During that Winterberg time together there were occasional indications of how Karina’s characteristics would evolve to become the young woman I would experience as her lover and, post-national service, as my wife for 23 years.
This was that woman: loving and caring, sensitive, and attracting, with her vivacious personality and intelligence, other intelligent women into strong, lasting friendships with her.
Also, I would discover post-Winterberg, that she loved discussing politics (fortunately from a similar left-of-centre base as my own). And she liked to be different. Which is why she called herself Karina, when to her German family she was always Karin – a name she found far too general among German women.
Boxing reporting together
She was generally happy with me, and her intelligence became particularly evident when we took her along to a military boxing match near Winterberg that our PR team had been ordered to cover for British television.
When I heard her, by my side, making perceptive ringside comments, I suggested she help me with the short reports I was having to write about the bouts. I knew nothing about boxing and was struggling to keep pace. She agreed to give me quick verbal summaries as I looked up from my writing pad and did it very well. Somehow, we managed, with her basic English and my not-much-better German, though I never heard whether anything was used in the British media.
One strange incident that greatly amused Alan happened after I invited Karina to the lounge bar of the Snow Inn that had been allotted to British non-commissioned officers. There she had her first-ever gins and orange and, unnoticed by bar staff, both of us kept somewhat intoxicatedly sitting there, my arm around her, as everyone else gradually left and the bar staff locked us in, without realising we were still there.
I don’t recall whether the fact that we were locked in took us by surprise or we simply didn’t care. I think we kept sitting there because we wanted to stay together as long as possible with the date of my departure from Winterberg due the following day.
Eventually a door behind the bar swung open and the bar manager and a grinning Alan appeared.
Non-plussed by my non-appearance in our room upstairs at such a late hour, Alan had decided that I might have been locked in the lounge bar. Presumably he had noticed us sitting there as the room emptied. He had asked the manager to open. She admonished Karina for taking a risk with a foreign soldier. We were lucky, of course, not to have been falsely accused of stealing from the alcoholic drinks display.
At the end of the ski championships, as I and the PR team were driving away from our hotel, someone said, “Look there!” and Axel stopped the car. It was Karina, walking towards the Snow Inn, presumably in the hope of seeing me before we departed.
I ran out to her and put my arms around her and kissed her goodbye.