended to revert to surnames when she wanted to show displeasure.
    Smoking in the staff rooms was a contentious issue since a third or so of the teachers were non-indulgers. A vociferous group within this group insisted that the Headmaster declare the staff rooms smoke-free. The smokers invoked their democratic rights and told the Head to tell the non-smokers to go and jump in the lake. Dr Briers––as he always did––came up with a solution. Those of the pure in lung could take their rest periods in the Book Repository, a large, dingy room whose atmosphere was tainted merely with the smell of old textbooks. If a fresher ambience was required, the grimy windows could be wound open. Dr Briers' arrangement kept the warring factions at bay, although a couple of more forceful individuals within the agitators within the non-smoking group could occasionally be heard muttering that a rotation system should be implemented so that the evil tobacco users would be demoted to the Book Repository from time to time.
    The rest of the school was allegedly smoke free although a teacher or janitor randomly checking the weed-strewn air raid shelters at the end of the football pitch would not infrequently catch children who had picked up the habit. Punishment was automatic Friday evening detention, although some of the more liberal teachers, and Mr Kingsman, the janitor, would tell the kids to get out of there and wait till they were outside the school gates before lighting up.
    Unfortunately the combustion products of Clement's pipe tended to permeate the whole room. He was not an inconsiderate man and his habit was to ask the others present if they objected to him lighting up. At the moment the only other person in the Senior Staff Room was Janet Scott, sitting at a table marking classwork. At twenty-six, the newest and almost the youngest teacher in the school, Janet was exactly half Clement's age. Juniors were allowed to use the Senior Room if it wasn't too busy so that they could avail themselves of the newspapers and superior coffee making facilities. Diana's rhetorical question made her look up for a moment.
    "Good morning, Diana, are you well?" Clement's response to the Deputy Headmistress was an engaging smile and a cheery wave. He dropped his paper and tapped out the contents of his pipe into an ashtray. "What brings you down to the slave deck?"
    Diana waved a paper at him and then tacked it to the notice board. "This. From the Headmaster."
    "A ukase from the Tsar? What's it about?"
    The Deputy Headmistress caught Janet smiling and her frown deepened. "I think Dr Briers warrants a little more respect, Mr Mayfield."
    "Don't stand on ceremony, Diana. You can call me 'wretch'. What does the notice say?"
    "It's a reminder about dress code. Dr Briers has seen a few fluorescent socks in the school. As of now they are banned."
    "Never wear them myself. They don't go with my gold lamé cocktail dresses."
    The Deputy Head smiled despite herself. "For the children, I meant, Clement, as well you know."
    There was a moment's silence and Clement went to pick up his paper again. But Diana turned to face him.
    "Rehearsal sessions," she said mysteriously.
    Clement raised an enquiring eyebrow.
    "You said you could take some of the Thursday evenings. Can you do it this week?"
    "Momento, Señora." Clement reached into the inside pocket of his tweed jacket and extracted his diary. Diana noticed that the leather patch protecting the left elbow was coming adrift. Typical Clement!
    The geography teacher flicked through the pages. "Yes, I can manage that. Six o'clock kick-off, is it?"
    "Six thirty."
    "I'll be there. Which songs?"
    "I'll be circulating the programme during the day. We might be without Tessa Murray. She's off sick."
    "Just remind me . . . Tessa's playing . . . "
    "The photographer."
    "Oh yes. That'll limit us a bit."
    "Not too much. She's only got the 'Millionaire' song. There's plenty of other material we must work on, Clement. We're a bit behind schedule in several areas."
    "It'll be alright on the night. Sorry, Diana, drifted into Clichéland there."
    "I'm not too worried about Tessa. She's enthusiastic. But some of the others need . . . "
    "A boot in the posterior."
    "Not delicately put, but precise."
    "Can I make you a cup of tea, Diana? The kettle has recently boiled."
    The Deputy Head smiled. "Thank you, Clement, but I'll turn you down. Tons of paperwork to do in my office."
    "Ah, the burden of authority. Such a ponderous load for such delicate shoulders."
    "Clement . . . " Diana shook her head in exasperation. But it was impossible to scold him.
    Diana Dockerell and Clement Mayfield were chalk and cheese. She considered herself a model of efficiency, a thoroughly professional teacher who had achieved her advancement to her elevated station through her own talents and sheer hard work. She was aware that she was "the dragon" to her charges behind her back but considered the soubriquet a compliment rather than an insult, a grudging mark of respect. Other nicknames bestowed on her by the children were "Diana Dors" and "Lady Docker". The former was an almost-glamorous actress ("the British Marilyn Monroe") and the latter a vulgarly ostentatious socialite who had spent her way through three husbands, according to the tabloid press. Diana did not resent any of the alternative appellations. As far as she knew none of the pupils meant any malice to her, even when they resisted her efforts to instill discipline.
    On the other hand, Clement Mayfield was too easy going by half. His appearance was presentable enough, give or take the occasional badly ironed shirt and a jacket well past its prime. He seemed to have an aversion to wearing his academic gown unless circumstances demanded it. Well, that was his personal choice and did no-one any harm. But his approach to discipline was somewhat erratic, even downright lax at times, thought Diana. Nevertheless it had to be admitted that he was highly regarded for his teaching skills by his peers. And the children loved him.
    The Deputy Head left the room and the other two teachers were silent for a while. Clement Mayfield fiddled with his pipe but did not relight it. He looked over at his young colleague.
    "What's your next class, dear?"
    Janet Scott put down her pen. "Third year, French Set Two."
    Clement nodded. "Is Peter Young in that lot?"
    The junior teacher sighed. "Sadly, yes."
    "Giving you grief?"
    "Yes. I don't really know how to handle him. You never know what to expect. Sometimes he's cooperative and others he's . . . "
    " . . . the proverbial pain in the rectal orifice," supplied Clement.
    "Yes. It's a shame. When he applies himself he's fine, probably good enough for the first set. His accent is good. But then he'll go off the rails for no reason and disrupt the whole class. It's so exasperating. It's like there are two Peter Youngs, good and evil."
    "You know his background, don't you?"
    "Yes. Must be difficult for his mum, bringing up him and his brother alone. His Dad died when he was young, didn't he?"
    "Yes. Motorbike accident."
    "How do you deal with him yourself, Clement?"
    "I appeal to his intelligence. He's a bright boy, as you know. 'What's a clever chap like you doing behaving like an imbecile?' sort of thing. If you can arouse his interest you've solved the problem. I take him for geography, which doesn't inspire him much, although strangely enough he's interested in meteorology, for the moment anyway. He did a nice essay on cloud types not so long ago." The older teacher tapped the newspaper. "There's a piece in here about a new satellite they're launching later this year. I'm going to bring it up in the classes I teach this week."
    Janet nodded. "This new Telstar thing?"
    "Yes. I think the pupils may be interested in it, some of them at any rate."
    "Including Peter Young?"
    "I hope so. The Telstar is primarily for communications, according to the reports, but the Americans are also launching weather satellites too. They take measurements and photograph clouds and so on. I might be able to enthuse Young with the concept––get the class to suggest parameters for the satellites to measure, that sort of thing."
    Janet smiled. "Good luck with that."
    Woodhouse and Young. The Terrible Twosome. A standing joke during Friday Assembly was the Detention List. Headmaster Dr Briers was in the habit of reading out the names of the pupils who had incurred punishment. Invariably, the boys outnumbered the girls about three to one. The intention was to shame the culprits into better behaviour. Often it worked, particularly when the parents of the offenders backed up the school and heaped further opprobrium on their transgressing offspring. But some of the detainees wore their notoriety as badges of pride, including Jonathan Woodhouse (fifth year) and Peter Young (third year). One or other of their names, or both, would frequently feature in the list. When the Head announced the names in alphabetical order the whole school would anticipate the invariable ending "Woodhouse and Young", mumbling the names like a Greek chorus. To prevent the matter getting out of hand, Dr Briers had switched to reading out the names in a random order. But, not a man devoid of humour, on the occasional Friday he would include in his address to the Assembly, "And here are the pupils who will attend Detention this evening. I'll read the list in alphabetical order." A murmur of appreciation would permeate the hall. At the coda, signalled by a brief pause in the incantation, the whole school, staff and pupils, would call out "Woodhouse and Young!" and the two boys would bow to their audience amid laughter, jeering and cheering. Even Diana Dockerell was seen to smile.
    "Talking about weather, Clement," continued Janet now. "Are the forecasters right? Are we in for a blazing summer?" Known to his colleagues as someone who knew his meteorology, Clement Mayfield was used to fielding enquiries such as this. The older teacher shook his head. "Impossible to say, dear. Where are we––mid April? Any forecast purporting to tell you what's going to happen more than two weeks in the future is really just speculation. What's your source?"
    "Saw it in the paper. Sightings of swallows, appearance of tree blossom and so on."
    "These things are nature's response to current conditions rather than what's going to happen in the future. Blazing summer? Impossible to say, unless you can do a complete thermodynamic analysis of the atmosphere and the oceans. No computer's that good. Nor are swallows and trees, I suspect. Too many variables. Too much randomness and chaos."
    "So it's all old wives' tales?"
    "With our current knowledge, that's a pretty accurate description. Although I read recently someone's constructing a massive supercomputer somewhere in America that's using statistical data for weather forecasting. Berkeley University, if I remember correctly. They switch it on and all the lights dim in California."
    Janet sighed. "We've just booked a holiday in Pembrokeshire in August."
    "You may be lucky."
    The bell went and both teachers automatically checked their watches. Janet gathered up her books. "Well, time to do battle with Young and Co."
    Clement stood up and dropped his pipe into the pocket of his tweed jacket. "It's the frightful first years for me. I shall fight them in the classroom. I shall fight them in the playground. I shall never surrender."
 





CHAPTER   2






Chesham Bois Grammar School was not untainted with the whiff of controversy. To begin with, its grounds lay within the parish of Chesham town rather than Chesham Bois. The main school building was constructed on almost level ground on the southern outskirts of the town in the valley of the River Chess. Dating from the early 1930s, its art deco styling was still attractive thirty years later. Cynics suggested that the "Bois" tag was added to make it sound posher when it was seeking to attract fee-paying parents, whose children made up three quarters of the school in the inter war years. The remaining places were filled by children from less affluent backgrounds who had won scholarships by successfully passing entrance examinations. An ironic consequence of this selection procedure was that the "scholarship" boys and girls frequently outperformed their peers academically, much to the chagrin of parents paying for their children's supposed educational advantage. The 1944 Education Act had swept away the need to pay for a grammar school place but had brought in the controversial 11-plus exam that all primary school children had to sit to determine their secondary school allocations. Buckinghamshire Local Education Authority, in keeping with the national average, set the pass mark for the exam such that only around thirty percent of entrants were successful, entitling them to places at the state grammar schools. The rest had to make do with the secondary moderns. In the market town of Chesham, as in many areas of the country, could be detected an undercurrent of resentment among the parents of children who had failed the test.
    Clement Mayfield, Head of Geography at Chesham Bois Grammar, was aware of the unfairness of the selection procedure but like most of his peers could not fault the logic of "the best education for the smartest kids." The criterion of academic ability was undoubtedly a better mechanism for choosing pupils than the ability of parents to pay. To palliate the harshness of the 11-plus, most Local Education Authorities had set up procedures whereby gifted secondary modern pupils could transfer to grammar schools and struggling grammar pupils move in the opposite direction. Clement was one of teachers designated as an assessor when reallocations were being determined. Although he didn't bother to make a note of numbers, he would have been amused, and pleased, to be informed that his "promotions" were more numerous than his "demotions". Deputy Head Diana Dockerell on the other hand had accepted two and expelled three, but of course her tenure at Chesham Bois was not yet a year old and the figures were too small to form an accurate statistical basis.
    A further social improvement compared to the pre-war years was the percentage of female pupils, which had risen from the low twenties to the mid forties. Although the name "Chesham Bois" derived from the French du Bois family who owned the land in the Middle Ages, locals pronounced the name phonetically, which in turn allowed them to joke about the "Bois and Girls School". On the register now were 276 pupils of the fair sex and 333 of their male counterparts.
    To cater for the greater numbers since the war the school had acquired a single story extension, tastefully matching the art deco styling of the main building. But even the enlarged premises were not adequate for the "baby boomer" intake of 1958 and it had been found necessary to stick two large, ugly prefabricated huts in the playground to provide the extra classrooms. The "boomers" were now fifteen years old and the "temporary" accommodation looked like settling into permanence.
    Critics of the 11-plus selection would voice their concern over the battles parents had to fight to win a fair share of the LEA's resources. A bone of contention was the perceived bias in favour of the grammars. "They get better facilities and better teachers. It's not a level playing field."
    In the case of Chesham Bois Grammar School the playing fields were literally non-level. At the southern end of the grounds the terrain gradually sloped upward, the gradient steepening in the direction of Chesham Bois proper and Amersham beyond. There were two playing fields large enough for football, rugby and hockey matches, set out at right angles to each other, which meant that competing teams either had to deal with one side of the pitch being higher than the other or, more problematically, had to play one half of a match uphill and one downhill. Skilful Chesham Bois players learnt how to turn the topographical anomalies to their advantage, triggering complaints of unfairness by visiting teams. But the school had also negotiated an arrangement with the nearby Chesham United football club, who allowed them to use their gradient-free pitch when the club did not need it.
    Besides the not-so-temporary classroom huts taking up space in the playground, another blemish spoiling the appearance of the school and its surroundings were the air raid shelters alongside the playing fields. Hastily constructed in the late 1930s in panicky anticipation of war, the shelters were now semi-derelict and out of bounds to the pupils. Most of their corridors and chambers were full of rubble and in several places the concrete roofing had collapsed. Weeds helped to camouflage the ugly debris. Lying thirty odd miles to the northwest of London, Chesham and the surrounding area had largely escaped the attention of the Luftwaffe despite the presence of the bomber base at nearby Bovingdon and the number of occasions the children and staff of the school had had to scurry into the damp, gloomy shelters could be counted on the fingers of two hands. One rumour had it that the shelters would soon be demolished and the land reclaimed for housing but thus far progress was notable only by its absence. Another rumour was that the shelters would be rebuilt and strengthened to provide protection against nuclear attack. Again, there was precious little evidence that this project was being pursued either. The idea often triggered controversy in the Staff Rooms.
    "What would be the point? You'd survive the blasts and then die of radiation poisoning when you got out. Or you'd starve to death."
    "But where there's life, there's hope, and all that."
    "Bloody nuclear weapons! Just get rid of 'em all!"
    "That's the problem. They can't be uninvented."
    Sometimes the discussion would modulate into debating how to spend the four minutes between the warning of nuclear attack and the detonation of the first warheads. Dashing to the air raid shelters was thought to be sensible but ultimately pointless. Other suggestions tended towards the dissolute or licentious and the more considerate teachers would remind their colleagues that there were ladies present.
    There were forty-four teachers registered at Chesham Bois Grammar School of whom the eldest was Dr Archibald Briers, Headmaster. Dr Briers had joined the staff as a novice in 1922, when the school was still housed in its original late Victorian buildings. In his left thigh there remained a fragment of the German shell that had exploded over the desolate muddy wasteland he and his fellow soldiers were denying to the enemy near the devastated Flanders town of Passchendaele in 1917. Surprised at having survived the confrontation that had taken so many of his comrades, Lieutenant Briers decided he would like to give teaching a go, a decision he never regretted. His doctoral thesis on the exacerbation of dyslexia by non-phonetic spelling in the English language had won several awards in the mid 1930s. However, ponderous officialdom was not so enthusiastic about taking up his suggestions for spelling reform, and over the years his initial ardour had cooled somewhat. But even now Dr Briers still wrote the occasional article on the subject and gave the occasional presentation to various educational bodies. Forty odd years on from the start of his teacher training the prospect of retirement was looming but the Head thought he would like to stay on for a while longer if the authorities agreed.
    It was Dr Briers who had agreed to appoint the school's youngest teacher, twenty-three year old Keith Knight, whose only experience prior to Chesham Bois Grammar was two years in a state primary. Under pressure from one of the school's governors, who happened to be Keith's uncle, the Head set aside his misgivings about the new-hire's unconvincing bravado and lack of experience and allowed himself to be badgered into taking him on.
    Things did not go well for the new maths teacher. Keith warned his pupils that he was tough on miscreants and would tolerate not even the merest hint of rebellion. Needless to say, the children immediately rose to the challenge. Nicknames were tried out, often within his hearing, of which two survived into everyday usage: "Nightmare" and "Deadly" (abbreviated from Deadly Nightshade). Realising he was turning into a laughing stock, Keith mistakenly rushed to the opposite end of the behavioural spectrum and told his charges he was now their chum. The insolence worsened, of course, and the last vestiges of good-natured banter evaporated. Keith's classes were descending into chaos.
    Dr Briers was at a loss. He summoned Diana Dockerell and Clement Mayfield to his office to solicit their advice. The Deputy Head's opinion was that the unfortunate Mr Knight should be dismissed and sent off to a post in a less demanding environment, where he could find his feet and restart his career. But Clement took a different view. He had detected quality in the new teacher. Get him to address the whole school at Assembly, said Clement, and ask for a fresh start. After due consideration the Headmaster sided with his senior geography teacher, who volunteered to help Keith write his speech. Dr Briers had filed a copy of the address in his archive.

"I'd like to tell you my thoughts about Chesham Bois Grammar School. It has a well-deserved reputation as a centre of academic and sporting excellence and I was thrilled to be appointed as a teacher here. I'm quite new to teaching and I've heard it said by my critics that I didn't have the required experience to maintain the high standards here.
    "The critics were probably right. And it must be said that the relationship I established with the pupils I taught was not the best. I acknowledge that the fault lay with me and not with the pupils.
    "The Headmaster has kindly offered me a fresh start. So I'd like your indulgence here. From now on I'm not going to be too strict nor too lenient. I'd like you to give me a little leeway when I get things wrong, which is bound to happen from time to time. In return, I promise to do my best to uphold the school's high standards. If I succeed I'll be proud to continue as a teacher at Chesham Bois Grammar School. If not, I'll call it a day and find employment elsewhere. But I won't give up teaching. I love it too much. One day I'll be a good teacher. You can bet on it. Thank you."

The whole school had erupted in cheers and clapping. Diana Dockerell was seen to wipe a tear from her eye. A whimsical smile settled on the face of Clement Mayfield and a broad grin on Dr Briers. That was six months ago and the ploy had worked. Apart from a few minor wobbles, Keith Knight had settled on a steady course and the nicknames were now bandied around without malice.
    The Deputy Head and the Head of Geography had also discovered they held different views concerning the creative development of the janitor, Prosper Kingsman. A native Jamaican, Prosper had brought his wife and two children to the Promised Land during the wave of Commonwealth immigration in the mid 1950s. They rented a cheap flat in Finsbury and the head of the family set about finding work. Having been told that he had natural mechanical aptitude, his ambition was to train to be a garage mechanic in the motor car servicing industry or to work in a vehicle assembly plant. He warned his wife, Isabella, that the family might have to relocate to Dagenham so that he could work at the Ford factory. But British businesses did not seem to want to take advantage of his talents and he found he had to lower his expectations. Eventually the choice came down to cleaner at a bus station or road sweeper. The Jamaican picked the first option as the pay, though disappointingly poor, was better than the wage packets of the men sweeping the streets of London.
    Clearing up the litter in a double decker one day at the Kentish Town Bus Station where he worked, Prosper noticed an advert in a discarded newspaper for a janitor's position at a school in Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire. The Jamaican wondered whether the location had anything to do with Chesham, the station at the top left hand corner of the Tube map. The fact that leapt out at him was that the janitor's pay was almost half as much again as he was making as a bus cleaner.
    One thing led to another and one day Prosper found himself on a Metropolitan Line train bouncing along the track towards that upper left hand corner, his nervousness increasing as the time and distance to the job interview simultaneously decreased. He was dressed in his one and only suit and Isabella had polished his shoes for him. As she kissed him goodbye and good luck she told him he was good enough for any job he wanted.
    At Chalfont & Latimer station he had to change to the single track shuttle service to Chesham, after which a ten minute walk brought him to the gates of Chesham Bois Grammar School.
    "Oh man, what went wrong?" asked Isabella when he trudged indoors a few hours later. "You got a face like a child about ready to cry."
    "I messed up, Bella. Got all flustered and tongue-tied when they asked me all those questions. Man, I was out of my depth. They weren't nasty or nothing but I don't think I impressed them too good. They wanted character references and all that."
    "Well, they don't know what they're missing. You're the best, Prosp, an' I'm proud of you."
    Three days later a letter had dropped onto the doormat. Signed by the Secretary, Chesham Bois Grammar School, the letter offered him employment as janitor for a probationary period of six months. During the probationary period his pay would be eight pounds three shillings and sixpence per week and the school could dispense with his services with one week's notice if they so desired. If he was kept on after the probationary period his pay would increase to nine pounds, nineteen shillings and four pence per week and his period of notice to one month. Prosper and Isabella celebrated by treating themselves to dinner in a nice restaurant that was happy to serve immigrants from the Caribbean.
    Six years on the Kingsman family was well established in the terrace house they rented on Bellingdon Road in Chesham. The discrimination that they encountered from the locals was never intolerable and the children seemed be doing well at the local school.
    One day the previous February a teacher came into the Senior Staff Room to complain that the radiators in her classroom were cold. A quick check found that several radiators in the school were similarly afflicted and Clement Mayfield, on a free period, volunteered to find the janitor to see if the matter could be put right. The teacher found Prosper Kingsman hovering over the pipework in the boiler room with a spanner in his hand, muttering about a stuck return valve.
    "You'll get the heat soon, Mr Mayfield, sir. I just gotta free up this valve. Man, it's stiff. Might need to get a plumber in, though, if I can't do it."
    "Anything I can do to help, Prosper? Not that I'm much of an engineer, mind you."
    The Jamaican smiled. "T'ank you. Just a second . . . got it!"
    "Well done!"
    "Yeah, but it's not right. There's a solenoid that's supposed to turn the valve an' it's not doin' it."
    "What shall we do about it, do you think?"
    "Well, sir, if it was me I would get the expert."
    "Can you arrange it or do want the Secretary to do it?"
    "I t'ink I got a phone number for the boiler company. Shall I call them?"
    "Yes. You can explain the problem."
    "Okay, let me check I got the number."
    The two men filed into the little janitor's room next to the boiler room. Prosper rummaged amongst the papers on his desk and picked up a notebook from a pile of three or four. While he flicked through its pages Clement happened to notice the handwritten label on one of the other notebooks: Me Wanna Go Montego Bay and Other Poems, by Prosper Kingsman.
    The teacher picked the notebook up and raised an eyebrow at the janitor. "Your work?"
    "It ain't no great shakes, Mr Mayfield, sir," said Prosper with a shy smile. "Just messin' around, you know."
    "May I?"
    "Of course, man."
    Clement opened the notebook. The janitor watched the teacher's eyes scanning the words he had hesitantly committed to paper. Clement sampled another page, and then another, nodding approvingly.
    "This looks good. I can't follow it all. You've written some of it in patois."
    "It gives it the right flavour, Mr Mayfield, sir."
    "Do you miss Jamaica?"
    "Sometimes. 'Specially on freezing English winter's days, like today."
    Clement snorted. "I can understand that, Prosper. I wouldn't mind a week or two in the Caribbean."
    "You ever been there?"
    The Head of Geography nodded. "My wife won a competition in a magazine––a holiday in Barbados. Must've been eight or ten years ago. Ten days in a hotel in Oistins."
    "You like it?"
    "Yes. Temperatures in the eighties most days. Sea perfect for swimming and sailing."
    "Stop it, man. You'll have me in tears!"
    Both men laughed and Clement held up the notebook. "Can I show this to Vic Pollard?"
    "The English teacher?"
    "Yes."
    "Better not let Mrs Dockerell see it, though, sir."
    "Why not?"
    "She don't like it when I don't speak standard English." The janitor switched to an upper class voice. "She's always trying to make me speak properly. Like a gentleman."
 





CHAPTER   3   1939 onwards






On Clement Mayfield's twenty-ninth birthday, the German Wehrmacht launched its blitzkrieg against Poland. The following week Clement asked the Headmaster of the school he was teaching in if he could be released for military service if they needed volunteers. The Head praised his patriotism but reminded Clement that teaching was a reserved occupation. He added that Clement should make his decision free of pressure and that the school would be sorry to lose a teacher of his calibre but would wish him good luck if that's where his choice led him. The next person to hear of Clement's intentions was his wife, Shirley. Her response mirrored the mixed sentiments of the Headmaster, with her love for her husband taking the place of the Head's admiration of his teaching abilities. Clement gave Shirley the final say in the matter. She could veto his plan to join up if she wanted. With watering eyes she released him from his duty to look after her and their home during the hostilities but not from his duty to love her.
    Thus it was that on a free afternoon schoolteacher Clement Mayfield cycled from his home in Tring to the Army Recruitment Office in Aylesbury, where the Captain who interviewed him expressed admiration for his qualifications, experience and professional standing and suggested he apply for an officer's commission. There was no tradition of military service in Clement's family background, nor of teaching for that matter, although his mother had sometimes found work as a children's governess and tutor. His father, Bill, was a railway signalman, controlling trains on the main London, Midland and Scottish line from a signal box at the Princes Risborough triple junction. Although Bill Mayfield had not been too old for call up in the Great War, signalmen were on the reserved occupation list, as they were again when the War After The War To End Wars broke out. Clement was the first member of his family to attend University after winning a scholarship.
    During his interview at the Recruitment Office, Clement had mentioned his degree in geography and emphasised his experience of teaching the subject and expressed his hope that these attributes would be considered by the Army when allocation of duty and posting was under way. It was something of a surprise therefore when a letter carrying the franking "Royal Air Force" arrived at his house a week or so later, telling him he would soon be called up for basic officer training, after which it was likely he would be assigned to the Operations Support Staff College to learn the science of meteorological forecasting. Of course, Clement had no idea how the military came to their decisions about deployment of personnel. Perhaps someone somewhere knew that the secondary school geography syllabus included lessons on meteorology. Or perhaps it was a random choice, or indeed a clerical error. Either way, Clement was not displeased. The subjects of weather and climate interested him and he had already delved further into them than was required for his school work, just in case his pupils asked questions outside the syllabus.
    The OSS College had been built in the 1920s just off the Leeds to York main road a mile or so to the east of Tadcaster, with the Meteorological Forecasting Training Unit (which everyone referred to as MetFor) making up a small part of the College. The intake of June, 1940 included Pilot Officer Mayfield amongst its twenty-two students. The putative met forecasters came from various backgrounds, with the teaching profession represented by seven of them. The subject matter turned out to be more involved than many of the students anticipated. Clement was one of those who had never heard the term 'entropy' before and who baulked at the apparent complexity of tephigrams.
    The MetFor timetable was not arduous. Classroom hours were Monday to Friday nine to five, finishing at noon on Fridays. Clement was able to get home most weekends, getting a bus or a lift from a chum into York to catch the London service, then local trains to Tring, changing at Hatfield, St Albans and Watford. When the trains were running to time, York to Tring could be done in less than five hours. The return on Sundays was never quite so expeditious.
    All but one of the class (who inexplicably transferred to a Russian language course) completed the MetFor course successfully and comfortably and the newly qualified met officers were asked to choose the airfields or establishments to which they would like to be posted. Clement's requirements were straightforward––as close to his house in Tring as possible. The Air Force duly sent him to Leeming, in Yorkshire, home to a squadron of Blenheim night fighters.
    During the war, Clement advanced to the rank of Flight Lieutenant and served at several airfields in Britain and some overseas as the Allies liberated the occupied territories and the Wehrmacht was gradually repulsed. The young met officer occasionally volunteered to join bomber crews attacking Germany, believing that a demonstration of solidarity from the support staff would lift the morale of the men who thought that their chances of surviving a tour of thirty missions were considerably less than fifty percent. The flights terrified Clement and he could not help but admire the crews' stoic acceptance of their fate, noting how they resorted to black humour to keep themselves on the right side of sanity. Limping back to Scampton on three engines one night in a badly damaged Lancaster, the navigator told Clement: "Our skipper's fantastic. When we get back, his number of landings will again equal his number of take-offs, which is always the sign of a good pilot."
    Clement got to see his wife as often as he could, sometimes pulling strings to facilitate his visits home. He assured her every time he saw her that he was never in any danger. When she asked him if he ever flew on operations he would shrug and say, "just training details". Their son, Stephen, was born just before D-Day and their daughter, Jennifer, the day General MacArthur accepted the surrender of the Japanese government.
    After demobilisation the met forecaster decided he would like to resume his teaching career, successfully applying for the post of geography master, Chesham Bois Grammar School. The Mayfield family moved to a new house in Berkhamsted, a few miles from the school. Clement was happy to meet the demand for increased staff productivity, which meant that he would sometimes find himself in front of classes teaching history or music when needed, usually covering for colleagues on the sick list. He asked his wife, an accomplished pianist, to help him improve his own playing so that he could demonstrate elements of tempo, melody and harmony to the pupils.
    Clement kept in touch with some of the Air Force friends he had made during the war years and, like many of them, signed up for membership of the Volunteer Reserve, assuring Shirley that the only demands on his time would be a two week spell of duty each year for refresher training in various operational roles.
    In June 1948 the Soviet Union, seeking to wrest control of West Berlin from their erstwhile allies, blocked road, rail and canal transport links to the beleaguered city from the British, French and American occupation zones in the defeated nation. Reports of the crisis in the media noted that the Russians were not legally obliged to allow access by surface routes, commenting that the officials drawing up the terms of the 1945 Potsdam Agreement were at fault for not including guaranteed access in the treaty terms. The only option remaining for supplying essential materials to Berlin was air transport, with legally-protected corridors converging on the city from Hamburg, Hanover and Frankfurt.
    And so began the famous Airlift. Pessimists gave voice to the opinion that the logistical problems of daily flying in 5000 tons of coal, petrol, flour, foodstuffs and other vital commodities would prove insurmountable, which of course was exactly the outcome expected by the Soviet authorities. British and American senior officers rose to the challenge and organised a continual stream of transport aircraft into the Berlin airports in the western sector. Royal Air Force aircraft brought their loads into Gatow, while the destination for United States Air Force transports was Tempelhof, near the bomb blasted city centre. RAF Sunderland flying boats ferried in salt and other commodities from Hamburg, taking off from the estuary of the River Elbe and landing on Lake Havel, near the Gatow base.
    After the mass post-war demobilisation the twin emergencies of the Berlin blockade and anti-colonial agitation in Malaya left the British armed forces temporarily short of personnel and reserves were called up to fill the gaps. A letter from The Royal Air Force invited Flight Lieutenant Clement Mayfield (Volunteer Reserves) to take a posting at Gatow, Berlin to assist the Airlift Operations staff there with pre-flight data preparation, including processing meteorological data. The posting would be non-compulsory and would last until the end of the year or until the end of the Airlift, whichever came sooner.
    Although happily settled in his working and family life, Clement thought the Berlin posting sounded interesting and worthwhile. Besides the attractive pay package, the Air Force were also offering home leave of five days once per month, transportation free. As at the start of the Second World War nine years earlier, Clement gave both his wife and his headmaster power of veto before signing up. As before, they both released him. Thus it was that a few weeks later the geography teacher found himself staring out of the window of an RAF Dakota as it bumped eastwards through the unstable August air at 9000 feet in the central corridor, destination Gatow. A bonus was that one of his old chums was on the same aircraft. They reminisced about their wartime adventures but Clement did not mention the bomber missions he had flown on. It just wasn't done.
 





CHAPTER   4






Although billeted at Gatow, Flight Lieutenant Clement Mayfield (VR) frequently found himself working in the Operations Room at Tempelhof, the United States Air Force base. Since the Americans furnished the vast bulk of the Airlift transport planes it was logical to site the organisational functions at their airfield.
    Not long after the start of "Operation Vittles" the twin engine C47 Dakotas were superseded by larger aircraft. Four-engined American C54 Skymasters and British Avro Yorks could carry three times the three ton payload of the smaller transports. In all weathers, day and night, the drone of aero-engines permeated the skies over the ravaged city. Their noise triggered conflicting emotions for Berliners struggling to restore normality to their shattered lives, for the same engines had brought enemy bombers only three years before and the natural response was cringing fear and an urge to rush for cover to escape the hellish destruction raining down. On the other hand, radial engines now meant Skymasters rather than Fortresses and Rolls Royce Merlins now meant Yorks rather than Lancasters, which in turn meant food for the citizens' frequently empty bellies and coal for their meagre fires when winter set in.
    Clement found the American military at Tempelhof easy to get along with, their informality a contrast to the sometimes stilted correctness of the British personnel at Gatow, although their professional standards of operation seemed to be as high as those of his countrymen. Part of Clement's work revolved around the craft he was trained in, gathering and disseminating meteorological data. Nearly all the inbound flights were sent home as soon as they had been unloaded. Their crews would have picked up weather information for the out-and-return flights in their briefing documentation before departure from Frankfurt or Wunstorf or Hamburg. If there were no significant changes forecast there would be no need for rebriefing during the Berlin turnrounds. Operations staff would simply hand a telexed list of the latest actual and forecast weather conditions at destination and alternate airfields to the pilots while they grabbed a sandwich at one of the catering trucks set up on the apron. But an unforecast weather deterioration or mission change would sometimes require an Operations officer to brief the crews personally. When this duty fell to Clement he would use his own jeep to drive out to the aircraft.
    To prevent others from "borrowing" this vehicle without his permission, he had had mechanics at Gatow paint "MET" in large white letters on both sides of it. On one side some wag had added "ROPOLITAN" in an untidy hand and "BAKER STREET" underneath. Knowing that humour was a necessary antidote to the grumbles and drudgery of the military lower ranks, Clement had left the graffito untouched, even though an explanation was required by the occasional puzzled American serviceman when Clement was driving the jeep around at Tempelhof. The allusion to the northwestern line of the London Underground also reminded Clement of home. No doubt one of Gatow's senior regular officers would see fit to have the offending embellishments removed before too long.
    Sometimes the time off between shifts warranted staying at Tempelhof rather than returning to Gatow. It was not an unpleasant experience for British servicemen, exchanging the plain and barely adequate fare in the Gatow refectory for the abundant provisions of the American base. In the Mess Hall and bar Clement and his fellow British servicemen began to make friends with their American counterparts. One of Clement's new acquaintances was Major Thomas Dempsey, captain of a USAF C54. This aircraft was reserved for the carriage of senior officers and VIPs between Berlin and the Allied sectors in western Germany. It flew as and when required, with no fixed schedule, and it was always accorded priority over other Airlift traffic.
    The Brit and the American originally got chatting over dinner in the Mess Hall. Their backgrounds were similar, both thirty-eight years old, both married, both with two children, although Thomas's daughter was older than his son, rather than the other way around.
    Sharing a beer with Thomas one evening, Clement noticed a woman approaching their table. Catching the eye of the American, she smiled. She looked to be around the same age as himself, thought Clement, or perhaps a little older, with swept-back, short-cut blonde hair. The smile could not camouflage a weary face which would have been beautiful not too many years previously, before the worry lines had etched themselves into her forehead and round her blue eyes. She was wearing a military uniform but Clement did not recognise the insignia. The pilot stood up and returned the woman's smile and Clement too rose to his feet. Thomas extended his arms and he and the woman briefly embraced. The American turned to his British friend.
    "Clem, this is Luisa. She works here."
    The woman took his hand. "Pleased to meet you," she said in accented English.
    "Likewise," replied Clement. "May I get you a drink?"
    "Thank you. A whiskey sour, please." She turned to address the American. "I can't make it tomorrow, Thomas, so I thought I'd see if I could find you here this evening."
    "Glad you did, honey . . . hey, Clem, let me get the drinks. I'll get you a refill too. You can get acquainted with the lovely Luisa."
    The British officer and the woman reseated themselves.
    "You are not American?" she began.
    "English."
    "Pilot?"
    "Nothing so glamorous, I'm afraid. Met forecaster and general duties."
    "Forgive me . . . met forecaster . . . what is that?"
    "Weather man. Did Thomas say you worked here?"
    Luisa nodded. "Ancillary staff. I sit at a desk and fight a typewriter."
    "A secretary, then?"
    "Yes. This uniform doesn't mean anything. The Americans like us to have this appearance. I don't know why. But I suppose we should be grateful that we don't have to supply our own clothes. New clothes are expensive and they're difficult to find."
    "So as far as work is concerned, you'd prefer something more . . . "
    " . . . how do you say . . . satisfying, yes."
    Careful how to phrase his next question, Clement said, "Are you from around these parts?"
    "Yes, I am a Berliner."
    The British officer was silent. Five years previously he had joined a Halifax crew on a night mission dropping high explosives and incendiaries on the city where this lady lived. Had their bombs killed members of Luisa's family or any of her friends?
    The German broke the silence. "Your uniform is Royal Air Force?"
    "Yes."
    "What do the letters VR mean on your . . . how do you say . . . not collar . . . "
    "Lapel," smiled Clement. "Volunteer Reserve. I'm a part timer."
    "You have a job, then?"
    "Teacher."
    Luisa's jaw dropped. "I was a teacher!"
    "Before the war?"
    "And during the war. Until the schools had to close. They were all destroyed. The children were sent away. Some of them were killed."
    "By the bombing?"
    "And by the Russians."
    There was another silence. Clement noticed that Thomas was engaged in conversation with another officer at the bar.
    He spoke to the German again. "Can't you work as a teacher now, Luisa?"
    "Well, I would like to do that again. Until the schools were rebuilt after the war and the children brought back there was work for only a few teachers. So we got other jobs. For me it was the American Air Force, office work, mainly translating documents." She smiled. "I'm still here. I was going to start teaching again this year but then the Airlift started and they asked me to stay on until it was finished."
    "Have you got family?" asked Clement.
    "A daughter, two years old."
    "What does your husband do?
    "He's dead. Killed during the final battle."
    "Sorry."
    Luisa shrugged. "He was a tank commander. We had said our goodbyes. He knew he wouldn't survive."
    Clement did the reckoning. "So your husband didn't see his daughter before . . . "
    "No."
    "I'll get your drink," said Clement, changing the subject. "Looks like Thomas has got sidetracked."
    "Do you have family?" asked Luisa before he could get up.
    "Yes, wife and two kids." Clement gave the German a description of Shirley, Stephen and Jennifer.
    Thomas reappeared, carrying three drinks on a tray.
    "How are you two getting along?" he asked. "If you need a weather report, Luisa, he's your man."
    "Yes, I believe so."
    "Good news, honey," continued the pilot. "I've just been talking to Mike Huddley. He tells me I'm flying your boss to Brussels next week. Some sort of political meeting. Which means he'll probably want you along. You'll be able to see the sights and do some shopping."
    "How long?"
    "Probably five days or so."
    "There is perhaps a problem, Thomas. I will have to find someone to look after Katharina."
    "Can't your mom look after her?"
    "She's not very well at the moment. Her arthritis is bad. She's okay for daytime or evening while I'm working here but it would not be fair to make her take responsibility for Katharina during the night time as well."
    "What if we can get your daughter a seat on the plane?"
    Luisa looked away for a moment, staring into the distance. "It would be nice . . . just to get away from here for a while. I haven't been out of this God-forsaken country for over ten years." She turned back to face the pilot again. "If you can get permission for both of us then yes, I'd love to come. I'll need to check with the authorities to see if I'm allowed to do it. Perhaps Colonel Farrar can help with that."
    "If he wants you, he'll make sure there's nothing to stop you. Who else can take his dictation and type his letters as well as you?"
    "Someone who speaks better English," said Luisa with a weary smile. "An American girl, perhaps."
    "Your English is better than many Americans', honey," laughed the pilot.
    "Will you be staying in Brussels yourself?" asked Luisa.
    "Probably not. They'll need the plane for other flights. But maybe we'll get a night . . . "
    "Yes."
    The pilot stood up. "Right, got to let some of this beer out. Back in a moment."
    Clement and Luisa were silent. The British officer was still digesting the significance of the conversation he had just heard. Thomas was married with two children and yet it seemed he was going to spend a night in Brussels with this German lady. Of course, it might be completely innocent. Perhaps Thomas was about to continue, " . . . out together." But in that case, why did he stop in mid sentence, as if realising his indiscretion?
    Time to change tack. "What subjects did you teach, Luisa?"
    "Mathematics and English."
    "Which age group?"
    "Gymnasium." Luisa pronounced the German word for secondary school with a hard "G". She smiled, noting the incomprehension written on her new friend's face.
    "It's the same word as your 'gymnasium', where you do physical exercise," elucidated Luisa, saying the word with a soft "G". "But for us it means . . . how do you say . . . school for clever students, those who will go to University."
    "We call them 'grammar schools' in England," said Clement.
    "Yes, I have heard this term."
    The British reserve officer and the German secretary launched into an animated conversation about education. The American C54 captain rejoined them but quickly realised he had little to offer and after a few minutes went off to talk to a group of officers propping up the bar.
    The Gymnasium in which Luisa had taught was situated in Pankow, on the northern outskirts of Berlin, she told Clement. As the war situation gradually worsened the functioning of the school was correspondingly degraded, with the numbers of staff and pupils always diminishing, initially as a trickle but later a desperate flood. Half of the building was demolished by a night time bomb. Luisa's final lesson was punctuated by power failures and the distant detonations of Russian shells. After she and her parents decided they had to get away her last duty was to check that the children in her care had safe places to go to after the school closed down.
    "What happened to your family?" asked Clement.
    "My father was crippled by a collapsing building earlier in the war, so evacuation was difficult for us. We decided to try to get to Bremen, where my uncle's family lived. There was no public transport, of course, so it looked like we would have to travel on foot, pushing Vati in a wheelchair and finding shelter where we could for the nights. There were thousands of refugees doing the same as us." The German fell quiet for a minute or so and Clement was reluctant to interrupt her reverie. Then Luisa sighed.
    "We didn't get far," she said. "The Red Army overtook us less than ten kilometres from Berlin. We knew they were going to encircle the city and attack from all directions. As soon as the refugees saw the Russian tanks they scattered into the woods but we couldn't leave Vati so we had to await our fate."
    Again, Clement held his tongue. The treatment of captured Germans by their Russian conquerors was well documented and a subject best avoided.
    "They shot Vati in his wheelchair. No explanation. Pure revenge, I suppose. Two Russian soldiers with machine guns. Mutti and I expected them to turn the guns on us. We looked at each other and we were both thinking it would be a release from a life that was no longer worth living. But then a female officer came over and sent the soldiers away and asked us in German where we were going. She told us the Red Army would soon control the whole area and we should go home if we wanted food. I asked if we could take Vati's body with us but she said no. She told us he would get a proper burial but of course it was impossible for us to find out if they kept their word.
    "So we walked back with other women and children. The men had been taken away somewhere. There were hundreds of Russian soldiers passing us in tanks and trucks. They jeered at us but didn't attack us. As we got closer to Berlin we could see the shells exploding and hear the guns. After that . . . " Luisa stopped and smiled at Clement. "Let's not talk about that any more."
    "Do you have siblings?" asked Clement.
    "Brothers or sisters, you mean?"
    "Yes."
    "One brother. Drowned in a U-boat in 1942." Luisa looked at her watch. "I must go now, Clement. I promised Mutti I wouldn't be too late."
    "Where are you living now?"
    "We've got an apartment two kilometres from here."
    "Can I arrange a lift for you?"
    "Thank you, but no. It won't take me long to walk."
    "No, I'll get you a ride home, honey." It was Thomas, who had come back to the table. "Don't want to tire out those beautiful legs."
 





CHAPTER   5






Clement flew back to Gatow at the start of November 1948 after his monthly home leave. The Airlift was in full swing, much to the chagrin of the Soviet authorities, who were disappointed to learn that not only were adequate supplies reaching Berlin, but the outbound aircraft were now exporting goods manufactured in the western sector of the city. Clement's commanding officer briefed him on imminent operational changes. The most significant was the opening of the new airport at Tegel, in the French sector, to supplement Tempelhof and Gatow. Tegel's runway was longer than those at the other bases and free from the obstructions that bedevilled Tempelhof, where pilots had to approach the runways flying between apartments blocks, an extra hazard when the weather was bad. Operational control of the Airlift remained with the personnel at the American base, even after the start up of Tegel. Clement was asked to set up a training unit at Tempelhof to brief new arrivals replacing servicemen being rotated home after their tour of duty. One of his tasks was to train his own replacement, for he had been notified that his Berlin posting would terminate in mid-December, as planned, unless he took up the offer to extend his tour to the end of April 1949 if the Soviet blockade continued. Clement declined. He had already promised Shirley that he would be home for good in time for Christmas.
    Other minor changes impinged on Clement's daily life, including the end of Berlin duty for Thomas Dempsey. The pilot broke the news to his English friend one evening in the bar in the Tempelhof officers' mess.
    "Back to dear old Fort Wayne, Indiana," said the American.
    Although he'd never travelled to the United States, the geography teacher's knowledge of the New World was sound.
    "Somewhere to the east of Chicago, isn't it?"
    "Yeah. If you draw a line between Chicago and Detroit, go halfway along then head south for a bit you'll end up in Wayne."
    "Farming country? Corn Belt?"
    "Yeah, but they make a lot of stuff too. Machinery, refrigerators, components for autos and airplanes, military hardware, that sort of thing."
    "Is that where you were based before you came out here?"
    "Uh-huh. Used to be fighters but now it's mainly transports."
    "Do you live on the base?"
    "Uh-huh. Got everything we need. The kids go to school there."
    "How long is your commission?"
    "I can retire next year. In fact they'll probably throw me out. They need young blood to replace us old timers. Hell, I'll be forty in two years!"
    "What will you do?"
    "Try the airlines, probably. Might have to fly as a first officer with captains ten years younger than me for a while but that's how the seniority system works. Or else start my own air taxi service somewhere. I've got some dough put by."
    Clement had never asked Thomas about his relationship with Luisa. There were plenty of clues that there was something more than friendship between them, although they were discreet enough to behave with decorum in public. The teacher's English diffidence prevented him asking the American about his German lover's reaction to the news that he would soon be leaving her. But it was Luisa herself who brought up the subject when the three of them were chatting in the bar one evening.
    "You know this . . . I don't know how to say it in English . . . rotten person . . . is abandoning me?" She was smiling as she spoke but Clement detected a hint of resentment.
    "Hey, honey, come on. That's not how it is. You knew it would come to an end."
    "Yes, I know. And you've been very kind to me and Mutti and Katharina. You've brought us things we couldn't have got any other way. I shouldn't try to hold on to you. You've got your own family back home."
    "We've had some good times, haven't we?"
    "Yes."

*   *   *   *   *

On the day of Thomas's departure, Clement and Luisa were both in the crowd that had assembled to wish the American pilot bon voyage.
    "You are not flying the plane yourself?" asked the German.
    "Oh no, honey. That'll be some other sucker. I'll be sitting down the back drinking Air Force whiskey and smoking Air Force cigars."
    "He's a danger to everyone even when he's sober!" called out one of the others to general laughter. "Keep him away from the controls!"
    Thomas briefly paused at the top of the boarding steps, turned and waved a smiling goodbye to his friends. He disappeared inside the C54 and the farewell party dispersed. Clement and Luisa joined the people sauntering back to the administration block.
    "Perhaps I'll see you in the bar from time to time," said the forecaster.
    The woman smiled. "You'll see more of me than that."
    "What do you mean?"
    "I'm being transferred to the Operations Room. I'll see you at work."
    "That's marvellous!" said Clement, realising with a twinge of guilt that the new discovery cheered him more than perhaps it should. He forced his voice and facial expression back to neutrality. "Fighting the typewriter again?"
    "Yes. And other office duties. I'm in charge of the . . . how do you say it . . . typing pool."
    "So less shift work? The typists finish at five o'clock, don't they?"
    "Usually, yes. It'll be easier for me because I can spend more time with Katharina. So it's not such a burden on Mutti."
    "Not as good as teaching, though."
    "No, but better than Trümmerfrau."
    "What's that?"
    "In English it means 'rubble woman'. I'll tell you about it one day."
    "Perhaps I should learn some German. I've been here three months and all I can say is 'please', 'thankyou', 'hello' and 'goodbye.'"
    "That's all you need. If you're going home soon it doesn't seem worth bothering to learn any more."
    "No, I should make an effort. Where can I get some basic lessons?"
    "I know a couple of people who may be able to teach you. I'll let you know."
    Clement's subsequent curiosity got the better of him and on a flimsy pretext he accessed the personnel files of staff assigned to the Operations Room. There it was:

Name: Luisa Hannah Moehringen
Date of birth: 5/31/1915
TMID: 26149592/H3
Security clearance grade: Basic, Restricted level 2
Payroll grade: Administration General Duties (Middle Grade)
Base: USAF Tempelhof AB
Marital status: Widowed
Children: Daughter, aged 2
Address: Erlgasse 44, 6421 Berlin
Telephone: N/A

So, she was younger than her appearance. Perhaps understandable in the circumstances. Should he make a note of her address? It might be interesting to see where she lived. But then Clement shook his head, chiding himself for invading her privacy. Guiltily he replaced the file in its cabinet and closed the drawer.
    In the nature of these things it turned out that the military machine decided it wanted Clement to spend more of his duty time at Gatow and Tegel than Tempelhof and so he didn't get to see Luisa very often, although sometimes he would chat to her in the bar if she was there meeting friends who worked at the American base. One of his fellow officers made a comment about his seemingly preferred watering hole for off duty relaxation.
    "Clem, what's so special about Tempelhof? Their beer is too cold and it tastes like pig's piss."
    "It's cheaper."
    "Yeah. That's 'cos it tastes like pig's piss."
    "I like their hamburgers."
    "Is that the real reason you like to go there?"
    "What do you mean?"
    "Have you got a woman there?"
    "Don't be absurd!"
    The military machine then changed its mind and posted Clement to Tempelhof for an eight day block. He would again be training new arrivals in various operational duties, including preparing weather forecasts. He fell into the habit of taking lunch with Luisa and a comfortable friendship built up between the English officer and the German secretary. He showed her a photo of Shirley, Stephen and Jennifer. Luisa reciprocated with a picture of her mother, Anneke, and her daughter, Katharina.
    One day Clement was in the Ops Room preparing documentation for a VIP flight that was bound for London when he heard raised voices in the typing pool next door. He went to investigate.
    There were six secretaries in the room, including Luisa. The policy of the American military in Berlin was to hire Germans as secretaries and typists, since frequently translations from English to German were required, and sometimes vice versa. Luisa and the other five were all reasonably proficient in the language of their employers. A further benefit was that they worked for less pay than Americans would require.
    Clement at once saw that Kirsten, one of the younger girls, was in tears. The other five were looking at her, shock on their faces. Standing over the crying girl, bellowing his dissatisfaction, was a portly American officer wearing the rank of colonel.
    "What's the matter with you people?" yelled the colonel. "Can't you be trusted to do the simplest thing? What the hell do you think we're paying you for?"
    Luisa held up her hand to deflect the officer's wrath towards herself.
    "Perhaps it was my fault, sir," she said. "It could be I accidentally transferred the document to my own in tray. I can take a look if you like."
    "You've got five seconds," came the terse response.
    Clement thought he should make an input. "Anything I can help with?" he asked the assembled company with forced cheerfulness. "What seems to be the problem?"
    "The problem," hissed the American through clenched teeth, "is that these half-wits have lost an important document and there's gonna be an almighty stink if it doesn't show up pretty damned soon." He turned to Luisa. "Well?"
    Luisa shook her head. "It's not here. Perhaps I've put it somewhere and forgotten where I've put it."
    "Okay, you lot are for the high jump. And you . . . " he shouted at the girl dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief, " . . . you're through. You're the one I gave it to for typing. It's your fault it's vanished. We don't need idiots like you here. You're finished. Don't bother coming in again."
    "What document was it?" asked Clement.
    The American turned to him. "What's it to you, buddy?"
    "I took some papers from Kirsten's tray earlier today to see if there were any that were relevant to today's ops. We've got two VIP departures to prepare."
    "So why would you need information about leave allocations?"
    "I wouldn't. But maybe it got mixed up with other documents."
    "Alright," scowled the colonel. "If the document is back on my desk within the hour together with a fair copy I'll let it go. If it's not, there'll be all hell to pay. Which one of you is gonna take the rap?"
    Clement and Luisa both raised their hands but the forecaster spoke first.
    "It's my fault. The girls are not to blame."
    "Who's your commanding officer?"
    "Group Captain Ellis-Watts at Gatow."
    "Okay. Write his name on a slip of paper, and his phone number, and your name, and take it to my office."
    "Yes, sir."
    The American shook his head at Clement. "You limeys. You're as useless as the krauts. No wonder you needed us to help you win the war." Muttering further insults the colonel left the room. The six females and the Englishman were silent for a moment, still recovering from the outburst. Then Luisa smiled at her junior. A brief conversation in German ensued.
    Luisa translated for Clement. "The colonel brought the document in yesterday. Kirsten thinks she must have accidentally thrown it away with some other trash. It's not here now. What are we going to do?"
    "Best if I carry the can," said Clement. "Even if he complains to my boss it'll only be a slapped wrist."
    "Will I be dismissed?" Kirsten asked Clement, still dabbing at her eyes.
    "He can't fire you if he's been told I'm the one who's to blame," said Clement.
    "Thank you," said Kirsten.
    "Yes, thank you, Clement," said Luisa with a warm smile.
    On the last day of his current eight-day posting to Tempelhof Clement was disappointed that Luisa was not at work. He asked Kristen if she knew the reason for her supervisor's absence.
    "Perhaps her mother is not well again. She was a bit not well yesterday."
    "She didn't phone to say what was happening?"
    "She doesn't have a phone in her apartment. And I think there is not a public one near to her, not one that is working."
    "Should someone check that everything is okay?"
    "Yes. I am finishing early. I will go to see that everything is good with her when I finish work."
    Clement nodded. "Let me know if there's anything I can do."
    Kirsten smiled. "Thank you, sir. Of course I will do that."
    The Englishman lowered his voice. "Have you heard anything more from the mad colonel?"
    "No. He has not been coming into this office, I don't think. Did you get into trouble, sir?"
    Clement laughed. "No, never heard a thing. I think he's all bluster, that man."
    "Bluster . . . ?"
    "Full of wind . . . pompous . . . sorry, I don't know the German word."
    "I do! We say 'aufgeblasen' or 'lautstark' . . . a person who is thinking he's more important than he actually is."
    "That's exactly it," said Clement.
    At lunch time he was sitting on his own. As he ate he looked at the notebook in which he had written down some German phrases. One of Luisa's male friends lived near Gatow and had arranged for Clement to go to his flat for lessons two evenings a week. Cost per one hour session: three of the new Deutschmarks introduced by the Western powers, which had provoked the Soviet blockade of the city. Three Deutschmarks or twenty Lucky Strike cigarettes, Berlin's unofficial currency.
    "Das ist der Bleistift und das ist die Feder," Clement muttered through a mouthful of sandwich.
    "Und was ist das?" asked a female voice.
    Clement looked up to see Luisa smiling down at him. She was holding out what looked like a plate of sliced ham, lettuce and cold, chopped potatoes garnished with chives and diced onion. In her other hand was a glass of water.
    The English officer grinned back. "Das ist . . . das ist . . . ich weiss nicht was das ist!"
    "May I join you for lunch?"
    "Yes . . . ja!"
    Luisa sat down opposite Clement. She pointed to her plate.
    "Das ist Schinken mit Kartoffelsalat," she said slowly and methodically.
    "Danke!"
    "Bitte!"
    "I'm too old to learn new things," said Clement.
    "Nonsense. Just try to find ways to help you remember. The 'Blei' part of 'Bleistift' means 'lead' and the 'Stift' part means 'stick'. So now you have your lead stick, which is your pencil."
    "What about 'Feder'?"
    "What's the French word for 'pen'?"
    "La plume."
    "Why 'plume'?"
    "It means feather, as in quill pen."
    "So . . . "
    "Feather! Feder!"
    "See. It's easy."
    "I bet you were a good teacher."
    "And you will be a good learner."
    It turned out Kirsten was correct in her deduction that Luisa had had to stay at home during the morning to look after Katharina because Anneke had suffered a severe bout of arthritis in her knees.
    "Is there anything the doctors can do to ease the problem for your mum?"
    "Give her painkillers. There's no other treatment."
    The conversation moved on to mundanities such as allocations of duty and postings. Clement told Luisa that once the course he was training was finished he would again be spending most of his time at Gatow, with occasional stints at Tegel.
    "They've got an American taking over from me here. Sound fellow. He'll be a good trainer."
    "Of course. You trained him!"
    "So, I won't get to see you at work. But maybe I'll see you in the bar here now and then if I can get over in the evening."
    "How about Saturday?"
    Clement frowned. "But you're not here at the weekend usually."
    "No. I'm inviting you to my apartment for lunch. Or dinner, if you prefer."
    "That's very kind. Lunch would be better. I might be on the night shift this Saturday."
    "You'll have to put up with Mutti's complaining and Katharina's tantrums. Do you still want to come?"
    "Yes. Can I bring some food?"
    "Food, no. Wine, yes."
 





CHAPTER   6






The tram slowed and stopped with a squeal of brakes and Clement stepped off into the street. Erlgasse, in the Kreuzberg area of the city, was representative of many of Berlin's streets. Some of the buildings had miraculously escaped unscathed from the Allied bombing and the Russian shells. Others had been scarred by the munitions of war, pockmarked with bullet holes. Others again were still cordoned off, uninhabitable, with walls or roofs missing. Children ignored the warnings of the patrolling police officers to keep away, scrambling precariously from ruin to ruin or clambering over heaps of rubble as they played out their adventures.
    Here and there were gaps in the rows of buildings where the structures had been blown to smithereens during the recent conflict or demolished to eliminate the safety hazard of collapse or, more recently, to prepare the sites for redevelopment. The clatter of bulldozers was almost continuous during weekdays, although reconstruction had slowed since the start of the blockade with essential supplies rather than building materials filling the holds of the Airlift freighters.
    Luisa's flat was on the second floor in a block that superficially looked presentable enough, though boarded up windows were proof that some parts were derelict. Clement was mildly surprised to discover that the lift was functional, albeit rather creakily.
    When the front door opened Clement noted that it was the first time he had seen Luisa in civilian clothes. Her beige frock looked a little tired and the tan court shoes had seen better days but the blouse and cardigan were evidently newer. No doubt clothing rationing was even more severe in Germany than in England. Again, it was unlikely there was room in the C54s and Avro Yorks for such fripperies as fashion garments.
    His hostess smiled playfully. "Guten Tag, Herr Mayfield. Wie geht's?"
    "Gut, danke. Und du?"
    Standing at Luisa's side was a little girl, blonde hair tied with blue ribbons, unsmiling. She looked up at the visitor quizzically.
    "Guten Tag, Katharina," said Clement.
    Luisa's daughter turned to her mother and said a few words which Clement didn't understand. Luisa replied in her native tongue, apparently giving her instructions. The little girl looked at Clement again and said shyly: "Ich heisse Katharina. Wie heisst du?"
    The ice broken, Clement handed over to Luisa the bottle of Riesling he had brought and followed her and Katharina into the living room. The decor was in good condition, perhaps a few years old, as was the furniture. Drabness was held at bay by brightly coloured posters on the walls and two vases of flowers.
    In a rocking chair by the lace-curtained window was an old woman whose grey hair was drawn back in a tight bun. She examined the newcomer with glittering dark eyes, as unsmiling as the little girl, and spoke rapidly to him in German. Clement apologised profusely in English for his lack of comprehension and then Luisa intervened, seemingly giving her mother a lecture. Anneke responded with the occasional muttered "ja" or "nein" or other terse phrases.
    Luisa told Clement to follow her into the kitchen. She started preparing a salad, talking to the Englishman as she worked.
    "It's a bit plain, I'm afraid. Couldn't get any tomatoes, though I managed to find a cucumber that's . . . how do you say . . . a bit past its prime."
    "Is your mum having a better day today?"
    "Yes."
    "I take it she wasn't particularly pleased to see me."
    "Don't take it personally, Clement. The war ruined her life and took her husband, her son and her . . . Schwiegersohn . . . what's the English . . . son-in-law. She doesn't hate the English and Americans as much as she hates the Russians. When we lived in our old house––" Luisa was interrupted by a knock at the front door. "Look, can you wash the other lettuce and separate the leaves? It's Lena at the door. She's brought her daughter round to play with Katharina. We'll all have lunch together," said Luisa as she turned to leave the room, "then Lena will go home and we'll leave Mutti looking after the kids while you and I go off to Lake Havel for a walk."
    Clement heard a conversation in the hall punctuated with laughter and then Luisa came back to the kitchen.
    "Lake Havel, eh?" said Clement. "I should have brought the jeep."
    "Are you allowed to use military vehicles for private transport?"
    Clement grinned. "No. But sometimes you can get away with it if you invent a plausible excuse. It's the shortage of petrol that's the problem, of course. Or people stealing the petrol if you leave the vehicle unattended. That's probably a court martial offence."
    "Well, the journey's not too difficult from here to Havel. Two changes on the tram."
    "Yes, it's pretty well retracing my steps for me, part of the way, anyway. Gatow is close to the lake."
    "Yes, but Gatow is on the other side of the lake. The place we're going to is on this side. It's a different route after we change in Charlottenburg."
    "That's okay. I like travelling by tram."
    "Good. So do I."
    The mood at lunch was friendlier, although it was difficult for Clement to join in the conversation. Lena could manage the odd word in English and occasionally Luisa would fill him in on what they were talking about. Lena had brought a high chair so that the two young girls could eat with the adults. Clement noted that Anneke's contributions were generally met with tut-tuts or similar expressions of disagreement, although once or twice the others responded with raucous laughter. "Mutti has just said that if we'd played Wagner at maximum volume through loudspeakers pointing at the sky the British and American bombers would have kept away."
    "Tell her she's right," joked Clement.
    Dessert consisted of orange segments and grapes. The intention was to make a fruit salad, explained Luisa, but apples and bananas were apparently impossible to get hold of. But she had managed to acquire a small carton of fresh cream from her neighbour in exchange for ten centimetres of Leberwurst.
    After the meal, Clement offered his pack of Woodbine cigarettes to the adults and lit his pipe after checking that no-one objected. Luisa asked him if he minded if she told the others something of his background. He picked up the word "Lehrer" and noticed that Anneke's attitude towards him softened a little, her eyes no longer hostile when she looked at him. Presumably the revelation that the Engländer's profession was the same as her daughter's cast him in a better light. While the others were chatting, Clement left the table to get a closer look at the framed photographs on the dresser.
    The largest picture showed a stern faced man standing between two others in front of a tank, all three in black Heer Panzer uniforms. Another was a head shot of the same man, now smiling, in wide-lapelled civilian jacket and tie. In the next photo another young man was in full German navy uniform, white-topped Kriegsmarine cap at a rakish angle. In his hands he held a model of a submarine, whose conning tower bore the legend U732.
    There were a few photos featuring Luisa at various ages with members of her family. Two more were obviously more recent, one a newly born Katharina in her mother's arms and the other Katharina sitting on the floor with other toddlers surrounding her. This photo had the caption: "2ter Geburtstag, 16 Feb 1948".
    As Clement returned to the table Lena stood up and looked at her watch. Then she smiled at Luisa's lunch guest. "I am happy to meet you," she said, stumbling over her words. "I am sorry my English is bad. Now I say goodbye but perhaps I see you again."
    "Danke. Vielleicht ich treffe dich noch einmal. Auf wiedersehen," replied Clement, echoing the sentiment as he shook her hand.
    "Word order, Clement!" scolded Luisa. "Verb second idea, remember. 'Vielleicht treffe ich dich', ja?"
    "Entschuldige!"
    "Not problem!" laughed Lena. "That is how Americans say!"
    It was almost three o'clock by the time Clement and Luisa arrived at Lake Havel and the November sun was already sinking towards the southwestern horizon.
    The tram had dropped them off at the end of a long, straight road roughly parallelling the shore of the lake. From the tram stop a half mile walk along the shore brought them to the beach.
    "It's deserted now," said Luisa, "but in the summer months the beach is swarming with people."
    Looking out across the water, they could see two or three sailboats crawling across the surface in the chilly late autumn breath of wind.
    "At least some people are having fun," noted Clement, pointing to the yachts.
    "Probably military personnel rather than citizens of Berlin," responded Luisa.
    "Could be," said her companion, allowing Luisa's cynicism to go unchallenged.
    Further in the distance were moored three Sunderland flying boats, one with its engines running and the others being unloaded.
    To the north of the beach lay an island linked to the shore.
    "Schwanenwerder, that's the name of the island," said Luisa. "Most of the houses were owned by . . . wealthy people . . . before the war. Now they're mostly derelict."
    Clement ran over the geography of the area in his mind. He pointed to the southern end of the bay.
    "So that will be Wannsee?" he asked.
    "Yes."
    There was a silence. Both of them were aware of the notorious conference which took place at Wannsee when the Nazi High Command were formulating their Final Solution.
    A distant roar broke the tension. One of the Sunderlands was taking off, heading southwest along the lake. Clement could just about make out the row of buoys marking the take-off run. The large white flying boat surged through the water, throwing up a bow wave which gradually crept back under the fuselage as the aircraft rode higher. Then it was clear, lifting into the sky with a tail of water streaming from its stern. It began a lazy turn to the right.
    "Wiedersehen, Weissdrache," muttered Luisa.
    "What's that?" asked Clement.
    "White dragon. That's what we call them." There was a tinge of bitterness in her voice.
    "They're bringing in lots of vital supplies. And taking out manufactured goods."
    "Yes, I know. We need them."
    "But . . . "
    "One of them sank the U-boat my brother was on."
    "I see. Sorry."
    Again the uneasy silence settled on them.
    "Come on," said the German, putting her hand through his arm. "Enough of the war. Let's walk along the beach. It's so peaceful. Let's talk about something else."
    Clement reminded Luisa about a phrase she had used in a previous conversation.
    "Ah, yes, 'rubble ladies'. Yes, I was one of them. We had to demolish ruined buildings and break the pieces into individual bricks so they could be used again to make new buildings. We did it using Spitzhacken . . . pointed axes. There were no machines."
    "It was compulsory, then?"
    "Yes. So many men had been killed or captured that women had to do this work. I think it was also punishment. If we didn't do the work we didn't get any food or clothes."
    "A bit different from teaching, then."
    "Yes. But in a strange way, it made us happier and stronger. We were so . . . how do you say . . . demoralised . . . when the war ended but when the soldiers made us clear up the debris we began to form a . . . I don't know the English word . . . we say 'Kameradschaft'."
    "Camaraderie?" suggested Clement.
    "Yes! That's it. People facing difficulty together join forces to help each other. I made some good friends amongst these women and I still meet some of them."
    The two of them walked on without speaking for a while and then sat on a bench to smoke Woodbines.
    "We'll walk back now," said Luisa. "It'll be getting dark soon."
    "Okay."
    "You don't need to take me all the way home, Clem. We'll say goodbye when we get off the tram in Charlottenburg. Then you can take the service to Gatow."
    "Not at all. I won't hear of it. It would be most ungallant of me to abandon you in the middle of nowhere."
    "Charlottenburg is hardly the middle of nowhere."
    They were walking south now, retracing their steps. A movement caught Clement's eye to his right, accompanied by a low growl. He watched an arriving Sunderland touch down on the lake in a plume of spray.
    The German pointed to a wooden pier stretching out into the water.
    "Vati taught my brother to fish from there before the war," she said. "Sometimes they would catch enough for an evening meal. Sometimes they came home with nothing."
    "What did your mother think of Thomas?" asked Clement, thinking to draw his companion away from past unhappiness.
    "He never came to the flat," was the reply. "I invited him two or three times but he didn't want to come. I think he was scared of getting too close to my family."
    "Do you miss him?"
    "Yes."
    "Have you heard from him since he left?"
    "No."
    There was a minute's silence.
    "You probably know we were lovers."
    "I knew he was very fond of you."
    "I don't think he was in love with me."
    "What about you?"
    "I don't know. I didn't want to fall in love because I knew he had a family. I knew what I was doing was wrong. Part of me was imagining the bad feeling of his wife if she knew her man was having sex with another woman. But I was lonely and Thomas was an attractive man. And he got things for us that we couldn't get anywhere else."
    "I felt a bit jealous of Thomas," said Clement quietly.
    Luisa stopped in her tracks. "But why?"
    Her companion turned to face her. "Because––"
    "Don't say anything more, Clement! I think I know the answer to my own question."
    "You're saying you know how I feel about you?"
    "I wasn't sure before but now I am."
    "What shall we do?"
    "Clement, I think you're a fantastic person and if I didn't stop myself I could fall in love with you. But I'm not going to let it happen even though you're a better man than Thomas. You consider the feelings of other people. Thomas didn't do that."
    Clement could see Luisa's eyes watering. He reached out to take her hands but didn't know what to say.
    "Well, actually, it has happened," said Luisa, blinking away the tears. "I do love you. And I think you feel the same."
    "I can't deny it."
    "So, this is what we do. We kiss now and hold each other. Then we pull apart and carry on walking back. It will be our first kiss and our last."
    "Can we still be friends? I'd hate it if I couldn't meet you as a friend."
    "Yes, we can be friends. And you can still come to the flat sometimes––if you want to. Now . . . "
    The kiss lasted several minutes and left both of them breathless. It was Luisa who pushed him gently away.
    "Clement, we're beginning to react in a way that's dangerous. It's time to stop."
    "I'm glad one of us is behaving sensibly," said Clement, voice subdued. "I think I've lost my self control."
    Luisa took his hands. "You are the nicest person I've ever met and if you didn't already have a wife and family I would drag you into my bed. I'm ashamed I betrayed Thomas's wife but I'm not going to betray Shirley . . . and neither are you."
    It seemed natural to resume walking along the beach hand in hand, without embarrassment, not talking but just enjoying each other's proximity.
    "You are making progress with the German lessons?" asked Luisa eventually as they left the beach behind them and strolled along the shore towards the tram stop.
    "Yes. But the grammar rules are complicated."
    "You're right. Not even native Germans know all the rules. To start an argument, ask ten Germans where the word 'nicht' should be positioned in a negative clause or sentence. You'll get twelve answers."
    "That photo of Katharina in your living room."
    "Yes?"
    "What does 'Geburtstag' mean?"
    "Birthday. It was Katharina's second birthday party."
    "Yes, that's what I thought. But the date was February 1948. You told me your husband was killed before the war ended."
    Again Luisa pulled Clement to a halt and again she turned to face him and took his hands.
    "Dearest Clement, there's something else you should know about me."
    "Are you sure you want to tell me?"
    "As it's our day of truth, then yes."
    "Okay. But not if it hurts you."
    They started walking again and their tram pulled up just as they reached the stop, its headlights bright in the November dusk. The doors opened and Clement moved towards the nearest entrance. "No," said Luisa, pulling him back. "We'll take the next one. A noisy tram with passengers overhearing us is not the right place for what I'm going to say."
    "Okay."
    The tram doors closed and the two car unit clattered off, restoring silence.
    "You know about what the Russians did when they overran Berlin at the end of the war?"
    "Yes. It was horrible by all accounts."
    Luisa nodded, pausing for a moment. Then she took a deep breath.
    "They shot my father in his wheelchair."
    "Yes, I remember you telling me."
    "All normal human civilisation broke down. The Russians were taking their revenge for what we did to them in 1941. Many people were murdered. Many women were raped. Many women were raped by gangs of soldiers and then murdered."
    "Luisa, don't go on if you don't want to," said Clement, putting his hand round her shoulder and dreading what he would hear next.
    "We heard what was happening in Berlin. We dared not go to our house after we got back, Mutti and I. So we hid in the ruins of the school I taught in, thinking the Russians would not bother to check it as it was obviously closed. But there was no food, no power, no water. The only water was in the tanks for flushing the toilets.
    "After a few days we were desperate for food so I went out to see what I could find. There was nothing I could use as a weapon if I was attacked except a pencil I found on the floor of one of the classrooms. I spent two hours wandering the streets, looking for food, always keeping a look out for Russian soldiers. Eventually I swapped my watch for half a loaf of stale bread. But I didn't notice that two Russian soldiers followed me back to the school."
    It was dark now but Clement could see Luisa's grim expression in the dim light of the street lamps. Apart from the occasional military vehicle growling past and one or two private cars there was no road traffic.
    "One of the soldiers held his pistol to my mother's head while the other motioned to me to take off my clothes. They were laughing and joking in Russian. I had hidden the pencil in my brassiere and I placed it under the clothes that were now on the floor.
    "Without undressing, the first soldier told me to lie down. He unfastened his trousers and got on top of me. Then he started to rape me. It was disgusting. As he got more vigorous I reached for the pencil and held it tightly. I knew the other soldier would also rape me and then they would kill us both so I wanted to punish them before I died. When the soldier ejaculated I stuck the pencil in his side as hard as I could.
    "He screamed so loud it deafened me. I must have cut a main blood vessel because blood gushed out like a fountain. Everything was covered in blood.
    "The second soldier looked terrified. He shouted something and ran off. He must have thought I had some sort of secret weapon. I pushed the rapist off me and found that he was dead. Probably there was no more blood for his heart to pump.
    "Mutti and I washed ourselves clean with water from one of the toilet tanks. We didn't know what to do. We thought the second soldier might come back with other soldiers to attack us again. But we were too scared to go out into the street. Luckily nothing happened and as soon as it was dark we left the school. We walked and walked, away from the city and into the countryside, always in a westerly direction, using the sun as a compass, and the pole star at night. The pace was slow because of Mutti's arthritis. We frequently had to stop to rest her knee. When we saw military vehicles on the road we hid behind bushes or buildings. Three days we walked, until we were weak with hunger. The third evening we found a house with lights on and decided to ask for help, not knowing whether it had been taken over by the Russians. But we didn't care any more. We couldn't go on.
    "An old man answered the door. He stepped back in horror, probably because of what we looked like. He told us to wait and called out behind him. An old woman came to the door.
    "I started to explain but she made a sign to stop talking. 'I expect you'd like something to eat and then a nice hot bath, wouldn't you?' she said, and gave orders to the man to heat up some soup for us.
    "They saved our lives, Clement. They told us there were Russian and American soldiers in the area but no-one had bothered them. The old man was a farmer and Mutti and I helped on the farm because we didn't have any money to give them for food. We stayed with them until it was safe to go back to Berlin, where I became a 'rubble woman'.
    "Then I found out I was pregnant so the choice was either to abort the baby or keep it. Mutti and the rubble women said abort it because of how it was . . . what's the English word? . . . conceived.
    "But I thought, it's not the baby's fault that its father was a monster. So, I took a life and I saved a life. But what it comes down to, Clement, is that I killed my daughter's father."
 





CHAPTER   7






On the 7th June 1940 Diana Dockerell learned she would soon have to make a difficult decision. The Headmistress at North Croydon Primary School had summoned Diana to her office earlier in the day. It seemed that the rumours that had been swirling around for several weeks beforehand were true. All of the children were to be evacuated by the end of the month.
    "Where to?" asked Diana.
    Mrs Wittering shrugged. "That's a good question, Diana. We can't get much information from the County Council. They're telling us the Ministry of Education is responsible for organising it but everyone seems to be running around in circles at the moment. Panic might be too strong a word but someone somewhere needs to take control. All we've been told is that the whole school must be relocated but no-one seems to know where. The one definite piece of information is that we'll probably be split up, which'll be a shame."
    "Is it real this time? Remember last year?"
    When it was clear that war was inevitable the Government had set in train their evacuation plan, by which schoolchildren and their teachers were relocated away from cities to minimise their exposure to enemy bombing. The plan did not run smoothly and tales of bureaucratic incompetence became common currency, with some designated reception areas being overwhelmed with evacuees and others waiting for arrivals who never turned up. During the "phoney war" period the absence of serious attacks by the Luftwaffe persuaded many parents to let their offspring return home. Of course organised schooling became impossible, with the number of children in attendance varying day by day. Mrs Wittering did her best, trying to maintain a semblance of order as her classes were decimated, or vanished entirely, or children suddenly reappeared without warning.
    As with other schools in the Greater London area, the teachers at North Croydon Primary frequently expressed their frustration to their Head. Mrs Wittering encouraged them with a sinew-stiffening "Do your best to keep everything as normal as possible".
    "I think they mean it this time," said the Headmistress now, answering the question that had just been posed.
    Diana's heart sank. She had been at North Croydon ever since finishing her teacher training and the thought of the classes being scattered to God knows where was not a happy one. She liked her job, and although Mrs Wittering could at times come across as a somewhat humourless and severe character it could not be denied that Diana and the other teachers respected her stern authority and enjoyed working at her school.
    "I'm talking to teachers individually, Diana," said the Headmistress. "The question is: do you want to be evacuated to wherever the children in your class are going or do you want to stay here when the school closes?"
    Diana thought for a moment. "It's difficult to decide a thing like that unless we know where they're going to put us."
    "I know. That's why I'm on the phone all day trying to find out what's happening."
    "What are other people doing?"
    "Like you, most of them need more information. Sally Simmonds and Ginny Arthur say they'll go where the kids go. Myra Carruthers says she'll stay because of family commitments here."
    "What about pay?"
    "Pay stops at the end of July if you don't go."
    However, the "evacuation" everyone else was talking about at the time was not the dispersal of the children, but rather the rescue of 300,000 British and French troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. The newspapers trumpeted the "miracle" but the unspoken words were "shameful retreat". Even the pugnacious Winston Churchill had referred to the "colossal military disaster" that had preceded the evacuation as the Wehrmacht overwhelmed the French resistance. The German success marked the end of the phoney war and made it easier to believe that this time the authorities were sincere about removing the nation's children out of harm's way.
    Unlike some of the other teachers, Diana's domestic life was not overly complicated by family obligations. Married for four years, the hoped-for blessing of children had not yet been bestowed on her and her husband, Colin. War work now kept Colin away from home for long periods so Diana's chances of falling pregnant were correspondingly diminished. With a largely absent husband perhaps it was just as well that she didn't have any offspring to bring up single-handed. But time was ticking by. At twenty-eight, Diana was aware that most married women of her age had already started families.
    Colin Dockerell was a research scientist, an expert in electronics. There were two elements to his work. One was developing radar devices, which required his presence at the MacAndrew Electrical Company research laboratories, now located in Morpeth, a few miles north of Newcastle, in accordance with the Government policy of moving vital establishments away from areas likely to be favoured as targets by the Luftwaffe. At the time when Diana was fretting about whether to follow her pupils to wherever the authorities decided to send them, her husband was wrapped up in the technical problems of synchronising searchlight beams to radar detection systems.
    A further frustration for Diana was that Colin was not allowed to discuss his work with anyone outside the authorised circle of personnel. So the only information she could pass on to friends was that her husband was working on 'electrical components', which was as much as she knew herself. Colin was also responsible for overseeing the installation of radar equipment in ships, aircraft and ground based defences, which duties also kept him away from home and his wife's loving embrace. But if Diana abandoned Croydon for some remote spot she wouldn't be able to see her parents so often. Her father was a river postman, whose job was delivering mail to ships anchored in the Port of London, rowing his skiff from vessel to vessel in all weathers to complete the task. Diana's mother worked as a "nippy", as the Lyons teahouses termed their waitresses. Their home was a modest terrace house in the East End, which they refused to move from despite their daughter's concern that if the Germans decided to bomb London they might be in mortal danger. "That'll never happen, girl," said Edward Beaumont, Diana's father. "All this evacuation nonsense. Completely unnecessary. The Navy and the Air Force will shoot the buggers down as soon as they try to cross the Channel."
    Besides natural filial devotion, another obligation to her parents was to compensate for the scarcity of visits from their son Peter, Diana's brother, who was serving as a gunner on a Royal Navy battlecruiser, HMS Hood. He too sought to assuage his sister's misgivings about the dangers of combat.
    "We're invincible," Peter told her. "Fifty thousand tons of firepower. Anything that threatens us––we'll blast it out of the water."
    Suppose it turned out that Colin and she couldn't have children? Diana didn't know if her husband would be less disappointed than her. The situation had never been discussed. What about adoption? Again, she had no idea whether Colin would be in favour.
    Of course, without children her own career might have a better chance to flourish. She could channel all her energy into moving up the ladder in education, avoiding the diversion that held young mothers back during the years they looked after their offspring. Although Diana liked teaching, the thought of advancement to Head of Department or even Headmistress in a secondary school was equally appealing, even if it meant more time in the office and less in the classroom.
    Would she make a good Head? Well, why not? Whenever the Inspectors visited North Croydon Primary, Diana always achieved excellent assessments and her organisational skills had been praised more than once. What sort of Headmistress would she be? Mrs Wittering would be a good role model as a tough disciplinarian, although Diana thought that a slightly lighter touch would not be inappropriate when the situation allowed.
    Which brought her back to the decision facing her. Given that a pregnancy was unlikely, sticking with her pupils––wherever they happened to end up––would do her career no harm.
    But was teaching young kids contributing enough to the war effort? And what about her parents? After the Dunkirk debacle she didn't share her father's faith in the ability of the country's defences to keep German aggression at bay and it wouldn't be right if she herself was living comfortably out of danger while the Luftwaffe's bombs rained down on London's docklands and the surrounding area. She had a driving licence so perhaps she could get a job in the capital in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, driving a delivery truck or an ambulance.
    What to do? Teach somewhere safe or take the risk of working in London? Career or parent welfare?
    Bloody Germans! Bloody war!
 





CHAPTER   8   1962






"So how does that stupid thing work?" asked Tessa Murray. She was sitting on a desk in the Music Room with her stockinged feet on the chair of the desk in front. Her slightly scuffed regulation black school shoes had been kicked off a few minutes earlier. One lay on its side under the chair and the other was dangling from a window latch, where Kevin Turner had hung it. Tessa had ignored the provocation, merely directing a haughty dismissive sniff at her antagonist, followed by a flick of her long, black hair, which Kevin had immediately mimicked.
    Now Tessa was looking across to the teacher's desk, on which sat a reel-to-reel tape recorder, property of the Chesham Bois Grammar School Music Department. Lounging in the teacher's chair was Peter Young, chewing gum in what he hoped was a nonchalant manner. He pointed to the machine.
    "Well, to start with, you need some tape," he said. "Clemmy's supposed to be bringing it."
    "So then what?"
    Peter picked up the crystal mike. "You speak into this, push the red record button and off you go."
    "Then you can hear how useless you are at singing," teased Kevin.
    "Grow up, little boy," sneered Tessa.
    "Grow up, little boy," mimicked Kevin in a baby voice.
    "Prick!"
    Bruce Faraday was sitting two rows back from Tessa. He looked up from the sport magazine he was reading. "Children, please, a bit of decorum." There were no other pupils in the classroom, nor any teachers. The bell had gone a quarter of an hour previously and most of the children were on their way home. Only those involved in after school activities remained on the premises.
    The most junior in the Music Room was Peter Young, tearaway detention champion from the third year. There was a year difference between him and Kevin Turner, who in turn was a year younger than fifth former Tessa Murray. Bruce Faraday was a pupil in the lower sixth science form who made no attempt to hide his contempt for the juveniles messing around with the tape recorder.
    "And what the hell is decorum when it's at home?" asked Kevin.
    Bruce raised an eyebrow. Any back chat from any child in the year below you was deemed cheeky. Kevin Turner was two years junior to Bruce. Very cheeky. Might need corrective action.
    "Right, Turner, Prefect's Detention for you."
    "You're not a prefect."
    "No, but I've got friends who are."
    "What am I supposed to have done wrong?"
    "I'll think of something. Late Report. Talking in Assembly. Smoking in the bogs. Invading Poland."
    Kevin thought for a moment. "Sorry!"
    "That's better! Good boy!"
    Tessa looked at Peter. "Wouldn't have thought this was your sort of thing."
    "Clemmy begged me to do it. Said there was no-one else he could trust with the recorder."
    "Oh, really?"
    "Yes, really. Also I knew it would annoy Dumbo––he really hates me."
    "He hates everybody. And everybody hates him."
    There was a kernel of truth in Peter's embellished version of the facts. Clement Mayfield had taken it upon himself to drag the errant schoolboy back to the path of righteousness, or as close to it as could be expected. To give them a break from the standard syllabus and to test their enthusiasm for other topics, the geography teacher had got Peter's class to read up about the imminent launch of the Telstar communications satellite, handing out copies of the NASA press release, with some data redacted. For homework, he set the children the task of finding out the height of the satellite's orbit and its speed, using their own sources of information. He also asked them to suggest other uses for satellites.
    In the case of Peter Young it could be said DPCO, to use the parlance Clement remembered from his RAF days––Duty Partly Carried Out. (Other acronyms were DCO for Duty Carried Out and DNCO for Duty Not Carried Out). Peter's figures for the height of the Telstar's orbit and its speed we both incorrect, but what disappointed the teacher was that his incorrect figures were identical to those of another, more conscientious, pupil. Either they had both consulted the same erroneous source or else one of them had merely copied the other. Clement suspected the latter explanation and had little doubt as to who had copied whom. But Peter's work on satellite uses appeared to be original. His suggestions included spying on enemy countries and dropping bombs on them, sending more American television programmes to England, putting on firework displays and shining lights onto roads without street lamps. Clement recalled that Peter's father had died in a night time accident in which his motorbike collided with a car.
    But soon after the Telstar project Peter was in trouble again as instigator of what was now recorded in the school's annals as the Exploding Powder Incident.
    "The biggest shock in my life since the war," was how school secretary Stella Harding later reported what she saw. Leaving her office one lunchtime she caught sight of third former Robert Hurd shuffling along the corridor on unsteady feet, arms hanging limp at his side, eyes blinking rapidly. But it was the appearance of Robert's face that made her gasp. His forehead was a huge red weal.
    "Oh my God," breathed Mrs Harding. "What's happened?"
    "My forehead's sore," came the plaintive reply. "It stings."
    "But . . . what did you do?" The secretary shook her head to regain her composure. "Right, come into my office. Let's get that wound attended to."
    Mrs Harding was also the school's designated First Aid Officer. She surmised straight away that Robert's wound was a nasty burn that would need professional treatment. While the boy sipped a glass of water, obviously in a state of shock, the secretary made him swallow a couple of aspirins and phoned 999 for an ambulance.
    Fortunately the injury was not as serious as first feared and after treatment in Casualty the boy was sent home with a bandage round his head. The doctor assured all concerned that Robert was well enough to attend school the next day, bandage and all.
    Next came the Enquiry, conducted by Headmaster Dr Briers in his office. Robert was reluctant to describe what had befallen him, other than to say that he accidentally dropped a match into some powder he found in the air raid shelter and it flared up and burnt him.
    "Why did you go to the shelter? You know they're out of bounds."
    "We were kicking a tennis ball around and someone accidentally kicked it into the shelter, sir. I went to get it."
    "Who was with you?"
    "Several boys."
    "Which boys?"
    "It kept changing. Boys were joining in then going off again."
    "Who kicked the ball into the shelter?"
    "I can't remember, sir."
    The Head was aware of the pupils' "don't betray your mates" code, assuming that the football game was not a fiction, of course. It was not a dishonourable precept, shielding others from punishment. Dr Briers decided to let the evasion stand and switched to a different line of questioning.
    "Why were you carrying matches?"
    "I got them from the shop for my Dad the day before but I forgot to give them to him."
    If that's true, thought the Head to himself, I'm the King of Siam.
    "Tell me what happened in the shelter, Hurd."
    "Well, sir, like I said, I went in to get the ball but then I noticed a small pile of grey powder on the ground."
    "Why did you light a match?"
    "To see more clearly, sir. It was dark in there."
    "But then you dropped the match?"
    "Yes, sir, it was burning my fingers."
    "And it dropped into the powder?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "And the powder ignited?"
    "Yes, sir. There was a big flash. It burnt my eyelids and my forehead."
    "Did you close your eyes when the powder ignited?"
    "Yes, sir. I saw the flash through my eyelids. It was red. Very bright."
    "Do you know what the powder was, Hurd?"
    "I do now, sir. It was magnesium powder."
    "How do you know?"
    "Someone told me."
    "Who told you?"
    "I can't remember, sir."
    "You're lucky you weren't blinded, Hurd. You could have permanently damaged your eyesight."
    "Yes, sir, I know."
    "Did they check your eyes at the hospital?"
    "Yes, sir. They're okay."
    "Do you know where the powder came from?"
    "I heard that it was probably taken from the chemistry lab, sir."
    "And I don't suppose you have the faintest idea who took it, do you?"
    "No, sir."
    "Did you take it?"
    "No, sir."
    Dr Briers sighed. "Well, Hurd, someone did. But as we don't know who it was I'm afraid it's you who must be held responsible and you who must bear the punishment."
    "Yes, sir. What will the punishment be, sir?"
    "You will attend four consecutive Saturday Morning Detentions, Hurd. Punishment for breaking school regulations, causing grief to several people and wasting hospital resources."
    "What about the cricket, sir?"
    "The cricket?"
    "I'm captain of the first eleven for the third year. I'll miss the fixtures if I'm in detention."
    "Have you heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences, Hurd?"
    "No, sir."
    "Can you work out what that expression implies?"
    "Yes, sir. If you do things, other things might happen as a result. Things you didn't expect."
    "Quite so, Hurd."
    There the matter had rested. Robert Hurd had had to wear the bandage for several days, and a dressing for a week or two after that. Some pupils took delight in mocking him, others––mainly boys––treated him as a sort of hero. Others again––mainly girls––took pity on him and wished him a speedy recovery.
    At the end of a school day not long after Robert's uncomfortable interview with the Headmaster, Mrs Harding knocked on his door to advise him that Peter Young was asking to see him if he was free.
    "What's he done now, Stella?" asked Dr Briers wearily.
    The secretary grinned. "Nothing as far as I know. No-one sent him, he says. He just wants to talk to you."
    "Send him in."
    It was probably the first and only time that Dr Briers had received Peter Young into his office without a sinking heart.
    "What can I do for you, young man? Here, take a seat."
    "I've got a confession to make, sir."
    "Alright. Go ahead."
    "It was me who took the magnesium powder that Rob lit with the match."
    Momentarily into the Head's mind came the instinctive teaching action of correcting pupils' grammar. But he managed to stop himself saying, "It was I who took the powder . . . nominative case, Young, not accusative." Instead he asked the third former for details of the misdemeanour.
    "I did it for a laugh. I took some powder from the lab when we were doing chemistry practical."
    "How much did you take?"
    "I filled an empty Marmite jar I'd brought to school."
    "So the theft was premeditated?"
    The boy looked puzzled. "Sorry, sir . . . what does that mean?"
    Dr Briers established that Peter had invited Robert Hurd to drop a lighted match into a pile of magnesium powder if he could get hold of some. It was a dare.
    "A dare?"
    "Yes, sir. I said I'd give him a shilling if he did it."
    "Were you there when he lit the powder?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Did you know it would burn him?"
    "No sir. I thought it would just be a big flash."
    "Why didn't you help him afterwards? Couldn't you see he was in distress?"
    "Yes, sir. I feel bad about that. I asked him if he could see okay and he said he could. So I told him to go to Mrs Harding's office to get a plaster for his forehead. It was all red. I led him back to the school and made sure he was going towards the office and then I went off. I didn't want to get into trouble."
    "That's despicable behaviour, Young."
    "Yes, sir. I'm sorry."
    "Why are you confessing now?"
    "Well, sir, Robert told me he was getting four SMDs and he would miss two cricket matches as well but he hadn't grassed me up. So I felt bad about that, so that's why I'm here."
    "Hurd didn't ask you to come and see me?"
    "No, sir. He doesn't know I'm doing it."
    "Well, that's a point in your favour, Young."
    "Yes, sir."
    The Head suggested to Peter that he should serve two of Robert's Saturday detentions and the boy readily agreed.
    "And I'm helping the school as well, sir."
    "Really? In what way?"
    "We're playing Berkhamsted away on Saturday week, sir. They're a good team. We'd probably lose if Rob's not playing."
    And so the Exploding Powder Incident entered the Chesham Bois Grammar School archive. The record showed that Peter Young was punished for stealing hazardous material from the chemistry lab and exposing another pupil to danger but was commended for admitting his transgression. In a three way discussion with Dr Briers, Clement Mayfield and Diana Dockerell subsequently clashed over the matter of further punishment for Peter Young. The Deputy Head wanted him suspended from school until he had learnt to behave himself but the geography teacher suggested an alternative: why not get him involved in the upcoming school production of the "High Society" musical, which Diana herself was overseeing? They needed someone to take notes about the various arrangements of scripts, songs, props, lighting and scenery.
    "And he could operate the tape recorder too," said Clement.
    "Why do we need to use the tape recorder?"
    "To monitor what we're doing, so we know which bits are okay and which bits need working on or changing."
    "Well, if you think that's necessary we'll do it. But wouldn't it be better if we found someone other than Peter Young? The boy should be banned from school. He's no good."
    "Let's give him another chance, Diana. Don't give up on him. I think we're making progress."
    Diana looked sceptical. "There's precious little evidence of that, Clement." She turned to the Headteacher. "What do you think, Archie?"
    Dr Briers scratched his chin. "He's had so many chances. Will another one make any difference?"
    "It might," said Clement.
    "Diana?"
    "Very well. But if he messes things up I'll hold you personally responsible, Clement."
    "I graciously accept your terms, madam."
    Diana threw Clement a forced smile. "Good. There is another complication though."
    "Yes?"
    "Janos Dombi doesn't get on at all with Peter Young. In fact I think he's banned him from his lessons."
    "Oh, hell," said Dr Briers. "I'd forgotten about that."
    Everyone at the school––staff and pupils––was wary of Janos Dombi, the music teacher. Clement Mayfield and Diana Dockerell were too polite and too professional to join in staff room discussions about him but they privately agreed with those who muttered about "little man syndrome". What he lacked in height he made up for in ego. Had any of the boys shown up at school with hair as long as the music teacher's they would have been immediately sent to the barber's for rectification. Dr Briers admitted he was reluctant to ask Mr Dombi to follow suit.
    Janos Dombi was a refugee from Hungary who had fled the country just before Soviet tanks crushed the popular uprising in 1956. His music and teaching credentials were impeccable and he soon found employment at the Magyar Föiskola college for the children of Hungarian diplomats and businessmen in London. While teaching the theory and practice of music Janos himself learnt English. The judgement of his colleagues was that Janos, though often quite charming, was a very strict teacher who occasionally seemed short-tempered, but one who upheld the establishment's academic standards. During his tenure at the Magyar Föiskola he met and wooed a French music student he first met at an orchestral concert and he and Josette were married soon afterwards.
    But trouble arose when Mr and Mrs Dombi returned from their honeymoon ten days later than the date agreed with the college governors. Called to a meeting to explain himself he rejected the governors' criticism of his behaviour. When cautioned about honouring agreements he flew into a rage, shouting obscenities at his inquisitors and storming out of the room. His subsequent resignation was not challenged.
    Dr Archibald Briers, Headmaster of Chesham Bois Grammar School, knew nothing of this upset when desperately trying to find a music teacher to replace the previous incumbent, who had died suddenly. At the job interview, Janos Dombi was charm itself and Dr Briers found himself captivated by the vivacious Josette, who looked like Audrey Hepburn and spoke English like Simone Signoret.
    The intolerant side to Janos's character began to reveal itself soon after he was hired and Dr Briers wondered for a while whether he had made an almighty mistake. Reports of the new teacher screaming at pupils who had displeased him filtered back to the Head, together with rumours of chalk sticks and blackboard dusters flung at transgressors.
    Realising that "artistic temperament" was an inadequate excuse for his new music teacher's behaviour, Dr Briers overcame his aversion to confrontation and summoned the Hungarian to his office for what he later recorded in his journal as a "full and frank discussion". As always, tact and respect were deployed to advance his cause, rather than threats.
    "Are you settling in nicely, Janos?"
    "Yes, nicely already, actually," came the accented reply.
    An occasional topic of conversation in the staff room was conjecture as to where Janos Dombi had learned his English. It was understandable that his speech should be heavily accented but it was the idiosyncratic seasoning of inappropriate phrases that people found amusing. The four most frequently heard examples were "already", "actually", "by the way" and "as well." It was said that some of the pupils counted the occurrences for fun and one or two took bets on the tallies achieved. And in the usual way of these things, some of the children had taken to throwing the odd Janosisms into their own everyday conversation. And again in the usual way, they had soon found an unflattering nickname for the music teacher, bestowing on him the moniker "Dumbo", after the large-eared Disney cartoon elephant. Pupils more au fait with English Literature preferred "Florence", the name of the daughter of the eponymous main character in Charles Dickens' novel "Dombey and Son".
    "Are you enjoying teaching at this school, Janos?" was Dr Briers' next question.
    "Actually, yes."
    "Good . . . I . . . er . . . look, please don't hesitate to say if there are things you don't like."
    "No, I like everything by the way."
    "Good." The Head picked up a piece of paper from his desk. "Now, Janos, I've got a letter here from the parents of Jonathan Woodhouse. They say you slapped him so hard he nearly passed out and he had a headache for several hours. Is that true?"
    "Woodhouse makes trouble many times actually as well. He is not a good behaving boy."
    "Yes, I know that. But you must understand that physical punishment can only be in accordance with the standard code and must be proportionate to the offence and must not be excessive under any circumstances. If a severe reprimand is needed, the pupils must be referred to me for caning."
    "I hit him not hard to make him pay attention already."
    "Fine. Look, Janos, there have been other reports too along similar lines."
    "Who is saying these things?"
    "I'm not prepared to divulge that information. If you––"
    "They are lying!"
    Dr Briers took a breath, realising a firmer stance was required.
    "Please don't interrupt me when I'm speaking to you."
    "I'm sorry. I got angry."
    "Alright. Look, Janos, we British have a more subtle approach to teaching. We reason with the pupils when they're misbehaving rather than shouting at them and hitting them. If you want to carry on teaching here––and I hope you do––I must ask you to adopt our British methods. Do you think you can agree to that?"
    "Yes."
    When Janos Dombi had left the room after the interview, Dr Briers found himself reviewing the case. There were some positives to be taken from the music teacher's methods. Well, there was one positive. The school orchestra performed noticeably better now under Janos's baton, and with an apparently greater sense of pride. Dr Briers had heard it said that the conductors who got the most out of their players were bullies and martinets. The music teacher had introduced the procedure whereby the orchestra played during Morning Assembly twice a month, usually the hymn tune and another simple piece, "to actually keep them in practice as well already".
    Every third Sunday the players were required to attend a three hour afternoon practice session at the school. After the previous year's highly-acclaimed Purcell and Mozart concert, the orchestra's major project now, of course, was the "High Society" musical. The fear of producer Diana Dockerell that Janos Dombi would dismiss the enterprise as a frippery not worthy of his talents was unfounded and she was pleasantly surprised at his enthusiasm for "Cole Porter's good tunes actually". Diana had already playfully remarked to the other teachers that the harmony between producer and musical director was almost as good as the harmonies in the musical's songs. Although not prepared to admit it publicly, she also acknowledged that the production's steady progress was due in no small measure to Clement Mayfield's inputs. As Assistant Stage Manager and Assistant Musical Director he took many of the rehearsals when Janos Dombi was not available and it couldn't be denied that the children's enthusiasm for working for him more than compensated for their grudging acceptance of working for the music teacher. The only obvious fly in the ointment was the current impasse between Janos Dombi and Peter Young. Perhaps Clement could sort out that one too.
 





CHAPTER   9






"Sorry I'm late," said Clement as he came through the Music Room door. "Got held up doing other things." He was holding a folder full of papers, a long-playing record and two recorder spools, one full of tape, the other empty.
    As Clement walked in the four pupils rapidly rearranged themselves. Peter Young sprang up from the teacher's chair, took the gum out of mouth, wrapped it in foil and put it in his pocket. Tessa Murray swivelled round on the desktop she was sitting on and transferred herself to its seat. Kevin Turner slid into an adjacent seat and Bruce Faraday closed his magazine, roused himself from his slouch and sat up attentively.
    Clement placed the tape spools and record on the desk and walked over to the piano to lay the folder on the top.
    "I thought we'd do about an hour. Is everyone happy with that?"
    "Can I be excused geography homework, sir?" asked Kevin.
    "Did I set it? Or Mr Procter?"
    "You did, sir."
    "What was it?"
    "Finding out which countries use hydro-electric power."
    "When's it due to be handed in?"
    "Tomorrow."
    "You could have done it sooner, Kevin."
    "Yes, sir, but I've been sort of busy."
    "Alright. Would you have time to do it next weekend?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Excellent. You can give it to me on Monday. I don't need to threaten you with detention for non-compliance, do I?"
    "No, sir."
    Clement opened the folder he had brought in and took out its contents, a sheaf of papers and music sheets. He ruffled through them and picked one up to read it. Then he looked up again and flashed a smile at the four pupils. His attention was caught by the unexpected sight of a girl's shoe hanging from a window catch. He stared at it quizzically and emphatically and his smile broadened. Five seconds passed, then another five, after which Kevin Turner sheepishly stood up, walked over to the window, retrieved the shoe and positioned it next to its counterpart. Tessa watched the incident disdainfully.
    "Thank you, Kevin," said Clement. "Now, for this evening I want to run over two songs. We'll start with 'Millionaire' and then we'll do 'Well Did You Evah'. So you can shoot off home once we've done your bit if you want to, Tessa."
    "Okay, sir."
    The teacher held up the record. The sleeve cover bore the legend "High Society" and featured a photograph of Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm, the men in dinner suits and the ladies in elegant evening gowns, smiling as they walked towards the viewer.
    "Anyone need to hear the originals again?"
    Four young heads shook negatively.
    "Peter, can you set up the recorder? You remember how to do it, don't you?"
    "Yes, sir. Take-up spool on the left."
    "Correct. Just run it forward a bit so we don't erase what's already been recorded."
    "Okay, sir."
    "Fine." He looked at Kevin and Tessa. "You've been through 'Millionaire' a couple of times with Mr Dombi, haven't you?"
    "We've sung it but we haven't done the movements," said Kevin.
    "The choreography, he means, sir," said Tessa.
    Clement saw Kevin pulling a face at the girl but decided to ignore it. "Right. You've seen the sequence on the film. Just to remind you––you're journalists who've been invited to the wedding under false pretences. You're wandering round this vast mansion and come across a room full of sumptuous wedding gifts. There's a table covered with gold trinkets and such like. While you're singing the song you're walking round the table picking up and admiring some of these objects. Okay?"
    Tessa and Kevin nodded.
    "Fine. We'll use this table here. Let's move some of the desks back so we've got more space round it. I suggest your start positions should be by the door, as if you're just coming in to the room. Then you walk over to the front of the table."
    "Right."
    The senior pupil half raised his hand.
    "Yes, Bruce?"
    "In the film, sir, they stop for a second as they walk over, like they're amazed at what they see on the table. Kev and Tess could do the same."
    "Good idea. Let's try that. I'll play the first couple of bars of the tune to give you the key, then pause and do a little trill. When you hear the pause, stop in mid stride, look at the table and put expressions of surprise on your faces. When the trill finishes, I'll play a chord and then I'll restart the tune at the beginning and you come in at the same time. Shall we try it? Let's just do the first verse to start with. Peter, is the recorder ready?"
    "Yes, sir. I just need to find the end of the last recording."
    "Good. Bruce, would you sit roughly in the middle of the back row and watch what's going on? You'll get a better perspective than I will because I'll be playing the piano."
    "Righto, sir."

*   *   *   *   *

Janos Dombi had graciously accepted the plaudits from his staff room colleagues after the previous year's Purcell and Mozart concert. The standard of playing and singing was judged to be respectable by outside unbiased observers. Only the most critical of them took exception to the orchestra's musicianship being reinforced by the various tutors joining the ranks of players. Janos's elegantly-dressed wife Josette had graced the second violins with her presence, triggering lascivious comments from some of the older boys in the orchestra and in the audience, out of earshot of the adults, of course.
    There were two clarinet players in the orchestra, Jennifer Mayfield and Raymond Pierce. Jenny, daughter of Clement, was a lower sixth-former, two years older than Ray. Membership of the orchestra did not appeal to Jenny's brother, Stephen, who played electric guitar in a group. At home the two siblings frequently exchanged opinions on the relative merits of classical and popular music. Their father would not be drawn on his preference.
    "If you like a piece of music, it's good," offered Clement. "If you don't, it's not."
    "I agree," said Stephen. "There's a lot of snobbery around music. It's a class thing. If you like classical music it proves you're posh or well educated. If you prefer pop you're common."
    "It's not that black and white," retorted his sister. "There's some good modern music around. I listen to pop music on the radio. But it's . . . what's the word . . . ephemeral. Is that the right word, Dad? What I mean is . . . it's not likely to last long. No-one's going to be listening to Elvis Presley or Cliff Richard ten years from now. They'll be forgotten. But Mozart and Beethoven will last for ever."
    "Good point, Jen," said her father. "But when Mozart was writing his masterpieces, was he concerned about whether people would be listening to them two hundred years later?"
    "But think of the complexity and how intricate classical music is," replied Jenny. "What is there in pop? Three or four chords in four-four time with a snare drum on the second and fourth beats. Where's the skill in composing that? Mum would have agreed with me, I'm sure she would've."
    "Your mother was catholic in her tastes," said Clement. "Actually, her favourite was folk music but she liked classical and pop too."
    "Yes, and it was Mum who encouraged me to buy a guitar, don't forget," said Stephen. "And showed me the basic chords."
    "Well, that's as maybe," said his sister. "I'm not sure of what she'd have made of the Typhoon Teens, though." The tone of her voice modulated into disparagement as she mentioned the name of Stephen's group. The name had been chosen as a play on the name of Typhoo tea, a popular brand of the beverage.
    "Actually, I think she might have liked their sound," said Clement. "It's based on American Blues, isn't it, son? Which is a type of folk music."
    "That's right, Dad. A lot of it comes from African tribal chants the slaves brought over, plus folk music from Ireland and England and Germany and other European countries."
    "All I'm saying," said Jenny, "is that more . . . effort . . . is needed to produce classical music. Pop music . . . or a lot of it, at least . . . is too . . . lazy. I mean . . . can Elvis read music?"
    "Why would he need to?" asked Stephen. "You can learn songs just by listening and practising. And you can write them without knowing anything about the theory of music."
    "I would agree with Stephen on that point," said his father.
    "So are you saying that the people who write pop songs are today's Mozart and Beethoven, Dad?"
    "Well," said Clement after a pause. "They might be."
    "Yeah, that's right," said Stephen. "Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly and Leiber and Stoller are today's Mozart and Beethoven."
    "Ridiculous!" snorted Jenny. "You can't agree with that, Dad, surely?"
    Their father scratched his head. "I don't know who these people are, Jen, so I can't answer that point." He paused, then added, "Cole Porter might last a while––he wrote the songs in 'High Society'. Some people say they're destined to be classics."
    Stephen and Jenny were chalk and cheese. Jenny's attitude to life in general matched that of Shirley, her late mother, who always took her obligations seriously. Stephen was more easy-going and in his school reports were to be found the occasional blemish such as "His attitude to his studies is at times frivolous" and "Stephen seems unwilling to work to his full potential" and "His effort and application sometimes fall short of what is required." This last comment came from the pen of his father. But Clement, from whom his son perhaps had inherited the lighter approach to life, realised that Stephen had not found motivation in the formal school syllabus and was looking for other channels for his creative energy. Unlike Jennifer, Clement was not scornful of his son's stated ambition to go to art college to learn photography.
    "Photography! That's not a proper subject," was Jenny's opinion.
    "Why not? Lot's of people make a living out of it."
    "But suppose you can't earn a living? How are you going to get a job without proper academic qualifications?"
    "Then it's Plan B."
    "Go on."
    "I'll be a pop singer."
    Jenny snorted her derision and rolled her eyes. "A pop singer! Dad, tell him he's living in fantasy land."
    "Your sister's got a point about qualifications, Stevie. The things that interest you are difficult to break into, career wise. Talent alone won't guarantee success. You need luck, or connections, or both, to make the grade. Are you still planning to take a year out from studying?"
    "Yes, Dad. The group's definitely going to Germany when the school term's finished, probably Hamburg. There's a lot of British groups playing in clubs there now. There's a group called the Hurricanes doing well out there. That's why we chose the name 'Typhoons'. It's a sort of 'getting in on the act' thing."
    "So you'd get work there? You'd be paid?"
    "No. We haven't done enough gigging yet––we won't be good enough to get a job there. We'll work as waiters in bars but we'll spend our spare time watching the groups and asking if we can jam with them when they're practising. That way we'll learn our craft. Then maybe we can find a club where they'll pay us to play."
    "Where will you sleep?"
    "We'll find somewhere. A cheap apartment maybe."
    "You'll be music tramps!" said Jenny. "A hand to mouth existence. You'll be living like . . . gypsies!"
    "But we'll be doing something we want to do," retorted her brother. "We'll be having fun! Something you seem to be missing in your chase for A-levels and degrees."
    "At least I'll get a proper job when I leave university."
    "But will it be an interesting job, Jen?"
    "Right, no more bickering, please, you two," interrupted Clement. "Stevie, you told me you'd be able to get a grant to go to art college. Did you find out any more about it?"
    "Yes, I'll be eligible for the standard student grant as long as I go to a college on the approved list."
    "Have you decided where yet?"
    "No, Dad. Like I said, I'm taking a year out, like the other members in the group, then I'll sign on for a photography course somewhere, unless the music career takes off, of course."
    "Well, if you can support yourself, that sounds reasonable to me."
    Jennifer stared open-eyed at her brother. "You're serious, aren't you?"
    "Yes."
    There was a pause.
    "Well, maybe I was too dismissive, Stevie. Instead of saying 'you're a fool', maybe I should be saying 'good luck, I hope you make it'."
    "And I would say 'thank you'."
    "Hamburg," said Clement. "Whereabouts?"
    "A lot of the clubs are in the dock area, the red light district. I think it's called Saint Paul's or something. There was an article about it recently in the New Musical Express."
    "Would it be safe?" asked Jenny, her previous scorn now changed into concern. "Red-light district . . . sounds . . . dubious."
    "We'll be okay, Jen. There's four of us and we're eighteen years old. Two of us speak German. No-one's going to mess with us."
    "If you're going in for photography, son, perhaps I should lend you my camera to take with you to Hamburg when you go. You'd probably find lots of good material there."
    "You mean, your 35 mil Leica, Dad," breathed Stephen disbelievingly.
    "The very same."
    "Wow!"
 





CHAPTER   10   1956 onwards






One Saturday evening in 1956 the Mayfield family went to the Odeon cinema in Berkhamsted to watch the musical film "High Society". On the walk home they discussed what they had seen. The reviews in the papers had been generally enthusiastic and Clement disagreed with the verdict of one of them that the film was merely a saccharine flummery that lacked the witty punch of the "Philadelphia Story" film and play from which it was derived. Others found artistic quality in the Cole Porter score and the performances of the actors. Several gossip columns informed their readers that the role was the last that actress Grace Kelly would play before her retirement from the profession, allegedly because her fiancé, Prince Rainier of Monaco, had demanded no less as a nuptial obligation.
    Clement's wife, Shirley, said she too had enjoyed the film and thought she might buy the sheet music for some of the songs so she could play them on the piano. Twelve-year-old Stephen told the others the film was "alright, I suppose, a bit boring", although he conceded that Louis Armstrong's jazz band was "okay". Eleven-year-old Jennifer liked Grace Kelly's wedding dress and the bit where she and Bing Crosby were singing to each other in the boat.
    Shirley was the most musical of the Mayfield family. On the family's piano she could segue easily and smoothly from Bach to Bacharach. She was equally adept on her acoustic guitar, which she often played at the Chiltern Folk Music Club in Amersham.
    Clement's competence on the piano had steadily improved under Shirley's guidance and he could now make a reasonable stab at the easier Chopin pieces.
    From his mother, Stephen learned how to play chords on her guitar so he could accompany himself singing tunes such as "This Ol' House" and "Memories Are Made Of This".
    Jennifer had learnt the recorder at primary school and had asked her parents if she could start flute lessons, "because it was the nicest sounding instrument in the whole world." She also asked her mother to teach her how to play her favourite tunes on the piano.
    As time went by the children's musical preferences changed. Jennifer switched from flute to clarinet, because its timbre was stronger and so its presence in the orchestra was more noticeable. Stephen was allowed to borrow his mother's guitar whenever he wanted without needing permission and taught himself the chord sequences for twelve bar blues and current pop songs. Again Shirley was on hand to offer advice when required.
    Clement's progress on the piano had reached a plateau because he was content with his standard of playing and had other interests taking up his time.
    Shirley continued to grace the Folk Club with her appearances but then had to miss some sessions because of her illness, which started as occasional abdominal pain but steadily worsened. Shirley never saw the arrival of the new decade. Pancreatic cancer carried her off just before Christmas in 1959. At the funeral Clement and Jennifer played some of Shirley's favourite tunes, including "You're Sensational" from "High Society". Stephen sang the old blues number "Where You Gone, Baby", accompanying himself on his mother's guitar.

*   *   *   *   *

Six years after "High Society" had first entertained cinemagoers in the United States and in Britain, Diana Dockerell's plan was to bring the production of her school's stage version of the musical up to scratch by the end of the year. Given that they were already halfway through May, time would be tight, especially as the summer holiday would remove a six week block of rehearsal time. Decision time would be the first week in October. If Diana considered they were on course for a three night run in the last week of the Christmas term she would plan everything accordingly, including printing of the programmes. If it looked like they would miss the target then the performance would be shifted to the following Easter.
    The Deputy Head was reasonably optimistic. Preliminary rehearsals were going well and Janos Dombi's temper had not yet hampered progress by upsetting the pupils involved. It helped that Clement Mayfield had thrown his weight behind the project and his occasionally flippant remarks did not camouflage the effort he was contributing. She was really impressed by his offer to organise rehearsals during the holiday period to avoid the hiatus. Clement on your side was so much better than Clement against you. And although Diana's initial concern that Melanie Hope would not be able to carry off the Grace Kelly part had not completely vanished, she was less worried now than she had been when the authorisation to launch was granted by Dr Briers.
    Clement Mayfield had to a certain extent surprised himself at how he had committed himself to Diana's opus magnum. At the staff room vote on whether the school orchestra's next project should be a musical or a conventional concert, he had abstained, having no strong preference. His enthusiasm perked up when "High Society" became the chosen vehicle and at home one evening soon afterwards he put the LP on his gramophone to remind himself of the songs, which also of course reminded him of Shirley.
    It was nice that his daughter would be involved in the production and a shame that his son wouldn't be. So be it. If Stephen went ahead with his plan he would be playing rock'n'roll music in a night club in Hamburg while Melanie Hope would be singing "True Love" (accompanied, among others, by Jenny Mayfield on clarinet) on the school hall stage in Chesham.
    Hamburg. Clement had not visited the city since he flew there from Gatow in a Sunderland during the Airlift fourteen years previously, a few weeks before the flying boats were withdrawn from the operation when Lake Havel froze over in December, 1948. He was on one of his last duties before his Berlin posting came to an end, assisting a nurse who was looking after the Sunderland's passengers, twenty or so sick Berliners who were being evacuated to the West.
    Hamburg. Where Luisa Haberlandt, previously Luisa Moehringen, now lived.
    Clement and Luisa had kept in touch by letter after his return to England. Shirley had no objections and did not doubt her husband's assertion that he had never had an affair with her. In the nature of these things the frequency of correspondence gradually declined and the contents of the letters eased into the mundanities of everyday family life. Eventually it was just Christmas and birthday cards. Luisa never failed to remember Shirley and Clement's children. Reciprocating, Clement sent a card to Katharina Haberlandt every February, signing it "Liebe von Clement, Shirley, Stephen und Jenny". The last exchange of family photos was sometime in the mid 'fifties.
    If Stephen was serious about chancing his arm as a musician in Hamburg, maybe Luisa could help him find suitable accommodation. One evening soon after his son had confirmed his plans, Clement looked up Luisa in the address book. Ottensen, near Hamburg. Presumably one of the suburbs.
    Recalling the contents of previous letters from Luisa, which he had disposed of after receiving them, as he had promised Shirley he would, Clement assembled the facts that his memory had retained. After the difficult times of the Airlift and the early 1950s life had improved significantly for Luisa. She had met and married a successful German businessman, who ran a family chain of clothing stores in Hamburg and Lübeck and she had started teaching again. Ulrich Haberlandt, his wife and his adopted daughter lived in Ottensen. In a photo that Luisa sent Clement the family were sitting in the spacious garden of a substantial, well designed detached house. A large dog lay at their feet. If he remembered correctly, Anneke, Luisa's mother, had lived with the Haberlandts until her death in 1957 or 1958. Ulrich had been married before, but Clement couldn't remember Luisa telling him about children from the first marriage.
    During a free school period, the geography teacher began composing a letter. It would have to be in English. Over the years his German had deteriorated from barely adequate to utterly unreliable through lack of practice.

Dear Luisa,
    Please forgive my rudeness for writing in English! I trust this letter finds you and your family well. How is Katharina doing? Is she still at school? You'll know that my son, Stephen, is now 18 years old. He's just about to sit his A-level exams in English, French and Economics. He's decided that before he goes to art college to study photography he'd like to take a year's break playing pop music in a group. It seems many British pop groups are working in Hamburg these days, which is why Stephen's group wants to go there.
    They will have to find work as waiters in bars or restaurants if possible as they probably won't earn enough playing music. Stephen has done German to O-level and one of the other boys is doing the subject at A-level if I remember correctly so perhaps the language problem won't be too difficult. A big expense will be accommodation. Stephen says they'll try to find a cheap apartment, somewhere big enough for the four of them, which concerns me a little. I know nothing about the subject and I don't want them taken advantage of by an unscrupulous landlord. I'm not even sure they'll have enough money to pay for any sort of accommodation. Also, they would sometimes keep strange hours, sleeping from early morning to midday.
    So, I'm writing to you to see if you can give us any advice about the matter, such as where to look for a flat and how much the rent is likely to be. The pop groups play in the Reeperbahn area, as far as I've been told, which doesn't sound too salubrious to me. Should I be worried about that?
    I don't want to dampen my son's enthusiasm but if I consider the whole venture too risky I'll try to persuade him to abandon the idea.
    If you can give us useful information it would be much appreciated.
    Yours affectionately,
    Clement

The reply dropped through Clement's letter box on a Saturday morning ten days later. He took it to the study and sat himself at his desk.

Dear Clement,
    So nice to hear from you! It's incredible that your son has already 18 years! So your daughter will be 17, a year older than Katharina. For us everything is going good. Thank you for asking. The shops are doing fine and Ulrich thinks he will be able to retire in five years, when he reaches 60. So then he will spend even more hours on the golf course! Maybe he should build a house there! I'm still teaching at the local Grundschule and still enjoying it.
    Well, to find a place to live for Stephen and his friends. It might be difficult in Hamburg itself––the prices are very expensive. The city had a serious flood here a few months ago and half the city centre was under water. Some apartment blocks are still being repaired so there is a shortage of places to stay. Luckily the north side of the river was not flooded so bad so we were OK. If the boys can't find a place may be we can help. Our house has 6 bedrooms so if nobody stays with us there are 4 spare rooms. We could put 2 boys in 1 room and 2 in another room. There are 3 bathrooms so there's no problem with everyone trying to wash at the same time. Would they keep their guitars and drums with them or leave them where they are playing?
    Transport––Ulrich and I both have cars but if we cannot give a lift the bus service from Ottensen is reliable and cheap. But it stops at 23.00 so it might be difficult if the boys are coming back from Hamburg later. Of course it may be possible to buy a car for them––do they have drivers licenses?
    I will do some research to find out if there would be cheap apartments to rent nearer to Hamburg. This would be better I think. I will ask Ulrich if he knows any apartment owners who can help––he knows lots of business men in the city. But if it's not possible then the boys can stay with us. Ulrich says he would not mind them being here if they don't get in the way or play music too loud. He is often away from the house anyway.
    And how are you Clement? I was so sorry to hear that Shirley died. Do you live with only the children or have you met another lady? Well, I suppose that's cheeky of me to ask that! I still remember your kindness from the Luftbrücke days and it makes me think someone should be looking after you and helping you with the children. Well, let me know what you think about the boys staying with us if they can't find anywhere else. And I of course will let you know what I find out about the price of rent in Hamburg.
    Please send me a photo of you and the kids. I include one of us in this letter.
    Herzliche Grüsse!
    Luisa
    xx

The photo brought the memories flooding back to Clement. Luisa looked no older than he remembered from the Berlin times. The smile was just as captivating, and the sparkle in her eyes. Perhaps her hair was a little longer. How old would she be? About five years younger than he was, if he remembered correctly, which would make her forty-seven or thereabouts.
    Ulrich. Hmm. Square, forbidding face, penetrating stare, topped by iron grey wiry hair, the smile not totally convincing. No shrinking violet, by the look of him. Not the sort of man to tolerate four rowdy foreign teenagers disturbing his habitat, despite Luisa's assurances to the contrary.
    A six-bedroom house. Two cars. The Haberlandt family had obviously done well for itself. Clement remembered reading about the floods in northern Germany in his newspaper and seeing dramatic TV newsreel footage of an inundated Hamburg. He looked at the photo again.
    Katharina. Beautiful. There was no other way to say it. High cheekbones, long blonde hair, the smile wistful, the eyes questioning. Brigitte Bardot, that's who she reminded Clement of. He found himself wondering whether Luisa had ever revealed to her daughter who her birth father was. He had a vague memory of one of the letters from a few years back. Luisa had written that she had told Katharina that her father, the brave tank commander, had died soon after the war ended from wounds sustained during the Final Battle. A war hero for a father rather than an avenging beast.
    "Who are they, Dad?"
    Clement had not heard Jenny coming into the study, so engrossed was he in memories and what-ifs. He held out the photo for his daughter to inspect.
    "It's Luisa, my friend from Germany."
    "The lady who sends me birthday cards?"
    "Yes."
    "Is that her husband and daughter?"
    "Yes."
    "They're very pretty, Luisa and . . . "
    "Katharina."
    "What's Luisa's husband's name?"
    "Ulrich."
    "He looks like Beethoven, very severe."
    "Uh-huh."
    "Why have you got the picture, Dad? Was it sent to you?"
    Clement gave Jenny the letter to read. As his daughter's eyes scanned the lines Clement found his mind resurrecting other memories from the Airlift, some happy, some less so.
    Jennifer handed the letter back.
    "She sounds like a nice person."
    "She is . . . well, she was when I knew her, anyway."
    Jenny looked at her father and narrowed her eyes.
    "Did you love her, Dad?"
    It took a moment or two for Clement to answer.
    "Yes."
    "Did Mum know you were in love with Luisa?"
    "I think she did."
    "Didn't you ever––"
    Clement picked up his daughter's hand. "I was never unfaithful to her, Jen. But I could have been, if Luisa had made advances to me. But she didn't. She told me to think of my wife and family. She stopped me from ruining my marriage. She was a true heroine."
    To Clement's surprise he saw tears in Jenny's eyes.
    "What's the matter, darling?"
    "You're fantastic, Dad. You're the best father anyone could wish for."
    "That I very much doubt."
    "I just hope I find someone like you one day."
 





CHAPTER   11






While Diana Dockerell was posting copies of a circular in the Senior Staff Room pigeon holes, she became aware of a conversation between two teachers sitting nearby.
    "Well, I wouldn't say it was a Damascene conversion," said Keith Knight, "but it's certainly a change for the better."
    "As long as it lasts," said Kapil Ramesh, the school's only staff member of Indian origin.
    "Don't be so cynical, Kapil! I think perhaps he's really turned a corner."
    "Well, I have to say I've not noticed much change in my class. He's not been disruptive recently, I grant you, but his enthusiasm for history is still moribund."
    The Deputy Head turned to face them. "Excuse me interrupting, gentlemen," she said, "but may I ask who you're talking about?"
    "Peter Young," said Keith. "I'm just saying the new version is less trying than the Mark One."
    "There's a definite improvement, is that what you're saying?"
    "In my class, yes."
    "In what way?"
    The maths teacher took a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket. "Okay if I light up?"
    Diana and Kapil murmured approval.
    "Anyone else want one?"
    Two heads shook in unison.
    "The boy's showing more commitment. I think it started with the tape recorder," continued Keith. "Clem's got him involved in the 'High Society' caper and Young's recording the rehearsals, or something like that."
    "That's correct," said Diana. "They listen to the playbacks to see if mistakes have been made or changes are needed. I've heard no complaints from Clement about the boy not taking it seriously." She paused. "But there's still . . . how can I put it . . . friction . . . between Peter Young and Janos. I got a report of a shouting match the other day. And Janos throwing a pen at the boy and hitting him in the face with it."
    "Well . . . " started Keith, "with Janos . . . perhaps . . . "
    "Enough said!" laughed Kapil.
    "It may just be gossip," said Diana, but her tone betrayed her doubt.
    "Going back to Peter Young," said Keith, "perhaps it's just coincidence but the tape recorder might be the catalyst."
    "In what way?" asked Kapil.
    "We were doing binary––you know, numbers with base two rather than ten."
    The history teacher and the Deputy Head exchanged puzzled glances.
    Keith smiled. "It not difficult to understand. Instead of the digits zero to nine you just use zeros and ones."
    "Uh-huh," said Diana.
    "Anyway, I set the kids homework on what applications they could find for binary numbers. Got a variety of answers, as you would expect, some daft, some sensible. Peter's idea was that you could use a buzzer and a recorder to send information on magnetic tape."
    "Go on."
    "If you wanted to transmit the number thirteen say, which is, let's see, let me work it out . . . one one zero one in binary, then you would record a tone for the ones and blank spaces for the zeros. Then you've got a record of the data which you can send to other people."
    "Would it work?" asked Kapil.
    "Most certainly," replied Keith. "People are already doing that––or something similar––in the computer industry."
    "But wouldn't it be easier just to say the numbers into the microphone?" asked Kapil.
    "Except that if you're sending the data to machines or people who don't speak English the binary code would be a good way to do it. It's a clever idea that the boy came up with and it was original, so he says. He told me he's going to design a buzzer to try the idea out."
    "As long as he doesn't ruin the recorder," said Diana. "It was quite expensive."
    "But hang on," said the history teacher, "why not just use one tone and then three tones for the number thirteen. What would you gain using the binary method?"
    "For most numbers you would need fewer tones," replied Keith. "For ninety-nine, for example, you would have to send two groups of nine tones, so eighteen in all. But in binary it would be . . . let's see . . . one 64, one 32, no 16s or 8s or 4s, one 2 and one 1. So that's 1100011, which is only seven tones and spaces."
    "Hmm, clever. Just ones and zeros to make any number?"
    "Yes."
    "But what about letters, if you wanted to use words? How would you record them using tones or buzzes?"
    "That's the question I put to him, Kapil," said Keith. "He said he'd go away and think about it. So I thought, that's the last we'll hear of that."
    "And was it?"
    "No, That's the surprising thing. A week or so later he handed me an essay. He'd worked it all out. He suggested allocating numbers to letters––A equals one, B equals two and so on."
    "But how would you differentiate between numbers and letters?"
    "He even had that worked out. What was it . . . a long pause after a sequence of tones meant it was a letter and a short pause was a number. Or possibly the other way round, I can't remember. Either way, I was impressed with what he'd come up with, especially if it really was original."
    In her office quarter of an hour later Diana went to the filing cabinet and took out Peter Young's records, one of the thicker files in the archive. Her eyebrows lifted in surprise. It was true. Fewer complaints. Fewer negative reports. Only one detention in the last six weeks or so. As Keith Knight had said, "Damascene conversion" might be an overstatement but the file she was now reading spoke of a different person from the one that had been the bane of the staff since he had first arrived at Chesham Bois Grammar.
    So perhaps Clement was right to give the tearaway another chance to redeem himself. Perhaps Diana had been too hasty in her readiness to eject him from the school. If the boy didn't regress then she would have to make some sort of acknowledgement to Clement that his judgement had been sounder than hers, on this occasion anyway. Diana was honest enough with herself to know that she didn't always get it right. Everyone knew she was tough on discipline and standards of behaviour. How else would she have earned the epithet "Dragon Lady"? Perhaps, though, it was necessary for the school to have the odd Clement or two among the teachers to soften things up a little. Only a little, though! A school staffed purely with Clements would rapidly descend into ill-disciplined chaos.
    Occasionally, Diana would review the half century of her chequered life. As with all such retrospectives, there were proud moments, several what-ifs and a few regrets.
    She never doubted that it was the right decision to stay in London during the war, even though it was sad to be separated from the children in her class and to have to give up teaching for five years. The fire brigade and ambulance service politely declined her offer to drive their vehicles but London Transport were less unwelcoming. Although bus driving was a reserved occupation and the employer's policy was that only males would be allowed in the drivers' cabs, a temporary shortage of suitable applicants necessitated an equally temporary alleviation of the restriction. Diana was among a handful of females instructed in the art of controlling 58-seat 7-ton 8-litre-engine double deckers, with her accelerator pedal controlling the power of 90 horses. Initial murmurings of resentment among the old hands more or less dissipated when the ladies proved they were just as capable of mastering their vehicles as their male counterparts. The incorrigible die-hards were scolded by their colleagues, who told them to "give the girls a chance". To keep her intellectual brain cells safe from atrophy Diana signed on for evening classes in conversational French.
    The ex-teacher, and the vehicles she drove, all escaped completely unscathed during the Blitz and subsequent Luftwaffe bombing raids. But a few of her driver and conductor colleagues were killed or injured. Her family's fortunes were also mixed. A high-explosive device landed in the middle of the street on which her parents' house stood. The building was completely demolished, along with twenty others. But Edward and Felicity Beaumont were huddled with their neighbours in an air raid shelter and lived to tell the tale.
    The blackest moment for Diana came in May 1941 when she saw a newspaper headline:

HMS HOOD SUNK IN ATLANTIC BATTLE

SHIP EXPLODES AFTER ENEMY SHELL HITS
MAGAZINE

MANY CASUALTIES FEARED

Only three of the 1,400 or so crew complement had survived. Diana's brother, Gunner Peter Beaumont, was not among them. The telegram from the Admiralty confirming his death "with deep regret" was delivered to her parents a few days later. The newspaper reports of the subsequent sinking of the German battleship Bismarck in the same battle were scant consolation.
    Diana came closest to calamity in December 1944. A V1 pilotless flying bomb cut out overhead Purley Bus Station and plunged into the High Street. Besides destroying several buildings and setting others on fire, the explosion gouged a huge crater in the road about 100 yards from the vehicle Diana was driving. There were many fatalities and many bereaved families whose lives would, like so many others in the dreadful turmoil of World War Two, be changed forever.
    But a new optimism was welling up in Britain's weary population, nourished by the clear certainty of imminent victory. Desperate last-ditch defending by the once all-powerful Wehrmacht could not prevent the steady, blood-stained contraction of the Third Reich and as the evil empire shrank, the hopes of citizens of all nations for a better post-war world expanded.
    Diana and several London Transport friends joined the throng celebrating VE day, her only disappointment the absence of Colin, not yet released from duty. By the time he returned home the nation was soberly reverting from euphoria to the grim realities of continued rationing and clearing up the debris of five years' mechanised destruction.
    The newly elected Labour government moved to implement the Beveridge Report, drawn up by an eminent economist during the war years to address the iniquities of the nation's pre-war class system, with its economic distortions in favour of the well heeled. Likewise Britain's education system was overhauled to allow free access to grammar schools by pupils who were academically gifted, regardless of financial or social background.
    It soon became clear that the nation's primary schools would pick up pretty much where they left off at the start of hostilities. Diana's husband, Colin, found a new job in Epsom, which meant the Dockerells wouldn't have to move out of their house in Old Coulsdon. So newly redundant bus driver Diana Dockerell made enquiries about the likely opening date of North Croydon Primary and was asked to fill in the appropriate Ministry of Education application form if she wanted to resume teaching there when the school was scheduled to restart in October 1945. To her surprise and delight she was offered the post of Headmistress although her joy was tempered with concern that she had displaced the venerable Mrs Wittering. But then she was informed that the previous holder of the post had not survived the war, so Diana's guilt was superseded by sadness.
    The new headmistress had not been long in post before the machinations of office politics threw her off her stride. After beginner's nerves she was settling nicely into her new role, enjoying the responsibility of running the school her own way. It was a shame that she now rarely found herself in front of a class of thirty or so kids, but it was a sacrifice that had to be accepted. Nostalgia for the old days was to be expected, but put aside.
    What was not expected was Virginia Arthur, her deputy, walking into her office uninvited one morning. Uninvited and unhappy, judging by the look on her face.
    Diana quickly recovered from her surprise and switched on a smile.
    "Morning, Ginny. What can I do for you?" She motioned to the chair at the side of her desk. "Have a seat."
    "I'd rather stand, thank you," came the chilly response.
    The headmistress's smile faded slightly.
    "As you wish. What's the matter?"
    "I've given this a lot of thought, Diana, and I'm going to make an official complaint."
    "Yes . . ? "
    "They should have offered me the Headship before you. I've been teaching longer than you and I've been at this school longer than you."
    "Well, I––"
    "Not to mention that I carried on teaching the children while you were . . . messing around driving buses."
    Diana was silent, composing her thoughts. Not for the first time, she wondered whether the school governors had made a mistake. Perhaps they meant to install Ginny as Head and her as deputy, but got the two of them muddled up. But at the job interview the governors were pretty thorough in their probing and had gone into her background in some detail. Of course, there was no way she could have known how Ginny performed at her own assessment. And now she thought about it some more, perhaps she had been so engrossed in her new role that she had missed the signals from Ginny. Her colleague had seemed cooler towards her than before, which Diana identified as deference to her own new exalted status. Attempts at friendliness were, if not rebuffed, not reciprocated either. But it now looked as if the supposed deference was really smouldering resentment.
    Diana slowly shook her head. "Well, I don't know what to say," she said heavily. "I had no idea you felt this way. You didn't give me any indication you weren't happy with the set-up."
    "I'm a professional, Diana," came the response. "I don't let personal feelings affect the way I carry out my duties."
    The headmistress sighed. "Okay, if that's how you feel, then I can't stop you." She narrowed her eyes. "But how will the outcome affect the relationship between you and me? Either they agree, and we swap places, or they don't, and we stay as we are. What then?"
    "I've given that some thought," replied Ginny. "If they appoint me as Head, I'm more than happy to keep you on as deputy. We've worked together . . . on and off . . . for many years. There's no reason we can't carry on the same as before. After all, there's no real animosity between us, is there?"
    Diana nodded, no longer smiling. "Suppose they don't agree with you?"
    Ginny straightened up, aloof. "Well, then I'd have to resign and get a job somewhere else. It would be too embarrassing to carry on here."
    "Very well, Ginny. I can't say I'm thrilled, but I can understand your disappointment. You'd better go ahead with your complaint and we'll let the governors decide."
    "Thank you, Diana." The deputy's tone softened a little and an unconvincing half-smile settled on her lips. "It's nothing personal . . . I've always liked you and I know you're a good teacher."
    "Thank you." Diana resisted the temptation to throw in a remark about even though I've been messing about on buses. "And thank you for telling me what your intentions are before you do it, rather than doing it behind my back. That would really have upset me. Your honesty does you credit."
    "I don't know how long this process will take," said Ginny. "What happens in the meantime?" Suddenly her voice lost its edge, as if she was relieved that Diana had not put up a fight. "Shall I continue working as normal or if you feel uncomfortable, should I take leave?"
    "No, carry on teaching," said Diana, matching Ginny's forced smile. "We mustn't let the children down and I doubt I could find a suitable replacement quickly, or at least someone who matched your high standards."
    The governors deliberated. They rejected Ginny's appeal. Ginny tendered her resignation. The governors asked her to reconsider. Diana told Ginny she didn't think she could cope without her as assistant. Ginny relented. Of course the main casualty of the episode was the friendship between the two teachers. Their relationship was still based on mutual respect and professionalism but the pre-war conviviality was forever gone.
    There were not too many other wrinkles in Diana's life. Colin was carving himself a niche in the rapidly expanding electronics industry. He was now designing circuits for radios and televisions. The Watson and Livett Electrical Company was a mere twenty minute drive from the Dockerell's home in their new Morris Oxford car.
 





CHAPTER   12   1956 onwards






In 1956 Diana and Colin celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary with a holiday in France, taking the car on the ferry. They were unaccompanied––it had become apparent several years previously that their union would not be blessed with children. For a while they had talked about adoption but Colin's enthusiasm was never strong and eventually Diana, too, gave up on the idea.
    Throughout the decade the careers of both the Dockerells had steadily progressed, in step with the ever improving availability of opportunity for British families generally. By 1957 Colin was leading the Watson and Livett team experimenting with colour television prototypes. Diana's reputation as a competent and inspirational Head brought offers of work from larger or more prestigious schools both near and far. While considering her options she was approached by an official from the Ministry of Education inviting her to join a government committee looking into the future development of British education. Working as a consultant looked like an interesting and satisfying career move and the salary was attractive so Diana accepted.
    For a while she revelled in her new role, proud that she was part of a team whose task was to find ways of improving all aspects of education. With her working knowledge of French, and her schoolgirl German and Latin, Diana felt competent to offer her thoughts about the teaching of foreign languages in addition to her inputs concerning the managerial responsibilities of head teachers. But then gradual disillusionment crept in. Several of the committee members revealed themselves as mere political time-servers in no hurry to get things done and others seemed to ignore the opinions of fellow members if there was disagreement.
    Never a quitter, Diana soldiered on, robustly putting forward her point of view even if feathers were ruffled. The work was no longer enjoyable and one or two of the committee members, while not blatantly hostile to her, made no effort to maintain amicability. As a relief from the tedium and frustration and as an outlet for her creative juices Diana found a new hobby. She started writing a novel. The story revolved round the trials and tribulations of a female London bus driver during the war. For fresh air and exercise Diana joined the Old East Surrey Golf Club, where her husband was already a member.
    Out of the blue came a godsend. A letter arrived from the Chair of the Governors of North Croydon Primary School. The gist was that the replacement they had chosen when Diana moved on to higher things had turned out to be a dud. The school was losing its reputation and staff room morale was collapsing. Two teachers had resigned and two or three more were threatening to do so. The new man either shouted or sulked when anyone disagreed with him. The governors now realised that his appointment was a hideous mistake and could Diana possibly come back ASAP to restore the status quo ante?
    Diana tendered her resignation from the Education Committee, feigning unhappiness at the new turn of events, and rode to the rescue of North Croydon Primary. A mighty cheer went up in the staff room when she walked in, bringing a tear to her eye and joy to her heart.
    'Well, I'm back."
    "Hoo-bloody-ray!"
    "Let's knock this place back into shape."
    "We await your orders, O wise one."
    Ginny Arthur had continued to climb the ladder. She was now the Head of a nearby school, a prestigious girls' grammar, and the erstwhile tension between her and Diana had long since been exorcised, although both knew that they would never be close friends again. Neither teacher ever made reference to their old skirmish. The two Heads would meet in Purley from time to time for lunch and a chat and on one such occasion they found they had both just had telephones installed in their homes. They swapped numbers and resolved to call each other soon.
    The first telephonic exchange was initiated by Ginny. Diana lifted the handset.
    "Old Coulsdon 2628."
    "Hello, Diana, it's Ginny."
    "Hello, Ginny."
    "I'm just calling to ask if we can change the date of our next lunch."
    "Let me get my diary. Hold the line."
    It turned out Ginny had been asked to see a delegation from her school's Parent Teacher Association about some matter or other and the day in question was the best option for all concerned. The two Heads soon found another mutually convenient date and agreed with each other that the phone made it so much easy to organise things.
    "How on earth did we manage before?" said Diana.
    "It's incredible, isn't it? Although I can see problems in the future."
    "What do you mean?"
    Diana heard a laugh over the line. "Well, one of my teachers was complaining the other day that one of her pupils told her there's no longer any need to learn the skill of letter writing, because everyone will use the phone instead."
    "I never thought of that," said Diana. "I don't know how many families have phones, though. Surely it'll be many years before everyone's got a phone. God knows it's expensive enough."
    "Yes, you're right. But you know the children––any excuse to argue or avoid work  . . . "
    "Quite!"
    "Oh, by the by, Diana . . . I saw Colin the other day. At least, I think it was Colin. I haven't seen him for a while, of course, probably not since I left North Croydon Primary, so I couldn't be sure."
    "Where did you see him?"
    "On a boat."
    "A boat?"
    "Yes, on the Thames. A cruise boat."
    "Oh, when was this, Ginny?"
    "Let's see . . . it would be a Thursday, two weeks ago."
    Diana flicked through the pages of the diary she had just consulted to arrange the new meeting with her colleague.
    "It wasn't Colin, then. He was at work that day."
    "You're probably right. It must have been a man who looked like Colin. He was with a woman so it couldn't have been him."
    "Were you on the boat, Ginny? Where was it going?"
    "It was a pleasure trip. Westminster to Hampton Court and return. He was getting off the boat and we were getting on."
    "We?"
    "My sister and I."
    "So you weren't at work yourself that day?"
    "No, I'd arranged to take the day off to take my sister out. She was staying with me for a few days so I was entertaining her."
    "You didn't speak to him, then?"
    "No. I wasn't sure it was him so I didn't approach him. He didn't look in my direction."
    "Well, I'll tell Colin he's got a lookalike who likes boat trips. Thanks for letting me know."
    "That's okay . . . I'd better hang up now, Diana. Domestic duties and all that."
    "Yes, me too. But thanks for calling. I'll see you at the appointed hour."
    "Yes, bye bye."
    "Bye."
    Having replaced the receiver, Diana's thoughts turned to Ginny's sighting of the Colin lookalike. An initial supposition that the whole episode was a malicious invention by Ginny just to annoy her was soon dispelled. The two of them were no longer bosom pals, it was true, but Ginny was not the sort of person to sink to such low tactics and there would be no motive for her to do so, especially as she now considered her status in the teaching profession to be superior to Diana's, which ruled out any hint of jealousy.
    So that left the possibilities of a lookalike––or the real thing.
    Hmm. Surely not. Surely their marriage was sound, wasn't it? After more than twenty years together it was not surprising that the giddy passion of the early times had calmed somewhat. They still shared a bed and their lovemaking, though less frequent these days, could still accelerate their pulses, even if the excitement no longer quite reached the pinnacles of ecstasy. But wasn't that true of all couples who had cohabited for two decades?
    It was not a subject for discussion, of course, even amongst closest friends. Occasionally you would pick up a hint of how things were in other relationships, but sex was never mentioned other than elliptically.
    "Not so much lead in his pencil these days."
    "I just let him get on with it."
    "Lie back and think of England."
    "I'm good at pretending it's as much fun as it used to be."
    "Luckily it doesn't last too long."
    "Sometimes I have more fun on my own, if you get my meaning."
    "I hope his affections have not gone wandering off somewhere else."
    And so on. Wandering affections? Not Colin, surely? Reviewing the recent past dispassionately, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Colin had been a little more attentive to his wife than she had been accustomed to. The occasional bunch of flowers or box of chocolates. A genuine revival of love? Or masking infidelity? For a few weeks Diana took refuge in the lookalike theory. Nothing in her husband's behaviour gave her cause to doubt him. But the niggle could not be dispelled. Diana found a metaphor to describe her unease and how to deal with it. The boil must be lanced. But how? A logical approach would be a simple reiteration of what she herself had been told, just to see his reaction. Oh, I was speaking to Ginny the other day. She said she saw a chap who looked like you on a Thames cruiser. What do you make of that? But, assuming he wanted to maintain the subterfuge, if that's what he was doing, he could just come out with a neutral response. That's interesting, Diana. I must have a double, then. Or a flippancy. And there's me thinking I was unique.
    Which meant a different ploy was needed. Either delving for more evidence or setting a trap. But how? Again it was territory that never cropped up in conversations with friends. How do you catch out an unfaithful husband––if that's what Colin was? Apart from work, all his movements could be accounted for and verified by witnesses. Most Friday evenings he would stroll down the road to the Gay Hussar to share a beer or two with his chums. Saturdays was golf or tennis if the weather cooperated.
    Apart from work––hmmm. Colin's hours at Watson and Livett were from nine in the morning to five in the evening, as they were for the vast majority of the working population. Occasionally there would be duties involving nights away, sometimes even abroad. Only infrequently was Colin allowed to take his wife with him on overseas trips.
    Suppose Colin was taking time off work during the week to . . . do other things. Unless he told his wife what he was up to she would never know. So how could she find out? Hire a private detective?
    Sometimes Diana would chastise herself for giving in to these suspicions. Forget it! It's obviously a case of mistaken identity. But then the doubts would creep back in. Diana, stop it! You're becoming obsessive! Damn Ginny! Why couldn't she keep her mouth shut!
    But it wasn't a trap that caught Colin out, or a private detective. Not a trap, but a trick, using their new telephone. Well, a sort of trap. On one of the rare days that Colin worked at home Diana took a few moments during her lunch hour trying to decide whether to ring their number from her office. She agonised about her irresolution, half dreading the outcome and weirdly ashamed that she could even think of behaving in such an underhand manner. Twice she got as far as lifting the receiver before her resolve melted and she replaced it again.
    But the boil must be lanced.
    For a third time she picked up the receiver, her hands trembling. An unsteady finger turned the dial. Heart in mouth, Diana heard the ringing in the earpiece, then the click of connection.
    "Old Coulsdon 2628."
    "Hello, lover," said Diana in a low voice, hoping her nervousness did not travel down the line with the words.
    "Sandra? Is that you?"
    "Uh-huh."
    "You shouldn't call me here. I've told you before. Suppose my wife picked up the phone."
    "She did."
    "What? What are you talking about, Sandra?"
    "She picked it up to dial this number."
    "Oh, God! It's you, Diana, isn't it."
    Diana, tears welling in her eyes, lowered the receiver into its cradle.

*   *   *   *   *

The divorce was not too messy. Colin admitted his infidelity and the respective solicitors negotiated a mutually acceptable financial arrangement. As part of the deal Colin agreed to vacate the marital home and found accommodation in a rented flat. If Diana could raise the extra mortgage she would take ownership of the house. Otherwise it would have to be sold and the proceeds split between them according to the agreed formula.
    When she uncovered the truth about her errant husband Diana's morale plummeted, which was one reason the divorce went ahead without too much recrimination on her part or arguing over figures when money was being discussed. She was too sad to put up a fight. Even more depressing, her soon to be ex-husband made no attempt at reconciliation. Almost a quarter of a century of marriage broken into pieces and thrown away in the blink of an eye. Colin's remorse was limited to a half-hearted apology. In her many headmistress years directing other people Diana had always considered herself a good judge of character, able to see through any charade designed to mislead her. Not this time! Colin had completely fooled her. It was another blow to her self-esteem.
    Sandra, the new love in Colin's life, turned out to be the wife of a work colleague, so their affair brought the end of two marriages. A further bitter irony for Diana was her ex-husband's stated intention to marry Sandra and set up home with her and her two children. So Diana, who had wanted offspring of her own would continue to be denied them while Colin, never keen on the idea, would instantly acquire two of them. How did that biblical saying go? To them that have shall be given, from them that have not shall be taken away.
    Diana's friends and acquaintances divided themselves into two camps. A small number took steps to detach themselves to a lesser or greater extent from the disgraced woman who could not keep her husband. The majority rallied round to keep her in social circulation and prevent her from withdrawing into her shell. Included in the latter group was Ginny Arthur, who unofficially took charge of the loose organisation designed to Cheer Diana Up. It was Ginny who offered to take over as temporary Head at North Croydon Primary, leaving her deputy to manage her girl's grammar, so that Diana could take compassionate leave if she needed it.
    In the event, Diana felt strong enough to continue in her job without taking a break although she gratefully allowed her own young deputy, the reliable and loyal Mark Tensmith, to assume some of the workload. It took about a year for Diana's self-confidence to rebuild. But what was difficult to eradicate was the pang of sadness that hit her every morning when she came into the office and cast her eyes on the phone on her desk. The instrument she had used to uncover her husband's betrayal. And the emptiness of the house she returned to every evening. She still loved North Croydon Primary but perhaps it was time to move on to pastures new. Diana began checking for new career opportunities advertised in various education journals. Four possibilities met her requirements of Head or Deputy Head of a good grammar school, close enough to allow her to frequently visit her parents, now living in Staines. She attended four interviews and was offered what she wanted by three of the establishments she had chosen. The best paid was Head of Jonathan Drummond's Grammar, Henley-on-Thames, but after much deliberation, Diana opted for the Deputy Headship of the school which had been the most welcoming and which seemed to combine academic rigour and strict discipline with a paternal benevolence.
    Diana wrote her letter of acceptance to Dr Briers, Headmaster, Chesham Bois Grammar School.
    A new school. A new  life.
 





CHAPTER   13   August 1962






The Typhoon Teens arrived in Hamburg in dribs and drabs. Stephen Mayfield and Graham Reed travelled together by train. Their tickets included the ferry crossing from Dover to Ostend. Stephen had to pay full fare, which meant borrowing a fair proportion of it from his father, who was kind enough to categorise it as "an indefinite loan". Graham's father was a traffic manager on the Midland Region of British Railways and transferred the privileges of one of his annual staff tickets to his son, as he was entitled to do. Graham therefore paid nothing. When they arrived in Bruges the two boys deposited Stephen's guitar at the station and caught a bus to the youth hostel, where they spent the night.
    Graham's drum kit had been left at home as the complication and expense of transporting it to Germany exceeded their organisational and financial resources. To be precise, the kit now resided in the storage area under the stage in the Chesham Bois Grammar School main hall. Although Graham had declined the invitation to play percussion in the school's production of the "High Society" musical on the legitimate grounds that he would be seeking his fortune as a pop star in Germany he had, as a gesture of goodwill, lent his kit to the school for the use of whoever Diana Dockerell, the producer, could cajole into taking his place. For Hamburg, the plan was for the Typhoons to borrow or rent a kit when they got to their destination. Ditto amplifiers.
    From Bruges the journey took Stephen and Graham via Brussels to Düsseldorf, where they changed for Hamburg. Their train pulled into the Hauptbahnhof in the early evening on the fifth day of August. There to meet them was a blonde lady about the same age as the boys' parents whom Stephen recognised from the photos his father had shown him. She was elegantly dressed in a light summer jacket and she waved and smiled at them as they exited the ticket barrier.
    "Hello, boys," said Luisa. "Welcome to Hamburg. Stephen, you look just like your picture. Let me find a porter to take your bags. I hope you like the . . . how do you say . . . accommodation . . . I have arranged for you. It's reasonably civilised, I think. But tonight you will stay with us. Stephen, didn't your father say you spoke German?"
    "Yes, that's right. Graham did German A-level and I did O-level. Graham's better than me."
    "So, which language shall we speak?"
    "We should practise our German, I suppose," said Graham. "But can we use English to start with, please?"
    "Of course! Selbstverständlich!"
    Luisa left the English youngsters outside the station and went to fetch her car. The boys were impressed when she reappeared at the wheel of a grand white Mercedes saloon. It looked about twice the size of Stephen's father's Austin A30. They loaded the bags and guitar into the boot and got inside. Leather trim. Luxurious seats. Luisa started the engine but there was barely a murmur of sound inside the car.
    "How is the cool air produced?" asked Stephen, luxuriating in the flow from the vents. "It's still hot outside."
    Luisa threw him a puzzled look. "It's the Klimaanlage . . . in English . . . the climate control equipment. Is that how you say it?"
    "Air conditioning," supplied Graham.
    "Yes, that's it."
    "And automatic transmission."
    "What is that?"
    "You don't have to use a clutch to change gear."
    "Oh, no!" laughed Luisa. "The car knows how to do that. Just one pedal to go and one to stop."
    "How fast can it go?" asked Stephen as their driver joined the traffic crawling through the city centre.
    "I don't know," came the reply. "You can ask Ulrich later. He drives it much faster than me when we're on the autobahn. Too fast, really! But don't tell him I said so!"
    "Where's the Reeperbahn?" asked Graham. "That's where we want to find work."
    "I'll show you," said Luisa. "But first I take you to our store. That's where you will stay."
    After a few minutes they turned right into a street bordering what looked like a small lake. On the right side of the street was a parade of shops with offices above them.
    "That's our store," said Luisa, pointing to a large clothes shop whose front bore the legend "Eleganz".
    She drove past the shops and turned right into an access road and right again towards the parking spaces behind the buildings. She nosed the Mercedes into one of the bays designated "Reserviert für Mitarbeiter von Eleganz" and switched off the engine.
    The three of them got out of the car and Luisa unlocked and opened the door at the back of the Eleganz shop. Stephen and Graham followed her inside and found themselves in a large warehouse.
    "That is a lot of clobber," said the Typhoons' drummer, his eyes sweeping past the rows of clothes arranged in racks on two floors, each item protected by polythene sheeting. Dresses, coats, trousers, jackets, shirts and blouses on hangers and pullovers, underwear, socks and shoeboxes neatly stacked in separate compartments.
    At one end of the storage area was a wooden partition with a door, through which Luisa now led the boys.
    "These were the offices we used before we expanded our shop," explained Luisa. "Now we just store documents and para . . . para . . . just general junk!"
    "Paraphernalia," supplied Stephen, noting two sets of double bunk beds arranged along one side of the room.
    "Thank you," smiled Luisa. "I've had some of the . . . paraphernalia . . . removed to give you more space. I'll show you where the wash facilities are."
    A separate partition housed a toilet and shower.
    "The office staff could use this wash room if they needed to while they worked here but now there are new facilities in the main shop. So this shower hasn't been used for a time but I've checked the water supply and everything seems to work okay. You just need to check that hot water is available before you use it, in case the tank has been depleted. You can't switch on the water tank heater from here, only in the shop."
    "It looks okay," said Stephen.
    "But you can't cook food here," said Luisa. "It would be difficult to install a cooker and there would be problems with insurance. But there are cafes nearby and a supermarket. And there is an electric kettle over there in the corner. And a small refrigerator. You won't starve!"
    "Will there be someone to let us in and out?" asked Graham. "Would we get in through the main shop or the door we came in?"
    "The back door," answered Luisa. "I've had a set of keys made for you. I'll give you them later."
    "Well, it looks great," said Stephen. "Thanks for arranging it all."
    "You're welcome!"
    "How much will the rent be? When do we have to start paying?"
    Luisa smiled at Stephen. "No charge. You don't have to pay anything."
    Both boys were astounded.
    "Why not?" asked Graham. "We weren't expecting free accommodation. We're happy to pay."
    Luisa took a moment before replying. "Your father was very kind to me when I lived in Berlin," she said to Stephen. "He helped me when things were difficult. So now I . . . how do you say . . . repay the compliment. I help his son and the friends of his son. So . . . no charge."
    Twenty minutes later they were back in Luisa's Mercedes, heading west along the Reeperbahn towards Ottensen on the western outskirts of the city. The traffic was slow and the area a bustle of people and neon lights. In the gathering dusk clubbers were strolling in little groups along the pavements and across the street, laughing, drinking, smoking and generally enjoying themselves. Prostitutes in impossibly tiny skirts and fishnet tights leant against walls, apparently swapping insults with the boys teasing them.
    "For young people, I think," said Luisa, a little ruefully.
    "It's fantastic!" said Stephen, wide-eyed. "A bit more exciting than Berkhamsted!"
    "Or Amersham!" added Graham.
    "Look!" exclaimed Stephen, pointing to a poster. "Rory Storm! The Searchers! The Beatles! Look at what it says. 'The best British rock'n'roll groups.' That'll be us soon!"
    "Well, let's hope so," laughed Luisa.
    The traffic thinned as they left the city centre behind and soon they were in a leafy residential area.
    "This is more like Amersham," offered Graham.
    Luisa turned the big saloon off the main road and left and right along various quiet side roads.
    "Here we are," she said, swinging the Mercedes into a gravel driveway in front of a large detached house. "Now you can meet Ulrich and Katharina."

*   *   *   *   *

Don McMillan arrived in Hamburg two days after Stephen Mayfield and Graham Reed. As impecunious as the advance party, Don had had to find transportation methods that did not deplete his meagre financial resources more than could be helped. His parents refused to help on the grounds that they were not happy with the foolish Hamburg adventure their son was embarking on. His Uncle John was less obstructive. By good fortune, he was driving a van to Rotterdam to pick up some machinery that he would be using in his metal foundry works and––after checking that no permanent family schism would result––he agreed to take his nephew along to keep him company. Uncle John dropped Don off near a youth hostel and wished him goodbye and good luck.
    The next day Don walked to a roundabout on the main road signposted "Utrecht", lay his rucksack and his guitar on the verge beside him and joined a band of around half a dozen youths sticking out their thumbs at the cars and trucks accelerating away from the roundabout in the hope of cadging a lift. A sort of unofficial seniority system was in effect, with those who had been waiting longest given priority in approaching drivers who had slowed down for them.
    For Don the wait was not too long, just over half an hour. A young Dutch couple in a battered Citroen offered to take him as far as Apeldoorn, just short of their destination, which was the town of Raalte. Conversation was not easy but the driver and his partner did their best in broken English. Exchanges in their native tongue were of course incomprehensible to the British teenager.
    His next mode of transport was a little faster and a little more comfortable. A newish British registered Ford Consul responded to the extended thumb and when the driver would down the window an English voice said, "Going through Osnabrück. Any use to you?"
    The driver was a Londoner on his way to see a distant relative and revealed to Don that this was his first experience of driving on the continent.
    "Takes a bit of getting used to, driving on the wrong side of the road. Couple of times I've forgotten and nearly ended up in trouble. So tell me straightaway if you see me wandering over to the left."
    "Okay."
    "And watch the road signs for me. If you see signs for Enschede that's okay. It's on the way to Osnabrück."
    "Right."
    "You play the guitar, then?"
    "Yes."
    "What sort of music?"
    "Rock'n'roll mainly."
    "I was in a skiffle group."
    "Yeah?"
    "Yeah. The Vagabonds."
    "Uh-huh. What instrument did you play?"
    "Tea chest bass. Sung a bit too."
    "Do you still perform?"
    "Nah. Skiffle died. So did the Vagabonds."
    "Shame."
    "Yeah."
    The hostel in Osnabrück was full of kindred spirits, youngsters of various nationalities heading in all directions. A Swedish girl had an acoustic guitar so a pleasant evening was passed with the musicians amongst them entertaining the group. Don gave them his renditions of a few Buddy Holly songs, which seemed to go down well, judging from the approbation showered on him.
    Sadly, musical ability was of no help when trying to hitch a ride northwards the next day. After a wait of an hour, including the joy of a soaking from a summer storm, Don gave up and squelched to the station to buy a train ticket to Bremen. Discovering that the fare onwards to Hamburg was not much more, the youngster decided to sacrifice some of his precious travellers' cheques to buy himself a bit of comfort and convenience.
    On arrival at the Hauptbahnhof Don found the information desk and asked the stern-faced middle-aged lady sitting there if she spoke English.
    "Of course. How may I help you?"
    Don showed her a piece of paper. "I have to ring this number but I don't know how to use the phones here or what coins to use."
    "Give me the paper, please."
    Don watched the information officer pick up a phone on her desk and dial the number, wondering why she looked so severe. Perhaps it was an age thing. Perhaps all people got more miserable as they got older, just like his parents.
    "Here is the person who answers," said the information officer, holding the receiver for Don to take hold of.
    "Hello?"
    "Hello, who is this, please?" said a female voice in the earphone.
    "Is that Luisa? This is Donald McMillan. I'm one of––"
    "Of course I know who you are," came back the voice with a lilting laugh. "You're a famous pop singer! You are at the Hauptbahnhof, yes?"
    "Yes, the station."
    "Wait outside, Donald. I'll pick you up in about twenty minutes."

*   *   *   *   *

Among the Typhoon Teens, the most expeditious journey from South Buckinghamshire, England, to Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, was achieved by bass player Phil Cheyney. He flew from London Airport in a British European Airways Viscount the day after Don McMillan had arrived, his fare paid for him by his father, who had also renewed his offer to pay for accommodation in Hamburg.
    "Thanks, Dad, but like I said before, it would be better if I stayed with the others. They wouldn't be very impressed if I went swanning off on my own."
    "But didn't you say they're staying in a factory or a warehouse or something?"
    "It's an office in a clothing store. Stephen's Dad arranged it, or a German friend of his Dad, something like that. She owns the store, I think he said."
    "Are you sure it's safe, son? There are some . . . seedy areas in Hamburg it would be best to steer clear of. Is the clothing store in that part of town?"
    "You've asked me this before, Dad. It's not far from the Reeperbahn but it's got to be close because that's where we'll be working."
    "Well, as long as you know what you're doing. Your mother's still worried about the whole thing."
    "I've told her there's nothing to worry about. We're four grown lads who can look after themselves."
    "So what are the sleeping arrangements? Are you all in one room?"
    "Not sure yet. I haven't spoken to Stephen since they left England. I'll find out when I get there. It's no problem if we have to share sleeping quarters."
    "But didn't you tell me that one of the boys was . . . a bit different. Won't you be uncomfortable if he . . . "
    "Dad, are you talking about Graham? Okay, we think he's a homo but he wouldn't try anything with us. He's never done anything like that in the past, not with any of us anyway. He's a bit moody at times but just because he may be queer, that's no reason to treat him differently. He's a good bloke, he plays the drums brilliantly and we like him."
    "The things these people get up to, it's against the law, as you probably know. If they're found out they end up in jail. They might be even stricter in Germany."
    "Dad, listen to me. Graham won't do anything stupid. We trust him and the group can't play without a drummer."
    "Fair enough. But make sure you phone us at least once a week, just to keep your mother happy."
    "I promise."
 





CHAPTER   14






The music rehearsal was going well. Thankfully, for a sunny Sunday afternoon in mid September when other temptations might have lured members of the company away, the turn out was good, with only two or three individuals missing. Even during the summer holidays it was clear that enthusiasm for the project was building nicely amongst the participants and attendance had been healthy for the Sunday sessions throughout August. Melanie Hope was still away with her family in Canada but producer Diana Dockerell had been reassured by Janos Dombi that she didn't need to worry. Melanie was on top of her part and if Diana herself was prepared to act as stand-in they could practise all the songs.
    "Okay, but I'm hopeless at singing," admitted the Deputy Head. "And I'm certainly no Grace Kelly."
    "Actually, that will not matter, already, by the way," came the reply. "You just try the best you can, as well."
    Graham Reed's defection to Hamburg with the Typhoon Teens had been another headache for the producer. In the event, the problem of finding a replacement percussionist had proved easier to solve than everyone first feared. Before the school broke up for the holidays Diana had asked Dr Briers to call for volunteers during a morning assembly. There were a few drummers amongst the pupils but it seemed none wanted to be involved in "High Society", which was condemned as "too square" and "not hip enough". But then came an approach from an unexpected quarter. While on playground duty one morning, Clement Mayfield was approached by Prosper Kingsman, the janitor.
    "Is Mrs Dockerell still looking for a drummer, sir?"
    "Yes, Prosper. Do you know someone who would do it?"
    The Jamaican smiled shyly. "Yes . . . me."
    "You play the drums?"
    "Well, not now, but back home I played drums in a band."
    "Where was home?"
    "Bull Bay. Me and Bella lived there but the band played in Kingston."
    "What sort of music?"
    "Mento and R and B."
    The geography teacher raised his hands in incomprehension, bringing a smile to the Jamaican's face.
    "Mento is folk music, but with strong rhythm and the bass played on a rumba box."
    "And R and P?"
    "No, sir," laughed Prosper. "R and B. It means rhythm and blues. It's what black Americans play. Sort of like folk music, but with a strong back beat. It's a bit like jazz and a bit like rock'n'roll."
    "Well, I've heard of them," said Clement. "This rock'n'roll music is generally met with disapproval by anyone over the age of twenty in this country."
    "Yeah, the devil's music, some folk say. But I like it. It sort of makes you feel good inside. Cheers you up when you're feeling blue."
    "That's why lots of older people don't like it," said the teacher. "They don't like young people enjoying themselves."
    "You may be right, Mr Mayfield, sir. But man, I'm thirty-two years old and I love that sort of stuff. And boogie woogie on the honky-tonk too. Bella bought me one of them long-play records for my birthday. You ever heard of Meade Lux Lewis, sir?"
    "No, I can't say that I have."
    "Plays the boogie woogie better than anyone. Man, I play that record all the time. Wearin' out the record player, says Bella."
    "How many in your band back home?"
    "Well, it depended on who was available and who could get into town when we were supposed to be playing. No-one had no cars, see. It was difficult for me 'cos I had to take my drums. Usually I had to get someone with a pick-up who was going to see the show to take me with them."
    "Your fans?" smiled Clement.
    "Yeah, man," grinned Prosper. "We were world famous in Jamaica, the Maroon Boys."
    The geography teacher narrowed his eyes. "Maroon Boys? Weren't the Maroons a tribe of slaves, or something like that?"
    "You got it, Mr Mayfield, sir. I bet there ain't too many English people who know about the Maroons. Mr Ramesh, he knows about them but he's a history teacher, ain't he, so he's supposed to know about things like that. He's helpin' me with my story about the Maroons."
    "Your story?"
    "Yeah, I'm writin' a story about the Maroon Rebellion. Mr Ramesh does the corrections for me. Spellin' and grammar and the rest of it."
    "I'm impressed, Prosper," said  Clement. "You're obviously a man of many talents. Mr Pollard told me he thought your poems were good, too."
    "Yeah, he was kind enough to say that. Told me he'd help me find a publisher, but maybe that's going too far. Don't think that's my kind of thing. But . . . I can play the drums okay!"

*   *   *   *   *

On this warm autumn Sunday afternoon the school janitor remained seated behind Graham Reed's drum kit during a break in the "High Society" rehearsal. He smiled at Tessa Murray, who had just brought him a glass of lemonade. Diana Dockerell had delegated catering duties to two second years, who were dispensing hot and cold beverages and cakes made by the fourth year domestic science class. At the far end of the hall a few of the pupils, including Jennifer Mayfield, were huddled round a transistor radio pumping out tinny pop songs. Although the new technical marvels were banned at school, Diana Dockerell had granted an exception for the tea breaks in the Sunday orchestra practices as an inducement to the pupils to attend the rehearsals.
    As Assistant Stage Manager, there hadn't been much for Clement to do during the rehearsal so far. Diana was running the proceedings, occasionally consulting with Janos Dombi when they decided which parts of the show should be practised. Stage Manager Vanessa Lambourne, an upper sixth former, had arranged for some of the props to be erected to improve the overall ambience and Clement found himself impressed with the library bookshelf backdrop that the school's art department had created. Very realistic!
    The designations of Stage Manager and Assistant were an accurate reflection of the two roles for the young pupil and the senior teacher. Vanessa handled the task with confidence and authority and Clement only stepped in when Vanessa was not available. Her crisp efficiency reminded him of a young Diana Dockerell. She would go far in life!
    The company had spent most of the first part of the rehearsal polishing the "Well, Did You Evah" song, a two-hander with Bruce Faraday and Kevin Turner playing the Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra roles. Clement had sat as an observer, from time to time changing his position to view the stage from different perspectives.
    While Clement was puffing his pipe during the break Peter Young came over and stood in front of him, a slight frown on his face. Clement smiled at the third-former, briefly running over the boy's recent disciplinary history in his memory. No, he'd be a fourth former, now, of course. As far as he could recall no hint of recidivism had sullied the boy's record since the Exploding Powder episode. Of course the new term was only a week or so old so there hadn't been much chance for the boy to get himself into mischief.
    "Everything alright, Peter?"
    "Yes, sir, but Mrs Dockerell says I can't check the lights this afternoon. I know that one of the spots has conked out and I wanted to see if the others were okay."
    "Well, she's in charge, Peter. I can't give you permission if she's said 'no'. I can't go against her word."
    "No, I know that, sir. She told me they don't want to waste electricity when the light's bright indoors and I understand that. But it's something else I wanted to ask you."
    "Go on."
    "Can I use the school tape recorder for other purposes?"
    "What other purposes?"
    "There's a new group started up and they want me to record their songs."
    "New group? In the school?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Uh-huh. More rock'n'roll, is it?" asked Clement with a wry smile.
    "Not really, sir. More like folk music."
    Clement narrowed his eyes wistfully. For the second time that afternoon sad memories were triggered for him. At the start of the rehearsal, Diana and Bruce had run through "True Love", one of the songs Clement's wife was fond of playing. To raise a few laughs and lighten the mood Bruce began to ham it up, fluttering his eyelashes and pouting at the Deputy Head. Diana took it in good stead and allowed the mild insubordination. Clement joined in the merriment but a poignant image of Shirley strumming her guitar at the Chiltern Folk Music Club stirred in his mind. Eventually the urgent tapping of Janos Dombi's baton on his lectern restored orderliness.
    "Actually, we have to do this properly, by the way. Everyone must stop laughing. Now . . . we start again already . . . "
    Now Clement brought himself back to the moment. Diana had agreed with his suggestion that Peter Young should be assigned the task of stage lighting control for "High Society" if he wanted it. The decision turned out to be satisfactory and the boy had assumed his new role with as much enthusiasm as could be expected from a teenager with many other opportunities for distraction in school and outside. His dedication rose noticeably when Clement suggested he adopted the title of Lighting and Electrical Manager. The boy had started appending the designation to his school work, so that an essay written on the subject of, say, the Importance of the Coal Mining Industry in Wales would be adorned with the signature: "Peter A. Young, Lighting and Electrical Manager and Recording Engineer".
    "A folk music group, Peter?" said Clement now.
    "Yes, sir. Two boys and two girls. They use a guitar and a piano and a bass. Fiona Whittey sings lead, the others harmonise."
    "Are they any good, Peter? Have you heard them?"
    "Yeah, they're okay, I would say."
    "And they want you to record them?"
    "Yeah. Fiona told me they'd use their own tapes. They'd do it after school."
    "You're happy to do that for them after school hours?"
    "Yes, sir. They said they'll pay me five shillings each time."
    "Well, I've got no objection to you using the recorder, Peter. You'd need to clear it with Dr Briers or Mrs Dockerell. There would need to be an adult on the premises."
    "I know that, sir. I've already asked Mr Kingsman if he would stay behind for us."
    "And?"
    "He said 'yes'. Fiona said they'd pay him five shillings but he told them he didn't want any money."
    "You're getting to be a dab hand with that machine, aren't you?" laughed Clement. "Didn't you tell me you'd found a way of changing the tape speed for special effects?"
    "Yes, sir. I read it in a magazine. You put a rubber sleeve on the capstan so when you record the tape's running faster. Then if you take the sleeve off and play it back everything's slowed down and all the notes are lower."
    "Uh-huh."
    "Or you can record normally and put the sleeve on for playback. Everything's faster and the notes are higher."
    "It doesn't damage the recorder, I hope?"
    "No, sir. I look after it very carefully, like it was my own property."
    "Sounds like you're becoming an expert recording engineer, Peter."
    "Yes, sir. That's what I'm going to do when I leave school, I've decided."
    "Sparky?" came a female voice from one side. It was Josette Dombi, the wife of the music teacher, who played violin in the orchestra. "How are you today? Have you been recording us?"
    Both the geography teacher and the fourth former looked at Josette. Neither could fail to be charmed by the smile on her face and the French lilt of her speech.
    "Can I get you a cup of tea?" asked Clement, beginning to rise from his chair.
    "No, thankyou, Clem. I've already had one. Don't get up. I came to talk to Sparky."
    "That's my new nickname," explained Peter, a little sheepishly, having noted the puzzled expression on the teacher's face. "They all think I'm an expert with electrical things."
    "But, you are, Peter," said Josette. "I was just saying to the others that my radio is broken at home and they said Sparky would fix it. Can you fix broken radios, Peter?"
    "What's wrong with it?"
    "The tuning control. It turns but it won't change the station."
    "Well, you can bring it in to school, if you like. Or Mr Dombi could. I could have a look at it for you."
    "Well, it's part of the radiogram, like a piece of furniture. Too big to move, I think. It would be best to mend it at home. Janos was going to phone for someone to repair it but he hasn't found anyone yet. If you come to the house we can pay you. If we do it next Saturday, Janos can collect you in his car and afterwards take you home again. Do you think it would be difficult?"
    Peter shrugged. "Might just be the link between the tuning knob and the variable condenser. Might have slackened off or broken or something. I can take a look at it for you. Next Saturday, you say?"
    "Yes. You are free that day?"
    "Think so. Shall I tell Mr Dombi next week at school, to confirm it?"
    "Yes, Sparky, that would be lovely. Now I must go to the ladies'. Please excuse me."
    The fourth former and the teacher watched Josette leave the hall, admiration on both their faces. Clement turned to the boy.
    "Nice lady, isn't she?"
    "Yes, sir. It's a pity––" began Peter.
    "Yes, it is," interrupted Clement. "But we don't need to say anything more."
    "No, sir."
    "Sparky, eh?"
    "Yeah, it's a bit daft, isn't it sir? But if I tell them to stop they'll only say it more. I can live with it."
    "Where did you learn about variable . . . variable . . . "
    "Condensers, sir. I've been getting 'Radio and HiFi' magazine. There's loads of technical stuff in it. I don't understand a lot of it but Mr Wentworth has been helping me."
    "So your marks in physics tests are going to improve now, I take it?" grinned Clement.
    "Of course, sir! Well, electrical theory, anyway."
    "Good to hear, Peter." Clement made a mental note to check the boy's progress the next time he spoke to Glen Wentworth, the physics teacher.
    From the other end of the hall came a chorus of singing. The boys and girls listening to the transistor were belting out "I Remember You", a song the teacher had heard on the BBC's Light Programme a few times recently. An unremarkable pop song, he had decided, although the falsetto yodelling was admittedly quite catchy.
    "Who's that singing?" asked Clement now.
    "Frank Ifield, sir. It's Pick of the Pops. 'I Remember You' is number one."
    Clement watched his daughter, laughing and joking with her orchestra friends. The singing was becoming more raucous, the falsetto grossly exaggerated. They were obviously having a good time. Jen's views on music had changed noticeably of late. She seemed to have dropped her disdain for pop music and sometimes at home Clement would hear her playing a clarinet accompaniment to the radio's output when jazz tunes were being broadcast. Probably a good thing, he thought.
    As long as she wasn't planning to go to Hamburg to be a pop star.
 





CHAPTER   15






The rehearsal in the Eleganz warehouse had been going well enough until Graham stopped playing mid-song, laid his sticks on his snare drum and folded his arms. The other three continued for a few bars and then the piece ground to a halt.
    "What's the matter?" asked Don.
    "Look, I just don't like it, that's all," said Graham. "It's a crap song. Boring. I think we should drop it."
    Since their arrival in Hamburg the previous month, the Typhoon Teens had been practising together more frequently than back home and their musical skills were sharpening nicely. Their repertoire now ran to sixty or so songs, mainly rock'n'roll standards. But Stephen Mayfield and Don McMillan had also been writing their own material together and when the others approved the new work was added to their oeuvre.
    Phil Cheyney took off his electric bass and propped it against its amplifier. He nodded acknowledgement at the Eleganz shop assistant who had come into the warehouse to pick up an item for a customer. The severe looking grey-haired lady pursed her lips into a thin smile and altered course slightly to avoid walking into Phil's amp.
    "Well, what about it?" the bass player asked now, looking at the others. They had been practising "Forget Me Not", a song Eden Kane had taken into the British Top Ten a few months previously. Don played a couple of violent chopped chords in frustration, then shook his head at Graham. "Well, why the hell didn't you say so before, you idiot. We've wasted hours practising it."
    "I thought it might grow on me," came the answer. "We put it on our playlist 'cos it was easy to play and when we started we didn't know many songs. Well, in my opinion it's now superfluous and I think we should give it the heave-ho."
    Phil turned to the group's rhythm guitarist. "Steve?"
    "Can't say I'm fussed either way. Wouldn't call it one of my favourites."
    "Right," said Phil. "We'll drop it. You okay with that, Don? Let's have a go at one of the new songs, shall we? How about 'Don't You Dare'?" From the three others came a muttered agreement. Don turned to the Typhoons' drummer. "Right, are you sure you like this one, Your Highness?" he sneered sarcastically.
    "Go fuck yourself," retorted Graham.
    Phil threw a glance at the female shop assistant, now standing on a step ladder about ten metres away, reaching for a shirt. Either she hadn't heard Graham's expletive or she was ignoring it. It was unlikely that she was unfamiliar with the English swear word.
    "Hey, steady on, Gray," said Phil, "ladies present . . . okay, let's do ten minutes on 'Dare', then take a break. Are we happy doing it in A? Didn't we think the vocal was a bit high, Don? Didn't we talk about dropping to it to G? What does the Blue Book say, Stevie?"
    Although formal discussion had never taken place the four youths had settled into vaguely defined roles in the group. Phil was acknowledged as leader since he was one of the original members, along with Don. Besides the seniority his foundation status conferred on him the others realised that Phil was possessed of natural leadership qualities. There was a link between Stephen and Phil which they both knew about but which was never mentioned. Phil was the only one of the Typhoons who had failed the controversial 11-plus exam, which sin had propelled him to a secondary modern school rather than a grammar. Unlike many well-to-do outraged parents who fought such disgrace with noise and vigour, launching appeals and complaining to the authorities to make them see the error of their ways, Phil's father and mother accepted the allocation and advised their son to do the best he could at his new school.
    The boy shone at almost every task presented to him, both in the classroom and on the playing field and in his third year he was offered to Chesham Bois Grammar School as a possible transfer pupil. The teacher assessing his suitability was Clement Mayfield, who informed him during the interview that he was home and dry. Some of Phil's old friends at his secondary modern refused to forgive his treachery and shouted abuse at him whenever they saw him. Phil's response was to tell them that he understood their rancour but they should accept the situation. He wished them well and hoped they would still consider him a friend. The episode was an unwitting and unplanned test of his ability to bring out the best in others and he passed it convincingly. He had done well in his A-levels and had been promised a place at Leeds University when he came back from Hamburg the following year, reading Civil Engineering.
    Phil was also the only Typhoon who had a steady girlfriend back home. Eleanor told him she was heartbroken that he was deserting her and he promised her he would not stray from the straight and narrow while he was away.
    The Blue Book to which Phil was referring sat on the amplifier connected to Stephen's guitar. It was a foolscap-sized accountant's ledger with hard navy blue covers, from whence its name derived. In it were noted the arrangements of the songs on the Typhoons' playlist, intros and endings and musical keys. For a group playing live versions of pop records that finished with a fade-out it was necessary to contrive definitive endings. Many of the songs in the Blue Book were annotated "ECF". The acronym stood for Eyeball Contact Finish. The final chords were played with Don nodding in time to the beat. The lead guitarist gradually accentuated the head movements with the others watching for the exaggerated nod signifying "final chord . . . now!" Crude, but effective, and sounding professional. Lyrics were written on separate sheets and hung on clipboards from the mike stands for whoever was doing the vocals.
    The mantle of general administration had fallen on the rhythm guitarist's shoulders. The Blue Book was Stephen's responsibility and accompanying the details of their musical arrangements were notes about which songs were practised at a particular rehearsal and general material for the archives. As the group's self-appointed historian Stephen was also building a photographic record of their activities, both musical and otherwise, using the 35mm Leica his father had lent him. The shutter release could be delayed by fitting a mechanical timer to the camera, so there were plenty of shots of the four boys together, trying to look moody or pulling funny faces. Finances did not run to colour film so the History of the Typhoon Teens photo album was in monochrome.
    Don had the final say whenever there were decisions to be finalised about musical arrangements. He was the only one of the four to have had formal training and had attained a B grade in music in the just published A-level results. The others knew he was the best musician amongst them and were grateful that he tolerated their inferior efforts on their instruments. Often was the time Don had shown Phil how to play a bass riff or had picked up Graham's sticks to demonstrate a paradiddle. Several people had suggested to Don that he was already good enough to play professionally if he wanted to. One or two wondered whether he wasn't wasting his talents, messing about with a bunch of amateurs. He would respond that pumping out rock'n'roll with his mates was an enjoyable way of spending his time until he achieved his primary objective, which was to make the grade as an actor.
    The task of finding work for the Typhoons had fallen to the drummer. Graham and Stephen both spoke German with a fluency consistent with their exam achievements, A-level and O-level respectively. The group were only one of several British outfits playing, or hoping to play, in the German port. A preliminary reconnaissance by Graham of the Reeperbahn clubs and bars had drawn a blank. Two clubs had offered them early evening slots but without pay, their only remuneration being as much beer as they wanted to drink.
    A vigorous discussion followed. Phil and Graham thought they should accept the deal so they could build up experience of playing in public and establishing a foothold in the business. Stephen and Don were of the opinion that their intention was to achieve professional status and they shouldn't demean themselves by performing for free. Eventually it was decided that they should keep looking for paid work, but if none was available they would revisit the play-for-beer option. Luisa had promised to help, suggesting that she accompany Graham on his next outing so she could persuade club proprietors not to turn down the fantastic opportunity that good fortune had sent their way.
    The problem of day jobs had not been so difficult to deal with. The two German speakers, Graham and Stephen, had been given positions in the Eleganz shop as general factotums. Occasionally, as the more accomplished linguist, Graham helped out serving customers, wearing a smart grey suit to match the uniform of the other staff members. Once or twice when regular staff were absent Stephen was elevated to the same position.
    Phil generously told his fellow musicians that he would treat the bank account into which his father paid his allowance as a fund to finance the Typhoon's general expenditure. This source had so far paid for the hire of Graham's drum kit and two Fender amplifiers. Another amp and the PA system had been borrowed by Luisa from the school she taught at. Luisa also paid Phil to do gardening work at their house and to run errands for her and Ulrich when required, which meant he got to drive the flashy white Mercedes saloon.
    Don was earning more Deutschmarks than his fellow Typhoons. He had been wandering round Talstrasse on his own one afternoon and chanced upon a studio exhibiting contemporary photography. He went inside to look at the offerings, thinking that the other Typhoons might be interested in seeing them, too, especially Stephen. After a while he was approached by a heavy-set middle aged man who spoke to him rapidly in German.
    "Ich verstehe nicht," said Don with an apologetic gesture. "Ich bin Englisch."
    "Ach, Engländer," came the response. "I can speak the English a little part. What you do here?"
    Communication foundered at this point and the man summoned a woman who had been sitting at a reception desk. She smiled, stood up and came over. A rapid stream of German came from the man, punctuated by the occasional "Ja" or "Jawohl" from the woman. She turned to Don and smiled again.
    "Herr Schweighöfer would like to know if you are a model." Don noticed that the woman's English had American intonation.
    "Model?"
    "Yes. For photographs. For magazines."
    The guitarist thought quickly and seized the moment.
    "Yes," he said, "I've done some . . . modelling . . . in England."
    "Can you do some for him here?"
    In three two-hour sessions at the studio Don earned roughly the same as Stephen and Graham made in a fortnight working at Eleganz. Herr Schweighöfer instructed his receptionist to say to Don that he might be able to earn much more if he was prepared to travel to Frankfurt, where the German ran a business supplying photographic artwork for fashion magazines. Don expressed his gratitude and said he'd think about it. His ultimate goal, he informed Nina, was to make a career as an actor, and anything she could do that would help him on his way would be mightily appreciated. Nina said she'd look into it.
    Chalk and cheese. And chalk and cheese. It would be difficult to find a foursome who differed from each other so markedly as the Typhoon Teens. There were some common areas, of course, particularly school backgrounds. Phil and Don had known each other since the days they were both pupils at the same primary school. The two of them had started up a pop group together with another Chesham Bois Grammar boy when they were all fourth formers. It was soon pointed out that Phil and Don shared their first names with the Everly Brothers, an American duo whose songs regularly graced the British pop music charts. The new young group styled themselves the Cleverly Brothers but derisive alternatives soon sprang up amongst their peers at school. "Neverly Brothers" went the rounds, as did the more insulting "Beverley Sisters", the name of a British close harmony girl group whose forte was sugary love songs. Before long the Cleverly Brothers had reinvented themselves as the Bois Boys, though the disrespectful earlier appellations followed them long after the name change. When the third member of the group left school at the end of the fifth year Stephen Mayfield, who had been a friend of Phil's for a year or so, was invited to fill the vacancy. Drummer Graham Reed was inducted soon afterwards.
    The Bois Boys practised at the house belonging to Phil's parents, which was the largest of the four properties. The house had been extended by the previous owner so that it now boasted a large, separate annex which had been occupied by a widowed grandparent. The Bois Boys were able to work up their musical skills with no restrictions on output volume, although Phil's father, a GP, advised them not to abuse their auditory senses if they wanted to avoid deafness in later years. When they considered themselves up to the task the group offered themselves for public performances at social functions in the local area. Occasionally they were even paid for their efforts. Several pubs took them on but licensing laws restricted the seventeen-year-olds to playing outside rather than indoors. Nor were they allowed to partake of the alcoholic beverages loosening the inhibitions of their audiences. "Well, if they're paying us ten quid to belt out pop songs to a load of drunks, that's okay," was Don's opinion.
    No-one could remember who originally suggested the next name change. The success of the Liverpudlian group styling themselves "Rory Storm and the Hurricanes" had been widely reported in the music press and advertisements for Typhoo Tea featured in newspapers and on television. It required no great leap of imagination to chance upon "Typhoon Teens" as an improvement on previous names. Someone cautioned them that the beverage purveyors might take offence at the bastardisation of their brand name or the attempt to garner cheap publicity but since no-one, including the musicians themselves, expected them to achieve the fame that might bring them into conflict with the owners of registered trade marks, the problem of infringement was ignored by all.
    It was during their Upper Sixth year that the Typhoons seriously began to talk about following other British pop groups to Hamburg. Parental reaction ranged from hostile (Don), through cautious (Stephen and Phil) to mildly enthusiastic (Graham). The lead guitarist's parents had wanted him to apply for a Music Exhibition at Oxford University, specialising in classical guitar and composing, rather than "wasting your God-given talents thrashing out meretricious musical junk in a grubby foreign bomb site". Don had finally got his way with a single forceful sentence: "I don't want to go to Oxford, I want to go to Hamburg". Fearful of his violent temper, his parents acquiesced. Don had the grace to apologise for disappointing them and promised them he would never do anything to shame them. The send-off to Germany was, while muted, not too unhappy.
    On the other hand, Mr and Mrs Reed thought the Hamburg experience might be good for their son. He had not shone at school and seemed to have no enthusiasm for anything other than pop music. Graham had passed A-levels in German and Biology, with unspectacular grades, but would not be drawn on how he would earn a living. He was adamant that he did not want to follow his father into management in British Railways.
    Graham was given to occasional bouts of moodiness and self-doubt and more than once had confided to his parents that he felt different from other boys, although he didn't seem to be short of friends. Requests for elaboration brought only a shrug. It was comforting to the Reeds to know that their son liked the three other boys sharing the German adventure as much as they seemed to like him and Phil's statement that Graham was a brilliant drummer and an indispensable member of the group reinforced their hope for his future.
    Besides the occasional argument about the Typhoons' playlist another bone of contention amongst the four musicians was how they should dress themselves for the hoped for public appearances. Phil said that they should look presentable rather than adopt the scruffy look favoured by some performers. He intended to wear a white sweatshirt, black leather jacket and black Chelsea boots. Don had brought his velvet-collared long jacket and suede shoes to Hamburg.
    "The teddy-boy look is long gone, mate," said Stephen. "Though suede shoes are fine in my opinion."
    "Well, I quite like the look of the uniforms they've given us to wear when we work in the shop," said Graham. "We'd look smart wearing them, or something similar."
    Don shook his head. "No, Gray, that would be pathetic. We'd look like overgrown schoolboys. Or like the Shadows. Dead old-fashioned."
    "Maybe Graham's got a point, though," said Stephen. "Perhaps we could start a new look with a sort of uniform. It would be like a gimmick. Make us different from the others. Get us noticed."
    "We'd be noticed alright," snorted Don. "We'd be a laughing stock."
    Unable to find a solution, the problem of apparel for work purposes had been kicked into the long grass. As Phil remarked, the whole exercise was purely academic until someone actually hired them to play in public. Don added the comment that if new clothes were needed, how would they be paid for?
    An accomplished Personnel Officer, had he or she been asked to summarise the qualities of the four young British musicians, might have reported thus:

Philip Cheyney: Natural leader, charismatic, determined, reliable, music career merely an interlude, intending to follow long term career in civil engineering, physically resembles Burt Lancaster, but with black hair.

Donald McMillan: Talented musician, impatient, short-tempered, aspirations of succeeding as an actor, physically resembles Adam Faith.

Graham Reed: Competent percussionist, moody, perhaps introverted, reserved, considerate, intended career not yet decided, physically resembles Tony Curtis.

Stephen Mayfield: Steady, unflustered, methodical, reliable, popular, good organisational skills, planning career in photography, physically resembles Peter O'Toole, but with light brown hair.

An accomplished music critic assessing the Typhoon Teens might have offered:

This group has achieved a satisfactory standard of musicianship. The lead guitarist stands out as a cut above the average and could probably succeed as a professional. There is originality detectable in some of his phrasing, especially unusual syncopations. The drummer has more to his repertoire than many others currently in the pop music business. The group's physical appearance is presentable and the bass player has a natural charisma, although his playing is unremarkable, while the rhythm guitarist is probably the most personable of the four. The two guitarists are writing their own material. Much of it is without merit but one or two efforts show promise. With a few tweaks, their composition "Don't You Dare" could probably make the grade as a commercial A-side.
 





CHAPTER   16






After initially opposing Graham's suggestion that the Typhoons should be dressed alike for their stage appearances––should they ever be offered the opportunity––Don had come round to the drummer's point of view after another modelling session at the Talstrasse photo studio. Now he was shuffling a set of photos on the coffee table. "I like this collarless jacket look. But if we're going along that route I think we should remove the pocket flaps as well. Otherwise they're too intrusive."
    "Yes, I agree," said Graham. "There shouldn't be a distraction in the overall visual effect." He turned to the other two Typhoons seated round the table. "What do you reckon?"
    Stephen nodded. "Yeah, I'm happy with that. What colour should the outfits be? Phil?"
    "You blokes are more artistic than me," grinned the bass player. "If you three are in agreement I'll go along with whatever you come up with. Graham's original idea was based on the Eleganz shop workers' uniform, wasn't it? So do we use the same colour . . . grey? What colour were the originals in this photo shoot, Don?"
    The black-and-white glossies they were mulling over featured Don himself. Herr Schweighöfer, the proprietor, had allowed the guitarist to take copies to show his fellow musicians on the strict understanding they would not allow anyone else in the fashion business to see them. "My client has got to sell these clothes before other people are doing it," he explained to his new male model in accented English.
    The Typhoons were sitting in the lounge in Luisa's house and while they were discussing the detail of their new look their hostess appeared with a tray holding four mugs.
    "So, coffee for three, tea for one," she said, lowering the tray into the space on the table where Phil had moved the photos out of the way.
    "What's your opinion, Luisa? We like the suits but we can't decide on a colour. Should it be grey?"
    "No, not grey," said Luisa, picking up one of the pictures. "Don, did you say the clothes were . . . what is the English word for 'beige'?"
    "It's the same word," said Graham, "but we don't pronounce the final 'e'."
    "Well, that is also not the right colour for you, however you say it. Green would be more interesting."
    "Green?" Four puzzled faces turned towards Luisa.
    "Yes, green or blue-green."
    "Well, it would be unusual," offered Phil.
    "Which is what we want," said Graham. "We want to stand out."
    "Yes," said Luisa. "You must look different so people remember you." She looked up, distracted by a movement. Her daughter had just come into the room. Katharina was wearing jeans and a pink T-shirt on which was emblazoned an image of Albert Einstein in black.
    "You have young eyes," said Luisa to Katharina in English. "Is it a good idea for the boys to wear green clothes when they play the music for the public?"
    The girl came over and took the photo her mother was holding.
    "Green would be good," said Katharina. "Or blue, not dark, though. Maybe the same stuff as jeans. And the trousers should be wider than this picture. Wide above the shoes. They should not be like . . . wie sagt man, Mutti . . . Abflussrohre . . ." The girl's tone of speech was like her mother's, but pitched a little higher.
    "Drainpipes," said Graham, working out the translation from his A-level vocabulary.
    "Yes, not like pipes," said Katharina. "The new fashion is wider."
    "Not in England," said Don.
    "Well, not yet," added Stephen.
    "But the wide look comes from Paris, I think," said Katharina. "So soon it will be everywhere. I have told Ulrich but he doesn't listen."
    "My dear daughter says she is going to be a fashion designer after high school," said Luisa. "Ulrich says that will be okay as long as she designs clothes for the Eleganz shops."
    Katharina tapped one of the photos. "You should make your hair look like this, too."
    "Oh, no, I don't think so!" said Don. "It's silly, flattened down like that with a sort of fringe. As soon as I got out of the studio I had to comb it back into shape."
    The issue of which clothes the Typhoons should adorn themselves with had been pushed to the top of the agenda by the miraculous achievement of landing a performing contract at a Reeperbahn night club. They were replacing another group who had moved on. Luisa had been instrumental in the negotiations and managed to bump up their payments another ten percent. A simple inducement had been enough––the promise to knock a similar discount off the price of any clothing the club proprietor might want to purchase at the Eleganz store. To preserve their self-respect she had not revealed her methods to the musicians.
    The further complications of manufacture of the new outfits if the group decided to use them, and payment for them, had already been sorted out. Luisa said they could be made by one of the suppliers contracted to Eleganz. Don told the others he was happy for the outfits to be paid for out of the funds he collected from the modelling work. Luisa had suggested this Saturday morning meeting at her house in order to go over the matters in hand. It would be more comfortable than the Eleganz warehouse, she said. There was not much time––the group's first performance was scheduled in four days.
    Actually, life in the warehouse was not too intolerable. Teenagers put up with more privations than adults where life's basic amenities are concerned and the four musicians had settled into a steady routine, with only occasional bickering temporarily disrupting the harmony, such as whose responsibility it was to replace the toothpaste when it had been used up. Stephen drew up a set of basic housekeeping rules which by and large they all followed. Graham wanted to make it a standard procedure that Don should warn the others prior to SMR so that those needing to pee beforehand could do so. The Typhoon's adoption of the new craze of inventing your own acronyms began with ECF, the "eyeball contact finish" with which Stephen annotated the relevant songs in the Blue Book. The new scatological acronym stood for Solid Mass Reduction, the favoured euphemism for defecation. It was generally accepted that the toilet was uninhabitable for a good twenty minutes after Don had used the facility to reduce his own body mass. Emptying the bladder was Liquid Mass Reduction. There was no requirement for Don to notify intent of LMR. The acronym for breaking wind was derived from Venting To Atmosphere. Non-announcement of VTA after emission was deemed a serious offence and applied to all four musicians.
    Priority for showering was determined by work obligations. Stephen and Graham were allowed to go before the others if they had to report for work in the Eleganz shop. Stephen devised a chart for recording shower usage so that there would be sufficient hot water when it was needed, as the tank held enough for only two showers and when the shop was closed there was nobody around to switch on the heater. Ulrich was adamant that the door between the shop and the warehouse should be locked when there were no staff in the shop. Merely precautionary, he explained.
    Leaving aside occasional artistic differences, music rehearsals were not too troublesome. Ulrich's requirements were that the group's equipment should not interfere with access to merchandise in the warehouse and the output from the amps should be inaudible in the shop. The guitarists could set their controls accordingly but occasionally Graham had to be reminded to curb his enthusiasm when beating the skins.
    The bunk beds were comfortable and none of the four musicians had yet advanced to the age when snoring disrupted a night's sleep. It was left to individuals to decide when and how often they washed their bed linen and clothes. There was a launderette a five minute walk away and sometimes Luisa would give the boys a lift so this chore was rarely too much of an imposition.
    One morning towards the end of August only three Typhoons had woken up in their sleeping quarters. Don was found to be missing and it was clear his bed hadn't been slept in. Phil was concerned but the others reminded him that he had been invited out to a party by one of the girls from the photographic studio and he'd obviously stayed overnight somewhere.
    "Yeah, but where?" asked Phil.
    "If he got lucky, in some girl's bed," suggested Graham.
    Stephen laughed. "The trappings of fame. He's getting them already!"
    "We haven't started playing yet and he's got a fan club!" added Graham.
    "Well, I just hope he's behaved himself," murmured Phil.
    The wanderer returned just before lunchtime looking decidedly the worse for wear.
    "Bloody hell," said Stephen. "Which grave did you crawl out from?"
    "You had a good time, I take it," said Phil, a slight scold in his tone.
    "Yeah, I did . . . I think," growled Don. "I can't remember all of it. Has anyone got a cigarette?"
    "So, did you shag her?" asked Graham.
    "Nah, she wouldn't let me. Got a feel of her tits but everything else was off limits. God, I've got a raging headache. I need twenty aspirins."
    "Ah, the demon booze," said Graham in an Irish accent.
    "Yeah, got through a gallon or two." Don lit the cigarette that Stephen had offered him. "And some Prellies too."
    "Prellies?" said Phil with narrowed eyes.
    "Yeah . . . they told me they were pep pills to help you stay awake. Prellies, they're called. Well, they worked for a while, I suppose. Christ, I need three cups of tea, a hundred aspirins and four days' sleep."
    "How did you get back here?"
    "Walked. Or staggered, more like."
    Stephen could sense that Phil was uncomfortable with this new turn of events but nothing more was said at the time. In a later moment when the two were together the topic briefly came to the fore. "He needs to be careful, that's what I'm saying," said Phil. "He's a foreigner in a strange city and he doesn't speak the lingo."
    "He's not stupid, though," said Stephen. "He'd know to keep out of trouble."
    "But if he's full of booze and pills . . . "
    "Okay, let's leave it be just now, Phil. We'll just need to keep an eye on him."
    "Alright, Stevie. But let's hope we're not storing up trouble."
    Under the terms of their contract, the musicians would be required to perform at the night club twice a week, three sets every Wednesday and Thursday, starting at five in the evening and finishing at nine, with short breaks permitted between the sets. As bottom-of-the-bill unknowns they would probably find themselves playing to empty seats for the first part of each evening, explained proprietor Konrad Galland, which is why he could only pay them 40 marks for an evening's work, which Luisa had augmented to 44 marks after her surreptitious intervention.
    Herr Galland had followed the lead of several others in the area in changing the name of his establishment to suit the new business environment. So the "Jägerhaus" had been turned into the "Club Vegas" in tune with the general Americanisation of the country's economy. British pop groups belting out rock'n'roll fitted nicely into the new trend. Herr Galland was clearly sensitive to names and insisted that any group styling themselves "Teens" would not find employment at the "Vegas". "I don't want children in here," he explained to Luisa and Graham. "I want beer-drinking men and wine-drinking women."
    A discussion amongst the musicians had eventually narrowed the options to two: drop the "Teens" but hang on to "Typhoons" or rename themselves the "Rocketeers". The problem was that there were so many groups in the business that there were no original names left. Even "Rocketeers" had been inspired by Bill Haley's backing group, the Comets.
    With the uniform situation reasonably under control the next topic at the Saturday meeting was the new name. The two options were revisited.
    Now Stephen finished off his coffee and turned to Luisa's daughter, who was flicking through a magazine.
    "What should we call ourselves, Katharina?"
    The girl seemed surprised to have been consulted on such an important matter by boys who were two years older than her. Luisa too looked expectantly at her daughter.
    "Well, people will think you are copying the Hurricanes if you use the name you have now. What was the other choice?"
    "Rocketeers."
    "What does it mean?"
    "A man who makes rockets."
    "Or a man who pilots them," added Phil. "But it's a play on words, isn't it? We're Rocketeers because we play rock'n'roll."
    "So, rockets are very modern," said Katharina. "You should say you are 'Rocketeers'."
    "Thanks," muttered Don, unable to hide his lack of enthusiasm for soliciting advice from a mere girl a whole two years younger than the Typhoons––or the––Whatever They Were Going To Be.
    "Shall we take a vote?" asked Stephen. "Herr Galland told us we must decide by Monday so he can print our names on the posters."
    It was a draw. Don and Graham were happy with the old name and Phil and Stephen opted for the new choice.
    "Should we ask your husband what he thinks, Luisa?" suggested Phil. "He's a businessman after all."
    The hostess laughed. "You would have to go to the golf course to find out!"
    "So," continued Phil. "You two ladies––what do you say?"
    "I . . . what's the word . . .abstain," said Luisa, still smiling.
    Her daughter pouted, then turned her eyes towards Stephen. "You are Rocketeers. You will be more famous than the Searchers and the Hurricanes and the Beatles."
 





CHAPTER   17






The river Chess was unusual in that it derived its name from the town through which it flowed rather than the other way round. The chalk steam ran southeastwards from Chesham with a country road following its twists and turns towards the villages of Latimer and Chenies. A quarter of a mile from Chesham on Riverbank Lane nestled a row of pleasant semi-detached houses, in one of which lived Janos and Josette Dombi. It was to this house that Peter Young now cycled on a Saturday morning in late September, six days after the last "High Society" rehearsal. No great effort was required to propel himself on this flat stretch, although on the return journey there would be no way to avoid the struggle up the hill taking him back to Chenies, where he and his mother lived with his younger brother. Peter's bike was up to the task though, with its lightweight frame and eight gears.
    In his rucksack were various radio components, a soldering iron, some electrical wiring and the AVO meter his uncle had lent him. Peter had learnt in Mr Wentworth's physics lessons that electrical current was measured in amps, potential in volts and resistance in ohms, which was how the AVO meter's nomenclature came about.
    The original plan was that Mr Dombi would collect Peter in his car but he didn't show up at the appointed hour. The Youngs were not among the families who owned a private telephone and there was no point walking to the phone booth in the village because Peter didn't know the Dombis' number, or even if they were on the phone themselves. So the choice was either do nothing or cycle to their house to see what was happening. He thought he should ask his Mum.
    "How important is it, Peter? You were meant to fix their radio, weren't you?"
    "Yes, but I suppose they could manage without it. It wouldn't kill them."
    "Well, I think it would be a good idea for you to go over there on your bike. There might be a reason Mr Dombi hasn't arrived. Perhaps his car has broken down. If you went over you'd be doing a good turn."
    "If it was any other teacher, I'd be happy to do it but Dumbo . . ."
    "Now, now, Peter, you know I don't like to hear you being disrespectful to your teachers, even if . . . well, let's just leave it there, shall we?"
    Peter had given it a few moments' thought and then decided to follow his mother's advice. After all, Mr Dombi was going to pay him for his time.
    Angela Young was pleased that the fourth-form Peter seemed to be a marked improvement on the previous year's version. Although she didn't know it, her son's change in behaviour had indirectly influenced the tone of the Chesham Bois Grammar School Friday Assembly. Jonathan Woodhouse had left the school at the end of his fifth year the previous July, so the headmaster's incantation of the detention roll call could never again reach the joyous climax of "Woodhouse and Young". Dr Briers could now read out the transgressors' names in alphabetical order without triggering mass cheering and jeering and thus far "Young" had not featured in the new term's lists. Angela was pleased that for three successive Fridays her son had arrived home fifteen minutes after school finished rather than an hour later, which would have signified an incurred detention.
    It turned out that Angela was right. When Peter wheeled into to Dombis' driveway it was to see their Morris Minor's bonnet propped open and the car's owner peering into the engine compartment.
    "Hello, Young. Sorry I couldn't collect you. Actually, this car will not start already."
    "What's wrong with it?"
    "Well, actually the starter is working but the engine isn't going. And now the starter is slow. Perhaps the battery is running down already."
    "Is someone going to mend it?"
    The music teacher sighed and wiped his hands on a rag. "I telephoned the garage as well but there's no answer. Do you know about engines?"
    The pupil shrugged. "A bit. Did you use the choke? If you used it too much it would stop the spark plugs working properly––they'd get soaked in petrol."
    "How much is too much?"
    "Don't really know, sir. My friend's Dad's got a Minor. I've learnt a bit from him. He lives in Chorleywood. Do you want me to cycle over and ask him what to do, sir?"
    "No, you don't need to do that. But if you could go to the garage––"
    "Hello, Sparky!" came a voice from the open front door. It was Josette, evidently doing kitchen chores, judging from the apron and rubber gloves.
    "Hello, Mrs Dombi," smiled Peter. "Sorry your car's broken."
    Josette came out and the three heads ducked under the bonnet.
    "Is it one of these wires?" asked Janos. "Or one of these pipes?"
    "Has it got petrol in?" asked Peter. "You haven't run out, have you?"
    "Yes, plenty of petrol, by the way."
    "I'm going back in," said Josette. "Sparky, would you like a drink?"
    "Have you got any Coca Cola?"
    "No. Orange juice?"
    "Could I have a cup of tea, please."
    "Yes. Milk and sugar?"
    The pupil nodded. "Two sugars, please, Mrs Dombi."
    "Josette," said the teacher's wife. "We are not in school now."
    After another minute or two scrutinising the Morris's innards Peter suggested trying the starter one more time if there was sufficient charge left in the battery.
    "With choke, or without, by the way?"
    The boy considered. "Try without."
    The starter whirred unenthusiastically. The engine did not respond.
    "Try using the choke, sir."
    "Okay."
    The starter turned again, even more slowly than before.
    "Stop!" called Peter. "Here's the problem!"
    The music teacher got out of the car and looked where the boy was pointing inside the engine compartment.
    "It's your choke cable. It's come off the lever. The lever's not moving. See?"
    "Well, I was thinking that the control moved more than normal. Is that what happened already?"
    Peter opened his rucksack and took out a screwdriver. It took only a minute or two to refasten the choke cable end into the linkage at the carburettor.
    "Push the choke in, then pull it out again. Let me check if it's working."
    A minute later the engine was running.
    "Young, you are a genius!" beamed Janos.
    They went indoors, leaving the engine idling to recharge the battery.
    "Have you got time to check the radiogram?" asked Josette, offering Peter his tea. "Please say 'no' if you want to go home now."
    "No, that's okay," said the boy. "I told my Mum I'd probably be home for lunch but she won't mind if I'm later than that."
    "Oh, but we must telephone her, Sparky. We would have telephoned you earlier to tell you that the car was broken but we didn't know your number. It was silly of us not to find out before."
    "We're not on the phone."
    "Oh . . . well, it's up to you, Sparky. We can make some lunch for you if you want."
    "Well, let me look at the radio, Mrs Dombi. Then we can decide what to do."
    The radiogram was a Bush Maestro Stereo De Luxe, a piece of furniture standing on its own legs. In one compartment was a three-speed turntable which could play 78s, 45s and long-players. The label on the LP sitting on the turntable said "SYMPHONY No. 1 IN D MAJOR––GUSTAV MAHLER––MOVTS 3 & 4". Dead posh, thought Peter Young, admiring the polished mahogany veneer finish. He'd read about stereo in some of his magazines and wondered how two outputs could be generated by one stylus in one groove. Something he would have to find out! He carefully moved the unit away from the wall to examine the panel at the back that would give access to the internal circuitry. Probably best to check with Dumbo that it was okay for him to take the panel off so he could look inside. Didn't want to ruin an expensive article like this!
    Permission granted, Peter set to work. As he suspected from Mrs Dombi's description of the problem, the cord linking the tuning knob to the variable condenser had slipped off its pulley. There was a small spring included in the loop to provide tension, but it seemed to have stretched, so perhaps the cord was insufficiently tight to stay in the pulley groove. The young putative radio mechanic went to the kitchen to report his findings. The Dombis were in mid conversation about when Janos would arrive back home. It seemed he had to leave straightaway to keep an appointment.
    "Actually, if I leave now I will be only an hour late."
    "What about lunch? Will you come home?"
    "I don't know. I'll call on the phone to tell you when I'll return."
    "Okay . . . sorry, Sparky, is it good news?"
    "Well, yes, I've found out what's wrong. But you may have to buy a new spring."
    "Oh . . . so we can't use the radio?"
    "I can tighten the spring and then the tuner should work, but it would be best to replace it with a new spring when you've got one."
    "Oh, if you can fix it, it would be lovely!" said Josette.
    "Yes," concurred Janos with a grunt. "Please fix it, Young, and I will order a new spring from the manufacturer already." The music teacher looked at his watch. "Well, I have to go now." He pecked his wife on the cheek and walked out. Josette and Peter watched through the kitchen window as the Morris moved forward and then turned right into Riverbank Lane.
    "Thank you so much," smiled Josette. "What a clever boy you are! Now, shall I make you a sandwich while you mend the radio? Would you like cheese and pickle? That's what I'm having. And another cup of tea, if you like."
    "Yes, thank you, Mrs Dombi."
    "Josette."
    "Yes."
    In the lounge, Peter crouched down at the back of the radiogram and detached the faulty spring from the loops at the ends of the cord. He carefully lifted out the spring and laid it on the veneer surface. Then he took a short length of electrical wire and cut away its insulation. With tweezers he removed two strands of wire and wove them together. From the kitchen came the sound of Josette singing in a foreign language, which Peter recognised as French . . . probably. He wasn't a star pupil at languages in school. Or in any other subjects, really. But he had to learn physics if he wanted to be a recording engineer. He would have to learn about electricity and he would have to learn about sound. He still didn't really understand how a stylus in a record groove was turned into music, never mind stereo!
    Peter compressed the centre portion of the spring and bound it tight using the interwoven strands of wire, shortening the spring by quarter of an inch. Or should he say, a few millimetres? The teachers used both units at school, which was a bit confusing. How did electrical engineers measure things? Inches or centimetres? Something else he would have to find out.
    The shortened spring was reintroduced to the radiogram and the hooks at the ends of the spring attached to the cord loops. Now, a bit fiddly, using the tweezers to force the cord over the pulley edge into the groove . . . there! Done it!
    Peter reached round to the front of the unit and turned the tuning knob. Success! The cord turned the pulley geared to the variable condenser and Peter watched the moveable leaves of the condenser sliding into the fixed array. He was refastening the access panel when Josette came into the room, carrying a plate of sandwiches and a cup of tea.
    "Oh, but you've finished, have you?" she asked.
    "Yes, but shall we check that it's working?"
    "Yes, of course. I'll bring in my sandwich and we can both listen."
    The pupil pushed the radiogram back into its usual position and plugged it in to the wall socket. Josette switched the unit on and the tuning panel lit up with a soft glow.
    "You do it, Sparky."
    Peter turned the tuning knob and was rewarded with bursts of sound as the indicator moved past the various stations annotated on the tuning panel.
    "Oh . . . you've done it! You've fixed the car and you've fixed the radio. You're marvellous! Can I try it?"
    The boy moved back to let Josette play with the control. She again murmured her appreciation. "Let's find the Light Programme. We can listen to some music. There!"
    But Josette had accidentally tuned into the Home Service and the BBC's midday news.
    " . . . but Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin denied the accusations. He said that the weapons were purely defensive and that President Castro had invited Soviet defence technicians to help install the systems because Cuba's own technicians lacked sufficient expertise. Mr Dobrynin also said that some of the equipment had been misidentified by the United States intelligence services as missile components when they were in fact part of a new irrigation installation. He reiterated President Khrushchev's warning that any attack on Cuba or any attempt to invade the island risked triggering a very strong response from those nations friendly to Cuba. Defence experts in NATO consider that this statement was meant to imply that a nuclear attack might be launched on the United States and its allies by the Soviets were military action to be taken against Cuba. The Soviet ambassador also called on the US to cease immediately making overflights of the island by spy planes, which he said were hostile actions. But a White House spokesman defended the surveillance flights by U2 reconnaissance aircraft, saying that the security of . . . "
    "That's too depressing, isn't it, Sparky?" said Josette, interrupting the sombre tones of the newsreader. "I don't want to hear about nuclear war. Let's find some music. Then we can have a dance. Can you dance?"
    "I can do the Twist."
    The Frenchwoman pouted. "That's not a dance! It's . . . it's . . . well, I don't know what it is. No, I'll teach you properly, perhaps a foxtrot or a quickstep."
    The Light Programme was playing Big Band music.
    "Okay, Sparky, it's a waltz. One, two, three. Come on, I'll show you how to do it. You can finish your sandwich in a minute."
    Peter took a sip of tea and stood up. Josette took his hands. "Look, hold my right hand in your left hand and put your right hand round my middle. I'm going to move backwards and you move your feet to follow mine."
    It was difficult for the boy. Josette's feet were zigzagging across the carpet too fast for him to keep up. More disconcertingly, he found her proximity disturbing. The scent of her perfume was strong and when he looked down to see where her feet were he couldn't help but notice the cleavage visible between the lapels of her blouse. Even more embarrassingly, he felt his penis erecting. He moved himself away from his dance partner a little, hoping she wouldn't notice the tumescence.
    "Oh, the tune is too fast," said Josette. "Let's turn the radio off. Then we'll do it slowly. And hold me closer, Sparky! I'm not dangerous!"
 





CHAPTER   18






"You should be our manager," said Phil, opening the rear doors of the empty white Volkswagen van to peer inside. Stephen was standing alongside him in the Eleganz car parking area behind the warehouse. Next to him was Luisa, to whom the Rocketeers' leader had addressed his last remark. "You've done so much for us."
    "I am happy to do it," said Luisa.
    "And it's free? How did you manage that?"
    "A friend of Ulrich's owed him a favour and this is the result."
    The VW would be used to shuttle the group's equipment between their accommodation in the Eleganz store and the Vegas night club. The vehicle was oldish but not too battered. A crudely applied fresh coating of white paint masked the "Bruno Schumacher, Gemüsehändler" logo previously embellishing its sides.
    Luisa's explanation of the van's provenance had a basis in truth. The business arrangement between Konrad Galland, proprietor of the Club Vegas, and his newest performers had required a fair degree of bartering to arrive at a deal that everyone was happy with. The Reeperbahn club owners each had their own ideas of how entertainment should be provided for their clienteles. Some had live music every night and others only at the weekend. Some employed one group to play exclusively every night and others chose to add variety by rotating groups on their roster. Herr Galland's formula was to provide juke box music for his customers on Monday and Tuesday evenings. For the rest of the week they were treated to live entertainment. The proprietor's permutation was to have three groups in his stable at any particular time, "Erste, Zweite und Dritte" in his nomenclature, meaning First, Second and Third.
    The "Ersters", the top-of-the-bill-act, played at the Vegas on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from seven in the evening to two in the morning, with four breaks allowed between the sets. They were paid the highest hourly rate, had accommodation provided for them at the club and were allowed to keep their kit permanently on the stage there. Currently the "Ersters" were a five-piece from the United States, calling themselves Dean Hazzard and the Outlaws. Phil and his fellow Rocketeers had seen them perform at the club and were impressed by their slick professionalism.
    Next in pecking order on the Club Vegas September 1962 entertainment roster were the "Zweiters", in the form of Jack Union and the Patriots, three boys and a girl from Sunderland. Their working hours were from nine to two on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, again with short breaks during the performance. They also filled the early slots on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Their hourly pay was slightly less than the "Ersters" and they had to find their own accommodation, although they were allowed to keep their drums and amplifiers at the club. The Patriots had been Herr Galland's "Dritters" until the previous holders of the middle seniority position had had to return to their native Ireland for personal reasons, allowing the Sunderland group to move up the ladder.
    Into the vacancy thus created came the Rocketeers. They played the early slot on Wednesdays and Thursdays, before the Patriots took over. Herr Galland had told his new "Dritters" that there was no room at the Vegas itself for the musicians to live in nor for their equipment. Luisa's negotiating skills had brought their hourly pay almost up to what the proprietor gave the "Zweiters" and had got him to agree that Graham's drum kit could remain in the club's storage room overnight on Wednesdays to save him the bother of transporting them every time they were played.
    It only remained to settle the outstanding details of the deal. The proprietor stipulated that the group's remuneration would be withheld until he was happy that they had delivered a reasonable standard of performance, after which it would be paid in arrears. Luisa agreed the terms but reminded Herr Galland that her husband was an important businessman in the city and would not permit his wife's protégés to be cheated. The Vegas owner was not to know, of course, that Ulrich Haberlandt could not have cared less about the welfare of the British rock'n'roll group disrupting the smooth running of his clothes shop.
    Luisa had asked her husband to find a suitable vehicle somewhere, pointing out that the Rocketeers could keep their equipment in it rather than have it cluttering up the Eleganz warehouse.
    "Well, I'm in favour of getting my shop back," Ulrich had said, grumpily. "Everyone keeps tripping over their cables. And how many times have I had to tell them to turn down the volume?"
    "Don't be so critical, dear," Luisa had said. "They're good boys and they play well. And now they can practise at the Jägerhaus . . . the Vegas, I mean."
    "Yes, they're good boys, I'll grant you that. And they've been useful in the shop when I needed extra staff. But they can't use one of our vans––we need them all. And I don't want our brand name sullied by association with the dubious enterprises on the Reeperbahn."
    Luisa had laughed. "Sullied? On the contrary, dear, maybe the younger generation would be tempted into our shop if they see our name in front of them."
    "That's what I'm afraid of, Luisa! We don't want that sort here!"
    "Snob!"
    "Correct! But I'll see if any of my business pals can lend a hand."
    In the golf club bar a day or two later Ulrich had brought up the subject and greengrocer Bruno Schumacher had said he was replacing two of his older vans. In lieu of the twenty marks he owed after losing the round he said Ulrich could borrow one of the vans pending sale as long as the company logo was removed. To general laughter and nodding of heads he had added: "Don't want our customers to think we have anything to do with the beatniks on Sleaze Street."
    "Which is exactly what I told my darling wife," chortled Ulrich.
    "And how is the gorgeous Luisa these days, Ully?"
    "She's fine. She thinks she's an impresario, launching British rock'n'roll groups into the world."
    "Rock'n'roll––no thanks! If we'd won the war we could have banned it. Give me Wagner any day."
    "You said it!"
    As the only Rocketeer holding a driving licence it fell to the bass player to be the driver nominated on the insurance policy. The insurers noted that their client was a young foreigner of low experience who had learnt to drive on the wrong side of the road. They loaded the premiums accordingly, way beyond the group's meagre monetary resources. Luisa came to the rescue, telling the boys that she would make the payments.
    "I feel we're taking advantage of you," Stephen said now, standing by the open driver's door beside Luisa. Phil was in the cab, trying out the controls. "You shouldn't really be taking all our financial load."
    "Nonsense," said Luisa. "Eleganz is paying for the insurance, not me personally. Think of it as payment for helping me practise my English."
    "Will it be okay if we want to take the van out for the day when we're not working?" asked Phil. "It would be nice to get out and see the countryside."
    "Of course. There are some lovely places not too far away."
    "Well, it's Tuesday tomorrow. If the weather's good we could go out."
    "I think the forecast is for sun again. Why don't you drive to Lübeck? There are lots of things to see there. Or Schwerin––you could have a picnic by one of the lakes."
    "Sounds good," said Phil. "We'll check with the others."
    "Are you going out this evening?" asked Luisa.
    "Yes. Don and Gray should be back soon. We thought we'd go to the 'All Star' later. There's a good group on."
    "But that's like going to work!" laughed Luisa.
    "Yes, but that's part of the attraction for us. We can see what other people are playing and maybe use the same material ourselves."
    "So you are spying?"
    "Yes."
    "Be careful, boys. Sometimes they are fighting in the 'All Star'. I read in the papers that the police had to come to the club last week. A man was beaten, they said."
    "We heard it's usually drunk sailors," said Phil. "The only people they hurt is themselves."
    "Well, I feel a bit responsible," said Luisa. "I think I am being . . . what's that Latin expression . . . in the place of your fathers and mothers . . . "
    "In loco parentis," supplied Stephen. "You're very kind, Luisa, but really we are not your responsibility. It's up to us to keep out of trouble."
    "What would your father say if I didn't protect you?"
    "He would say it was my fault and he would tell me off for making you anxious."
    "I would hate to let Clement down."
    "I would think that's impossible, Luisa."
    There was a pause.
    "Can I take the van out for a short drive?" asked Phil, sensing that the previous exchange was finished. "Get used to it, like?"
    Luisa smiled. "Of course. It's yours to do what you want."
    "I'll come with you," said Stephen. "You'll need a navigator."
    "I've got a map in the shop," said Luisa. "I'll see if I can find it."
    "Thanks, that would be handy," said Phil. "We won't go far, though. As soon as the others are back we'll be off to the KussKuss for a bite to eat then make our way to the 'All Star'".
    "Not me," said Stephen. "I'll eat with you but then I've got to do my laundry, so I'll leave you three hooligans to get on with it."
 





CHAPTER   19






The Elisabeth Café was only a few yards away from the launderette and while the washing machine was pummelling his clothes into cleanliness Stephen indulged in the extravagance of an Amerikaner, which to him tasted like a stronger version of the Nestlé's coffee he drank at home. Sitting outside the Elizabeth, smoking an Embassy and watching the good citizens of Hamburg strolling by in the cool twilight, he took a few moments to assess how things were turning out for himself and his fellow musicians.
    By and large the outlook was good. In two days they would be playing professionally at a bona fide entertainment establishment and they would be getting paid––eventually––for their efforts. They were happy with their repertoire and considered their standard of musicianship good enough for the paying public. They were solvent, thanks to working in the Eleganz store and Don's modelling fees, not to mention generous subsidies from Phil's father and Luisa. Apart from minor tiffs the four Rocketeers got on reasonably well when you considered how different their characters were.
    There were one or two minor negatives, such as having to load and unload their amps in and out of the van every time they were going to play at the Vegas, and one not so minor. Stephen and Phil were worried about Don. His consumption of alcohol and pep pills was steadily increasing and frequently he stayed out all night. The girl whom he had met at the photo studio had finally given in and allowed him to sleep with her. The other Rocketeers had met her and she seemed okay, if a little strange. She spoke little English and she was always dressed in black from head to toe, with heavily mascara'd eyes and wild black hair. She was a few years older than her new boyfriend and evidently more worldly wise. The other Rocketeers assumed that it was she who was leading him into a life of debauchery.
    Some research revealed that "Prelly" was short for Preludin, a slimming pill which apparently also acted as a stimulant. Don told the others that it was harmless and "everyone takes them so they can stay awake longer." During one of his weekly phone calls home, Phil had asked his GP father if they were safe, stressing that he himself was not using them but he knew one or two people who were, without mentioning names. The reply came back that Preludin wasn't available in England but they were probably alright to take if the maximum dosage was not exceeded. Dr Cheyney could not tell his son what the maximum dosage was and advised him to continue his abstinence unless he was absolutely sure he knew what he was doing. Phil passed the information on to Stephen.
    "Well, the stuff Don's chucking down his throat hasn't affected his playing," noted the rhythm guitarist. "He's a real whizz on those solos he does. Getting better all the time, I'd say."
    "Yeah, showing up my pathetic bass playing!"
    "Maybe his girlfriend's doing him some good after all."
    "Well, she's teaching him German. That's something, I suppose," said Phil.
    "And probably other things as well," added Stephen ruefully.
    "Lucky sod!"
    "Yeah!"
    Phone calls home from the other Rocketeers were less frequent. Stephen had managed it three times since their arrival in Germany and Graham twice, placing the call to his aunt as his parents were not yet connected. Don's parents did have a phone but the others did not know if he had called them.
    Life back in England seemed to be plodding along nicely for his Dad and his sister Jennifer, thought Stephen, reviewing their last phone conversation. The rehearsals for "High Society" were progressing well and Vanessa Lambourne's competence at stage management lightened the load on Clement.
    The geography master had organised a debating session for the sixth formers, he told his son. The motion was: "This house considers that pop music is not an art form." Teachers were allowed to participate, with Diana Dockerell a vigorous supporter of the motion. Interestingly, Clement said, Jennifer had spoken against it. The motion was defeated by a substantial margin.
    Clement's last request before hanging up was to ask Stephen to give Luisa his love.
    Not for the first time, Stephen found himself wondering about the relationship between his father and his German benefactress. He knew they had met in Berlin after the war but not since then. Luisa had been sending Stephen and Jennifer birthday and Christmas presents and cards for as long as he could remember and his father had always made them write thankyou letters and add their names to the cards sent from Chesham to Hamburg when reciprocal action was demanded. In Luisa's lounge Stephen had seen an old photo of his Dad and her laughing together, both in uniform, in front of a big plane with the words "Military Air Transp" visible above its windows, the last word cut off by the frame. Stephen assumed the complete word was "Transport". There was no caption or date on the photo. Given that it was taken after the war, his Dad was already married to his Mum, and he himself would have been a toddler.
    Were Clement and Luisa just good friends? Or more? His Mum knew all about her, and before she died it was usually his Mum that remembered when it was time to send birthday cards to Germany. And obviously Ulrich didn't mind the photo in his lounge and obviously Luisa felt she had nothing to hide. So it must have been innocent, mustn't it?
    "Hello, Stephen. Wie geht es dir?"
    The guitarist snapped out of his reverie and looked up. It was Katharina and another girl who looked about the same age.
    "Hello. Was machen Sie hier?"
    "Willst du Englisch sprechen?"
    "Ja, bitte! Okay, ich weiss, dass ich Deutsch üben soll, aber Englisch für anfangen, ja?"
    "Okay, this is my friend Hildegard."
    Stephen stood up to shake hands with the pretty brunette.
    "Can I get you a coffee or something?" he asked, looking at Katharina, and then at her friend.
    A brief exchange between the girls in rapid northern-accented German meant little to Stephen. Occasional giggles punctuated the stream. The only words he could be sure he heard in the local dialect were "good-looking" and "careful".
    "So," said Katharina, turning to the English youth, "Hildegard must catch a bus home, but I can stay for a while. Please buy a banana milk shake for me."
    A few minutes later they were both seated at the table outside the Elisabeth. Stephen was sipping at his coffee refill and Katharina was sucking up milk shake through a straw. The boy took out his cigarettes but couldn't decide whether he should offer one to the girl. She was only sixteen, after all. After a moment he held out the packet.
    "No, thank you. Mutti says I mustn't smoke till I'm eighteen."
    "Have you been out with your friend, then?"
    Katharina nodded. "Yes, we went to see a movie, a movie with songs. West Side Story. Have you seen it?"
    "Not yet."
    "It's fabulous. And very sad. We both were crying."
    Stephen looked at his watch. Just after eight. The washing cycle would be finished in about ten minutes. He spoke to Katharina again. "So now you've got to go back and do your homework?" he grinned.
    "No homework today. No school tomorrow, ja? It's a holiday."
    "So it was a good film?"
    "Fantastic. Did you know the story is from Shakespeare?"
    Stephen confessed his ignorance.
    "Ja," said Katharina. "Romeo and Juliet. Unglückselige Liebhaber . . . in English . . . "
    "We would say, 'star-crossed lovers'."
    "Starkrost? What is that?"
    "Literally, sternegekreuzt in German, if there's such a word."
    Katharina laughed. "I don't think there is."
    "Pity."
    "Where are the others?" asked Katharina.
    "They went to the 'All Star'. I couldn't go––I'm doing my laundry."
    "What's laundry, Stephen?"
    "Wäscherei."
    "Oh, yes, I remember the word now."
    "Your English is very good. Do all Germans speak English, or just the younger generation?"
    "We get lessons at school. But Mutti taught me when I was young so I probably speak it better than other young people."
    Stephen blew out a plume of smoke. "Does your Mum ever talk about my Dad?"
    "Yes. A lot recently. But in the past not so much."
    "That photo in the lounge. When would that have been taken, Katharina?"
    "It was during the Luftbrücke . . . the Airlift. Mutti was working at the American base . . . Tempelhof, I think it's called. Your father stayed at the British base to the west of Berlin. I can't remember what they were calling it. It was by the lake . . . the Havelsee."
    "Yes, that's right," said Stephen. "He was in the Royal Air Force. He was a Met Forecaster . . . he checked the weather for the planes coming in and out. He told me he saw you a few times when you were a little girl. Can you remember him?"
    Katharina shook her head. "No. I think I was very young."
    "Don't you remember Berlin at all?"
    "Not much from those days. I've been there twice with Mutti and Ulrich since then. To West Berlin, I mean, of course. But Mutti has told me that Berlin was not nice in the years after the war. It was in pieces after the bombing and there was no food. The Russian soldiers were cruel. They made the Berliners work very hard and didn't pay them and they beat them. Mutti had to . . . wie sagt man . . . abbauen . . . "
    "Dismantle?"
    "Ja, she had to dismantle broken walls with her bare hands."
    "Sounds horrible."
    "I don't remember the worst days. My first memory of Berlin was when I was four or five. We lived in a small apartment on the Erlgasse. Mutti and Oma and me. I think life was better then. I was never hungry. But I never got new clothes, only ones other people had used. It made me sad but I think it made Mutti sadder. I think she would have got me new clothes if she'd had enough money."
    "Oma . . . was that one of your relatives?"
    "My grandmother. 'Oma' is the German word for 'grandmother'. Oma's name was Anneke."
    "Is it correct that your Dad got killed in the war?"
    "Just afterwards. He was a Panzerhauptmann . . . a tank commander, you would say in English. His tank was destroyed near Berlin just before the end of the war. He survived the attack but died later, when the war ended."
    There was a pause. The evening light had faded almost to night and both youngsters shivered as a cold gust of air flapped the parasol canopy above their heads.
    Stephen checked his watch. "I think my washing's done now. I'll have to put it through the drier."
    Katharina looked at him. "Are you hungry?"
    "Not really. The lads and I had a burger at the KussKuss about an hour ago. Why do you ask?"
    "I told Mutti I'd go home after the movie for Abendessen. But maybe I could eat here. The KussKuss is okay. Do you want to eat something there too?"
    A waiter from the Elisabeth came out and started lowering the parasols on the tables.
    "Entschuldigen," he muttered as he attended to the table at which the youngsters sat making their plans. Stephen would dry his clothes and leave them at the launderette for later collection. Then the two of them would repair to the KussKuss so Katharina could get something to eat. Stephen would make do with a beer or another coffee and maybe a cake, keeping her company.
    "Okay," said the girl. "There's a public phone over there. I'll call Mutti and tell her what I'm doing."
    "She won't mind?"
    "Not when I tell her it's you I'm with."
    Twenty minutes later they were ensconced in the warmth of the KussKuss. The restaurant was busy, about three quarters full. Katharina ordered Kohlroulade, which she told Stephen was chopped meat wrapped in cabbage leaves. He managed to stop himself saying, "Sounds disgusting!" For himself he ordered a Löwenbräu and a packet of crisps, remembering that the American word everyone used was "chips".
    "Do you drink wine or beer, Katharina?" he asked the girl, noting that her order had included a glass of apple juice.
    "Yes, I'm allowed to drink alcohol at the weekend, but only when my parents are with me."
    "You're sixteen, aren't you?"
    "Yes."
    "So your father never saw you?"
    "No. He was wounded but he suddenly died soon after the war ended. Mutti told me he was very brave. One day I was looking in a cupboard for something and I found the paper . . . the certificate . . . saying he died as a result of enemy action. Mutti was upset when I asked her about it."
    "Well, I can understand that."
    "She was angry that they'd put the wrong date on the certificate."
    "What do you mean?"
    "It was written with the month in the Latin style, 28.IV.45. Well, IV would be the fourth month, April. They should have put VI, which would be the sixth month, June. There was so much confusion as the war ended that everything got muddled up."
    "So you were––" Stephen stopped, embarrassed.
    "Auf Deutsch . . . empfangen . . . I don't know how to say it in English––when the father's sperm meets the mother's egg."
    "Conceived," said Stephen, surprised at the turn the conversation had taken.
    "Yes . . . I was conceived a few weeks before Vati died."
    "That's really sad."
    "Ja, Mutti didn't like to tell me about it. Vati died of a sudden heart attack. It was unexpected, she said, because he was recovering okay from his wounds. We don't talk about it because it upsets her."
    The waiter brought the drinks and Stephen's crisps.
    "You never call Ulrich 'Vati', then," said Stephen, restarting the conversation.
    "No, he is not my father. He's my . . . Stiefvater. In English––"
    "Stepfather."
    "Yes."
    "He seems like a good chap."
    "Yes, he saved the family, says Mutti. But they are so different. Mutti is more . . . I don't know how to say it . . . gelassen . . . she doesn't get upset and she is usually smiling . . . "
    "Do you mean 'easy-going', Katharina? Sort of relaxed?"
    "Yes, that's it. But Ulrich is strict and sometimes he is . . . cold. No, that's not the right word. But he is not smiling so much. Mutti and Ulrich . . . they are Tag und Nacht."
    "Day and night?"
    "Yes, opposite to each other."
    "Oh, yes. In English we say 'chalk and cheese'."
    Katharina narrowed her eyes. "So, 'Kreide und Käse' in German. That's just as good, I think. That would be a good way to say it."
    "They seem happy together, it seems to us."
    "Happy? Yes, probably. But Ulrich spends more time with his friends than with us. He looks after us but I don't think he loves Mutti, not any more."
    "Why do you say that?"
    Katharina frowned. "I don't know how to explain it . . . in English or German. It's just something I feel."
    "Do you think he . . . " started Stephen, but again stopped himself. The conversation was getting too personal.
    "No," said Katharina, leaning back to let the waiter place a plate of steaming Kohlroulade in front of her. "I don't think he's got a girlfriend." A wry smile crept onto her lips. "But maybe he's in love with his golf clubs."
    "Well, he was kind enough to let us use the warehouse for music practice," said Stephen, taking a swig of lager.
    "I expect Mutti told him to do it!"
    The rhythm guitarist laughed. "She's brilliant, your Mum."
    "Like your father, Stevie. Mutti says he made life better for her during a bad time."
    "I often wondered . . . "
    "What?"
    Stephen shook his head. "Nothing."
    "I know what you were going to ask. Did Mutti and Clement love each other?"
    The teenager marvelled at his young companion's perception. How could she have known what was going on in his mind?
    "What do you think?" he asked.
    "From what I've heard, I would say 'yes'. But of course I don't know if they ever had sex together. It's probably best not to know."
    Again Stephen found the girl's directness disturbing. These things were not spoken of in England, other than sniggering comments between friends.
    "I don't think my Dad was unfaithful, Katharina. I just can't imagine him doing it."
    "No, you must be right. Let's take it that they were in love but did not do anything else."
    "Yes."
    "And you had sadness, didn't you, when your mother died."
    "Yes. I still miss her."
    "Clement sent us a photo one time. You and your sister and Clement and your Mutti. You were all standing by a river."
    "That's right. I think I know the picture you mean. By the river Thames, with Richmond Bridge in the background."
    "Yes, that's it. What was her name, your Mutti?"
    "Shirley."
    "And your sister?"
    "She's Jennifer."
    "Oh, yes, I remember now. I would like to meet Clement and Jennifer one day."
    "I would like it, too. I would like them to meet Luisa and you."
 





CHAPTER   20






The rumour started quietly enough but quickly blossomed into wild and wonderful variations as it rippled through the community like a virulent flu bug. Most people had already heard one version or another when Dr Briers stood up during Assembly on the second Thursday in October to tell the school that he had a special announcement to make.
    "I regret to have to inform you that Mr Dombi has resigned his position as music master with immediate effect. He will be taking no more lessons here." The Head swept his eyes across the lines of pupils, ignoring the smirks and whispers passing between them. "You may have heard of the unfortunate events leading to Mr Dombi's resignation. Much of what you have heard will be a distortion of the facts. Obviously I cannot control what you say to each other about the . . . incident . . . but I would ask you to respect the privacy of the individuals concerned and not to discuss the matter with persons other than your parents outside school." Dr Briers was thankful that he had remembered to say "incident" rather than "affair", which would have caused a "Woodhouse and Young" type jeer from the pupils had the word escaped his lips. That would have been especially ironic, given the circumstances.
    "For the record, this is the sequence of events. There was a recent incident at Mr Dombi's house which caused an argument and subsequent physical struggle. A pupil at this school was involved in the dispute and received injuries to his person. My information is that the police are gathering evidence to decide whether further action should be taken. The pupil concerned will remain at home while he recuperates from his injuries. He is expected to be able to return to school within a few days.
    "There are several ramifications arising from this incident. The most important is the reputation of Chesham Bois Grammar School. There will be reports in the newspapers, and possibly on radio and television, and some of these reports will be as lurid and divorced from the truth as some of the rumours that you've heard. If approached by reporters or journalists you must decline to comment and you must ask them to contact the school secretary if they want information. This is very important. The school is proud of the reputation it has built up and inadvisable remarks to reporters might well jeopardise that hard-won reputation.
    "Another consequence of this turn of events concerns the school's production of the musical 'High Society'. At the moment the rehearsals will continue with Mr Mayfield in charge of the orchestra while we seek a replacement for Mr Dombi. We are hopeful that one of our external music instructors can fill the breach pro tem. The intention is that the public performances will remained scheduled for the final week of the Christmas term. If the difficulties prove insurmountable then the performance dates will be delayed to next Easter. The decision will be made by Mrs Dockerell and Mr Pollard before the end of October. Music instruction for pupils taking lessons after school hours will continue normally.
    "I would like to record publicly the gratitude of Chesham Bois Grammar School to Janos Dombi. Without his dedication and enthusiasm the school orchestra would have found it difficult to achieve the standard of performance that it has attained. Likewise, Josette Dombi made a welcome contribution to the orchestra with her violin playing. They will be missed and I am sure I speak for the whole school when I say that I hope they manage to resolve their current difficulties and find new directions in their careers that will make full use of their talents."
    The last sentence triggered a murmured muttering amongst some of the boys, no doubt speculating on the precise nature of Josette Dombi's talents. Dr Briers silently stared at the perpetrators until order was restored.
    The first hint of trouble had been a phone call to the Head at his home the previous Saturday afternoon from Chesham police station, to advise him that one of the masters at his school, a Mr Janos Dombi, had been arrested and was currently detained for questioning at the station. The charge against the teacher was assault and battery, causing a pupil at the school, one Peter Young, actual bodily harm. The sergeant further advised the Head that it was likely that the suspect would be released later in the day on bail. Recovering from the shock, Dr Briers thanked the officer and asked him to tell Mr Dombi that should he need to speak to the Head he would be happy to do so.
    Later enquiries brought the information that Peter Young was back at home after having attended the Casualty Department at Chesham Hospital for treatment for cuts, abrasion and bruising and that Josette Dombi had left her house in Riverbank Lane and that her current location was unknown. Her husband had told the police that he had ordered the trollop to pack her bags and get out. This statement had been delivered in an agitated tone, said the sergeant, and was the questioning officer's interpretation of the part-foreign-language, part broken English stream of invective from the suspect. Dr Briers offered his observation that the foreign tongue was probably Hungarian. The sergeant thanked him and said he would make a note on the report accordingly. He added that Peter Young had also made a statement and Dr Briers would receive a transcript of this statement and Mr Dombi's as soon as they had been prepared.
    The transcripts were delivered to the school the following Wednesday afternoon and Dr Briers asked his secretary, Stella Harding, to run off two extra copies of each on the duplicator. His next request was to his deputy, Diana Dockerell, and his next most senior teacher, Clement Mayfield, inviting them to come to his office after school to discuss the latest debacle and help him prepare the statement he would have to read at Assembly the following morning, if they would be so kind. Diana was already seated when Clement came into the office. Dr Briers had positioned two chairs by his desk. The Head was standing by the window, watching the children streaming out of school.
    "May I light up?" asked the geography teacher, taking his pipe out of the pocket of his tweed jacket as he sat down next to the Deputy Head.
    "I'm happy," replied Dr Briers. "Diana?"
    "Yes, as long as you open the window."
    "Well," smiled the geography master, "I can probably manage without for a while."
    Diana returned his smile. "Thank you, Clement. Smoke a cigarette if you're desperately in need." She couldn't help but notice that the leather patch on his elbow still hadn't been attended to.
    "No, my lungs will remain untainted for a while, Diana."
    "Good," said Dr Briers. "Well, you know the basic outline of the saga. Stella's making copies of the police statements so you can read them at home." He looked at his watch. "I thought they would have been done by now. I wonder if––"
    As if on cue the door opened and the secretary came in with a folder, which she handed the Head. "Sorry, Archie. Took a bit longer than I thought. The duplicator was out of fluid and it took a while to find the new bottle. Anyway, here they are, the originals and two copies of each. Tea or coffee for anyone?"
    "Thank you, Stella," said Dr Briers, dropping the folder on his table. "And if you can find a biscuit, I didn't manage to find time for lunch."
    The beverage requirements arranged, the Head picked up one of the documents and shook his head. "What a mess! If you've got time this evening you can read these statements at home. They'll give you a bit more detail. I'll be preparing my own statement for Assembly tomorrow. I'd be grateful if you'd both check it before I go public."
    "Would you like us to come in early tomorrow morning, Archie?" asked Diana. "We could run through it then."
    "Thank you. That would be very helpful."
    "No problem for me," said Clement. "Is Peter Young still off school?"
    "Yes," said Dr Briers. "I went to see him at home. His injuries were only minor but I told him it would be wise to keep him out of circulation until next week, by which time with luck the frenzy might be diminished. I don't like to mislead people but in this case it might be better to pretend it's the boy's physical condition that's keeping him away when I address Assembly tomorrow. It might spare his embarrassment."
    "Not to mention hero worship by his chums."
    "Quite so, Clem." The Head sighed. "You know, in all my years in this profession I've never come across anything like it. I'm dreading the outcome, now the fourth estate have got their grubby hands on the story. The school's name is going to be dragged through the mud. So we're now embarked on a damage limitation exercise."
    "Can't our solicitors help, Archie?" asked Diana. "You know, sending out letters threatening libel action if they overstep the mark?"
    "Yes, I did think of that. Or else demanding right of reply. Or both. Any thoughts, Clement?"
    "I'd go along with that if needs be, but I think maybe you're worrying too much."
    "What do you mean, Clem?"
    "I'm not saying it's a storm in a teacup but there's a new mood building up, sort of more liberal. I think 'Lady Chatterley' sent us in a new direction."
    "Well, many people think the jury was wrong, Clement," said Diana. "Many people think the book is obscene."
    "Including you?"
    "I'm not prepared to give you my opinion on 'Lady Chatterley'," bristled the Deputy Head.
    "Apologies," said Clement. "Too personal. I take it back. I just think 'Lady Chatterley' is an indication of how things are going. Pop music is another. It's . . . I don't know . . . a new order, perhaps."
    "Well, you know my opinion on that, Clement," said Diana. "Pop music has no cultural merit, even if 'Lady Chatterley' does . . . according to some people."
    "I hope you're wrong, Diana," said Clement, a little wearily. "My son is trying to earn a living at it."
    "Oh, I'm sorry," said Diana. "I'd forgotten that. How is––"
    "Please," interrupted Dr Briers. "Can we get back to Janos Dombi? New order or not, are you saying we shouldn't be overly concerned, Clement?"
    The geography teacher slowly nodded. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. There will be colourful headlines in 'The News of the World' and 'The People' but they'll soon be pushed aside by other topics. Some will be the usual tabloid tittle-tattle and some will be serious . . . like the Russians setting up nuclear missiles on Cuba––"
    The secretary came in carrying a tray.
    "Thank you, Stella," said the Head. There was a brief pause while the secretary handed the three teachers their mugs, Clement's last observation hanging in the air. Then Stella flashed them a quick smile and a cheery, "Right, that's me done. See you tomorrow if you don't need me for anything else" as she left the office.
    "Yes, nuclear confrontation is probably more important than sex scandals in the great scheme of things," acknowledged the Head, picking up the discussion.
    "Well, we can't do anything about nuclear missiles, gentlemen," said Diana, "but we can about the Dombi business. I agree with you that we should make maximum effort to protect our name."
    "Alright, when I make my statement in Assembly tomorrow I'll enjoin the pupils not to talk to the press. I'll ask our solicitors if we can use sub judice rules to serve injunctions to the press to prevent them printing details."
    Clement and Diana nodded their approval.
    The head laughed shortly. "You know, it's funny, I think Peter Young made a good impression on the police."
    "In what way?" asked Diana with raised eyebrow.
    "His technical expertise. The interview was at his home. His mother was present, of course, and the officer questioning Young brought a legal adviser to reassure Mrs Young that the boy wouldn't be embarrassed or intimidated. I think they were a bit surprised when the boy offered to record the interview."
    "Record it?" said Clement, puzzled.
    "Yes, using a tape recorder."
    "That'll be the school recorder, no doubt," frowned Diana. "Surely no-one gave him permission to take it home. Clement?"
    "No, it's apparently his own," supplied the Head before Clement could open his mouth to protest. "He bought one that was broken and fixed it himself, apparently. Uses it for sound experiments, he told me."
    "Yes, he's keen on that sort of thing," said Clement. "The other kids call him 'Sparky' now. He's always fiddling around with electrical stuff."
    "Such as the Dombis' radiogram."
    "Quite."
    "So . . . did he record the interview?" asked Diana.
    "Yes. Angela . . . the boy's mother . . . told me the officer was happy to let him do it although it couldn't be used in evidence. Apparently that's not allowed. Only written statements have legal validity, but the officer said they would use Young's recording to help them compile the written version."
    "There's hope for that boy yet," laughed the Head. "Once he's got this business behind him."
    "So, we batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass, is that the plan?" asked Clement.
    "Yes, with our legal beagles standing by in case we need the Cavalry," said Dr Briers.
    "I dread to think what the Sunday papers are going to print," muttered Diana.
    "Never mind the papers," sighed the Head. He lifted the document he was holding. "There's plenty of X-rated material in these."
 





CHAPTER   21






Police Interview with Peter Young, 6th October 1962

See Appendix A for full details of persons present at the interview and other relevant information.

Question: Why did you go to the Dombis' house this morning, Peter?
Answer: To fix their radio.

Q: What was wrong with it?
A: The tuning cord needed a new spring and I was going to put it in.

Q: So had you been to their house before?
A: Yes, two weeks ago.

Q: Why?
A: They asked me to look at the radio to see why it wouldn't tune.

Q: And you found the fault?
A: Yes, the tuning cord spring had stretched. I used a bit of wire to shorten it so the tuning knob would work again.

Q: So why did they need a new spring if you had fixed it?
A: It was Mr Dombi's decision to get a new spring.

Q: Did you tell him he should get a new one?
A: I can't remember, sir.

Q: So did you put the new spring in this morning?
A: Yes.

Q: Why didn't you go home again after you'd fixed the radio?
A: Mrs Dombi asked me if I wanted a drink.

Q: And you said . . .
A: Yes.

Q: Did she get you one?
A: Yes, a Coke.

Q: Did you drink it?
A: I started to, but then Mrs Dombi asked me if I wanted another dancing lesson.

Q: Dancing lesson?
A: Yes.

Q: And you'd had previous lessons with her?
A: Only one.

Q: When was that?
A: The first time I went to the house, two weeks ago.

Q: Did you ask for a lesson on that occasion, Peter, the first time you went there?
A: No, sir.

Q: She just offered?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: And you agreed?
A: Yes.

Q: Why?
A: I didn't want to seem rude.

Q: Did you enjoy the first lesson?
A: In a way.

Q: In what way?
A: Well, it was nice to hold her.

Q: In what way, nice?
A: She was sort of . . . friendly and . . . I'd never held a woman or a girl like that before.

Q: Did she arouse you, Peter?
A: What do you mean?

Q: Did you feel sexually excited?
Adviser: If you feel embarrassed, Peter, you don't have to answer the questions.
A: Okay.

Adviser: You can refuse to answer if you don't want to.
A: Okay. I don't mind . . . as long as Mum doesn't mind.

Q: Thank you, Peter. Did you feel sexually aroused when you danced with Mrs Dombi during the first lesson?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you think Mrs Dombi noticed?
A: Could be. She kept telling me to hold her close, so maybe she knew that . . . you know . . .

Q: Was Mr Dombi in the house?
A: No, he left earlier.

Q: Did he say where he was going?
A: Some sort of meeting.

Q: So you knew he would be gone for a while?
A: Didn't really think about it.

Q: How long did the dancing lesson go on for?
A: About twenty minutes.

Q: Okay . . . and did you kiss Mrs Dombi, or anything like that?
A: No, but she kissed me.

Q: On the lips, Peter?
A: No, on the cheek, when we finished dancing.

Q: And you didn't kiss her back?
A: No.

Q: Why not?
A: I felt embarrassed.

Q: So then you went home?
A: Yes.

Q: When did you see Mrs Dombi next, Peter?
A: At the next "High Society" rehearsal, a week later.

Q: At school?
A: Yes.

Q: Did you speak to her?
A: Yes, during the break.

Q: What did you talk about?
A: She just thanked me for sorting out the radio.

Q: Did she mention dancing?
A: Yes.

Q: What did she say?
A: She liked dancing with me. She wanted to do it again.

Q: What did you say?
A: I said okay.

Q: Did you arrange a time and place?
A: No, but she asked me if I would go to their house to put the new spring in the following Saturday, which is today.

Q: And you agreed?
A: Yes.

Q: Did you know if Mr Dombi was going to be home?
A: No.

Q: If you'd known that he wasn't going to be there, would you still have gone?
A: Don't know, really . . . probably.

Q: Did you think that Mrs Dombi might make advances to you?
A: Advances?

Q: You know, kissing . . . and . . . other things?
A: I . . . sort of wondered about it as I cycled over.

Q: But you kept going?
A: Yes.

Q: When you arrived, did Mrs Dombi tell you her husband would be away?
A: Yes.

Q: What did she say?
A: She said he was not coming home till tomorrow evening.

Q: Did that bother you?
A: Yeah, a bit.

Q: Why?
A: I didn't know what would happen if we started dancing again. If Mr Dombi was there she wouldn't have done anything . . .

Q: You mean like . . . kissing you or something?
A: Yes.

Q: So were you hoping that she might . . . start something?
A: Dunno really. Part of me wanted it but part of me didn't.

Q: Why not?
A: In case I got into trouble or I didn't know what to do.

Q: Okay, Peter. I'll ask some more personal questions now. If you don't want to answer, just say so, okay?
A: Okay.

Q: Peter, had you had sexual intercourse before?
A: No.

Q: Did you know what it involves?
A: Well, I'd heard other boys talking about it.

Q: So you haven't learnt about it at school, like in biology lessons?
A: No.

Q: How old are you, Peter?
A: Fourteen. I'll be fifteen next month, November.

Q: Okay . . . so this morning . . . what happened?
A: You mean, when we started dancing?

Q: Yes. What sort of dance were you doing? Was there music playing?
A: It was a waltz, but we didn't have the radio on.
Q: So . . . what happened?
A: She held me very tightly and told me to put my hands on her bottom.

Q: And did you?
A: Yes.

Q: Did you like it?
A: Yes.

Q: Were you aroused?
A: Yes.

Q: And . . .
A: She kissed me on the lips.

Q: Did you respond?
A: Yes.

Q: Then what?
A: She said we should go upstairs.

Q: Upstairs?
A: Yes, to her bedroom.

Q: And you agreed?
A: Yes.

Q: What were your feelings?
A: I was nervous but I was excited.

Q: Did you think that Mrs Dombi was going to let you have sexual intercourse?
A: Yes.

Q: Didn't you think it would be wrong to have sexual intercourse with a married woman?
A: I knew it was wrong but it didn't stop me, especially as her husband was such a horrible man. It was like getting back at him for being such a bastard . . . sorry, Mum . . . I know I shouldn't use words like that.

Q: So you wanted to have sexual intercourse with Josette Dombi to spite her husband?
A: Yes, plus I thought it would be enjoyable.

Q: You didn't like Mr Dombi, then?
A: No. In fact I hated him.

Q: Why?
A: He used to shout at me. And also he hit me.

Q: How often had he hit you?
A: A few times.

Q: Why did he hit you?
A: For bad behaviour in class.

Q: Okay, so going back to this morning, what happened when you went into Mrs Dombi's bedroom?
A: She asked me to take off her clothes and then she took off my clothes and then she . . . well, she went on to her knees and . . .

Q: Okay, Peter, you don't need to say if you don't want to.
A: Well, after . . . that . . . I was a bit . . . a bit . . . sort of . . . worn out . . . so she told me to lie on the bed next to her and we sort of kissed and cuddled. She asked me to do . . . certain things to her, which seemed to make her very excited. After that we just lay together on the bed.

Q: Still without clothes?
A: Yes.

Q: And then what?
A: After about ten minutes Josette rubbed me with her hands and I felt aroused again. Then she opened a packet with a condom in it and put it on my penis. Then she lay on her back and told me to . . . can I say rude words, sir?

Q: Yes.
A: She told me to . . . she told me to fuck her. Sorry, Mum.

Q: So you had full sexual intercourse with Mrs Dombi?
A: Yes.

Q: What were your feelings afterwards. Did you feel guilty?
A: No, I felt happy . . . and proud.

Q: Proud? Why?
A: I'd just . . . you know . . . shagged a beautiful married woman whose husband I hated.

Q: Did Mrs Dombi want you to go home afterwards?
A: No, she wanted me to stay longer.

Q: Why?
A: She said we could do it again and then she would make lunch.

Q: And you agreed?
A: Yes.

Q: Wasn't your mother expecting you home?
A: She wouldn't have minded me staying out. She knows I sometimes meet my friends in Chesham on Saturdays. She gave me money to buy a sandwich and a drink.

Q: And did you make love again?
A: Well we started to, but then Mr Dombi came home.

Q: I see. Did you hear him come in?
A: No, we were sort of . . . busy and we didn't hear anything till Mr Dombi opened the bedroom door.

Q: What was his reaction?
A: He was angry . . . very angry.

Q: What did he do?
A: He was shouting in a foreign language and he came over to the bed and he lifted his arm like he was going to hit someone.

Q: Who was he going to hit, do you think, Peter?
A: Me or Mrs Dombi . . . or both of us.

Q: What did you do?
A: Well, Mrs Dombi looked scared so I thought I should protect her.

Q: Did you stop Mr Dombi hitting his wife?
A: Yes.

Q: Were you scared yourself?
A: Yes . . . but I was also angry.

Q: Why?
A: It was like at school. He was always shouting at people and hitting them, like a bully. So I didn't want him to hit Mrs Dombi.

Q: Did you hit him back?
A: Yes . . . I tried to. We started punching each other.

Q: What was Mrs Dombi doing?
A: She was crying and shouting . . . telling Mr Dombi to stop hitting me. She said she was going to call the police.

Q: What was his response?
A: He ignored her and kept trying to hit me.

Q: So did Mrs Dombi leave the room?
A: Yes. She said she was going to call the police.

Q: Did you get hurt, Peter?
A: Only a bit. I stopped him hitting my face and my tummy so it was just my arms. But also I fell over and hit my head on the bedside table. That was sore and my head started to bleed. But I got up again.

Q: Do you think you hurt Mr Dombi when you were fighting?
A: Yes, a bit. I managed to hit him on the chin and it sort of knocked him back.

Q: How long were you fighting?
A: Don't know . . . just a minute or two.

Q: And then the fighting stopped?
A: Yes.

Q: What happened next?
A: He started shouting at me.

Q: What did he say?
A: It was mainly in foreign.

Q: So you didn't understand?
A: No.

Q: Did you think he would hit you again?
A: I didn't know. He walked out of the bedroom.

Q: Did you think he was going to hit Mrs Dombi?
A: Yes. I went after him to stop him.

Q: Did he hit her?
A: No . . . he just shouted at her.

Q: In English?
A: Yes, and foreign too.

Q: What was Mrs Dombi doing?
A: She was still holding the phone. She said the police were coming. She said she would tell them he had hit me.

Q: What did Mr Dombi do?
A: Nothing. He was walking about, all agitated, like, talking to himself and sometimes shouting at me and Mrs Dombi.

Q: Were you still scared?
A: A bit.

Q: And Mrs Dombi? Was she still scared?
A: No, I don't think she was. She seemed sort of . . . calm. She told me to go upstairs and get dressed.

Q: And did you?
A: Well, first I asked her if it was safe to leave her. Mr Dombi was still angry and still shouting.

Q: What did she say?
A: She said she would be alright. She told me to go and get dressed and bring down her nightie, hanging behind the bedroom door.

Q: She still had no clothes on, then?
A: She'd taken the tablecloth off the table and wrapped it round her.

Q: Did you do what she asked?
A: Yes.

Q: And Mr Dombi didn't hit his wife?
A: No, I don't think so. While I was getting dressed I could hear voices from downstairs, mainly him, but sometimes Mrs Dombi too.

Q: Could you hear what they were saying?
A: No.

Q: So you got dressed and went downstairs?
A: Yes.

Q: What was happening there?
A: Nothing much. Mrs Dombi put on the nightie and Mr Dombi just sat in a chair.

Q: Was he saying anything?
A: No, just sort of muttering.

Q: Did Mrs Dombi say anything?
A: She asked me what I wanted to do.

Q: What did you say?
A: I asked her what she meant.

Q: What did she say?
A: She said I could wait for the police or I could go home.

Q: What did you say?
A: I asked her what I should do.

Q: What did she say?
A: She said it would be better if I waited for the police. She asked me if I needed first aid.

Q: You decided to stay, then?
A: I couldn't decide what to do. I didn't want to leave in case Mr Dombi started hitting Mrs Dombi after I'd gone.

Q: So . . . ?
A: I was still thinking about it when the police arrived.

Q: Who let them in?
A: I did.

Q: What did they do?
A: One of them got a first aid kit and put a bandage on my head, where it was bleeding. They said they would call an ambulance to take me to hospital. Then they started asking questions.

Q: Who did they ask?
A: All of us.

Q: What did they want to know?
A: Everything that happened.

Q: And you told them?
A: Yes, I told them and so did Mr and Mrs Dombi.

Q: What was their response, Peter?
A: They said I was going to the hospital but Mr and Mrs Dombi were going to the police station.

Q: Do you want to press charges against Mr Dombi?
A: What does that mean, sir?

Q: Sorry . . . do you want to make a complaint against Mr Dombi?
A: Because he hit me, you mean?

Q: Yes.
A: Well, I sort of deserved it, you know . . . doing what I did to Mrs Dombi.

Q: Yes. Do you want to officially complain?
A: Can I talk it over with my Mum and then decide?

Q: I think that's a good idea, Peter.
A: Will Mr Dombi get into trouble?

Q: Can't say at this point. Do you want him to get into trouble?
A: Not really. In his shoes I'd have probably done the same.

Q: Are you feeling OK now? What about your head?
A: They did some tests to check I hadn't got concussion. It's not bleeding now.

Q: Good, that's good news. Is there anything else you want to say? Any other questions?
A: Will Mrs Dombi get into trouble?

Q: Difficult to say, Peter. There are laws about this sort of thing, when adults have sexual activity with children. Would you be upset if she got into trouble?
A: Yes.

Q: Why?
A: I like her. She's a nice person.

Q: Well, let's leave that for the moment, shall we? Any other questions?
A: Suppose I said it was my fault, that I forced Mrs Dombi to . . . you know . . .

Q: Not a good idea, Peter. It would be a lie, wouldn't it?
A: Yes.

Q: Lies are usually found out in legal cases. As the old saying goes, "Honesty is the best policy." Do you agree?
A: Yes.

Q: Thank you, Peter, you've been very helpful. Good idea of yours, to record what we've been talking about. Can I take the tape away with me?
A: Yes, but can I have it back when you've finished with it––it's the only one I've got and it's got some of my experiments on it.

Q: Experiments?
A: Yes, I want to be a recording engineer for a music company when I leave school and I'm going to send my tape to EMI.

Q: No problem, Peter, I'll make sure you get it back as soon as we've taken a transcript of the interview. Do you need it back in a hurry?
A: No.

Q: Thank you, Peter. And thank you, Angela. Peter, can you stop recording now?
A: OK.
 





CHAPTER   22






"Did you say Stephen's coming here, Katha?"
    "Yes, Mutti. I'm helping him with songwriting."
    "Oh, yes, I think I remember him saying something about it––he wants to write words in German, is that it?"
    "Yes. He thinks it would be good for the group to sing in German, to build up their local fan club."
    There was a rustle from the armchair in the corner and Ulrich Haberlandt folded the newspaper he was reading. "Sounds like a waste of your time to me," he said. "What are you doing, messing around with these British beatniks? Haven't you got better things to do?"
    Katharina laughed. "Oh, come on, Ully, they're nice boys––you've said so yourself. They're certainly not beatniks. They're respectable, and everyone likes their music."
    "I don't like their music," came the grumpy reply. "Nor does anyone else I know."
    "That's because you only know old people."
    "It's because I only know normal people."
    "Misery guts!"
    "Foolish child!"
    "Hey, that's enough, you two," said Luisa, defusing the disagreement. "Will he be on his own, Katha? Where are the others?"
    "They're going to football with some friends. Stevie didn't want to go so here's coming here."
    "For lunch? Do I need to prepare something for him to eat? I was planning on Gulaschsuppe. It just needs heating up."
    "No, Mutti, thank you. He'll come later."
    The three of them were seated in the spacious lounge at the back of the house. Through the rain-spattered expansive patio doors could be seen the large garden with its rockeries and pond. Two apple trees stood guard at the far left corner, while on the opposite side tall mesh fencing separated the tennis court from the rest of the garden. On this grey October Saturday the only splashes of colour were a defiant cluster of golden sunflowers nodding to a small huddle of blue agapanthus in the gusty wind.
    It was the inclement weather keeping Ulrich prisoner in his house. Saturday was golf day and although it could not be openly stated both his wife and stepdaughter knew that not being able to whack a little white ball over sand pits and grassy knolls into little holes in the company of other fanatics was the root cause of his less than sunny disposition.
    Ulrich picked up his paper and started to read again. Luisa resumed the doily she was crocheting and their daughter turned back to her homework, books and papers scattered across the table top. For a while the only sound was the tattoo of rain against window.
    Katharina picked up her slide rule and scowled. "I don't know why I'm bothering with this. It's pointless."
    "What are you doing, darling?" asked her mother.
    "Calculating the latent heat of evaporation of water. We're doing it in physics. It's such a bore."
    Luisa grinned. "I can see your point of view. I don't even know what you're talking about."
    "We boiled some water in a calorimeter using an electric immersion heater and weighed the water after some of it had boiled away."
    "What's the purpose?"
    "We have to find out how many calories of energy it takes to turn one gram of water into vapour."
    "Uh-huh, I'm glad I asked," said Luisa.
    "When am I going to use this information?" moaned Katharina. "I'm not going to be an engineer or a scientist when I leave school."
    "It's discipline," came the voice from the corner. "It teaches your brain how to think properly. How to process information."
    "Did you learn it, then, Ully?"
    "Perhaps. I can't remember."
    "Anyway, we might all be dead next week when they start World War Three. So why bother with any school work?"
    There was a moment of silence and then Ulrich cleared his throat. "Good try, Katha, but that won't wash when you get into trouble for not completing your assignment. Some of your school chums might think it's a good way of getting out of homework but I don't think the teachers will be too impressed."
    Luisa looked up from her work. "What's the latest on that, Ully? What does the paper say? Shall we put the radio on?"
    "I listened to the bulletin at eleven thirty. The Russian ships are still inbound to Cuba and Kennedy has said the American Navy will intercept them." Ulrich snorted. "Khrushchev and Kennedy. They're like a couple of playground bullies squaring up to each other. They bluster and they hurl abuse but they won't press the button––they're not that stupid. Look at them, a Catholic rich kid and an Asiatic thug. Day and Night, those two."
    "The British say 'Chalk and Cheese'," said Katharina.
    "What?"
    "We say 'Day and Night' for things that are different. In English it's 'Chalk and Cheese'."
    "That's funny," said Luisa. "K and K. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Chalk and Cheese . . . although maybe it's not a matter to joke about."
    
[Note to reader: this conversation being in German, the actual words spoken by Luisa in the last sentence were: "Das ist komisch. K und K. Kennedy und Khrushchev. Kreide und Käse . . ." ]


    "Typical English," said Ulrich. "They're as illogical as their language."
    "Ulrich, dear, you don't speak English––well, not much––so what are you talking about?"
    "Chalk and Cheese––they're not as dissimilar as Day and Night, so it's a stupid metaphor."
    "You can't eat chalk," said Katharina, "and you can't write with cheese. That's quite a difference, isn't it?"
    "And they pronounce their words incorrectly," continued Ulrich, ignoring his daughter's observation. "The words sound different from the spelling."
    "The English language is based on German," laughed Luisa.
    "Well, they've made a right mess of it, haven't they," responded her husband.
    "Anyway, going back to what we were talking about," said Katharina, "are you saying you don't think they'll launch the missiles?"
    "No, I don't. You can bet that while those two fools snipe at each other, in the background the diplomats will be scurrying around doing a deal of some sort. That's what they're paid to do."
    "I think they're worried in West Berlin," said Luisa. "There are rumours that the Soviets might try to overrun the western sectors, using the Cuba crisis as an excuse."
    "No, that won't happen," said Ulrich. "It's the same thing. No-one wants to start nuclear war and the Soviets won't take the risk. There would be nothing to be gained if they took control of West Berlin. Well, no economic advantage, and precious little political advantage apart from propaganda for their own people. It would turn neutral countries against them."
    "Well, I'm relieved to hear you say that," said Luisa quietly. "I hope you're right."
    "'Mutual Assured Destruction'," said Katharina, speaking the English words. "That's what they told us at school. No-one would win if they started shooting missiles at each other. Everything would be destroyed. Funny, in English the letters M-A-D spell out their word for 'deranged'."
    "So," said Ulrich. "Let's assume that we'll all be here for a few years yet. Which means you have to do your homework, Katha, and I might get a game of golf before I forget how to swing a club."
    "Right, I'll make some lunch," said Luisa.
    "You think they play well, then, do you?" Ulrich asked his daughter when his wife had left the room.
    "Who?"
    "The Rocket Boys. Your hooligan British friends."
    "Stop it, Ully!" reproached Katharina.
    "I apologise. The gentlemen of the English Chamber Orchestra, I meant to say."
    "They're brilliant. It was nice of you, letting me go to the Vegas to hear them."
    "Your mother nagged me to permit it, after you nagged her."
    "I persuaded her."
    "Yes, by nagging. Against my better judgement, of course, allowing my daughter into that den of iniquity."
    "It's just a night club, Ully. I know some of the places on the Reeperbahn have a bad reputation, but there's been no trouble at the Vegas as far as I know."
    "Well, I vaguely know Konrad Galland, the owner. Played golf with him once or twice. He seems OK."
    "He thinks the boys are doing well, according to Stevie. They're certainly bringing in the punters. Herr Galland's thinking of giving them more work."
    "How long are they going to work at the club?"
    "Their plan was to stay a year if they could find work. Then they're going back to college. Well, Phil and Stevie are. I'm not sure about the other two. Don's getting modelling work as well, so he's in a good position. He can make money playing a guitar or standing in front of a camera."
    "You like them, then, Katha?"
    "Yes, very much. They're all different but they've got likeable personalities. Especially Stevie."
    "Luisa said the drummer was a homosexual."
    "Yes, Graham . . . he probably is."
    "These people are dangerous. You know that, don't you?"
    "What do you mean, dangerous?"
    "Homosexuals. They corrupt society. They should be castrated."
    "What!" shouted Katharina, incredulous. "Are you serious!"
    "Deadly serious. Some types of people undermine society if you let them. They have to be stopped."
    "That's outrageous!" protested Katharina. "They have just as much right to live their lives the way they want as you do."
    "I don't agree. These . . . elements . . . have to be . . . "
    "Eliminated? Is that what you're saying?"
    "No, I'm not saying that. But if we––"
    "Ulrich, that's horrible. Not so long ago we were doing that to Jews and gypsies and homosexuals and look how that ended up."
    "Well, young lady, when you know a bit more about history I'll take your point of view more seriously. Yes, we know the Nazis were wrong but they would never have got into power if the . . . undesirable elements . . . in society weren't bringing the country down. Communists and . . . others."
    "I'm sad to hear you talk this way. I didn't know you were so . . . harsh. You've met Graham. He's a lovely boy. You wouldn't have known he was homosexual unless someone told you."
    "Well, I grant you––"
    "Should he be castrated?"
    "OK, maybe not. All I'm saying is––"
    "Let's stop this, Ully, before we have a blazing row. I like Graham and so does everyone else. He's not a danger to society as far as I'm concerned, any more than you are."
    "Alright, we'll agree to disagree."
    Luisa came into the room. "Agree to disagree on what?"
    "Nothing," said Ulrich and Katharina in unison.
    Luisa looked at them, bemused. "Fine. Anyway, whatever it is, you can suspend the argument for a while because lunch is ready."
    The conversation reverted to trivialities as the Haberlandt family consumed their midday meal. Ulrich agreed, perhaps not with as much enthusiasm as Luisa would have liked, to accompany her to Hamburg to look at new curtains for the breakfast room. His stipulation was that shoe shops were absolutely off the itinerary and so the deal was struck.
    "You'll be alright on your own with Stephen?" asked Luisa.
    "Of course, Mutti. You don't need to worry."
    "How's he getting here? Push bike?"
    "No, the bike needs a new tyre. He's coming on the bus."
    "Well, be sure to offer him refreshment."
    "Yes," intervened Ulrich, an edge of sarcasm in his tone, "he'll need his cup of tea."
    "Ignore the old misery!" said Luisa.
    "I intend to," came the reply.

*   *   *   *   *

The walk from the bus stop to the Haberlandt house was only a couple of hundred metres so Stephen Mayfield was not too wet when Katharina opened the front door to him. They greeted each other in German as the girl took his leather jacket to hang up and for a minute or two swapped small talk in the same language but then the Rocketeer asked if he could switch to English for a while.
    "Of course!" said Katharina, smiling at him. "Let's sit down. Like a drink?"
    "Cup of tea, please."
    "No problem."
    "Funny," said Stephen.
    "What is?"
    "The way Germans speak English with an American accent. Although it's not so noticeable in your case."
    "Well, in the language schools many of the English teachers were American after the war, so maybe that explains it."
    "Not your Mum, though. She doesn't sound American."
    "She was learning her English before the war. And she was teaching me before I was learning it at school. So maybe I speak it more like English people."
    "Your Dad only speaks a bit of English, doesn't he?"
    Katharina nodded. "That's correct. He doesn't like it when Mutti and I speak it. Sometimes we do it just to annoy him."
    "It was nice of him to let us stay in the warehouse when we arrived."
    "Mutti asked him to do it."
    "Anyway, Konrad is offering us more work and more pay at the Vegas. We might be able to afford to move into our own apartment."
    "That would be nice."
    "Yes, and another option might come up too."
    "Option? Is that . . . a choice, a decision?"
    "Yes. Don's been offered modelling work in Frankfurt. The money would be very good, much more than he's getting now, playing with us."
    Katharina looked at him, concerned. "Would the group then split up?"
    "Not necessarily. People at the photo studio have told Don the pop music scene is really taking off in Frankfurt so maybe we could up sticks and relocate there if we can find work."
    "Up sticks? What is that?"
    "We could move there."
    "Oh." Katharina could not hide her disappointment.
    "Although I'd rather stay here myself, because . . . " Stephen's sentence petered out and he looked away.
    Katharina opened her mouth as if to say something, then changed her mind. After an awkward silence she put on a forced smile and stood up. "Right, cup of tea for the gentleman."
    Stephen sat in thought for a moment, then shook his head and picked up the notebook he'd brought. He flicked through a page or two. Glancing up for a moment his eye again caught the old photo of his father with Luisa, grinning in front of the plane. He dropped the notebook back on the table and went over for a closer look. Next to it were other pictures he hadn't paid any attention to before. In one of them a younger Luisa was smiling down at the baby in her arms. Presumably Katharina. In another three men were standing in front of a tank carrying German wartime markings. A third picture was a different man holding a model of a submarine.
    "Here we are, sir. One cup of tea."
    Katharina had reappeared, carrying two mugs. "You know, Stevie, I'm becoming an English lady––I am now sometimes drinking tea." She walked over and handed him his mug. "Ah, the family photos. You have seen them before, yes, when you have been in the house?"
    "Yes, but I've not looked at them closely." The boy took a sip of his beverage and pointed at the tank photo. "Who are these men?"
    "My father . . . " Katharina paused for a moment and then continued, "is the man in the middle. He was the commander of the tank." Katharina tapped the photo alongside. "And this is my uncle, Mutti's brother. He was an officer in the . . . Kriegsmarine . . . the fighting ships."
    "Navy?"
    "Yes, he was in a U-boat in the navy."
    "Did he survive the war?"
    "No, his boat was sunk."
    "Sorry."
    "It was war."
    "Yes."
    "And talking about it upsets Mutti."
    "I can understand that."
    "There are things I am wanting to know but I don't ask because I don't want to make her sad."
    "What sort of things?"
    Katharina didn't reply for a moment. Then she took Stephen's hand. "Come on, let's sit down. I'll tell you."
    She released him again as they seated themselves, the girl at the end of the sofa and the boy in an adjacent armchair.
    "You know about my father's certificate of death, don't you?"
    "Yes. You told me they'd got the dates muddled up."
    "I have been thinking about this. I don't think it's true that the dates are wrong."
    "You mean you think your father died before the war ended? Not after?"
    "That is what I think. Which means––"
    "That your birthday is earlier than you think or––" Stephen stopped, embarrassed.
    "Correct. The tank commander is not my father."
    "Wow," breathed the Rocketeer. "It must be difficult for you, not knowing."
    "I can accept it, Stevie. I love Mutti and I would not like to do things or say things that would make her cry."
    "Why not assume that your birthday was earlier than you thought, just to give you peace of mind."
    "I can't do that. It is better to think that I will never know the truth. But there is another question."
    "Yes?"
    "I already told you I had found some family documents in a cupboard in Mutti's bedroom. It was an accident––I was looking for something else. The certificate of death was in these papers."
    "Yes, I remember you telling me."
    "Well, after that Mutti put the documents somewhere else so I couldn't see them again, but one of the photos was left after she took the documents away––a small photo. She didn't notice that it had been left but I found it stuck in the corner."
    "What did it show?"
    "Me . . . well, I think it is me. It's a young child, one or two years old. The photo is a bit . . . unscharf . . . how do you say in English . . . "
    "Out of focus?"
    "Yes. Not clear. And on the back is written 'Kleine Rote'."
    Stephen did the translation. "Little Red?"
    "Yes, Little Red."
    "Little Red what, though?"
    "Well, it's either . . . weiblich . . . wie sagt man . . . "
    "Feminine?" offered Stephen.
    "Yes, feminine, or it's plural. Look at the endings of the words."
    "Yes, I know about adjectives agreeing with nouns."
    "OK, but there is only one person in the photo, the child."
    "So it's probably a female child that someone called 'Little Red.'"
    "Yes and . . . " Katharina shook her head. "I don't know––I think the words have been written by my grandmother," she continued, "that's the way she was writing."
    "So you think your granny wrote  'Little Red' on the back of a photo of you as a young child."
    "Yes."
    "Why?"
    "I don't know. But when I was very young I was thinking that Oma didn't like me. But when I said it to Mutti she said I was wrong, Oma loved me. But I thought Mutti was wrong."
    "So 'Little Red' might be an insult or something?"
    "Yes, but the question is: should I try to find out or would it be too . . . painful . . . for Mutti. Or for me."
    "Difficult. Have you still got the photo?"
    "Yes, I've hided it."
    "You've hidden it?"
    "Yes, hidden . . . what should I do, Stevie?"
    The Rocketeer sighed. "Sounds to me like it's best to leave it. According to my Dad lots of strange things happened in the war. Life wasn't normal. So you could either change your date of birth or accept that your Dad's death certificate was incorrect."
    "What about 'Little Red'?"
    "Ignore it. It's probably not anything sinister anyway. Maybe you were wearing red clothes when the picture was taken."
    "Yes, that could be it. Sorry to . . . what is the word . . . bore you with this. I haven't told anybody else."
    "Nonsense. Talk as much as you want."
    "No, that's enough. Let's do some work on the songs. What have you got?"
    Stephen smiled and picked up the notebook. "Teenage angst. Boy meets girl . . . boy breaks up with girl . . . I love her but she doesn't love me . . . drivel like that. More serious stuff too, though. Like 'Don't You Dare', one of our best songs."
    "Yes, you played it three times at the Vegas when I heard you. The audience loved it. You want to sing it with German words?"
    "Yes."
    Katharina smiled at the boy, eyes glowing. "I can think of a good story for a song."
    "Go on."
    "A boy comes to Germany to look for work and he meets a German girl and they fall in love."
    There was a silence and the youngsters looked at each other steadily.
    Stephen took a deep breath. "Is the boy a musician?"
    "Yes, he plays a guitar. And many years before, his Vati had met the girl's Mutti and they had been in love."
    "And the boy is eighteen and––"
    "The girl is sixteen."
    "Romeo and Juliet."
    "Yes . . . no . . . this song would have a happy ending."
    "And how would the story start?"
    "With a kiss."
    "And when would it start?"
    "Now."
 





CHAPTER   23






In Dr Briers' office sat the Head himself, Clement Mayfield, Diana Dockerell, Victor Pollard and Vanessa Lambourne. The school's Head of English was in attendance in his role of Director of Acting for the "High Society" production. He was a round-faced affable man of fifty or so, almost bald except for tufts of grey hair above the ears. Like Dr Briers and Clement he was wearing half-moon specs. Diana's reading glasses were full framed. The only member of the group able to read the documents they held in their hands without corrective lenses or by holding them at arm's length was upper sixth-former Vanessa Lambourne, Stage Manager for "High Society". Vanessa was a dark-haired girl with a full figure and an attractive face which already suggested a person who would achieve a position of authority in later years. "Diana Dockerell Mark Two", Clement had found himself thinking more than once.
    A week had passed since Dr Briers had delivered his bowdlerised précis of the Dombi scandal to School Assembly and the topic was no longer dominating classroom and playground gossip. Peter Young bore his healing scars with pride and basked in the attention radiating towards him from the admirers of the boy who had bedded a teacher's wife. The moniker "Sparky" had been elbowed aside in favour of the more appropriate "Shaggy" and one or two of the teachers had overheard a sniggered "Spunky". A new task for janitor Prosper Kingsman was eradicating graffiti in the pupils' toilets referring to Josette "blowing Pete's trumpet" and "waving Pete's baton" and other more obscene variations on the theme. Prosper was amused to note that some of lascivious scribbles were even to be found on the walls of the girls' toilets.
    Diana had asked for an update on the Dombi affair at the start of the "High Society" Progress Meeting and the Head was able to tell the others that Janos Dombi was still living in the Riverbank Lane house, apparently seeking a new teaching position, and his disgraced wife had fled to her native France, location unknown, although Dr Briers said she had telephoned him to apologise for bringing the school into disrepute and hoped she would be forgiven. Apparently, she told the Head, her lapse of moral rectitude was partly triggered by the prospective imminent annihilation of herself and all other life forms on the planet when the nuclear missiles were launched. Josette wanted as much love as she could grab before the End of the World. Dr Briers did not challenge her on her logic of ensuring her young lover wore a condom if they were about to be incinerated along with everyone else, including any newly fertilised egg in her womb.
    The tabloids had had a field day. "TEENAGER'S SEX ROMP WITH TEACHER'S WIFE", "OOH LA LA! FRENCH WIFE BEDS SCHOOLBOY" and "VIOLINIST PLAYS WITH HER NEW BEAU" shouted the red-tops. There were reports on the radio and television too. Josette's name had peppered the news stories but legal constraints arising from Peter's tender years had kept his name out of the public domain, much to his disappointment and his mother's relief. The persons least interested in the affair appeared to be the police, who were taking no further action.
    "Those damned missiles," said Dr Briers now. "They're being used as excuses for all sorts of lax behaviour. It's about time it got sorted out."
    "It's strange," said Diana. "It's like everyone's leading two parallel lives. They're going about their normal everyday business but now and again they stop and wonder 'what's the point of it all if I won't be here next week'. Well, that's how my thoughts go, and other people I've talked to think the same."
    Clement turned to the sixth-former. "What do you and your friends make of it, Vanessa?"
    The girl shrugged. "Pretty much what Mrs Dockerell just said. It's as if the missile crisis is a fantasy which might just come true. So we all carry on as normal but sometimes have black thoughts. It's not mentioned very often when we talk to our friends, though some people make jokes about it. Will it happen, do you think, sir? Will the missiles get launched?"
    "I don't think so," said Clement. "Khrushchev and Kennedy are intelligent men. They have to put on a show of sabre-rattling for the folks back home but I expect that behind the scenes there's a lot of diplomatic activity going on."
    "Talking about 'behind the scenes'", said Victor, "shall we assume we'll survive the crisis and bring ourselves back to the mundanities of 'High Society'? Vanessa, can you give us a run down on your department, please?"
    Vanessa lifted the document she was holding. "What I've just handed out to you is copies of the latest update and a mock-up of the programme notes. That's monochrome, of course. The full-colour version is in my folder. We'll have to decide whether the budget stretches to colour when we go to print."
    "We can afford colour," said Diana. "I checked that with the printers."
    "Okay," continued Vanessa. "The sets and props are coming along nicely. I've got to rewrite some of the blocking to add the changes suggested by Mr Pollard but it won't be a problem. My only niggle is that Kevin has missed the last two rehearsals and I've had to use a stand-in. Should I challenge him on that, do you think? Or would it be better coming from a teacher?"
    "Yes, I noticed that," said Clement. I'll look into it if you like."
    "Thank you, sir."
    "As your assistant, it's the least I can do. What about the electrics and lighting? How is our hero of the bedroom doing?"
    "He's fine," smiled Vanessa. "He's doing a good job with the lighting. I've seen the cue sheet he's prepared––it's very precise and very detailed."
    "Out of curiosity, what's his current nickname, Vanessa?" asked Dr Briers. "Have they reverted to 'Sparky'?"
    "Best you don't know, sir," said Vanessa, smiling again.
    "I expect you're right," muttered the Head.
    "How's the music side going, Clem?" asked Victor.
    "Okay," came the reply. "But I wish there was someone who could conduct the orchestra properly."
    "Well, I think I have the answer to your prayers," said Diana. "Pamela Church, the cello teacher. She says she'll be available for most of the rehearsals and she's got a friend who'll take her place in the string section while she's wielding the baton. We've got a third former taking Josette's place in the fiddle section. Not as good as her, of course, but he'll do. Seems keen anyway. Pamela is rewriting the difficult passages to make it easier for him."
    "The critics will have a field day," said Dr Briers with a grimace. "Having to bring in outside reinforcements to do the job."
    "Ah, the cello player's not an outsider, though. He's an old boy of the school. A very old boy, aged sixty-nine."
    "Bloody hell!" said Clement, ignoring Diana's frown of disapproval at his lapse into intemperate language, "He would have been a schoolboy when Victoria was on the throne."
    "Pamela says he was a music teacher himself once so he knows what it's all about."
    "Well," said Dr Briers. "The big question is: are we going to be ready for a Christmas performance? Diana?"
    The producer pouted. "Let's check what the others think. Vic, what about the acting?"
    "Overall, I'm happy. One or two of the cast are perhaps not as dedicated as they might be but as the momentum picks up I'm sure they can be cajoled into putting in the effort required. I agree with Vanessa that Kevin Turner needs a shot across his bow. Perhaps he needs telling he's not indispensable, even if he is."
    "Clem?"
    "With Pamela Church at the helm I would say the orchestra's up to the mark."
    "I've been impressed when I've heard them," said Victor. "And the singing is as good as the acting, I would say."
    "Good," said Diana. "Vanessa?"
    The girl tossed her dark hair back. "No problems for me. Minor details still to sort out. The main sets are built or being built. Lighting . . . Peter Young's on top of that . . . " Vanessa stopped talking and smiled, apparently amused by a personal thought.
    "Yes," grinned Clement, "we know what you're thinking. Peter Young on top of things."
    "Mr Mayfield, please!" chided Diana. "This is no place for those sorts of comments."
    But Dr Briers and Victor Pollard couldn't stop their own smiles.
    "Anyway," sighed Vanessa, conducting herself more maturely than the men, "Peter wants to record the performances. I saw him this morning and he wanted me to ask you if that's okay."
    "Why does he want to do that?" asked Diana.
    "He says he'll record all three performances and then edit them to make a single recording of the best takes. Then that will be a master recording, or something. Then he'll take it to a company that makes discs you can play on a record player and sell them."
    "Is that legal?" queried Clement. "What about copyright laws and so on?"
    "Cheeky blighter!" said the Head. "Cashing in like that. Doesn't seem right to me. Should we forbid him?"
    "The money from the sales would go to the school, he said, to buy more recording equipment."
    "I take it back," said Dr Briers. "Though the idea of altruism guiding Peter Young's behaviour will take some getting used to, I must say."
    "On a technical matter," said Clement, frowning, "where's he planning to site the microphone? We don't want it intruding into the visual presentation."
    Vanessa screwed up her eyes. "He's doing it in stereo, he told me. They'll be a microphone each side of the stage, so they won't get in the way."
    "Wouldn't he need two recorders, then?"
    "Don't think so, sir. He's using his own recorder––when he showed us how it worked he plugged two microphones into it somehow––I think."
    "Where did he get two microphones?" asked Diana.
    Vanessa shrugged. "Search me, miss."
    "And how will people listen to the recordings?" asked Clement. "Not many people have got stereo record players."
    Another shrug from the Stage Manager.
    "Perhaps he can produce mono discs from the stereo inputs," suggested Clement. "I'll look into the copyright rules and see if what he's suggesting is legit."
    The meeting lasted another ten minutes or so, tying up loose ends, then Dr Briers thanked Vanessa for her efforts and dismissed her.
    "She'll go far, that young lady," said the Head. The others agreed.
    "If all our pupils were like her our job would be an undiluted delight," offered Victor.
    "You're right," said Diana.
    "I can see her as Deputy Head of a good school one day," smiled Clement with a sideways look at the current holder of the position at Chesham Bois Grammar.
    "Clement––"
    "It's a compliment to both of you."
    "It had better be!"
    "Talking of talented people," said Victor, "I have some good news for Prosper."
    "Go on," said Dr Briers.
    "It took a while but I've found a publisher for his poems."
    "The ones about Jamaica?" asked Clement.
    "Yes, that's right. They've accepted some of them and asked him to rewrite some of the others. I told them I'd help him with that if he wants me to. The publishers gave us some guidance on what they want."
    "That's fantastic," said Clement. "Have you told him yet?"
    "No." Victor looked at the Head. "I thought I should tell you first, in case you wanted to do it."
    "No," said Dr Briers. "It's your show, well, yours and Prosper's. You should be the one to tell him."
    "Thanks, I'm sure he'll be thrilled."
    "Who are the publishers?"
    "Armstrong and Chadband."
    "I think I've heard of them. Are they paying him an advance?"
    "Figures haven't been mentioned. Perhaps one of us should check the contract for him. Make sure he isn't being diddled."
    "It would be a real fillip for him, wouldn't it?" said Clement. "Even more so if we got the poems into the literature syllabus."
    "Would that be such a good idea?" said Diana doubtfully. "I've seen some of the material. It's very ungrammatical and his spelling is all over the place. It wouldn't be a good example to the pupils, would it?"
    "Well, Shakespeare wasn't too good at spelling," countered Victor. "He couldn't even spell his own name consistently. Perhaps we should delete the Bard's stuff from the syllabus."
    "That's different," said Diana.
    "How so?"
    "Well, it's Shakespeare, it's classical, it's . . . "
    "Good writing," suggested Clement, bringing the Deputy Head's pause to an end, "regardless of spelling."
    "I'm outnumbered! Archie, help me!"
    "I'm sitting on the fence," grinned Dr Briers, "like all good leaders of men."
    "Coward!"
    "That's me!"
    Diana sighed and then smiled. "Alright. I'm a teacher––it's my duty to encourage any form of creativity."
    "Hallelujah!"
    "She's seen the light!"
    "Right, you lot," said Dr Briers, "if you've finished bickering I'm going to shoo you out. I want to go home."
    A few minutes later Clement and Diana were walking out of the school. He turned to look at her.
    "Can I give you a lift home?"
    The Deputy Head looked at her watch. "Thanks, Clem, but the bus will be along in three minutes. Don't want to put you out of your way."
    "Okay."
    "But can I ask you a question?"
    "Of course. I hope I know the answer."
    "It's easy. It's either 'yes' or 'no'."
    "How many goes do I get?"
    "Will you come to dinner one evening soon?"
    It was the first time Diana had seen Clement flummoxed. He stopped in his tracks, lost for words.
    "Don't look so shocked."
    Clement found his voice again. "But . . . why? . ."
    Diana laughed. "Because I want you to, you idiot."
    "Ah, that's better, you're insulting me." Clement had regained his self-control. "For a moment I thought you'd lost your senses."
    "Will you come to dinner?"
    "May I bring my pipe?"
    "Yes."
    "In that case, I graciously accept."
    Driving home to Berkhamsted, Clement found himself reviewing his relationship with Diana, concluding that it was based more on mutual professional respect rather than natural affinity. Her hyper-efficiency sometimes irritated him and their areas of disagreement outnumbered those in which their opinions overlapped. And by God, she could be bossy! But out of school she seemed more relaxed, he had noted in the past. It would be fascinating to find out what made her tick when she hosted dinner for him at her house.
    Arriving home he found his daughter reading the paper. Jennifer usually caught the bus to be with her friends rather than take a lift in her father's car. But if they happened to leave school at the same time and the weather was inclement she was prepared to disregard the critical banter from her school chums and jump into the A30.
    "Hello, Dad," said Jennifer without looking up. "There's a couple of air mail letters for you, from Germany. Must've come in the second post. One of them looks like Stephen's handwriting."
    Both the envelopes were postmarked Hamburg, 17.10.62. And yes, the address on one of them had been penned by his son. The handwriting style on the other, unless he was mistaken, was Luisa's.
 





CHAPTER   24






Hamburg
16 Oct 62

Lieber Vati!
    Wie geht es für dich und meine Schwester? See––my German's much better now. If I could resit the O-level I'm sure I'd do better than the D grade I scraped last time.
    By & large things are going OK here. The group has been promoted to Herr Galland's "zweiter" status, so we're playing more & getting more money. We've got our own fan club! All we need now is a recording contract & we'll be rich & famous. Trouble is, there are still loads of other British groups playing here & they play as well as us, some even better if truth be told. There's a strong contingent from Liverpool & Manchester. We've brought some of our own songs into our set & people seem to like them.
    We're now thinking of moving into an apartment. The Eleganz warehouse has been OK, a bit claustrophobic at times though. And I think Herr Haberlandt wouldn't be too unhappy if we moved out. He's alright but he's not in our fan club sadly! He hasn't heard us play & according to Katharina he thinks everyone associated with the Reeperbahn is a tramp or a beatnik or a sex pervert. But actually the Vegas, where we work, is clean & safe. There have been a couple of fights but the bouncers get rid of the troublemakers before anyone gets seriously hurt.
    The only cloud on the horizon is Don. His guitar playing is fantastic & the audience love it when he's doing solos. But he's drinking a lot & taking a lot of pep pills. We missed a performance one evening when Don didn't show up. He spends a lot of time at his girlfriend's flat & sometimes we don't see him for several days except when he comes to the club to play. Herr Galland was livid the day we had to cancel & said if it happened again we would be fired. I think Don got the message––he's been a bit less wild since then. He's also been offered modelling work in Frankfurt. At the moment he says he'll stick with the Rocketeers but Giselle––his girlfriend––has told him he should get an agent to negotiate more money than what they're offering now. If he goes to Frankfurt it might be the end of the group. I don't know how easy it would be to find a new guitarist here who's as good as Don & I for one don't want to go to Frankfurt for reasons I'll explain later. It would be a shame because if we stopped working we'd probably have to come home as we would quickly run out of funds. But again––more later.
    Graham seems happier now than when we started here. We think he's found a boyfriend but we don't talk about it. He's an Italian boy who is an art student, I think. His name is Ricco & he speaks pretty good English & he seems OK to us except for you know what. We don't know if he gets up to anything with Graham & we don't want to know.
    Phil's run into a bit of a problem. He got a letter from Eleanor saying she's dumping him. We were amazed––they've been going out for ages. She told him she'd found someone else & said it wouldn't have happened if Phil had stayed in England. Phil was sad but he's like a mountain. When things aren't going well he just finds a way of dealing with it. He's really the backbone of the Rocketeers. I hope he finds another girl soon. There are plenty in our fan club who would happily date him––he has to fight them off some evenings when we're playing!
    How are things in dear old Blighty? What about High Society? Are you still planning to perform it at Christmas? If for some reason we're back in the UK then I wouldn't mind going to see it. I take it Lady Docker is still running the show. Am I allowed to use teachers' nicknames now I've left school?
    We heard a rumour that there was some sort of scandal at the school recently. We heard that Peter Young was caught fornicating with a female teacher in the staff room or something like that. Is it true? Can you name names? Was it Lady Docker!!!
    What are they thinking about the Cuba crisis in England? No-one seems very bothered here. The word is that no-one would know anything about it if the missiles get launched––we'd be fried before the warning could be given. We heard some American servicemen talking at the Vegas saying America should nuke the USSR immediately. A bunch of German students started responding––in German––giving the impression they were agreeing, lots of "jawohls" & nodding their heads & raising their glasses. Actually what they were saying was: you should take your missiles & stick them up your exhaust pipes––if you get the meaning!
    How is my dear sister? Still just as irritating as always??!! I've got some photos of us playing at the Vegas which she might like to see. She might show me more respect now I'm a pop star! Give her my love, anyway. We're following the "French" look that some of the younger types are wearing now. We decided green was too way out for our stage suits so we got new black leather jackets instead. And black leather trousers! This was Giselle's idea. It's like Henry Ford––you can wear any colour as long as it's black. Giselle calls herself an "Exi", which apparently is short for "Existentialist" but I've no idea what that's supposed to mean. Giselle says we should also dye our hair black but we drew the line there, although we now comb it forward over the forehead in the new style. I've also taken some shots of us on the Leica––I'll send some copies when I've had them made.
    I think Luisa might be going to England for a visit soon. She told us Ulrich was going to a business meeting in Sheffield, where they're going to make clothes for the Eleganz store, something like that, & she would probably go with him. So I expect you'll hear something from Luisa yourself soon.
    And now the best bit of news, Dad! I've got a new girlfriend. You'll never guess––it's Katharina. She's just absolutely fantastic. A bit young––only 16––but she acts like an 18-year old. She's just beautiful––better than the photos we've seen in the past. We went out together a couple of times & both agreed we were meant for each other. Once we were sure of that we told Luisa & Ulrich. Funnily enough Luisa didn't seem too keen on the idea––probably because Katha's a bit young. It's a pity because I'm sure Luisa likes me & I certainly like her. She hasn't forbidden us to meet or anything like that but she hasn't encouraged us either. Katha & I just hope she'll accept the situation when she sees that we really love each other & I'm not just taking advantage. Ulrich doesn't seem too fussed himself but he never really shows much emotion about anything––apart from golf, that is. If the Rocketeers break up I'd like to stay here to be with Katha, which means I would have to get a job of some sort if no-one needs a rhythm guitarist.
    Katha's a wonderful girl, Dad––the German pronunciation is "Katta". As you probably know, her father was killed in a tank battle at the end of the war & her uncle was killed when his U-boat was sunk but she doesn't hate the British. Most young Germans seem to like the British & the Americans––apart from GIs who want to nuke Russia, of course!
    I'll give you a phone call soon––can't say exactly when because it will probably be Luisa's phone––she says we can use it if we want when we're at her house––it's easier than using a public phone when you're calling abroad. Probably a Monday or Tuesday evening around 7.00 pm UK time. Now Katha & I are going out I'll probably be at her house more often. But I won't overdo it in case Luisa doesn't like it. Let's hope she comes round to our point of view!
    Love to you & Jen.
    Bis später!
    Stephen
 





CHAPTER   25






Ottensen
17.10.62

Dear Clement,
    I write to tell you I'm coming to England! The first time for me! Ully must go to a city called Sheffield––do you know it? They are going to make wool clothes there for our shop. Ully says it's cheaper to do that than to make them in Germany, including the cost of transport. We arrive at London Airport at 1545 on 1 November (Thursday). I will send the flight details in another letter. But for the weekend we stay in London. There are so many things I want to see––museums and theatres and art galleries and the famous landmarks. When we are not in Sheffield we stay in the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair.
    Do you want to meet me? I could get a train to your town or you could come to London. It would be lovely if you could show me round the famous city! Do you realise it's 14 years since we last saw each other. A lot of things have happened since then! It was a horrible time in Berlin when we were both there but I have fond memories of when we were working at Tempelhof and when you came to our apartment (is "fond" the correct word for when you like something? I teach English––I should know these things!).
    Stephen and the other boys are now becoming famous in Hamburg. The proprietor of the Vegas club is pleased by them. He now pays them more for each hour and they play the later shows with more listeners. But there was a problem not long ago. Don was not coming to the club one evening and Herr Galland had to cancel the show. He was angry and told them he would stop the contract if Don did this again. Katharina has told me that Don is now meeting Exis all the time and his girlfriend is one of these. They are strange people––they wear black clothes and black eye marking––even the boys! But the problem with Don is that he is taking stimulant drugs––too many, says Stephen. It makes his behaviour erratic (the right word?). Stephen also says Don might be going to Frankfurt to be a fashion model, which would mean the Rocketeers would perhaps have to stop.
    Are you worried about the Cuba crisis in England? We talk a lot about it here but everyone says there is nothing we can do about it. There are lots of British and American military bases in the Bundesrepublik and people think that if a war starts the missiles would be sent to them to destroy them. One of Ully's friends says there would be so much radio-activeness that it would be better to be killed immediately than to be sick for a long time and then die from the poison in the air. Not a nice thing to think about. We all go to work and live our lives as if everything is normal but then you think "suppose it all ends next week".
    Let's talk about nicer things! Are you in good health? How is Jennifer? Stephen is often criticising her but it's easy to see he loves his sister and is proud of her and misses her––and her father! He told me you are in a music show at your school––another famous star in the family! I have seen "High Society" and I thought it was a good film. If only I looked like Grace Kelly! But Stephen says you help with the music and the organisation––a "back room boy" he says.
    And now a difficult subject––Jennifer and you are not the only people Stephen loves. He says he also loves Katharina. I think Stephen is a wonderful boy and I have become fond(?) of him myself. I don't think he is the sort of boy who would make a girl like him just to have sex with her. I don't think they have yet done this and I have not asked her if they have done it. But she is only 16! She is too young for love with a boy! It must be infatuation (I looked for this word in the dictionary). I have not said to Katha that she must not meet Stephen because I don't want her to hate me. And I really like Stephen, which makes it even more difficult to keep them apart. If I stop her meeting him she might look for another boy who is not as nice. Yes, she is 16, but she behaves as if she were older. Is "mature" the correct way to say this in English? She is also asking questions about her father. You know the truth, Clement, because I told you many years ago. I told her the date was written wrong on Leo's Death Certificate but I don't think she believes me. Ulrich doesn't object to Katha dating Stephen and doesn't know about her birth father. But that still makes two problems I have to deal with. I have never discussed Katha's father with my friends in case the secret becomes told to everyone. Dear Clement––what shall I do?
    Well, this letter is not becoming what I thought it would be. I might tear it up and write a new version. If I don't do that and I send it to you please ignore the "difficult" parts. I get comfort to know that Stephen will not hurt Katha––that's the most important thing.
    Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to seeing you again if it can be arranged and you want to do it.
    Deine Freundin
    Luisa
    xxx

Berkhamsted
20th October '62

Dear Luisa,
    I'm so glad to hear you're coming to England. It would be great to meet and have a long catch up. Probably best if I take the train to London and meet you there. Another alternative––we're on our half term holiday so I can meet you at the airport. Are you going straight to your hotel? I could even drive you there––there is no rail link between the airport and the city, but most of the airlines provide buses, I think. Or you could get a taxi––I don't know how expensive they are. Do you want me to find out?
    I had a letter from Stephen telling me almost the same details as you wrote in yours. The future of the Rocketeers seems to depend on what Don decides to do. If Stephen comes home he'll have to get a job of some sort because he deferred his degree course one year when he decided to chance his arm as a pop musician in Hamburg. He might be famous in Germany but nobody knows about his music skills here!
    Our view of the missile crisis is similar to yours––carry on as normal and wait and see. The government has broadcast civil defence precautions on the television but we think they're just going through the motions to make it look as if they're doing something––hiding under a table isn't going to be much use against a multi-megaton nuclear warhead. We understand that there would be only four minutes' warning of an attack. My view is that common sense will prevail and some formula will be found to defuse the situation. So I'll get to see you after all!
    On the subject of Stephen and Katharina my views pretty well coincide with yours. Sixteen is too young an age to commit to a serious romantic liaison. We've all known the blind infatuation (you used the right word) of teenage attraction and we all emerge unscathed after passing through it. I think Stephen is a sensible boy and it's not in his nature to follow a course of action unless he's thought about the consequences. And I think you're right when you say you don't think he'll trifle with Katharina's heart. I haven't met your daughter since she was a toddler but you've told me many times she's not headstrong. So like you I would not interfere. The passion is either deep and sincere and enduring or else it will fade away with the passage of time. At the risk of sounding facetious, it's a bit like Cuba––we carry on as normal and wait and see what happens.
    As far as telling Katharina about her father––your first husband, I mean––it's a tricky one. Having given it some thought I would say it would be best to tell her that the death certificate date is correct but you didn't want her to know in case it upset her––which is the truth, of course. I'm suggesting this because even though the last weeks of the war were pretty chaotic in Germany, it's possible that there are other records confirming that Leo's tank was destroyed before the war ended. If Katharina is persistent in her enquiries she might find this out, in which case she might be angry with you for avoiding telling her the truth.
    The problem about Katharina's birth father might be not quite so difficult to deal with. No-one knows what actually happened except you, your deceased mother and the Russian soldier who ran away when you killed the rapist. I can't imagine he would have made an official report of the incident for several reasons––he probably wouldn't want his superior officers to know that he had been aiding and abetting the rape itself (although I may be wrong on that) and he certainly wouldn't want them to know that he had deserted a comrade. Also he would have been ashamed that an unarmed German woman had killed his comrade and scared him off. So you could invent a temporary lover who protected you from the Russians and who got you pregnant. He could be German or American or British and you could say he gave you a false name so you couldn't trace him afterwards.
    I hope it all works out for you and let's hope for the best where Stephen and Katharina are concerned and that the US and the USSR work out their differences. Then we can look forward to meeting without any clouds (nuclear or otherwise) over our heads.
    Dein Freund (see––I remembered the adjective agrees with the noun!)
    Clement
    x
 





CHAPTER   26






Clement raised his glass. "Here's to the new Head of Chesham Bois Grammar School."
    "It's not official yet," said Diana with a smile, lifting her own glass of Chablis. "As I said, I've still got to get formal approval from the governors. And remember, you're the only person I've told. Please keep it to yourself in case it all falls through."
    "It won't. I'll bet a year's pay on it."
    "I can't deny I'll be thrilled when it happens . . . if it happens. It's all so unexpected."
    "Yes, it was a bit of a shock when Archie told us he was throwing in the towel. We thought he'd hang on for another year or two. But I suppose with his wife's health failing it's understandable he wants to spend more time with her."
    "One or two of the others thought you'd throw your hat into the ring, Clem."
    "Me?" The geography teacher shook his head. "No, I'm not cut out for that sort of thing. That's why I wasn't unhappy when you were appointed as DH from outside. I didn't apply for the position because I knew I'd be too . . . soft. You've told me that often enough yourself, Diana. Chalk and cheese, that's us."
    The two teachers were sitting at the dinner table in Diana's house, a suburban semi in Amersham-on-the-Hill, a couple of miles to the south of the school. The first course was a tossed salad with crusty rolls, which Diana had admitted was a lazy option, especially as the half term holiday had given her more free time than usual. The sips of wine that the diners now took to celebrate Diana's expected promotion were actually the second toast of the evening. The preceding libation was in honour of Presidents Kennedy and Khrushchev, who between them had decided not to annihilate the world in a nuclear fireball. The BBC television news had spoken of the Russian leader backing down and withdrawing the ships heading for Cuba with their deadly weapons. Clement had cynically suggested that the Americans would have secretly given something in return.
    "What a world we live in," suggested Diana, picking up the earlier theme. "It's as if the old order is being swept away and nothing is certain anymore. Okay, we're not going to war this time but how long before the next political crisis?" She raised a querying eyebrow at her dinner companion. He was wearing a suit rather than the sports jacket with the loose elbow patch and altogether looked quite presentable. Over a pre-prandial glass of sherry she had given him permission to light that infernal pipe if he wanted. He had declined, choosing a cigarette instead. Diana silently thanked him for his consideration. She herself did not smoke at work or at home except on social occasions. This evening she had taken one of Clement's Embassy tipped to puff at to keep him company. She was careful not to inhale the smoke as she knew from experience that the nicotine made her light-headed.
    "People have been saying that for centuries," offered Clement in reply to Diana's observation. Peering at his hostess through the smoke he had just exhaled he noted not for the first time that evening how elegant she looked in her black dress and pearls. The styling of her light brown hair was more intricate than usual and there was more make-up around the eyes.
    "Every new generation thinks the world is doomed," he continued now. "Or at least, the human race is doomed. Critics of George Stephenson believed his new-fangled steam locomotives would poison the atmosphere with their smoke and the noise would frighten animals to death."
    "Good point," nodded Diana. "We worry about nuclear weapons but no doubt there'll be new things to threaten us in the future."
    "Actually, it's the older generation who fear the worst," said Clement. "They don't like new ideas or new technologies. It unsettles them. But the youngsters take it in their stride. Until they become old themselves and worry about the sweeping away of the world they're used to. And so the cycle continues."
    The discussion continued over the chicken marengo Diana served up as the second course. The hostess noted the trend of realism in the theatre that was quickly gaining momentum.
    "Look at 'High Society'. It's only a few years old and yet it already seems dated and artificial compared to these 'kitchen sink' dramas now doing the rounds. I'm not so sure I like the new wave. It's too . . . brutal."
    "Yes, I agree to some extent," said Clement, "but again that's because you and I have been brought up on Hollywood schmaltz. The younger generation are rebelling against that."
    "We disagreed on 'Lady Chatterley', though, you and I."
    "We did."
    "And pop music, too."
    "Yes, but interestingly enough my daughter used to have the same opinion as you," said Clement. "She looked down her nose at it not so long ago. Now she's got her transistor permanently stuck to her ear, just like all her friends. There's a station called Radio Luxembourg that broadcasts continuous pop music in the evenings and sometimes Jen has it on when she's doing her homework. Some of the stuff they blast out I found I quite like. I've taught myself to play 'Telstar' on the piano."
    "I thought Telstar was one of those . . . what do you call them . . . satellite things."
    "So it is. But the music industry never misses a chance to cash in on novelties. The 'Telstar' record is top of the Hit Parade, I believe."
    "Popularity doesn't necessarily mean quality, though."
    "You may be right there, Diana. But how do you define quality in music? As I suggested to Jen, surely it's a case of––if you like it, it's good, if you don't, it's bad."
    "Fair point, I suppose."
    "Jen told me that Tchaikovsky was Number One in the Hit Parade a few months ago."
    Diana frowned in disbelief. "Really?"
    "A pop group did a jazzed up version of the Nutcracker overture––'Nutrocker' I think they called it."
    Diana shook her head. "See what I mean? Everything is getting muddled up these days."
    "But as long as there are people like Mrs Dockerell in the world stability will be maintained. Standards will not be allowed to slip."
    "Don't be sarcastic!"
    "I mean it!"
    The diners both took a sip of wine.
    "Your boy is working in Germany in a pop group, isn't he?"
    "Yes, in a group called the 'Rocketeers'."
    "Very up-to-date. Is it going well for them?"
    "Yes, apart from one or two complications." Clement gave Diana a potted history of the fortunes of his son's group.
    "So, if this Don chappie leaves, the others will have to come home?"
    "Yes, unless they can find a replacement."
    "He's a bright boy, your Stephen. He was a pleasure to teach––when he applied himself. What's his long term plan?"
    "He wants to be a professional photographer."
    "Mmm . . . interesting. How do you feel about that?"
    "If he finds work that pays him enough to support the lifestyle he wants, and it's legal and he's not exploiting other people, then that's a good result as far as I'm concerned. Photography . . . or music . . . or anything else."
    "Is photography one of your hobbies, Clem?"
    "Uh-huh. And other MTAs."
    "MTAs?"
    "Sorry, I sometimes get carried away by the current craze for acronyms. It means 'multiple trivial activities'."
    Diana nodded. "Didn't you tell me you were writing a book?"
    "Yes."
    "About . . . "
    "The weather. It's a layman's guide to interpreting meteorological data."
    "Fascinating."
    "Yes, I can hear the sincerity in your voice. But it has practical value, being able to look at a weather map and predict what's headed your way. Useful if you're a yachtsman or a hiker."
    "Of course! Sorry, I didn't mean to sound rude."
    "No offence taken."
    "Have you ever thought of writing fiction?"
    Clement shook his head. "I don't think I have sufficient imagination."
    "You don't strike me as being the unimaginative type."
    "Shallow as . . . whatever the correct simile for shallowness is, that's me."
    "That's definitely not true."
    There was another pause while a few more forkfuls of marengo were transferred from plates to mouths.
    "Actually, I might pick up Archie's spelling project," said Clement.
    "Spelling project?"
    "Yes. Archie used to be keen on the concept of introducing phonetic spelling to help children who struggle with words. There's a term for it, but I can't remember it."
    "Dyslexia."
    "Yes, that's it. Archie used to write papers and presentations promoting phonetic spelling. I remember him telling me once that he gave up because no-one was interested in taking it further. His opinion was that because only a small minority were affected by it he could never push it up the agenda."
    "And you think it's a worthwhile cause?"
    "It may be. Some kids are written off as stupid because they can't read but perhaps this . . . dyslexia . . . is the cause of their problems and phonetic spelling might help them overcome it."
    "It's very rare at our school, Clem."
    "That's because our pupils all passed the Eleven Plus. There might be bright kids who didn't pass because they never got the hang of reading."
    "So, spelling reform could be your new crusade?"
    "It could be."
    Diana laughed. "I saw some of Prosper Kingsman's poems. There's plenty of phonetic spelling in them."
    "There we are then! We could run parallel spelling rules and gradually transition to the new system."
    "Pretty revolutionary!"
    "Which is why it'll never happen, sadly. Inertia in the Establishment. But I might give it a go."
    "Well, good luck with that."
    "Thanks. Didn't you once tell me you wrote a book? About the war, wasn't it?"
    "Yes, a novel. About life as a female bus driver during the London bombing. It never got finished. I sort of lost interest. Couldn't summon up the enthusiasm."
    "Could I read what you've written?"
    "No."
    "It's something to be proud of, I would have thought."
    "What, half writing a story?"
    "Yes, that too. But I was actually referring to your bus driving. It must have made you proud to be able to drive a large vehicle."
    Diana nodded. "Yes, I suppose so. Don't know if I could do it now, though. It's been . . . what . . . seventeen years since I sat in a bus driver's cab."
    The dessert was another simple dish. Ice cream and tinned fruit salad.
    "I'm not really interested in cooking, Clem. Perhaps I'm not a normal woman when it comes to enthusiasm for domestic duties. Should I have made more effort in the kitchen?"
    "Not at all. You have plenty of other skills. Such as producing 'High Society'."
    "I've got capable and dedicated people working on the project. Such as Clement Mayfield."
    The geography teacher looked down and fluttered his eyelids coquettishly. "Oh, I say! But I'm just a humble nobody, Madam, doing your bidding. I'm not worthy of your praise."
    "Stop it!"
    Clement laughed. "Well, you've certainly got everyone on side, Diana. Even Kevin Turner."
    "Your threatening to boot him out probably did the trick there."
    When the dessert was finished Clement offered his cigarettes to his hostess but she declined.
    "No, thanks, but you go ahead. I'll go and make some coffee."
    Diana's earlier reference to Stephen in Hamburg set his father's mind thinking about the impending arrival of Luisa in three days' time. The plan was that Clement would meet the flight at London Airport to say hello but the two visitors would then take the Lufthansa bus into London and a taxi to their hotel. Clement's A30 was probably just about big enough to take the visitors' cases but the idea of driving into London along the Bath Road in the rush hour traffic was not attractive. So he would greet the Germans and then head home to Berkhamsted. There were tentative plans for him to take the train into London on a suitable day for a proper reunion.
    "Penny for them," said Diana, returning with two cups of coffee.
    "Sorry?"
    "You were daydreaming."
    "My German friend is arriving on Thursday and I was just thinking about the arrangements."
    "Oh, yes. From Hamburg, is that right?"
    "Yes. She's the one who sorted out accommodation for Stephen's group. Her husband is over here on business so I'll meet and greet them at the airport then see them again after they've settled in at the Connaught."
    "The Connaught? Very impressive!"
    "I don't think they're short of a penny or two. They own a chain of clothes shops in Hamburg and elsewhere."
    "Nice! Did you tell me you first met them just after the war?"
    "Luisa, yes, during the Berlin Airlift. I haven't met Ulrich before––they got married in the early 'fifties."
    "Luisa wasn't married when you knew her?"
    "No . . . widowed."
    "And she's got a teenage daughter, didn't you tell me?"
    "Yes, Katharina. She's sixteen."
    "You were in the RAF then, weren't you?"
    "Yes, a reservist."
    "What about during the war?"
    "Met forecaster. Briefed the bomber crews before they set off on their missions."
    "So you didn't have to go with them?"
    "No."
    Diana wrinkled her nose. "Have I got my wires crossed, Clem? Didn't someone tell me you flew on a couple of missions."
    "Yes, but only as an observer."
    "That was brave."
    The geography teacher shook his head. "No, that's not me. It was more a case of guilt. I was uncomfortable thinking that the outcome of the missions depended in part on my briefings. If I gave them the wrong winds or the wrong cloud info things might go wrong and it would be my fault. So I thought I should share the risks with them. I think the crews I flew with appreciated it."
    "Well, I think you're being unduly modest. You must have been brave to do that."
    "I did it four times, if I remember correctly. I was terrified every time. The crews were fantastic––they knew their chances of surviving their tour of duty was less than fifty percent but they kept going. I would sit in the planes quivering in fear and they would try to cheer me up with their black humour. On one trip we were attacked by a German night fighter on the way home and the pilot took extreme evasive manoeuvres––it was stomach churning as he threw the aircraft around. The top gunner and tail gunner were firing back and everyone was yelling on the intercom––the noise was incredible. It was like hell. Then suddenly it was all over. Everything went quiet and the aircraft resumed straight and level, the only noise the droning of the engines. I only just managed to avoid throwing up. The intercom was silent for a minute, everyone getting their breath back, I suppose, and grateful to be alive. Then someone said: 'Well, that's nice, isn't it? We bring them our very best, very expensive bombs free of charge and deliver them right to their doorstep and those ungrateful bastards try to shoot us down.' Another voice said:  'No manners, these Jerry chaps. I start to fire back to join in the fun and they just clear off––very unsporting.' Then the pilot's voice said something like: 'Right, pipe down, you clowns. Gunners, keep your eyes peeled for more fighters. Nav, give me a heading and let's get this wreck home and back on the ground ASAP and shovel some bacon and eggs down our gullets.'"
    "The casualties were horrendous, weren't they?"
    Clement nodded. "Over fifty thousand killed during the course of the war. But the sad thing is that afterwards Bomber Command never seemed to get the recognition the fighter boys got. After Dresden the politicians tried to distance themselves from the repercussions of the area bombing strategy."
    "But surely it was the politicians who made the decisions and gave the orders."
    "Correct. But they tried to shift the blame for Dresden onto the senior commanding officers."
    "That doesn't sound very fair."
    "I agree, Diana. It's an insult to the crews, especially those that didn't survive. That's politicians for you."
    "What was Berlin like when you were there?"
    "A bomb site––literally. They'd just started to rebuild it when the Soviet blockade started. Life was pretty grim for Luisa and the other Berliners."
    "So her daughter was just a baby?"
    "Yes, two or three years old."
    "And Luisa didn't have any other kids?"
    "No, I don't think so. I don't think Ulrich had any from his first marriage, either." Clement took a breath. "And now Luisa's daughter thinks she's in love with my son."
    "What do you mean?"
    The geography teacher told his hostess about the letters he had received from Luisa and from Stephen.
    "What do you think about it, Clem?"
    "I agree with Luisa. I can't see that a sixteen year old would know what love is. Maybe an eighteen year old might."
    "So what will you do?"
    Clement shrugged. "I have absolutely no idea. No doubt we can talk about it when Luisa arrives on Thursday. She might know what we should do."
    "Well, I hope it all works out for them, and for you too."
    "What would you say to them, Diana, if it was your child?"
    "That's a difficult one. How deeply are they involved? Are they . . . sleeping together?"
    "Don't know. Stevie didn't say. Being a coward, I've stopped myself thinking about it. I don't think it would bother me if they were older. Sex outside marriage isn't something I automatically disapprove of. You probably don't agree with that, I suppose."
    "No, it's not a problem for me," said Diana, "as long as no-one is hurt. My ex-husband is a different case, of course. He was quite happy to find sex outside marriage. But someone got hurt."
    "You?"
    "Yes. And his mistress's husband. And probably her children, too."
    "Poor you."
    After a few moments' pause, Diana said: "I would have liked to have had children, but it wasn't to be."
    "Because your husband didn't want them?"
    "No . . . it was basic biology. We discovered I was infertile and Colin didn't want to adopt. So . . . no kids . . . for me anyway. But Colin acquired an instant family when he married his mistress, who had two children. That little irony didn't help my frame of mind, as you can imagine."
    "You would have been a good Mum."
    "What! Didn't you tell me more than once that I was too strict with the pupils at our school?"
    "But they aren't your own offspring. If you'd had your own kids your inputs would have been guided by maternal love. I'll say it again––you would have been a good Mum."
    "Clem, how sweet of you to say that. Do you mean it?"
    "Yes."
    Diana blinked her eyes as if fighting tears. "Well . . . I wasn't going to ask the next question, but now I think I will."
    "What question?"
    "During the interview with the governors they told me a very senior member of staff had put in a good word for me, besides Archie, of course."
    Clement was silent, looking into Diana's eyes.
    "Was it you?"
    Clement held his silence.
    "Tell me. Was it you?"
    Slowly Clement nodded. "Yes."
    Diana reached out a hand to cover his. "You, dear, dear man!"
    "It was the least I could do. You deserved it."
    Diana released Clement's hand. She picked up her napkin and dabbed her eyes. "Right, I'll make some more coffee," she said, standing up. "Or would you like a whisky, Clem, or a brandy?"
    Clement looked at his watch. "I don't know that I should. I've got to drive home soon. I don't think alcohol and motor cars are a good combination."
    "Okay." Diana was silent for a moment, as if coming to a decision. "Can I ask you another personal question?"
    "Of course."
    "Are you . . . seeing another woman at the moment? Tell me if it's none of my business."
    "No, there's no-one else."
    "Do you miss female company?"
    "At times . . . yes, I miss Shirley. But you get used to being on your own."
    "You're right. You do get used to it. But . . . "
    "Sometimes you wish you had someone to . . . "
    "Be intimate with," supplied Diana.
    "Yes."
    Clement thought for a moment and then gave his hostess a friendly smile. "Well," he said. "We could give it a go . . . if you wanted to. I could stay the night."
    "Yes, you could."
    Clement stood up. "As the man, I suppose I ought to take the lead here."
    "Are you ordering me to take you up to my bedroom, Clem?"
    "Do you want me to order you to take me up?"
    "Wrong answer! Let's start again. Are you ordering me to take you up to my bedroom?"
    "Yes, I'm ordering you."
    "To do what?"
    "I'm ordering you to take me up to your bedroom."
    "Oh, Clem, that's so manly! How can I resist?"
 





CHAPTER   27






The first day of November was sunny and not too cold. Standing in the spectators' gallery on top of London Airport's Europa terminal building in the late afternoon, Clement Mayfield found that he didn't need to get out the gloves from his raincoat pockets and he was able to loosen the scarf round his neck a little. Most of the others in the gallery were young plane spotters making the most of the fine weather to follow their hobby during the half term holiday. Some peered at the planes through binoculars and others wrote down the numbers of the machines in notebooks. Below them on the apron a dozen or so airliners were being prepared for service. On one or two of them passengers were emplaning or disembarking. A couple of large fuel tankers were pumping their contents into planes' wings.
    Clement did not recognise many of the aircraft types but their operators' names were plainly visible. Around half of the machines seemed to belong to British European Airways. They each had four propellers mounted on slim nacelles and tailplanes canted upwards in a shallow V-shape. Parked in a far corner was a neglected looking Avro York, a type Clement remembered from Berlin Airlift days. A Scandinavian Airlines System airliner closer to the terminal looked like a stretched version of the C54 Skymasters used by the Americans during the Airlift. One of the BEA machines had jet engines nestling in the wing roots, two each side. Probably a Comet, guessed Clement, though he wouldn't have bet on it.
    The teacher looked at his watch. Ten to four. Luisa's plane was scheduled to arrive five minutes previously and the helpful lady at the Information Desk had told him that Lufthansa Flight 547 was running to time. Perhaps it had landed and was taxying to the terminal. While he waited, the teacher found himself again reviewing the night he had spent at Diana's. After some self-conscious fumbling the two or them had found somewhat to their surprise that they were still capable of the physical act of love and furthermore that they had both enjoyed the experience. They congratulated themselves on their success and were able to repeat the performance––more enjoyably and more skilfully––later in the night. A third attempt petered out before it really got up steam and the two of them were content to lie in each other's arms as they caught up on their sleep.
    The breakfast conversation was not too strained, although perhaps a little artificial at first as they avoided talking about what they had just been up to. Predictably, Diana took the bull by the horns.
    "Well, that was the best fun I've had for a long time."
    "Me too."
    "You look lovely in my spare nightie."
    "Pink is not really my colour, you know. I'll be more comfortable when I've had a bath and donned my own clothes."
    "Sadly I don't have any clean male underwear in my wardrobe."
    "I should hope not!"
    "And you probably wouldn't want to wear any of mine."
    "I think my bust size is smaller than yours."
    Diana started buttering a slice of toast. "Are we a couple, then, Clem? Or do we revert to chaste friendship?"
    "How do you feel?"
    "I'm asking you."
    "I would be honoured to be your . . . obviously 'boyfriend' isn't the right word for an oldster like me. 'Beau' perhaps, or 'gentleman escort'."
    "What about the school? Do we hide our . . . relationship . . . from the other teachers or do we shout it from the rooftops or . . . "
    "I don't think the other members of staff would be too troubled either way. Of course, when the kids find out . . . "
    Diana winced. "I shudder to think what they'll say or what nicknames they might bestow on us."
    "They were quite imaginative with Peter Young."
    Diana sighed. "Shall we have a cooling off period, Clem? Let's have a date or two and see how we feel. If we decide to give it a go then we'll take whatever congratulations or scorn they throw at us."
    "I'm happy with that."
    As Diana opened the front door to let him out after he was bathed and dressed he turned towards her and opened his arms for a farewell embrace. She raised her face for a kiss. A few seconds later she pushed him away, aware that he was becoming aroused and she was responding.
    "Clement, dearest . . . what about the cooling off period?"
    "We could postpone it for a couple of hours."
    Diana held his face in her hands. A whimsical smile settled on her lips. She pulled him back inside and reclosed the front door.
    "Come on, then."
    Clement's reminiscences were interrupted by a whine of aircraft engine noise. Approaching the apron was one of the V-tailed four-engined types with its outer propellers running down. The lettering above the blue cheat line along the fuselage said LUFTHANSA. Obviously not piston engines, deduced Clement, otherwise the propellers would have stopped as soon as the engines were shut down. Must be turbines, which would also explain the screeching whine, a contrast to the low rumble of the older types.
    Clement was aware of a conversation between two young spotters standing alongside. He looked down at them. Second formers, by the look of it, both wearing school caps.
    "Super! It's Uniform November. Haven't seen that before."
    "I copped all their Viscounts ages ago."
    "Showoff!"
    Clement cleared his throat. "Did you say 'Viscount'?" he asked.
    The young faces looked up. "Yes. V814."
    "What sort of engines?"
    "Darts, of course."
    The boy's answer was spoken respectfully but his eyes were saying, Surely everyone knows Viscounts are powered by Rolls-Royce Darts! What's the matter with you? Are you senile?
    "Thank you," said Clement.
    Following a yellow line painted on the ground the aircraft turned through almost a half circle, slowed to a halt and cut its inner engines. Even before the props had stopped a swarm of ground servicing vehicles began closing in on it. A few seconds later the rear fuselage door swung open.
    Watching the passengers disembarking, Clement noted the Viscount's registration. D-ANUN. "Uniform November", eh? Something else that had changed since his Air Force days. Would have been "Uncle Nan" using the phonetic alphabet he had learnt. Diana was right––sometimes the world seemed to be changing more quickly than he could cope with. Was it old age or––
    There they were! Yes, that looks like Luisa and Ulrich going down the steps now. Better get down to Arrivals to meet them.

*   *   *   *   *

The two old friends stared at each other for a good five seconds, then both broke into beaming smiles, stepped towards each other and embraced warmly.
    "Clement! Wonderful to see you again. You haven't changed!"
    "Nor have you, Luisa."
    And it was true. To Clement she hadn't aged a day since their sad farewell fourteen years previously. Same blonde hair cut short, same welcoming deep blue eyes. Now Luisa was wearing a smart grey two-piece outfit rather than the tired clothes she had had to make do with in Berlin.
    "Excuse me, madam." It was the porter standing next to Luisa and Ulrich, whose cases sat on his trolley.
    Luisa turned to him. "Oh yes, I'm sorry. Please take them out to the Lufthansa bus. We will be there in two minutes."
    "This is Ulrich," continued Luisa, resting her hand on her husband's shoulder.
    "Es freut mich sehr, Sie zu treffen" said Clement, offering his hand and self-consciously voicing the greeting he had been practising. He noted that Ulrich was of stocky build, square face, wavy grey hair, his stern demeanour barely softened by his smile.
    "Gleichfalls," came the reply. "I am sorry I cannot speak English."
    Luisa said something in her native tongue to her husband and he nodded. "Natürlich."
    "I have taught Ully a few phrases, Clement, but you must be patient."
    "Ich werde Deutsch sprechen versuchen," said Clement to Ulrich, wondering if he had chosen the right words in the right order to say, "I will try to speak German".
    "Walk with us to the bus, Clement, and let's make some plans."
    Luisa summarised the arrangements she and her husband had organised. The following morning the two of them would catch a train to Sheffield, where a taxi would take them to the factory of Ernest Shawbury and Sons, manufacturers of bespoke cotton and woollen clothing. Although the proprietor had confirmed that a translator would be available during the business discussions, Ulrich preferred to take his wife along to make sure that there would be no misunderstandings. If the negotiations went well, consignments of Shawbury clothes would at some date in the not-too-distant future be shipped to Hamburg, Germany to be sold in the chain of Eleganz stores owned by Ulrich Haberlandt.
    Luisa and Ulrich would return by train in the evening. On Saturday they would join an organised tour with fellow German tourists to see the sights of England's capital. The two of them would split up on Sunday. Ulrich planned to meet a German business friend who was also visiting London. After breakfast in the city they would take a taxi to Richmond golf course. Luisa would spend the day amusing herself.
    Monday would see the Haberlandts back in Sheffield, staying two nights this time so that Ulrich could get a good look at the Shawbury factory and examine their products. Back to London on Wednesday. Lufthansa flight home the next day.
    The airline bus started its diesel engine and its driver closed the doors of the baggage trailer attached to its rear. All the other passengers were aboard.
    "Ready when you are," said the driver to the trio as he made his way to the bus entrance.
    Luisa rested her hand on Clement's arm.
    "So, I call you on Saturday evening and we meet on Sunday, yes?"
    "It's a date."
 





CHAPTER   28






Round the table at the Vegas sat the four Rocketeers, Don's girlfriend Giselle, Katharina, two local girls who considered themselves Phil's disciples, Graham's friend Ricco and a dark-haired boy who had just arrived at the club carrying a guitar case. He was dressed in the black leather jacket, jeans and Chelsea boots favoured by many of the male habitués of the Reeperbahn scene. The Rocketeers were similarly dressed, as the black leather trousers they wore for their act were too expensive to risk in day-to-day general usage. There were only half a dozen other lunchtime customers in the club so the solitary barman was not overworked and had settled himself on a chair behind the bar, reading a paperback and smoking. There were several beer bottles, some empty, on the table around which the British musicians and their friends sat, together with the detritus of snack food, including crisp packets and a half-eaten hamburger. On the stage was the pop group's equipment. Graham's bass drum had a rocket streaking across it with the group's name emblazoned in the plume of fiery exhaust. A few weeks previously an unknown hand had scrawled "FROM CUBA TO USA" in black felt tip under the image. Concerned about potential provocation of American servicemen frequenting the bar, not to mention the ire of the owner he had rented the drum kit from, Graham had tried various solvents to remove the offending graffito but its ghostly characters were still decipherable.
    "You want to play something for us, then?" said Phil to the new arrival.
    "Yeah, have you got an amp set up?"
    "Yes, use the one on the right of the stage."
    "Okay."
    "What's your name again?"
    "Vicente."
    The conversation was in broken German, although the first language of the guitarist was Spanish. He had been working in Hamburg for several months since his arrival from Montevideo, Uruguay and was the third musician they had auditioned as a replacement for Don for when he decamped to Frankfurt to take up his new career pouting in front of a camera in a fashion studio. Don had promised the others he would not leave until they had found someone suitable to play lead guitar. While Vicente plugged his instrument into the amp and checked the tuning of his strings the others rearranged their chairs so that they all faced the stage.
    "Where did you find him?" asked Giselle. "He's gorgeous looking. Those eyes. If I wasn't with you I'd have to abduct him."
    "He was with the Piratas," said  Don, "but they've just split up. One of them got stabbed and is in hospital and the others have decided to go home."
    Vicente addressed the others from the stage. "I'll do a twelve bar with a few . . . variaciones . . . how do you say it . . .
    "Verwänderungen," supplied Giselle.
    "Yeah, that's it."
    Vicente launched into his impromptu and the Rocketeers soon realised that they had found their man if he wanted the job.
    "Jeez, he's better than you, Don," laughed Phil, speaking English.
    "Bollocks, but I like his string-bending." Don looked at Graham and Stephen. "What do you think, guys?"
    "He'll do," said the drummer.
    "Agreed," said the rhythm guitarist. "But let's check him out on vocals too. His voice might be crap. I'll find a mike and power up the PA."
    They needn't have worried. Don took over the guitar and ran through a few standards to accompany Vicente. The Uruguayan's singing and harmonising matched his playing skill, even though like many rock'n'rollers whose first language was not English he sang the lyrics phonetically, not understanding the meanings of the words. The occasional mispronunciations had the Rocketeers smiling now and then. The audition over, Phil welcomed Vicente to the Rocketeers and told him to get himself a beer to celebrate. All that was needed now, he added, was the approval of Herr Galland, the owner of the club. The bass player looked at his watch and commented that Herr Galland should be arriving shortly to settle one or two minor matters. He could confirm the new appointment at the same time.
    "So your Mum's in England now?" said Graham, addressing Katharina in German.
    "Yes, she went on Thursday. She's in London today and tomorrow, then she has to go to a city in the north to help Ulrich."
    "And she's meeting your Dad, Stevie? Is that what you said?"
    "That was the plan as far as I know," said the rhythm guitarist, continuing the conversation in German. "I haven't spoken to him for a few days so I'm not exactly sure what's happening."
    "How do they know each other?" asked Giselle, showing interest. "How did they meet? Was it soon after the war?"
    Stephen gave her and the others a quick résumé of his father's part in the Berlin Airlift and Katharina added a few comments of her own, detailing her mother's involvement.
    "Oh, it's so romantic," said Giselle. "To meet again after so many years. Were they lovers in Berlin?"
    "No," said Stephen and Katharina in unison.
    "What a pity. It would make a good story or a film."
    The Rocketeers' opinion of Giselle had changed substantially of late. They had originally considered the older girl in her weird Exi style clothing and hair and make-up a bad influence on their fellow musician and were sure she was leading him on the path to self-destruction, encouraging him in his over-indulgence in pep pills and alcohol. In fact it turned out the opposite was closer to the truth and Don himself had admitted that Giselle was helping him to curb his excesses. A further consideration was that the contract he had signed with Taunus Foto stipulated that if he brought the company into disrepute through his personal behaviour he would be summarily dismissed. A salary of 1600 D-marks per month for posing in front of their cameras was a powerful incentive to keep himself on the straight and narrow. "Bloody hell!" Phil had commented. "That's two thousand quid a year, near as dammit. That's just about what my Dad gets as a GP!"
    At the Vegas the conversation between the musicians and the hangers-on drifted into a discussion about Elvis Presley and whether he had lost his edge since returning to civilian life after his stint in the US Army. Stephen was amused to note that while most of the spoken opinions were in German the occasional English word or phrase would surface, and once or twice inputs in Spanish and Italian from Vicente and Ricco. He also got the impression that Katharina was quieter than usual, making fewer inputs than would be expected from someone not usually reluctant to speak her mind. Had something he had said or done upset her? Or one of the other Rocketeers? Or was it Giselle's speculation about the time his father and Katharina's mother had spent together in Berlin? He made a mental note to enquire later on.
    The rhythm guitarist found himself reviewing the group's progress since descending on Hamburg. In the space of three months they had evolved from keen amateurs into solid professionals. Judging from the audience response the group was highly appreciated by those they played in front of. One or two of the female fans were happy to show their appreciation in very personal ways. It seemed ages ago that the four English boys had arrived at their makeshift domicile in the Eleganz warehouse wondering how things would turn out for them.
    These days it was often the case that Stephen would be the lone Rocketeer sleeping at the Eleganz after their performances. Don was comfortably ensconced with Giselle in her flat, which was spacious and well equipped, if somewhat starkly decorated, furniture and decor all black or white, apart from one or two abstract artworks, large canvasses splashed in vivid colours. Her photos of Don and her other friends were highly stylised and had given Stephen a few ideas of his own to try out when messing around with his Dad's Leica.
    Graham likewise was sleeping most days at Ricco's not quite so upmarket flat on the third floor of a block in an industrial area south of the river. No-one was apparently bothered by the nature of relationship between the two boys and Graham himself came across as noticeably more relaxed than previously. Homosexuality in Hamburg did not seem to arouse the hostility and derision that would have been triggered in respectable England.
    Phil's two girl acolytes were both nineteen years old and both blonde, one with long, straight hair and a tall, slender figure, the other shorter in stature and curvaceous in profile, with wavy tresses framing her eager face. They were both shopworkers who shared a flat and who shared Phil in their double bed. They also shared their first name, Nicole. To avoid confusion, the girls called themselves Nikki and Nix respectively. To the Rocketeers in private conversation they were "Knickers" and "KK", the latter name deriving from Nix's physical resemblance to the British singer Kathy Kirby. The two fans together became the Klan Girls, the appellation deriving from the abbreviated title of the American Ku Klux Klan racialist organisation.
    Philip admitted that his love life was unorthodox but he told the others that there was absolutely no jealousy between his two girlfriends and he was careful to share his affections equally to maintain the harmony. It seemed that his bedtime burden was eased somewhat by the frequent habit of Nikki and Nix of pleasuring each other, with Phil an interested spectator. Stephen and Graham were not at all envious, although when Don had suggested a similar arrangement to Giselle she had robustly informed him that she would cut off his penis if he tried to follow Phil's example.
    In a private moment between them, the group's leader had admitted to his rhythm guitarist that his contentment had been tempered by a letter he had recently received from Eleanor. Phil told Stephen that his ex-girlfriend had written to say she now realised she had made a huge mistake. She regretted finishing their relationship and wanted to get back with him. She was prepared to live a life of chastity until he came home to rekindle their love.
    "Which makes me feel a bit of a cad when I'm cavorting with the German girls," admitted Phil.
    "You're being too hard on yourself," said Stephen. "Do they know about Eleanor?"
    "Yes. They don't care. I'm sure if Ellie came to Hamburg they would willingly include her in our . . . "
    "Harem."
    "Yes, you could call it that."
    "So what are you going to do?"
    "I'm a weak-willed boy so I suppose I'll keep on . . . "
    "I think that's what anyone would do in your place. Have you replied to Ellie?"
    "Not yet. Don't know what to say. But I'll be a shit if I don't respond in some way. I shouldn't keep her hanging on."
    "Tell her the truth, then. Or a variation of it. Tell her you're going out with a German girl but you'll be free when you get back to England."
    "She might dump me again if she knows I've got a girl here. I want her back."
    "Not like you, Phil. You're normally the one who solves problems, not causes them."
    "I know." A sigh. "I'll think of something."
    In the Vegas club this Saturday afternoon Stephen noticed that Phil would occasionally switch off from the general banter and apparently wander off into a private reverie. Perhaps the Nikki-Nix-Eleanor conundrum was exercising he mind. And perhaps Stephen himself was not paying attention to what was going on around him, because he was suddenly aware Katharina had spoken to him.
    "Pardon?"
    "I said I want to talk to you privately."
    "Okay. What about?"
    "We'll go to the Kulturhaus for coffee this afternoon and I'll tell you what's on my mind."
    "No problem. As soon as––"
    "Hello, my fine young friends," boomed a voice from the bar entrance. It was Konrad Galland with a beam on his jovial, round face. "What are you lot plotting?"
    The portly proprietor marched over to the group and plonked himself down in the chair Phil had positioned for him at their table.
    "What's new?" asked Herr Galland. "Have we found a guitar-playing sensation?"
    "Yes, we have," said Don, pointing to Vicente. "This boy is as good as me."
    The young Uruguayan was introduced to his new employer and then Herr Galland announced he had good news to tell them. "As of three weeks from now the Rocketeers are my new 'Ersters'. The Patriots are going home. You'll be playing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays."
    A cheer went up amongst the youngsters.
    "Will we be getting the same pay as the Patriots?" asked Phil.
    "We will discuss terms and conditions."
    "Why are they going back?" asked Graham.
    "End of contract," said Herr Galland. "I told them not to tell you because I didn't want you thinking that you'd step straight into their shoes. You might have got lazy."
    "Thank you, Herr Galland," said Phil graciously. "Can we talk it over with our agent?"
    A frown settled on the jowly face. "Your agent?"
    "Luisa Haberlandt."
    "Oh, her. She drives a hard bargain, does that one."
    "She looks after our interests," said Phil. "She's Katha's Mum," he continued, to prevent their employer saying anything embarrassing or hurtful.
    "Ah, yes, I remember now. The lovely mother of the lovely daughter," beamed Herr Galland, prompting a quick, insincere smile from Katharina.
    An hour or so later, Stephen and his girlfriend settled themselves round a table for two at the nearby Kulturhaus cafe and ordered coffee and Sachertorte chocolate cake. To the guitarist it seemed Katharina's mood was still troubled.
    "What's up?" Stephen asked in German. "You're not your usual cheerful self."
    "I have discovered something that, if true, is awful."
    "Do you want to tell me?"
    "Yes. I haven't told anyone else and I can't bear to carry the load on my own."
    "Sounds serious."
    "I'm going to tell you but you must keep it to yourself."
    "Understood."
    The waiter brought their order and Stephen smiled a thankyou. Katharina's expression remained grim. She fixed him with her stare.
    "I might be the progeny of a Russian."
    Stephen's German was progressing to the stage where he had begun to think in the language and it was clear that the word "Nachkommen" Katharina had spoken referred to something arriving afterwards, such as children.
    "You're saying your father was Russian?"
    "Yes."
    "What makes you think that?"
    "You already know that there's the question of my father's . . . Leo's . . . date of death?"
    "Yes."
    "I challenged Mutti and she admitted that Leo was not my birth father. She told me she had an affair with an American and I was the result."
    "Blimey!"
    "What's that?"
    "An English word meaning . . . wow!"
    "But I don't think that's the truth either."
    "Why not?"
    "That photo I showed you. It was a picture of me as a baby and Oma had written 'Little Red' on the back."
    Stephen made the connection. "Little Russian?"
    "That's what I'm wondering."
    "Jeez . . . that would be incredible."
    "Yes, it would. If I am the child of a Russian, then obviously Mutti was either a willing or an unwilling participant in the process."
    "I can understand that neither of those are pleasant thoughts. Are you going to ask her?"
    Katharina's eyes filled with tears and Stephen instinctively offered her his handkerchief. "I don't know," sobbed the girl quietly. "I don't know what to do." She placed her hand on his. "What do you think I should do, Stevie?"
    The guitarist shook his head and covered Katharina's hand with his other hand. "Don't cry, darling. Let's think about it for a little while."
    For a few minutes they sat immobile, the silence broken only by Katharina's sobs, which gradually subsided as she dabbed at her eyes with Stephen's handkerchief. The waiter homed in to check that everything was satisfactory for his customers and then wheeled diplomatically away as soon as he interpreted the tableau.
    "One thing's for sure, Katha," said Stephen eventually, "your mother is a good person and would never do anything . . . I don't know how to say it. The English word is 'despicable'."
    Katharina supplied the German translation. She seemed calmer now, thought Stephen, not crying, although her eyes were still red-rimmed. Her hand was still sandwiched between his two.
    "I know she's a good person," said the girl. "If my mother had sex with a Russian she either loved him or she was forced to do it."
    "She couldn't have known him long, though, when you think about the dates . . . "
    "That is what upsets me. Which means that it's more likely that he raped her. So there we have it, Stevie––your girlfriend might be the result of a vile Russian beast pumping his vile communist sperm into my mother's unwilling womb. Can you bear to even look at me, knowing that?"
    "It may not be true, darling," said Stephen, smiling into her eyes and squeezing her hand. "And even if it is, it doesn't change anything. I still love you whoever you are and wherever you came from and I will always love you."
    Katharina smiled back, eyes shining. "Well that's good, because I want to ask you to do something for me."
    "Of course! Anything you say."
    "Mutti is in England with Ulrich, as you know, which means our house is empty."
    "Okay."
    Katharina lowered her voice. "Stevie . . . have you ever had sex with another girl?"
    The directness of the question took Stephen by surprise but he quickly regained his composure and instantly decided to answer truthfully.
    "Yes, but not since I've been going out with you."
    "You have been with girls in Hamburg?"
    "Yes. Only one, though."
    "Who was she? What was her name?"
    "Nancy. She was an American tourist, here on holiday. She came to see our show at the Vegas."
    "You had sex with her?"
    "Yes, she took me back to her hotel after the show."
    "You didn't love her?"
    "No."
    Katharina paused for a moment. "Well, I don't mind that."
    Stephen gave her hand another squeeze. "From now on I don't want anyone else. I've got you."
    "I have not had sex with any boy," said Katharina quietly. "I am still a virgin."
    "Right."
    The two gazed into each other's eyes.
    "Stevie, darling, will you come home with me and make love to me? I want my first time to be with you. I want every time to be with you."
    "I can think of nothing I'd rather do. Are you sure you want to do it?"
    "I'm sure. If I have sex with someone I love it might push those other black thoughts out of my mind. When you penetrate me the force will be the force of love, not of hate."
    "I love you, Katha. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
    "That's what I want too."
    "Perhaps I should check that I've still got some––"
    "I've already bought a packet, lover. I've been planning this for a while."
 





CHAPTER   29






Sunday 4th November dawned cold and grey and by mid-morning a steady drizzle was dampening the streets and buildings of the capital, with heavier rain forecast, which meant that Clement's original idea of a pleasure boat trip on the Thames had to be abandoned. Instead he took Luisa to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. By necessity the busy itinerary she and Ulrich and the other German tourists had followed on their bus tour the previous day allowed only brief visits to the city's landmarks, sometimes little more than a slow drive past, so that they could all be crammed into the allotted time. The V & A was one of the victims of the truncated timetable so Luisa was thrilled when Clement suggested they spent an hour or two there. Serendipity had arranged that the museum was currently mounting an exhibition of German Costume through the ages.
    "This is wonderful, Clem," said an enthusiastic Luisa. "I could spend a week in this place."
    "You can thank Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg for that. He was a founding father of the South Ken Museums."
    "Yes, they told us that on the tour yesterday. Do you know what his mother's name was?"
    Clement professed his ignorance.
    "Louise."
    "I'll make a note."
    "I remember learning about her in history lessons as a child. Her life was not happy. Her husband was unfaithful and she lost custody of her children when they divorced. She was only thirty years old when she died."
    "Sad indeed."
    "You and I have both known sadness but we're still here and we both have our children and now we're both happy."
    "You said it."
    They had stopped by a display of eighteenth century wedding dresses. Luisa turned to her companion.
    "Clement, do you know what's happening between Stevie and Katha?"
    "Well, I was going to ask you that at an opportune moment."
    "They seem to have convinced themselves that they are in love."
    "Yes. Is it possible? It's been a long time since I was eighteen years old so I can't realistically judge Stephen's emotions."
    "Katha is only sixteen. A child. What can she know about love?"
    "You told me before she's mature for her age."
    "Her life was uncomplicated until a few months ago. Now there's a worry about her love life. Although I must say that I cannot think of a nicer boy than your son. If she intends to give away her . . . how do you say . . . in German it's 'Jungfräulichkeit'––"
    "Virginity," guessed Clement.
    "Yes . . . if she wants to do that I would like that she does it with Stevie instead of another boy."
    "Have you spoken to her about it?"
    "She asked me what I thought. I have said to her that she should do it when she's ready and after she's thought about it. There would be no point to forbid her. She's very . . . is 'strong-willed' the correct phrase?"
    Clement nodded, wondering how many English parents would discuss such matters with their teenage children, especially daughters. As a concerned father, he had sometimes wondered whether he should ask Jenny about her sexual encounters––if there had been any––but, ever the coward, he had thus far ducked the question. She had had two boyfriends that she had introduced to him but, to his shame, he didn't know if his own daughter had lost her "Jungfräulichkeit" and he would never have asked her, not in a million years. Of course, if Shirley was still alive, no doubt a mother-and-daughter heart-to-heart would likely have––
    "Katha would do it anyway if she wanted," continued Luisa, interrupting Clement's thoughts, "so it's better that she doesn't have to disobey me."
    "I don't think Stephen is inconsiderate, if I know my son," said Clement. "I can't imagine him hurting Katharina."
    "That's what I tell myself," said Luisa with a quick smile. "He's a lovely boy . . . just like his father."
    "Well, I––"
    "There's another complication in Katha's life," said Luisa, again interrupting him.
    "What's that?"
    "Her father."
    "Leo, or . . . "
    "The . . . rapist."
    "Does she know about it?"
    "No. I followed the suggestion you said to me before. I told her I had an affair with an American soldier when the war ended, but I don't think she believed me."
    "Why not?"
    "She is very . . . wie sagt man auf Englisch . . . astute? She can tell when people are not telling the truth."
    "Has it upset her?"
    "I have not seen that. I think she knows I am not truthful but I think she also knows it will hurt me if she asks more questions. So she has not spoken about it again."
    "Perhaps she'll just accept your explanation just to make sure there's no bad feeling between you."
    "Yes, that is what I hope." Luisa forced a smile. "Well, that's enough about family troubles. Let's look at more of these fantastic dresses."
    Over lunch in the museum restaurant Clement expressed surprise that Ulrich had not wanted to join them.
    "Surely he can't play golf in this weather."
    "Probably not. He said he wanted to meet his friend anyway. But, as I've told you before, Ulrich is a fanatic about golf. He would play at night if there were . . . how do you say . . . beleuchten . . . balls with lights inside . . . "
    "Illuminated?"
    "Yes! I should know words like that. I am a teacher of English!"
    "You're still at the Grundschule?"
    "Yes, three mornings a week."
    "Do you still teach maths?"
    "Yes, that is my main subject."
    Clement switched to a new topic.
    "Do you like church music? Choral music?"
    "I don't go to church but I like religious music."
    "Same here. Would you like to go to Evensong at St Paul's this afternoon?"
    "The cathedral?"
    "Yes."
    "That would be lovely."
    Clement went on to explain that he personally knew the Deputy Choirmaster and that he had a standing invitation to take pupils from Chesham Bois Grammar School to the cathedral for Evensong on Sundays, with the added bonus that they were allowed to sit in the vacant choir stalls during the service, between the choir itself and the high altar.
    "You know this singing master?"
    "Choirmaster . . . yes, from my time in the Air Force." Clement offered no further information, judging it inconsiderate to add that during the war the man had been a bomb aimer on one of the Lancaster squadrons at Woodhall Spa.
    "But I am not a pupil at your school," laughed Luisa.
    "As of now, you are."
    "Thank you."
    The ambience in the cathedral was bright but not warm and the members of the sparse congregation were wrapped up well against the November chill.
    "More bums on seats in the summer," commented Clement quietly as he led Luisa forward to the choir stalls. "This grim weather is keeping them away."
    There were only six other adults and eight children in the visitor choir stalls and Luisa was warmly welcomed by a cassock beclothed verger who knew Clement personally. The geography teacher had previously explained to his German friend that for important occasions the full choir occupied all the stalls and there would be no room for visitors. For that evening's service the choir was roughly half strength, comprising about thirty boys and men, sopranos, altos, tenors and bases.
    "That solo was so beautiful," said Luisa after the service. "Such clearness . . . is that the right word?"
    "Clarity," offered Clement. "Yes, you're right. That anthem is one of my favourites . . . 'The Sun Shall Be No More Thy Light By Day'."
    "But you said you are not religious?"
    "No."
    The two of them were seated in the Lyons Teahouse at the bottom of Ludgate Hill. In contrast to the cathedral the teahouse was busy, sheltering those who had come in to escape the dismal weather.
    "Nor am I," continued Luisa after a sip of tea. "Religious, I mean. The war put an end to that. How could God allow all those awful things to happen?"
    "I agree," said Clement. "Why did he ignore all the people praying for an end to the death and destruction?"
    "And why doesn't he show himself to us so there is no room for doubt?"
    "You're right, Luisa. If he descended onto the football pitch in a blaze of light during the Cup Final we'd all be believers."
    "What Germany did will shame the nation for a long time."
    Clement was silent for a moment, thinking how best to respond. Obviously Luisa was prepared to face the uncomfortable truth, so perhaps he could voice his thoughts.
    "The Jewish genocide?" he said.
    His companion nodded. "It's unbelievable how we looked with a . . . what do you say . . . a blind eye."
    "You knew what was happening?"
    "Yes, but we pushed it aside at first. We were happy to follow the man who had brought back our country's pride after the humiliation of the First War."
    "When did you first have your doubts?"
    "For me it was the year before the war. I had two Jewish friends, good friends, a married couple. She taught at the same school as me and he was a children's doctor. They had a young son. After Kristallnacht they decided they should leave. It was arranged that they would go to Canada, to stay with a relative, but then Martin, the doctor, changed his mind and said he should stay in Germany because if war came he would be needed. He was arrested in 1942 and I never saw him again. Later I found out he died at Buchenwald."
    Again conversation ceased between the two friends and they avoided eye contact for a while. Around them the bustle of the tearoom contrasted with their solemn silence. Clement found himself bringing to mind the incongruous fact that Diana Dockerell had told him her mother once worked as a "nippy"––a waitress––at a Lyons. While he and Luisa sat immersed in their own thoughts the black-uniformed girls, young and not so young, wove between the tables bringing orders or carrying away dirty crockery.
    "It was difficult," said Luisa after a sigh. "We wanted to win the war but we knew the High Command were evil or mad people but we also knew resistance was dangerous. The last conversation I had with Leo he told me that if by some miracle the Allied forces could be repelled the old order would be deposed and the population would install more moderate leaders. It never happened, of course."
    "We'll never know."
    "In a way it was easier for us civilians than for the army," continued Luisa. "We didn't have to kill anyone and for me my only duty was teaching and looking after the children in my care and also my parents."
    "So you think future generations of Germans will carry the guilt?"
    "Yes. It will be unfair to those born after the war but that is what will happen."
    "Well, I can't see the genocide being forgotten."
    "No, and I think it's right that the murderers should be brought to justice. Most Germans were pleased when Adolf Eichmann was executed a few months ago."
    "Man's inhumanity to man. I sometimes wonder if there are other animal species who deliberately and knowingly inflict pain on members of their own species."
    "For me the question I ask myself is: are the German people more aggressive than other nations?"
    "You're not the first to suggest that."
    "Well, if it's true I have a theory that might explain it."
    "Go on."
    "Our language."
    A nippy came over to ask if there was anything else they needed and Clement ordered another pot of tea.
    "Your language?" queried Clement, restarting the conversation.
    "Yes. You know how complicated and precise it is––word order and adjective endings and so on."
    "Oh, yes. TMP, I remember your Berlin friend telling me that––the one giving me lessons. 'Time, manner, place.'"
    "You mean the 'wann, wie, wo' that applies to adverbial phrases?" queried Luisa.
    "Yes, 'when, how and where'. You must use that order, he taught me. And I never got the hang of where verbs should be."
    "That's exactly what I mean, Clem. Why should it matter how you say it as long as the meaning is clear?"
    "So you think grammar rules cause aggression?"
    "It could be. Maybe being forced to follow strict rules makes your thought processes more rigid, less tolerant of deviation. So maybe that . . . wie sagt man . . . strictness . . . carries over into your normal life. So you don't tolerate people who are not following the norm."
    "So, relax grammar rules and people become less pugnacious."
    "What is that?"
    "Ready to start fights . . . or wars."
    Luisa laughed. "Now I'm saying it, it sounds silly. I don't have any psychiatric qualifications so perhaps it's rubbish I'm saying."
    "It's an interesting theory, Luisa. We British are more peaceful because our grammar rules are less restrictive."
    "Your language is much easier than German. Except your spelling, of course."
    "English is a derivative of German, of course."
    "Yes, but we have retained . . . auf Deutsch, phonetische Orthografie . . . auf Englisch . . . "
    "Phonetic spelling."
    "Yes. It's difficult to teach our children to read and say English words when many of them don't sound like the letters of the words."
    "Well, that's a coincidence, Luisa, because I'm now working on a project about spelling." Clement summarised the research on spelling reform that Dr Briers had undertaken and told his companion that now the Head was retiring he, Clement, would pick up where Dr Briers had left off.
    "It's not a question of intelligence," said Luisa. "Some of our cleverest children have trouble learning to read English."
    "As do some of ours," admitted the geography teacher, thinking of pupils he knew about who had failed the controversial 11-plus exam but had gone on to academic brilliance.
    "Perhaps we can invent a new language," smiled Luisa. "English grammar and German spelling."
    "That's what Esperanto is all about."
    "Yes, perhaps that's the answer. Because of the war people will link the German language to aggression, perhaps forever."
    "Maybe in time––"
    "There was a not nice incident yesterday," interrupted Luisa, "when we were at the Tower of London."
    "What happened?"
    "Another visitor, English I think, heard someone in our group talking in German. He came over, very angry, and started shouting at us. Horrible words. Two of the ladies in our group started crying. One of the men tried to hit the other man but then one of the . . . guards . . . the Beefeaters, is it? . . . came over to stop the argument. It made a bad atmosphere. But I think this sort of thing will happen many, many times in the future."
    Clement had no answer so he busied himself tidying up the table and catching the attention of a nippy to pay the bill.
    "I must pay for this," said Luisa. "To repay your hospitality."
    "You'll do no such thing," said Clement, digging out his wallet.
    "Look, I think it's stopped raining," said Luisa, pointing towards the window. "Shall we go for a walk along the riverbank?"
    "Yes, I'd like that," said Clement. "How are you fixed for timing? When do you have to get back to your hotel?"
    "There is no definite time. I do not know when Ulrich will return."
    "Did you say you're staying at the Connaught?"
    "Yes."
    "That's in Mayfair, isn't it? We could walk along the Embankment to Blackfriars, then catch the Tube to Bond Street. We'd need to change at Charing Cross and Oxford Circus."
    When they left the teahouse it was already dark. They headed south along Peter's Hill to the river, where they turned westwards. The rain had all but stopped but the roads were still glistening, reflecting the lights of the vehicles.
    "This is a grubby city," muttered Clement. "These buildings are grimy with two hundred years of soot."
    "I've heard of the famous London fogs," said Luisa. "Didn't lots of people get killed a few years ago?"
    "Yes, the Great Smog of Fifty-two," said Clement. "Londoners were filling their lungs with sulphuric acid."
    "Ugh!"
    "It's better now," said Clement. "The government passed a law restricting what types of fuel are allowed to be used."
    "So no more smog?"
    "That's the hope. There's also talk of a big clean-up operation, to restore the buildings to their original appearance. I'll believe it when I see it!"
    "Do you know what this reminds me of, Clement?"
    "I think I know what you're referring to."
    "Say it, then."
    "When we walked along the shore of Lake Havel."
    "I'll always remember that day."
    "So will I."
    The Tube trains were not too busy and the wait at the Charing Cross interchange not too long. After a quarter of an hour or so they were rumbling northwest on a Bakerloo train. Swaying like the other passengers with the motion of the carriage Clement's eyes found the advert above the seats on the other side singing the praises of the True Heart Introduction Agency, featuring a man and a woman gazing into each other's smiling eyes.
    Evidently Luisa too had noticed what was being promoted, because she turned to Clement sitting alongside, pointed to the ad and said: "If that man is you, Clem, who is the woman?"
    "That's unlike you to resort to circumlocution, Luisa. Are you asking, have I got a girlfriend?"
    "Yes. If you want me to be direct. Have you got a girlfriend?"
    Clement sighed and took a moment or two to collect his thoughts. "Well, sort of."
    "What do you mean?"
    "I . . . went on a date with a lady last week and we may try it again."
    "That's nice. How did you meet her?"
    "She's a teacher at my school. I've known her quite a long time."
    "What's she like? Is she like Shirley was?"
    "No. But she is . . . attractive. Strong personality. I like her."
    "Well, forgive me if I'm being too personal. Shall I stop asking questions?"
    "Ask away."
    "Is she the first woman you've dated since Shirley died?"
    "No."
    "Have you been in love since Shirley died?"
    "No."
    "That's a pity."
    "Yes."
    A few minutes later they were standing on the platform at Oxford Circus, waiting for the next Central Line train.
    "How will you get home yourself?" asked Luisa.
    "Train from Baker Street."
    "And it takes you to Berk . . . Berk . . . where is your house? I've forgotten."
    "Berkhamsted. It's on the line from Euston but I had to go to the school before coming to London so my car is parked at Amersham station. It isn't far from the school and saves me having to use the Chesham shuttle, which operates less frequently than––" Clement noted the bemused expression on Luisa's face and decided that perhaps this was not the right time to enlighten her about the complexities of the Metropolitan Line at its northwestern end. He took a breath. "So," he summarised, "I'll catch a Shoogler from Baker Street to Amersham."
    "Shoogler? What is that? A special train?"
    Clement explained that the term "shoogling" was how Glaswegians referred to the bumpy ride of their underground trains. The noun had been introduced into his vocabulary by a Scottish friend who conferred the same epithet on the equally unsteady Metropolitan Line stock.
    "Why did you go to the school on a Sunday? No, listen to me, asking all these questions. So . . . neugierig . . . in English . . . "
    "Nosey?"
    "Yes, too nosey."
    "Not at all." He smiled at his companion. "There was a rehearsal of 'High Society' at school today and Jenny is in the orchestra, so I gave her a lift to the school."
    "But do you not also take part in the rehearsal?"
    "Not today. They didn't need me. It's all going well." Not quite the truth––he had told Diana Dockerell that he had an urgent appointment and would have to miss this session.
    "So you take Jenny home again when you get off the train?"
    The teacher looked at his watch. "I would have done if I'd got back earlier. But the rehearsal finishes soon, long before I get to Amersham. Either someone will give her a lift or she'll get the bus."
    "You've been wasting too much time talking to me," commented Luisa with a coquettish smile.
    "You said it!"
    Luisa laughed. She turned round and looked at the Tube Map on the wall behind them. Her face changed to a frown.
    "But we are at Oxford Circus, Clement. You could have stayed on the train and it would have taken you to Baker Street."
    "A gentleman does not leave a lady on her own in an unfamiliar city. It just isn't done."
    Luisa put her hand on his arm. "That's what you did when we went to Havel, if my memory is correct."
    "You may well be right."
    A draught of air and squeal of wheel flange against track heralded the arrival of the train. They boarded it for the one stop journey to Bond Street and a short stroll brought them to the imposing entrance of the Connaught, where a uniformed doorman stirred himself into action to let them in. But Luisa put her hand up, signalling Clement to stop. "Please, one minute," she said to the doorman, giving him a smile. She took Clement's hand and pulled him a few yards along the pavement beyond the entrance and into the darkness. Then she turned to face him and took his other hand.
    "Will I see you before I go back to Hamburg?" she asked.
    "I'd love to, but I don't think I can get to London before you leave. Might be able to get to the airport to wave you off if I can get away from school."
    "No, you don't need to do that. But please come to stay with us in Hamburg soon. You can also see your son, the famous pop star."
    "I promise."
    "So, I've had a wonderful day. Thank you so much."
    "The pleasure was all mine."
    "And now we say goodbye."
    Perhaps it was a trick of the dim light, but it looked to Clement as if Luisa's eyes were edged with tears. And he couldn't ignore the pang of sorrow welling up inside him.
    Without a word they reached out to embrace. For five seconds they held each tightly, then ten seconds, then twenty. Motionless, until Luisa kissed Clement on the cheek and whispered: "I have only loved two men in my life . . . Leo . . . and you know the other one. Auf wiedersehen, Liebling."
    Then she released him and turned away, walking directly to the hotel entrance without looking back. The doorman sprang into action and she disappeared into the brightly lit lobby.
    Clement stood for a long moment, his mind a swirl of conflicting emotions. Then he shook his head and started walking north.
 





CHAPTER   30






"Very flimsy evidence," said Victor Pollard. "Circumstantial, nothing more. So, he wasn't at home when Keith called on him, but that could have been for any number of reasons."
    "But there's character change as well," said Kapil Ramesh. "Not definite proof, admittedly, but it adds weight to the theory."
    "You mean the DH softening her tone?"
    "Yes, and Clem not quite his old self."
    The group sitting drinking tea in the Senior Staff Room included Janet Scott and Keith Knight. Glen Wentworth was looking out of the window, screwing up his eyes against the crisp December sunlight reflected off the dazzling blanket of snow covering the playground. It was two o'clock so the playground was deserted, with only a million slushy footprints showing where the children had been playing earlier. The teachers in the SSR were on free periods. The physics teacher had just closed the window someone had previously opened to let out stale cigarette smoke.
    "Wonder if Diana will stop the kids making slides when she takes up the reins," said Glen. "She was always nagging Archie to ban them. That's a beauty they've made down there. Wouldn't mind a go on it myself."
    "Stella would be on Diana's side on that one," said Keith, referring to the school secretary. "She has to patch 'em up when they fall over and break their limbs."
    For a few moments there was only the sound of tea cups clicking in saucers as Janet and Kapil sipped their contents. The language teacher smiled and said: "I noticed the elbow patch on Clem's jacket has been repaired."
    "That's it!" said Keith. "A woman's touch. Clem would never have bothered."
    "Ah, but which woman?" queried the history teacher.
    "Diana Dockerell!" said Glen and Keith in unison.
    The Head of English was still doubtful. "I just can't imagine it. They're chalk and cheese, those two."
    "Opposites attract, don't forget," offered Keith.
    "So, m'lud, the only evidence that the prosecution is offering," said Victor, "is that Mrs Dockerell told somebody she had a friend staying overnight, Mr Mayfield was not at home the following morning and his jacket has been repaired. M'lud, I ask you to throw this case out."
    "Well," said Kapil, "if the new version of the DH is what we get when she's running the show, I'll be happy enough."
    "We had a good run through on 'High Soc' last Sunday," said Victor. "That will have put her in a good frame of mind. Pamela's doing a fine job, taking over where Janos left off. So perhaps you don't have to be a bullying martinet to get the best out of an orchestra."
    "What's the latest on the Dombis?" asked Janet.
    "I gather Janos has gone back to the Hungarian College in London. They must have forgiven him his previous misdemeanours and decided he warrants another chance. Let's face it, he wasn't bad as a teacher when he kept his temper."
    "What about Josette?" asked Janet.
    "She's back in France with her family," said Victor. "That's what Diana told me, anyway. Shame we lost her, she was such a delightful lady."
    "Yes, Peter Young will confirm that for you," said Glen with a lascivious grin.
    "Now, now," said Kapil. "Let's not be disrespectful. She wouldn't be the first person to make that mistake."
    "She deserves praise for civilising that boy," suggested Keith, "even if she did have to sacrifice her reputation. Compare the latest model of Peter Young with the disruptive hooligan terrorising the school earlier this year."
    "I think Clem had a lot to do with that," said Victor. "I lost count of the number of last chances he gave the boy."
    "That's right," said Glen. "He's turned out to be a technical wizard on electrical equipment and such like. Wasn't it Clem who started him off with the tape recorder?"
    "Yes, he's been very helpful on 'High Soc'," said Victor. "No complaints there, even if he is appending ridiculous acronyms to his school work."
    "What do you mean?" asked Kapil.
    The Head of English sighed. "What's the latest one? L E M R S, I think it is."
    "Meaning?"
    "Lighting and Electrical Manager and Recording Supervisor, or something like that."
    "Ah yes," said Kapil. "Now you come to mention it, I think I saw that on a recent essay I set his class. I meant to ask him but it slipped my mind. But what all that electrical stuff has to do with the Restoration of the Monarchy I can't imagine."
    "I don't mind abbreviations," said Victor, going off on a tangent, "because you can usually work out what they stand for. 'High Soc' obviously means 'High Society'. But now we're suffering a plague of acronyms infesting newspapers, magazines, radio and television . . . everything! How can you possibly remember them all? Lazy journalism if you ask me."
    "But you say 'DH' for 'Deputy Head' just like the rest of us, don't you?" said Keith.
    "Yes, I do," admitted Victor. "But I don't like SSR for Senior Staff Room. Perhaps two letters are fine but not three or more." After a pause he added: "In my humble opinion."
    "Or IMHO," grinned Keith.
    A snort of disapproval was Victor's response.
    "I think it's the space programme," suggested Glen. "Americans seem to love them. 'Everything is AOK' and so forth."
    "They're ruining our magnificent language," muttered Victor. "And while we're on the subject of space, why does Kennedy want to send a man to the moon? Surely there must be better things to spend money on."
    "It's part of the 'Beat the Russians' game," said Keith. "The first two rounds went to the Reds when they launched Sputnik and Gagarin, Round 3 to Kennedy when he made Khrushchev take the Cuban missiles back. Now it's back into space for Round 4."
     "I don't know," said the Head of English. "This world is getting too complicated for old duffers like me. Spaceships and men on the moon. Whatever next?"
    "A lot of the kids are interested in the space programme," said Glen. "Even some of the girls."
    Kapil laughed. "As long as the children don't forget their history I don't mind them learning about space travel."
    "One boy asked me how far away from earth a satellite would have to be to achieve geostationary orbit," continued Glen, "which I thought was an intelligent question. I told him to find out for himself and write me an essay on it."
    Three blank faces looked at the physics teacher but Keith deduced what he was talking about. "The satellite appears stationary in the sky to an observer on earth?"
    "Correct. Useful for transmitting communications."
    "Is it easy to work out?" asked Kapil, "this geo . . . whatever it is . . . orbit?"
    "Yes. Newtonian physics," replied Glen. "It's in the A-Level syllabus. If you've got two masses––"
    "Enough!" boomed Victor, holding up his hand in a "stop" gesture just as the bell rang. All the teachers checked their watches and Keith and Kapil went off to their next classes.
    For a minute or two there was the murmur of voices in the corridor outside the Staff Room, accompanied by the low rumble of young feet hurrying to different classrooms. Then silence descended again, broken only by the scrape of match against matchbox as Janet lit a cigarette. She found herself thinking about the "High Society" rehearsal that Victor had referred to. Although not directly involved herself she was happy to attend the Sunday sessions now and then to show support. It was not an onerous duty––she liked the songs and was impressed with the standard of performance the singers and orchestra had achieved under the direction of Diana Dockerell and the baton of Pamela Church. During a work through of one of the songs, Janet had watched Peter Young in the wing controlling a moveable part of the backdrop using a control panel of some sort. A section of bookshelf slid sideways to reveal a secret bar from which the Bing Crosby character, Bruce Faraday, served a cocktail to the Frank Sinatra character, Kevin Turner, as the two duetted on "Well, Did You Evah". Observing Peter from the opposite wing was Vanessa Lambourne. It was the expression on the stage manager's face which intrigued Janet. A wistful half-smile, almost as if she were contemplating Peter's recent colourful history. Perhaps, despite the three year age gap, Vanessa had taken a fancy––
    "Hello, people," came the voice from the door which had just opened. School secretary Stella Harding walked in, holding a sheet of paper. She headed over to the notice board and spent a second or two looking for a spare drawing pin.
    "What gives?" asked Glen. "Anything important?"
    "Party invitation," said Stella, tacking the sheet to the board.
    "Who . . . what . . . why . . . when . . . where?"
    "Clement and Diana are hosting a party at her house the Saturday before Christmas. Everyone invited."
    "It's true then!" said Glen. "We've just been talking about it."
    "What's true?" asked Stella, turning to face the others.
    "Clem and the DH. You must have heard the rumours, Stella. Perhaps they're going to make it official."
    "Rumours?"
    Glen lifted an imaginary glass. "My friends, welcome to our soirée. Darling Diana and I have invited you here so that we can announce that we are officially a couple. So drink up and celebrate this happy moment with us."
    Stella threw the physics teacher a puzzled smile. "Hardly rumours, Glen. They've been out together several times to my knowledge. Last weekend Howard and I had dinner with them. I don't think they've been trying to hide anything."
    The physics teacher looked crestfallen. "Oh, what a disappointment. No mystery. No subterfuge. How boring."
    "I'm surprised," said Victor. "I couldn't have imagined it. They're complete opposites, those two."
    "Well, it might not be the romance of the century," said Stella, "but then again they're hardly lovestruck teenagers. They seem comfortable in each other's company."
    "More so than previously, that's for sure," noted Glen. "We were just saying that whatever they've got between them, it's changed them. Diana is not quite as . . . severe . . . as before, and Clem seems . . . I don't know . . . "
    "More philosophical," supplied Victor. "Fewer wisecracks. Sometimes you see him sitting in the corner apparently daydreaming. Whether that has anything to do with Diana, who knows?"
    "What's the purpose of the party, then?" asked Janet.
    "To thank everyone for their efforts staging 'High Society'."
 





CHAPTER   31






Hamburg
5 Dec 62

Dear Dad,
    I don't know if you've heard anything from Luisa but things are not good here. The Rocketeers are all OK but Luisa is in shock & Katharina has left home. I'm staying at Luisa's house trying to help out generally. Some of her friends have also visited & one of them is staying here.
    Katharina told me the trouble started after she had an argument with Luisa about her father. She had already found out that her real father was a Russian soldier & then Luisa told her she had stabbed the soldier to death after he had raped her. Katha was very upset & confused & wouldn't speak to Luisa afterwards. She told me she couldn't stay at home & she went to stay with a friend who's at Heidelberg University. She wanted me to go with her too but I told her I couldn't leave the group without a guitarist so I would have to stay here. Katha said she understood & she would come back when she'd thought things through.
    Luisa was upset but seemed to accept the situation but then came another bombshell. Ulrich was arrested & taken to the police station to be questioned about war crimes. They released him on bail but now he's done a runner & hasn't been seen since. Two days after the police interview an article appeared in the local paper saying Ulrich had been questioned about being involved in the killing of Jewish workers in the factory he was running during the war. I've included the article with this letter. It's in German so you may need help translating it.
    As you can imagine Ulrich's disappearance finished Luisa off. She's in a trance all the time. She hardly talks to anyone & her friends have to make sure she's eating her meals. As I said, one of them––Gertraud––is staying with us in the house & her husband has taken over running the Eleganz shop. I managed to get through on the phone to Katha yesterday evening & she says she'll come straight home, hopefully tomorrow.
    So all in all it's a bit of a mess, Dad. I don't know what else I can do to help. Gertraud says it's OK if I leave the house to go to work at the Vegas & she'll make sure Luisa is OK. Maybe things will be better when Katha gets home but I can't see everything suddenly returning to sweetness & light. I feel bad because Luisa is such a lovely person & I can't do anything to cheer her up. I just hope Katha will put their differences aside & come to the rescue. She sounded really upset when I spoke to her on the phone. In spite of what she found out about the Russian soldier I think she loves her mother. I thought I'd better let you know what the situation is although I don't suppose there's much you can do from England unless maybe you phone Luisa. She's not answering the phone herself but Gertraud answers the phone & tells her who's calling. Usually she shakes her head but once or twice she's spoken to the caller.
    Sorry if I've been rambling on a bit all gloom & doom. On a brighter note the group is doing well & Herr Galland is really pleased with us. The new lead guitarist––Vicente––has settled in nicely. We're now top of the bill & doing 4 nights a week––Herr Galland added Thursday to our schedule, but we get paid more & the Sunday session finishes at midnight rather than 2 a.m. Herr Galland said too many punters were leaving early, presumably because of work next day. Plus the accommodation at the Vegas has been upgraded––there are now two bathrooms & WCs so life is quite civilised & it's free of course.
    We might lose Phil in the New Year. He's really missing Eleanor & I think he's a bit homesick because of it. I don't know what would happen to the group if he leaves. He's really the backbone so even if we found another bassist the spirit might not be there. I could possibly find work in another group––people sometimes move around in this business, like Vicente replacing Don. Graham wouldn't have a problem getting a new job––everyone says his drumming is brilliant.
    It's difficult to see how things will turn out long term. I can't see Don going home––he's now making good money modelling in Frankfurt & he & Giselle are renting a luxurious apartment there. Graham wants to stay here in Hamburg even if the Rocketeers break up. He's happy living with Ricco––nobody here seems too fussed about homosexuals living together though sometimes you hear old people muttering about the sinfulness of it all.
    As for me––well, you know I want to stay with Katha wherever that happens to be. I don't know what effect the latest upheaval will have on her. I hope it doesn't break us up. I love her so much, Dad. I don't think I could bear it if she walks out on me. I would have to come home––there would be too many memories here. Fingers crossed she feels the same about me as I do about her. If we stay together in Hamburg I would still come home as often as I could––I miss you & my little sis. If the group continues we might get to be rich & famous! Then I could afford to fly home as often as I wanted. There was a group from Liverpool who played here earlier this year. They called themselves the "Beatles" & they've got a record contract with Parlophone. Their first single recently got to No.17 in the charts. So maybe there's hope for the Rocketeers!
    How is "High Society" going? Are you still on course for an Xmas performance? Didn't you tell me Peter "Casanova" Young was doing a recording of it? Is it being recorded on film too? I told the others that Lady Docker was being promoted to Head next year. They reckon it'll make her even bossier than before. What she needs is a man to tame her! Don't you dare volunteer!
    So, there we are, Dad, a mixed bag of a letter. I'm hoping that Katha will rally to Luisa's side when she comes home. They've both been through a traumatic moment & they need each other's support. Luisa is my girlfriend's mother. One day she might be my mother-in-law. I love them both.
    I'll try to phone on Saturday around 2 p.m. UK time for a news swap. Maybe things here will be better then.
    Hope you're keeping well & Jenny too––give her my love.
    Love & best wishes
    Stephen

*   *   *   *   *

Dear Clement,
    Here is the translation of the article you gave me. Most of it was straightforward although I had to get help from Prof Collett at London University for some of the idiomatic constructions. It's an interesting story. I'm curious as to why it's of importance to you though I appreciate it's none of my business really. Did you say your son sent it to you from Germany?
    Let me know if there's anything I can help with on "High Soc". I feel a bit guilty about not pulling my weight. Merely watching rehearsals from the hall isn't really contributing much. Do you need a triangle player in the orchestra?!! I must say I'm impressed with what I've seen so far.
    Yours
    Janet
 
*   *   *   *   *

"ELEGANZ" PROPRIETOR QUIZZED BY POLICE OVER ALLEGED WAR CRIMES

Hamburg 3/12/62

A prominent Hamburg businessman was on 1st December arrested by police officers and taken to the main city police station for questioning in relation to alleged criminal acts carried out during the war. Ulrich Haberlandt was held in custody for six hours and then released on bail of DM 75,000.
    It was alleged by witness Wilhelm Prochnow that Hr. Haberlandt had shot Jewish workers and raped women workers when he was running the Kretschmann-Emmerich factory in Hildesheim, Niedersachsen, during the years 1942-5. The factory at that time was controlled by the Niedersachsen Production Authority (NPG) and produced military uniforms and footwear, leather goods and furniture. In a statement to the police Hr. Prochnow said he identified Hr. Haberlandt when he met him at the Bahrenfeld golf course near Hamburg a year ago. During the war Hr. Prochnow had been a van driver employed by the Kretschmann-Emmerich factory. He told police that at that time the factory manager went under the name of Adolf Stein. Hr. Prochnow said that on one occasion seven workers from the factory were told to get into the back of the van because they were being taken to collect wood for the factory heating stoves. Hr. Stein rode in the front of the van with the driver and told him to take the road eastwards through Wendhausen. About two kilometres beyond the village Hr. Prochnow was told to drive off the road and across a field into a wooded area, where they parked. Hr. Stein told Hr. Prochnow to stay in the van. Then he ordered the workers to get out of the van. Hr. Prochnow saw them being taken into the woods and out of sight. He thought it was strange that the box which Hr. Stein said contained the axes was being carried by Hr. Stein and not one of the workers. A few minutes later Hr. Stein reappeared alone. He told Hr. Prochnow that the workers were chopping wood and they would be picked up again later. Hr. Stein had brought the box back and Hr. Prochnow assumed it was now empty. The two of them then drove back to Hildesheim.
    Hr. Prochnow did not see the workers again. When he asked another factory worker what had happened to them he was told they had been transferred to another factory. But one of the female workers said her fiancé was among the group that had transferred and she had heard nothing from him. She suspected he had been killed. A few days later Hr. Prochnow said he cycled to the area where they had driven in the van and after a search had found the bodies of the missing workers in the undergrowth. They all had multiple gunshot wounds. He did not report what he had found because he was afraid Hr. Stein might find out he had Jewish ancestry.
    In March 1945 the factory was closed down when the Allied Army approached. Hr. Prochnow joined the refugees heading east but they were captured and returned to Hildesheim. He heard from several sources that Hr. Stein had committed suicide. Several people had seen photos of the corpse, which had severe head injuries apparently inflicted by a grenade exploding near the head or inside the mouth. The corpse could only be identified from clothing and documentation adjacent to it. After the war Hr. Prochnow said he went to look for the bodies of the workers in the woods near Wendhausen but they had gone.
    In 1961 Hr. Prochnow was living in Hanover. He visited a friend in Hamburg and went with him to the Bahrenfeld golf club, where he saw the man he believed to be Adolf Stein, now going under the name Haberlandt. By chance they played golf together in a foursome and Hr. Prochnow asked another player to take a photo of the group on his camera. Hr. Haberlandt did not appear to recognise Hr. Prochnow.
    Later Hr. Prochnow took the photograph to Hildesheim to find witnesses who could identify the image. He placed a personal advert in the Hildesheimer Beobachter newspaper asking people who had worked at the Kretschmann-Emmerich factory during the war to contact him as he was writing a history of the area. Several people came forward and he showed them the photo of Hr. Haberlandt. Without prompting, five people identified him as the manager of the factory. One of these, Marlene Murnau, told Hr. Prochnow that Hr. Stein had raped at least four women workers in his office, threatening to have them killed if they told anyone. Hr. Prochnow was able to trace one of these women and she corroborated the story. He assembled all the evidence he had found and presented it to the police in Hanover, who in turn passed it on to the Hamburg police. After reviewing the evidence the Hamburg police decided to bring in Hr. Haberlandt for questioning. Klaus Thätter, Hr. Haberlandt's lawyer, said his client denied all the accusations and would counterclaim for defamation of character. He said Hr. Haberlandt could provide documentary proof of his family and background. He further said that his client worked in military intelligence during the war and that again documentary proof could be furnished if required.
    The matter is now in the hands of the Federal Department of Prosecution who will decide whether a trial should be instigated.
 





CHAPTER   32






What a contrast, thought Clement, sitting in the BEA Comet, marvelling at the steepness of the climb. They had just taken off from London Airport and by looking at the horizon through the windows on the other side of the passenger cabin Clement estimated the plane's body angle at more than ten degrees. On a Lancaster laden with bombs the fuselage angle was not far off level. And compared to the lumbering, sluggish take-off run of the shuddering Avro warplane this jet seemed to levitate from the runway only a few seconds after the engines had smoothly wound up to take-off power.
    The teacher's only previous flying experience since the Berlin Airlift was in a BOAC Stratocruiser which took him and Shirley to Barbados in the early 1950s. She had won a competition inviting suggestions for an advertising slogan and the prize was a ten day holiday in Oistins Bay. The Stratocruiser, though faster than the Lancaster bomber, was not much quieter, and the furnishings inside the cabin trembled with the vibration of the four massive engines driving the propellers. The aircraft made stops for refuelling at Gander in Newfoundland and Bermuda, so the eventual arrival at Bridgetown was more than twenty hours after take-off from London.
    Today the Comet cabin was about two thirds full, mainly businessmen by the look of it, thought Clement. Normally he himself would have been at school at one o'clock on a Thursday but Dr Briers had allowed him compassionate leave so that he could fly to Hamburg. Clement had booked a return flight on the Sunday, which meant he would be away three nights. Diana had graciously allowed him to miss the penultimate "High Society" rehearsal.
    When he had phoned Luisa's number after he had received his son's letter it was her friend Gertraud who had answered. Yes, she told him in broken English after asking him to hold the line while she checked, Luisa would be happy to see him and he could stay at her house if he wanted to. Stephen came onto the line to tell him how pleased he was that his Dad was coming out. He wasn't sure if he would be able to meet him at the airport and warned him that taxis were quite expensive.
    To assuage his guilt over his dereliction of duty the geography teacher had brought a briefcase full of schoolwork with him, mainly homework requiring checking and marking, along with photos of a recent "High Society" rehearsal, including Jenny larking around with her clarinet amongst a bunch of grinning friends. Also in the briefcase was the first draft of the chapter on Tropical Revolving Storms for the layman's guide to weather he was writing. Clement was not happy with his explanation of the airflow patterns at the eye of the storm and had decided a rewrite was required, together with a clearer diagram. In one of life's many tiny coincidences he remembered that the original name of his son's pop group included the word "Typhoon", which was how these storms were referred to in eastern Asian countries.
    As the Comet approached Hamburg Clement could work out from the angle of the sunlight coming through the windows that the aircraft was lined up for landing on the northeast runway. He had researched the geography of the airport and found a map showing it to be situated to the north of the city. He identified the River Elbe as they flew over it with the city sprawling in the hazy winter sunshine further in the distance on the right. That would mean that the stretch of river on which he landed in a Sunderland flying boat at the end of his Airlift duty fourteen years previously was directly underneath the Comet now. And the city itself, of course, was the target for one of the bombing missions he had foolishly volunteered to join during the war, when he found himself cowering in fear in a Lancaster––or was it a Halifax?––as the maelstrom of explosions and searchlights and target flares and engine noise and frantic intercom exchanges buffeted the aircraft and assaulted his senses while twenty thousand feet below them the city centre was consumed in a raging firestorm.
    Now he was approaching Hamburg in a smooth glide in a marvel of modern aeronautical engineering, in broad daylight in quietness and with nobody trying to shoot him down.
    Somewhere in the conurbation now drifting past below them as they sank lower was Ottensen, the suburb where Luisa's house was located. When he had phoned before leaving home to check that she was receiving visitors her quiet reply had been, no, except for you, which had simultaneously cheered and alarmed him. A good sign was that she said she would meet him at the airport so he wouldn't need to find a taxi, so perhaps she was functioning reasonably normally.
    The white Mercedes saloon was easy to pick out as Clement carried his cases out of the terminal and as he got closer he identified the figure waving to him. He put a smile on his face and quickened his pace. But what a difference from the last time he had seen Luisa. Memories of Berlin came flooding back as he took in the sad eyes and drawn expression that her own smile could not mask.
    "I'm so glad to see you, Clement."
    "Ditto, Luisa."
    The embrace lasted a long time, with no further words between them. When they eventually separated Luisa's smile was brighter but her eyes were watering.
    "Welcome to Hamburg."
    "Thank you for coming to meet me."
    "I would not have done this for anybody else."
    "I understand."
    As they drove away from the airport it was Luisa who resumed the conversation.
    "How was the flight?"
    "Very smooth, compared to––" Clement was about to refer to the aerial transport that had brought him to Hamburg nineteen years previously but quickly switched to "––the plane that took Shirley and me to Barbados."
    "I have flown in jets a few times with . . . that man. Last year we went to Rome in a Boeing, I think it was. Very fast, very comfortable."
    "Yes."
    "Shall I drive you through the Reeperbahn? You can see the club where the Rocketeers entertain their fans."
    "Okay, thanks. I think Stephen is expecting me to go to hear them perform one evening."
    "You will be impressed, Clement. Even an old lady such as me finds some of this new type music enjoyable."
    "Yes. Jenny listens to it all the time at home on her transistor. It's beginning to grow on me. Stephen said he would be practising at the club this afternoon but I think he's going back to yours for an hour or two before tonight's show."
    "Yes, he wanted to see you as soon as it was possible."
    There was a pause. Clement thought for a moment before posing the next question. But Luisa's frame of mind seemed settled so perhaps no harm would be done.
    "What about Katharina?"
    "She's home," said Luisa with what looked like a genuine smile.
    "I'm pleased for you."
    "She says she has forgiven me."
    "I'm glad."
    "She is with a school outing this afternoon. They visit the main hospital to see how the medical staff do their duties. She will be home about five."
    "She's coping with the situation, then?"
    "Yes, she is strong. She is helping me. Her school friends are being kind to her, most of them. They know she is upset about what has happened––Ulrich, I mean, not the Russian soldier."
    "The last time I saw her she was a toddler."
    "And now she is a beautiful young woman."
    "Who my son is in love with."
    "And she with him."
    In daylight there was little to distinguish the Reeperbahn from the surrounding city streets apart from gaudy posters advertising the attractions the clubs were offering their patrons in the evenings.
    "Look!" Luisa pointed out of the window.
    The poster outside the Club Vegas shouted: "Seht sie! Hört sie! Die beste Rock'n'Roll Gruppe aus England! Die berühmten Rocketeers!"
    "Berühmten?" queried Clement.
    "Famous."
    "Ah."
    A few minutes later they reached Ottensen. To Clement, the leafy environs resembled English suburbia except that there was no brickwork to be seen. Evidently houses were either built of other materials or the bricks had been coated with plaster or some other rendering, mostly white but others in pastel shades. Were some of them post war rebuilds? This area would have been close enough to the city to have been hit by bombs missing their targets.
    Clement had seen photos of Luisa's house, of course, and the reality did not disappoint. Spacious––six bedrooms, wasn't it?––with a well tended garden on three sides. All in all about twice the size of his modest abode in Berkhamsted.
    Luisa parked the Mercedes and let them into the house, calling out in German, whereupon another woman appeared, middle-aged, chubby, a warm smile on her friendly round face. Luisa spoke to her in German and then turned to Clement.
    "This is Gertraud, my best friend. One of the ones who did not . . . wie sagt man . . . abandon me during my . . . difficulties."
    "I happy to find you," grinned Gertraud, holding out her hand. "But I talk not English."
    Clement tried out the phrases he had revised during the flight from London, soliciting encouraging nods from Gertraud. The two women conversed again in German and Clement ruefully noted that his familiarity with the language, which had never been reliable, was not up to the task of revealing what they were talking about. Luisa explained. "Gertraud's going home now. I told her I was okay on my own and that you and Stephen would be keeping me company." When her friend had gone, Luisa led Clement into the spacious lounge and turned towards him. She cupped his face in her hands.
    "Dear Clement. Thank you for coming to see me."
    "My pleasure."
    Luisa dropped her hands. "I thought you might not want to come, knowing that I was a . . . nervous wreck . . . is that how you say it?"
    "How are you feeling now?"
    "Better. I have Katha back home and most of my friends helped me. I have deleted those that turned away from me from my address book. And now I have you . . . for three days, anyway."
    "What's happening about your shop?"
    "Gertraud's husband, Peter, has been helping me. He runs his own business but he usually has time to go to our . . . my . . . shop when it's necessary and I can do some of the . . . administration . . . here at home. Next week I will go to the shop and apologise to everyone for the embarrassment we have caused to them and I will say that I hope that they will continue to work for me."
    Treading carefully, Clement said: "So the Eleganz belongs to you now, does it?"
    Luisa shook her head. "Not legally, not yet."
    Clement's caution stopped him probing further but evidently Luisa was happy to broach the subject he had been thinking about.
    "There is still no sign of Ulrich," she said. "Not a word . . . nothing."
    "Do they think he has he left the country?" asked Clement, remembering that many alleged German war criminals had ended up in South American lands.
    Luisa shrugged. "Nobody knows."
    "It must have been a dreadful shock for you."
    Luisa sighed. "I had no idea. Sometimes I think it can't be true that my husband did what they said he did, that someone has made a mistake with the identification. Other times I think that if it is true then I must be very stupid not to have realised he was a bad man."
    "So Ulrich's assets haven't reverted to you?"
    "Assets? What is that?"
    "The things he owns . . . the house, the shops––"
    "Ah, Vermögen, I understand. Well, my lawyers are investigating these things. The house is Ulrich's but the shops belong to both of us, Ulrich about sixty-five percent and the rest is mine. If Ulrich does not return then I can after a few years ask that the . . . assets, is that the word you used? . . . be given to me."
    "And if he does return?"
    Luisa shook her head. "I don't know. There are many questions. Will there be a trial? If there is, will he be guilty or not guilty? I cannot take him back because he ran away and left me to face the trouble on my own. If he is not guilty, then what? If we divorce, what happens to the assets? And if he is guilty and he goes to prison . . . " Her voice tailed off.
    After a few moments Clement said, "Can I ask you a very personal question?"
    Luisa raised her eyebrows, which Clement took to be granting of permission.
    "Did you ever love Ulrich?"
    Luisa tilted her head. "Don't you remember what I told you when we met in London?"
    "Yes, I remember very well. I wasn't sure if you meant it."
    "I meant it."
    Clement nodded. "Why did you marry him?"
    "For selfish reasons. My life was very difficult after the war, as you know. This man who was not unattractive and who had plenty of money showed an interest in me. He also said he was happy to adopt Katha so I agreed to marry him when he asked me."
    "Understandable, after all you'd been through."
    "We had good sex together," continued Luisa in a matter-of-fact tone, to Clement's surprise, steeped as he was in the tradition of English reticence. "To start with, anyway. After a few years the desire reduces but that is probably true for most married people, isn't it?"
    "Yes, I suppose so."
    Luisa smiled at him again. "Enough about me and my troubles. I'm going to make you a nice cup of tea and then you can tell me about Jennifer and 'High Society' and everything else you are doing."
    "Okay, thank you."
    Luisa disappeared into the kitchen and Clement was about to sit himself down but then a frown crossed his brow. He went out into the hall and picked up the briefcase sitting beside his suitcase.
    As he walked back to the lounge with the briefcase he heard Luisa singing in the kitchen––another good sign!
    Clement opened the briefcase and ruffled through the documents, eventually pulling out an envelope. He extracted two sheets from the envelope and placed them side by side on the coffee table. The envelope bore the postal address of Diana Dockerell and was already stamped.
 
12th December '62

Dear Diana,
    A quick note to say I'm glad you enjoyed dinner at mine the Friday before last. I can tell you now that I cheated a bit––the Bolognese sauce came out of a jar! But maybe you guessed that yourself. It now seems to be common knowledge that you and I are going out so perhaps we should make it "official" with an announcement at the High Soc party. Keith overheard a reference to "Lord Docker" at school the other day and no doubt there are other nicknames (some vulgar!) being bandied about.
    I asked Jenny if she minded if I asked you if you wanted to come to ours on Xmas day if you hadn't already made other plans. She said she would be happy if you joined us. For eating it'll be standard Xmas fare, cooked by me with help from Jen. The pudding will come from Sainsbury's though. You'll have to pull a cracker and wear a silly hat.
    Looking further ahead, what are your feelings about taking a holiday together next summer? If you book them before January they are cheaper. I was thinking about two weeks in Corfu or Crete––I've never been to Greece. I haven't really had a "proper" holiday since Shirley died so it would be a nice change.
    Take a day or two to think about it and then let me know, would you? Don't feel obliged in any way. I'll understand perfectly if you decline.
    See you at the workhouse.
    Yours affectionately,
    Clement



12th December '62

Dear Diana,
    Thank you for your company the Friday before last and for your compliments about my cooking. I can tell you now that I cheated a bit––the Bolognese sauce came out of a jar! But maybe you guessed that yourself.
    By the time you get this I will have returned from Hamburg, where I spent a few days with my friend Luisa. She has suffered several setbacks in her life, including a recent family upheaval.
    During my stay I realised how strong my feelings for Luisa were. I think that I am going to ask her if she wants to live with me, with a view to eventual marriage when her family problems are sorted out. If she accepts then there will the decision about where we'll live. If it's in Germany, where she runs a chain of clothing stores then obviously I will have to resign from CBGS and try to find work of some sort there. If it's England, which is what I hope, then there is the question of her daughter (Katharina). She's 16 now and I think she would fit in well at CBGS––her English is good enough for that. But she might not want to leave her friends. A further complication is that Katharina is going out with my son, Stephen, as I think I've already mentioned to you. It's like the convoluted plot of a novel!
    I've really enjoyed the times we've spent together––thank you for that––but in view of the foregoing I think we should break off our relationship. I hope it's not too upsetting for you (which sounds a little presumptuous on my part) and that you find another man worthy of you soon. If you're agreeable, I'd like us to maintain our friendship and I look forward to working with you when you're Head Teacher. The Governors could not have chosen a better person.
    Yours affectionately,
    Clement

The teacher looked at the two letters for a few seconds. Then he stood up, picked up the one on the left and ripped it into pieces, which he gathered into his hand. He walked over to the waste basket and released his grip. The torn shreds dropped from his unclenched hand into the basket like confetti.
 





CHAPTER   33






The classroom was full, but it was the posteriors of the teaching staff of Chesham Bois Grammar School settled in the wooden chairs rather than those of pupils. Classroom J was the usual venue for the Headmistress's monthly briefings because its greater capacity was needed to accommodate the school's forty-odd teachers.
    By and large Diana Dockerell had seen no need for major changes in the running of the school since Dr Briers' retirement. A guiding principle was the phrase that Vic Pollard had quoted from one of Prosper Kingsman's poems: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Diana couldn't remember the context but the sentiment was pertinent to her situation. Ungrammatical, but pertinent.
    The new Head had introduced a few new rules. Smoking of pipes was forbidden in any school building. A third Friday detention incurred by a pupil during a term automatically escalated to a Saturday Morning. Names of detainees were no longer read out during Assembly, thereby suppressing potential notoriety of the "Woodhouse and Young" sort. In snowy weather children were forbidden to set up slides in the playground.
    A more significant change was the introduction of the monthly staff briefings, a more formal manifestation of the ad hoc meetings called by Dr Briers. Aware of the strictness imputed to her by teachers and pupils alike, Diana's opening remark during the first of her briefings was to reassure her staff that there would be no major upheaval in their professional lives. Rather than quoting the janitor's aphorism she had elicited a smile from her audience with a reminder of the wartime poster urging the populace to "Keep Calm and Carry On".
    Although with Diana's hand on the tiller the good ship CBGS was holding a steady course, the world around them was witnessing more spectacular events. The Soviet Union had launched Valentina Tereshkova into earth orbit, the first female in space. Together with the US government the Russians had set up a full time permanent communications link between the Premier and the President to prevent future "Cuba" type nuclear confrontations. Thus the word "hotline" entered the lexicon.
    In Britain the Profumo sex scandal had filled the newspapers, enabling them to feed their readers a rich diet of prostitutes, lying government ministers, suicide and Russian spies. By comparison the Peter Young affair faded into insignificance. The Beatles, contemporaries of the Rocketeers in Hamburg, had gone on to conquer the world. Diana Dockerell was not immune and occasionally found herself singing, "She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah".
    On this late afternoon in October the Head did not take long to run through the briefing. She was able to confirm that the school's performance of Bach's Saint Matthew Passion was definitely going ahead the following Easter. With a nod to the new Head of Music, Mrs Westcott, she expressed her belief that the performance of the oratorio would match or even surpass the standard achieved by "High Society", the widely acknowledged success of the previous winter.
    Diana raised the folded piece of paper she had been holding.
    "And now a piece of excellent news," she said with a broad smile. "Clement Mayfield is coming back to join us. He's just sent this letter confirming it."
    The secret had been well kept and after taking a second or two to digest the unexpected announcement a cheer arose from the teachers, followed by a round of applause. The only other staff member with prior knowledge was Stuart Baker, who had been promoted to Head of Geography after Clement's resignation earlier in the year. Diana now explained the arrangement in more detail to the assembled company.
    "Stuart will continue in his current post. Clement will be taking Geography, German and Music classes as a stand-in when we're short staffed. When required he'll also help me and Glen Wentworth with managerial duties. His pay will be on a pro rata basis so we're not depleting the school budget unjustifiably. We expect him to join us soon, possibly before Christmas."
    The letter from Clement had been preceded by one from Luisa Haberlandt, which had been sent to the school's address during the summer holiday. Prosper Kingsman had forwarded it to Diana's home address.

Dear Mrs. Dockerell,
    I write to you as the partner of your teacher Clement Mayfield. He lives with me in my house in Ottensen, as you probably know. Also his son Stephen is with us, and my daughter, who is Stephen's girlfriend. But I don't think Clement is so happy as the rest of us. He says he likes teaching English here but I think he would like to return to England though he doesn't say this to us.
    Anyway, Stephen and Katha and I recently had a discussion and I told them about Clement but they are clever people––they were already thinking the same thing. Stephen said Clement is missing Jennifer, his daughter. So I have decided I will come and live in England with Clement if he wants to go back. I'm going to keep ownership of my business in Hamburg but I will hire a manager to look after the shops, so it will only be necessary for me to fly to Hamburg sometimes to check that everything is good. Stephen and Katha will live in my house in Ottensen and they will look after it. Perhaps Clement and I can stay in his house in Berkhamsted, which he has rented to a tenant. I expect that you know that Jennifer stays at a friend's house now but perhaps she could come back too.
    Would it be possible for Clement to teach again at your school? He is often talking about it and I think that's what he misses most. If it's not possible, do you know other schools who need a geography teacher?
    Thank you so much. But please don't be in obligation to help if there are no vacancies.
    Yours sincerely,
    Luisa Haberlandt

Diana's summary of the new arrangement was truthful, though with a couple of small omissions. The school governors were not happy to sanction payment of an extra salary when the teaching staff was already up to strength. Diana pushed strongly for a retainer, topped up with the pro rata payments. If and when a suitable permanent position became available, Clement would be on hand to take it if he wanted it. She offered to take a cut in her own salary to ease the drain on monetary resources. She reminded the governors of Clement's long and distinguished career and suggested that the school owed him something in return. A thought came to her during her negotiations with the governors and she voiced it. "This school is diminished without Clement and enhanced with him."
    The offer was sent to Clement within the week.
    The next task for Diana was to visit the tenant in Clement's house to see if he would consider relocation when convenient. Mr Adams told Diana he was a widower who had moved to Berkhamsted after his wife died to be near to his son's family. Diana expressed her condolences and voiced her hope that it hadn't been insensitive of her to ask about him leaving. With a smile, Mr Adams reassured her that he was not at all offended. He said he was looking to buy a house so it was probable that he would leave soon anyway. It turned out that he was the owner of a bookshop in Banbury. His intention was to sell it and then set up something similar in Berkhamsted. In the meantime he was working part-time as a librarian at the Public Library.
    Leaving the house, Diana noticed a photo of a London Transport double decker, a group of grinning people standing in front of it. She pointed at it. "Number 109. I worked on that route during the war."
    "Clippie?"
    "Driver."
    "My Dad was a driver," said Mr Adams. "He's in that group, third from the right in the back row. I took the picture. Just before the war, I think it was. I was a cub reporter on the South London Herald. Filed the copy and took the photo. Can't remember the occasion."
    "Where was your Dad based?"
    "Brixton."
    Diana peered more closely at the photo. "I was at Purley, the other end of the route. What was your father's name?"
    "Tim. Tim Adams."
    Diana shook her head. "Name doesn't ring a bell but I probably met him if we were on the same route. He'll be retired now, of course."
    "He died a few years after the war."
    "Sorry to hear that."
    "Yes."
    "So you didn't want to follow him into the profession?"
    "No. Like I said, I was a journalist until I was forty-five, forty-six. Then I bought my shop. About five years ago that would be."
    "Uh-huh."
    "Are you still driving?"
    Diana shook her head again. "Teacher. Headmistress at a local school."
    "You're a friend of the landlord, I take it?"
    "Yes. I'm organising things for his return."
    "Okay. If you give me your phone number I'll give you a ring when I know I'm moving out."
    The day after the October staff briefing Diana asked upper sixth former Jennifer Mayfield to see her in her office after school. She explained what was happening and by the expression on the pupil's face quickly realised that Jennifer was only too happy to have her Dad home and to be able to share the house with him again. Neither of them found the need to refer to the brief romance between the pupil's father and the Headmistress. All in the past.
    "Dad didn't tell me he was coming back when he phoned last time."
    "I expect he wanted to be sure everything was done and dusted, just in case there were complications. He wouldn't have wanted you to be disappointed if it all fell through."
    "That's fantastic news. Thank you, miss."
    "How are things going for your brother?"
    "Okay, thanks, miss," came the reply. "But the Rocketeers split up a few months ago."
    It took a moment or two for Diana's memory to retrieve the significance of the name. "His pop group?"
    "Yes. They were all boys from this school."
    "Ah, yes. What's happened to them?"
    It seemed that Stephen was now working in the Talstrasse studio in Hamburg which had launched Donald McMillan's modelling career. Don had put in a word with proprietor Andreas Schweighöfer, the end result of which was that Stephen was learning the art of photography without the need to enrol at a college, which he would have had to fund himself if he stayed in Germany. Katharina was still at school but she was going to train as a fashion designer after leaving. Stephen and Don were writing pop songs and sending them off to publishers. Thus far only their compositions "Don't You Dare" and "Never Had No Luck" had brought offers of payment and neither had yet been recorded by professional artistes.
    Drummer Graham Reed had moved to San Francisco, California, with his close friend Ricco. According to Jenny, who had been informed by her brother, Graham was earning good money as a session musician in a recording studio. Ricco was working for a record label designing covers for albums.
    The only ex-Rocketeer following his original career plan was Phil Cheyney. After coming home and reuniting with long-term girlfriend Eleanor he had started his Civil Engineering course at Manchester University.
    Diana wrinkled her nose. "Philip Cheyney . . . yes, I remember him . . . one of your father's imports from Chesham Senior if I remember correctly . . . an excellent pupil . . . I thought he was going to Leeds."
    "He was, miss, but his girlfriend was already at Manch, so . . . "
    The Head smiled. "I understand."
    "Did Mr Adams say when he would be leaving our house?" asked Jennifer.
    "I'm hoping I can find out tonight."
    "Tonight, miss? How come?"
    In spite of her half century's worldly-wise experience of life Diana could not stop a blush colouring her cheeks.
    "Well, Jenny. He's asked me out to dinner."



THE END
 





Also by Julien Evans: Fiction
Madeleine's Quest
The Sommerville Case
The Damocles Plot
Flight 935 Do You Read

Non-fiction:
How Airliners Fly
Handling Light Aircraft