That was then, this is now

Stored away in an old trolley bag, which is kept under my desk, is a large envelope stuffed full of £100 notes... That's a lie. Inside the envelope are hundreds of strips of negatives of photographs I have taken since I got my first camera for my 21st birthday. This evening after work, I began to look through these negatives, and came across many, many images that I thought I had lost forever following my divorce from my first wife 13 years ago. I got lost in the photographs of the first time we drove around Europe, way back in 1988, when there were still two Germanies, and Austria was not in the EU. In fact, the EU was still the EC then. I put the negatives into my new scanner, and let the memories flood back: the French campsite owner driving us, with scant regard for speed limits or any other rule of the road, from Bray-Dunes into Dunkirk; cringing at the behaviour of a group of English youths who were chanting "in the faaantayne" as they threw someone into one of the fountains in Bruges; the old man who came up to me to tell me that cars with foreign registration plates didn't have to pay to park in Ghent; arriving in Aachen when everything was shut and being stopped from crossing a deserted street by a concerned resident who pointed to the police car 200 yards away, and warned us against jaywalking; dancing the tango in a beer tent at the Bad Durkheim Wurstmarkt to a Bavarian 'oompah' band with a very overweight elderly German man who had been a POW in Edinburgh during WWII, then losing my wallet and all my German money on the way back to the campsite; waking up the next morning with the hangover from Hell, then having to retrace my steps to find my passport, and finding it and a 50DM note under the wheels of a parked lorry; falling asleep on the village green at Oberwesel, and waking up four hours later to find myself in the middle of the Rein in Flammen fireworks display. We had to cut our stay in Germany short, because we were spending money at an alarming rate, and we had to get to a cheaper country fast - so we returned to Belgium. If I didn't know that I did these things I would have sworn that it was someone else. Oh! and we got stopped by the German customs as we entered Luxembourg. Those were the days!


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