Don't Möhne To Me
“You fancy something to eat before we go see Roni?”
“Sure.” I agreed sliding my seat belt into the clip.
George as usual was in charge of getting the others to the airport but getting Roni repatriated was gonna be the problem, although she lives just outside Düsseldorf that's a good hour's drive from Arnsberg where they took her.
We drove along the lakeside that had so recently seen the conflict of the Möhne Grand Prix, when we reached the dam Dad turned into the car park. With the race now long gone it had returned to its usual Sunday afternoon bustle of tourists.
“Lets have a look at the dam.” Dad suggested.
“Do we have to –I've ridden over it three times already.”
“Yes we do, it's a bit of modern history.”
“Like oh they built a dam!”
“Sometimes Drew Bond…I really wonder what they teach you in those schools. “You have heard of the Dambusters?”
“Like in that film last Christmas?”
“That's the one. Well this was one of the dams they attacked.”
“Didn't do much of a job did they, I mean it's still here.”
By this time we were at a viewing platform looking out at the dam wall.
“They were very successful kiddo, thousands of Germans were killed in the floods caused by the RAF breaching the wall. If you look at the wall, can you see in the middle, the lighter brick?”
I looked where Dad was pointing; there was an obvious lighter patch of stonework right in the middle of the wall.
“Well that's where they rebuilt it.”
“That was a big hole. Why'd they blow it up?”
“Lets get some food, there's a café up top.”
We walked up to the little circular eatery and after ordering würst und frites Dad resumed the history lesson.
“Have you seen the pictures?”
Well you couldn't miss them really. The café was decorated with black and white photos of the dam, they looked quite old, lake ferries, tourists then a few showing altogether less scenic views – water pouring through a big hole in the dam and other scenes of devastation.
“So why'd we blow it up?”
“Well the heart of Germany's manufacturing base is the Ruhr valley.”
“We did about that in geography.” I interrupted.
“Well during the war it was obviously very important, the dam here supplied power for the factories. The idea was to disrupt production in the Ruhr factories, slow down arms production and so on.”
“I guess it worked huh?”
“Better than they had hoped, the floods caused tremendous damage all the way down to the Ruhr. Did you know they practised for it in the Peak District?”
“Yup, they practised with the bouncing bombs on Howden and Derwent dams, in fact when you were a nipper we went up to watch the fiftieth anniversary memorial flight up there, I don't suppose you remember. We sat up on the moors and watched a Lancaster bomber below us flying over the dam, quite a sight.”
“Certainly impressive to see but the result here was death and destruction.”
Our food arrived and I realised that I felt slightly uncomfortable, I dunno why, it was quite irrational but I sort of felt guilty about the destruction of the dam sixty years ago.
“Hiya Roni, how're you doing?”
“Okay I guess, I have to stay overnight.”
“We brought your clothes.”
“Thanks Drew, so how'd it finish?”
Well I had to relive the race for Roni; Dad was busy talking to the doctor so she got the full heroic version!
“Hi Mr Bond.”
“I've been talking to your doctor, looks like we can't break you out till the morning.”
“Sorry to be so much trouble.”
“You didn't ask to be gored Veronike.”
“We'll get a hotel nearby and pick you up in the morning. I've spoken to your parents, they would've come up themselves but…”
“Dad is flying to America tonight and Mama doesn't drive.” Roni filled in.
We stayed with Roni for a couple of hours then we had to go find a hotel for the night. We ended up in a Garni in Husten – basic but cheap and close to the hospital.
The hospital thought that Roni would be released about nine thirty so we got the chance to have a leisurely breakfast before leaving our accommodation. You can guess of course that it wasn't as easy as turn up and pick up – oh no, Dad was mired with paperwork for best part of thirty minutes before we could take our patient.
“In future can you kids stay out of hospitals please.”
“Sorry Herr Bond.”
“I'll try Dad.”
“You wouldn't believe how many forms I had to fill in.” Dad grumped to no one in particular.
The motorways around Dortmund and Hagen were horrendously busy and there wasn't much to see, Roni and I were soon both in the land of nod, not the place in Yorkshire of course but in the back of the Saab.
“Roni? Can you direct us a bit?” Dad's voice broke my dreaming – just as well, for some reason I was cheerleading wearing ‘my' Chobits costume – geez I do not want to think about that!
“Where are we?” Roni blearily asked.
“Wuppertal, we just passed a turn for Elberfeld, there's a motorway junction in a couple of k's.”
“The Essen autobahn?”
“I think so.” Dad agreed.
“Take that then the signs for Mettmann, the first turn I think.”
“Ok, ah here we go. I came in from Düsseldorf last time.” Dad explained.
Roni's family live on the edge of Mettmann in what I guess is a fairly typical detached house. Not as big as Schloss Bond but still quite roomy. Frau Grönberg insisted we stay for lunch even if it was only a bit after eleven when we arrived. That's how I know so much about their house, the invalid got to entertain me while her mum bent Dad's ear.
“How's the er injury?”
“A bit sore, they didn't even sew it up, they just used those plaster things to close it.”
“It looked really nasty yesterday.”
“A little blood goes a long way.” Roni noted.
“Well I bet no one will beat this story at school next week.”
Maybe not here in Mettmann but in Ahrweiler I'll be running it close!
“What did you do in the holidays, oh I got gored by Wild Boar! Yup I think that'll be hard to beat.” I agreed.
“So if you take the first right that'll take you out to the Three.” Roni's mum instructed us.
“Thanks for lunch, hopefully we'll see you both in a couple of weeks at the velodrome.”
We pulled away to start the last leg of our somewhat extended ride home.
“I think that was the turn Dad!”
“Already? Bugger! We'll have to look for somewhere to turn around.”
“There's a turn up ahead.”
“I see it.”
“It's signposted for Köln, maybe this is the right turn she meant.”
“Well it'll do for me.”
We took the turn and headed out into the countryside.
“What's that? Neandertalmuseum?”
“That sign on the right.”
“I didn't realise we were near that, fancy a butchers?”
Or put another way ‘I'd like to have a look but you get to decide sort of'.
We slowed down and turned into the car park. The museum was a sort of oval thing covered in aluminium.
I wasn't quite sure what this place was about but Dad seemed pretty enthused. That should've been a hint I guess, turns out its like an archaeology place, apparently they found some bones nearby of some human ancestors called Neanderthals. The museum sort of traces mans history from the start to the present – not really my sort of thing but Dad enjoyed it. All I'll say is that they were well ugly!
We had some of those earphone things giving a sort of commentary as we walked up the sort of spiral which Dad reckoned represented the ascent of Man – well I think we're in trouble in that case coz at the top was just a coffee shop! I was surprised to find that we'd been there nearly two hours when we got to the top, despite having not that long ago having eaten at Roni's I managed to find space for a Danish with my coffee. With a final photo opportunity on the way out we finally departed at just turned three.
The rest of the drive home took another hour and a half, nearly all on boring autobahns; only the last few km back to Dernau was on ordinary roads.
“About time too.”
“Hi ya love.” Dad got to her first and gave her a good kissing – gross!
“Is everything okay? I thought you were supposed to be in Spain.”
“You're running a day late, we got back this morning.”
“How'd it go?” Dad asked.
“Mountains and two top six.”
“What about you?”
“Eleventh, it was a bit hot for me.”
“Looks like I'm taking the backseat to you young man, Jules told me you won yesterday.”
“Doesn't matter by how much kiddo.”
“She also told me about Friday. I think we need to talk.”
My bubble burst, I'd been trying to forget about that.
Maddy Bell 23.02.08 © 2008
Back to Chapter 5.28 On to Chapter 5.30 Back to The Library