It must be love
I was intending to continue with a series of written “snapshots” of a variety of the PR trips. But first I feel that it is personally most important is to describe my meeting with beautiful young German named Karina and my growing relationship with her and her German family. I did, after all, end up marrying her in a Newcastle church.
We first met in the romantically named Winterberg, a ski resort in Germany’s Hochsauerland region.
She was holidaying alone, typically independent while still a teenager. I was there to report on soldiers taking part in the British Army and Ski Championships.
I arrived with some of the Public Relations team myself as writer, Alan, the 30-year-old regular sergeant cameraman who organised and led all these trips from his base at BAOR headquarters near Monchengladbach, Axel, my German driver in his early 40s, and a youngish German civilian photographer employed by Public Relations.
My Winterberg memories began in Cafe Möhrchen (Little Carrot), a charming cafe bar with a dance floor and ageing dance-band. I noticed Karina sitting with an older woman she’d made friends with at her pension. But that first night it was with two other young women that I mostly danced, one from Essen, on holiday with her brother, and the other with her young-looking mother.
Eventually I asked the Essen girl to join me for a drink, and when she started talking in a mixture of basic German and English about the nature of love, I heard Alan at the next table muttering, with raised eyebrows, “Oh my god!” As we talked, I noticed the other young woman had placed herself at a neighboring table to site and stare at me. I found myself grinning at this unexpected and rapid success.
Good looking- me?
At the time I assumed that my just-adequate German in an English accent was probably attractive. It didn’t occur to me that my looks might have been part of the attraction because all my life I didn’t realise I was good-looking. This changed very recently when I unearthed a photograph of myself aged 22 in my sergeant uniform. A female friend of my wife Wendy made us as laugh after she saw the photograph and commented: “Love’s young dream.”
Wendy has reminded me that another female friend of hers commented, “Oh him, he’s gorgeous,” after learning (some 29 years ago), that we were becoming committed to one another. I had assumed that the woman found me as a person attractive, having led group therapy sessions that included me, Wendy insists that the comment referred as much to my good looks at the age of 50.
I mention all this because I feel the fact that I wasn’t aware of my good looks throughout my life must have stemmed psychology, and – to date at the age of 85, inexplicably – from somewhere in my past – deserving perhaps a consideration that I may come back to later.
The following evening at the cafe-bar I danced with Karina.
Alan, looking over in the cafe-bar at Karina and Regina, her older new friend, suggested to me to go and ask them if they’d like to join us. So, I asked if I could sit with them, chatted, and laughed with them, and in the early hours walked Karina to her pension where we petted on the porch.
Next day she and Regina joined us on the ski slopes where we were interviewing and photographing British soldiers. Karina, charming in a fur-collared coat, took my hands in hers to warm them because I had taken off my gloves to make notes while interviewing.
Subsequently she and I always sat together and danced together at the Cafe Möhrchen, she amused me by saying that one of the more mature women present warned her about me with the words: “You can tell he’s a heartbreaker.”
I recall, after a while, sitting dreamily thinking about Karina on a bed in the hotel room I shared with Alan, and him mockingly saying: “Look at you. It must be love!”