Das Title

Das Ist Normal
Part 8

"So you went for that then?" Den greeted me when I joined him in the hotel bar at quarter to seven.

"Well it just feels right" I replied accepting a pineapple juice, I am not drinking tonight, well maybe just a bit.

"So you know where you're going?"

"Not the foggiest"

A car horn tooted outside.

"That'll be Mika now" I announced grabbing my bag

"Enjoy yourself kiddo, and no sneaking men back to your room!"


"Just kidding. Take care"

 corset dress

I wasn't certain I'd made the right choice, perhaps this is a little too sassy!!

In truth I was feeling more than a little nervous. I mean, here I am Chris Hornby on my way to a night out with a bunch of women only one of which I know and look at what I'm wearing!

"Oh wow Nena, you look brilliant!"

"It's not too much? I can change"

"Stay as you are! Now get in"

To my surprise we only drove the half-mile or so to the Bahnhof where Mika parked her jalopy.

"So where are we off to?"

"Koblenz, we'll catch the train, it's easier than trying to park in town. And I've got a season ticket" she giggled

"What about the others that are going, coming whatever?"

"We'll meet them at the restaurant, most of them live in Koblenz or nearby"

By the number and dress of the people on the platform waiting, a lot of people were doing the same. I was a bit nervous of the group of teenage Goths but no one else was taking any notice so I did my best to ignore them too. The southbound train arrived and we quickly joined the other passengers on the 'party' express - well that's what I dubbed it.

We chatted about our respective days, the effects of Ma Polch's schnapps and my taste in women's clothing and seemingly in minutes we were crossing the Mosel on the approach to Koblenz Bahnhof. Compared to Andernach, Koblenz is a roaring metropolis! We made our way out of the station into the plaza that provides a site for the taxi rank, bus station and Mika informed me, an open-air ice rink!

"Walk?" Mika asked

Well it was still quite mild and I was wearing comfy shoes.


Mika led the way; our arms linked like you often see girlfriends, me in a short dress and my friend in a glittery boob tube and straight leg trousers. I made a mental note of our route but so far it seemed straight forward, straight along Löhrstrasse, over a dual carriageway and then into the pedestrianised shopping.

"Not so far now" Mika observed

"You never said it was a ten mile hike"

"What is this 'ten mile hike'?"

"Sorry, long walk"

"I forgot how far it is from the station, it is only a short way now" we crossed another street and entered what was clearly the home to Koblenz' nightlife. Café's and restaurants spilled onto the street and at different places everything from jazz to disco permeated the airwaves.

We finally turned into a small square and headed for an eatery on the far side.

"Mika!" a woman's voice greeted us

Mika changed to German; I won't be speaking English again tonight!

"Ah Claudia, the others they are not here? Oh sorry, this is Nena, my friend from England"

"Hi Nena, pretty dress"

"Thank you, nice to meet you" Claudia looked to be thirty something and was wearing what could be termed conservative chic, silk blouse and straight cut leather trousers!

"No, Heidi rang to say they'd be a few minutes late"

We sat ourselves down and Mika ordered a couple of cokes for us.

"So what brings you to this neck of the woods Nena? Holiday?"

"Work I'm afraid, I'm a tour host"

"Tonight will be a change from your hotel then eh?"

"Quite a change" she wouldn't know how big however!

"Where do you stay?"

"Andernach, the Vulkan-Eifel"

"Ah you are with Margrit," she observed

"You know her?" Mika asked

"Yes, we went to school together"

"Claudia, Mika!"

The rest of our party chose that moment to arrive. Claudia took charge of the introductions, Susan, Anna, Heidi and Tina. Anna looked to be in her forties but the others at a guess were all late twenties and I was feeling more than a little overdressed! Ah well, too late to do anything about it now.

The restaurant was Italian and provided a decent range of Mediterranean cuisine, I settled on Tagliatelle Carbonara with a salad. By nine thirty we were ready to move on and our gaggle of chattering women, and me, set off for the dance bar. When we got there we had to queue for a few minutes before being admitted to the heaving mass of bodies inside. Remember Seefeld, this place was nothing like that! In here, I was the one who fit in, as we joined gyrating, half dressed girls - and boys on the dance floor.

I was amazed however when everyone started getting on down, even Anna. Hey why not. I'm not going to tell you too much about the evening in the club, other than we danced, we drank, Heidi did karaoke and we all had a good time! I was really enjoying myself and when Mika suggested we should be getting off, I could have happily stayed. We all started walking together but the others spotted the last bus and had to make a dash to catch it, leaving Mika and me alone to get back to the station for our train.

"You fancy a drink Nena, the next train is just after one"

I checked my watch, twenty past twelve.

"Okay then"

We found a quiet bar opposite the Bahnhof and apart from a couple of glasses of wine with the meal, I got my first alcohol of the night. One turned to two, two to three and Mika was getting a bit loud.

"What time's the train Mika?"

"Five past" she mumbled

"Bum! Come on girl we need to run"

"Not running" she stated as I dragged her out the door.

"What's not running? The train?" I asked with just a hint of panic.


Oh boy! I should have remembered, she never could drink, she was always a cheap date at college!

I stopped to check the platform.

"Gleis drei, come on Nena"

Me come on? Damn if that clock's right we've missed it. I half dragged Mika up the stairs to the platform and arrived as the guard blew his whistle. Luck was with us though; spotting us he gave us the few seconds we needed to clamber aboard before signaling the driver to go. Am I glad I decided on flat shoes! I got us into the carriage where Mika promptly fell asleep.

"Fahrkarte, bitte" the conductor announced as we re-crossed the Mosel. I located my ticket then started looking for Mika's. Luckily I remembered where she had put it earlier so that was the first place I looked, it wasn't there but the next compartment produced the pass. I wasn't even sure how far we had top go so I was at least keeping an eye out. The train drew to a halt, Urmitz. Not yet then, my hitherto sober friend was still snoring away. Another short journey had us halt at Weissenthurm, I'm sure its not far now.

Sure enough, the next stop was us; I had to half carry Mika off the train.

"We home?" she slurred

"Well Andernach anyway"

"Car. Drive home"

"You're not driving anywhere!" or walking very far in this state!

Luck was with us, a taxi pulled around the corner, I waved and it pulled over. There wasn't much choice really, twenty minutes later I had Mika down to her underwear in my bed and with a 'what the heck' changed myself and climbed in next to her.


A comfortable outfit.

I woke to find Mika snuggled up to me, I just hope Jules doesn't get to hear about this! I left her still snoring lightly while I got myself ready for the day.

"What happened?"

"Oh you're awake. Three beers apparently"

"Ohh! What time is it?"

"You're alright, it's only quarter to eight"

"Urgh! Did we, you know?"

"Course not, now get yourself up and in the shower, you got work today?"

"Not till later, eleven"

"You can join us for breakfast then"

"Thanks Chris"

"No sweat, now scoot"

"You ready Nena" Den called through the door.

"Just a minute"

The look on his face when Mika opened the door.

"Morning Dennis"

"Er morning Mika, breakfast?"

My sleep mate finally set off home at about nine fifteen after a chat with Margrit. Last day today, just a short excursion down the Rhein and a return to Koblenz for the afternoon. Den still hadn't said anything about Mika staying over; instead I was getting funny looks. The punters started appearing just after Mika's departure so we lost the opportunity to talk for a while longer.

I want passengers like this every trip. Everyone who was booked on today's excursion was on before nine thirty, so we departed a couple of minutes before schedule. We crossed the Rhein to Neuweid and turned to follow the river southwards. I took up the mike to point out the Deutsches Eck as we passed on the opposite bank below Ehrenbreitstein citadel. It took barely another fifteen minutes before we pulled into the coach park at Marksburg Castle above Braubach. (that's the castle at the top of the chapter)

Den decided to join us for the visit and we all headed for the steps up the last stretch to the castle. And no I don't want a repeat of Austria! We waited for our tour guides for a few minutes then we were admitted in two groups a few minutes apart. I'm not hugely into all the history stuff but it was a good tour with stunning views over the river but lots of stairs. It was eleven o'clock when we returned to the gift shop and after collecting everyone; we were back on the bus by quarter past.

The plan is that we lunch at Koblenz but we don't have to go straight there.

"We got time for Loreley Den?" I asked as we started back down to the river.

"Yeah, I think so, we can cross a bit below, and there're several ferries down there"

We rejoined the riverside road and started down through the Rhein Gorge. I made a tea run almost immediately so that when we got down to St. Goarshausen I could relate the Loreley fable to the punters. We watched as a river barge struggled against the strong currents then fell behind our more rapid land transit.

The Kaub ferry wasn't running so we continued as far as Lorch before crossing the river. We slipped through Bacharach, didn't see Bert, then back past the Loreley's choppy waters.

"how about we stop at Boppard for lunch, it'll be about one when we get there. An hour to eat, we'll still be at Koblenz by two thirtyish" Den suggested as we trundled through St. Goar.

"Sounds good to me"

It's turning out to be a bit cooler today even if it is bright, as Den and I walked along the congested waterfront in search of our lunch I was glad of my long sleeves. We finally found a little square with a couple of café/bakery establishments, rather than sit outside, we decided to eat in.

"So, Mika stayed the night then?" Den asked when we'd ordered

"You only said not to sneak men back" I joked. "She was a bit beyond tipsy, we only just made the train back up"

"I thought she picked you up in her car?"

"She did but we left it at the station. There was no way she could have driven last night so she stayed over. And yes we did share the bed, just don't tell Jules huh?"

"Does that mean there's something to tell?"

"Look, she was snoring before I was undressed even, nothing happened"

"Well you don't strike me as a lesbian" he said poker faced.

"Lesbian?" it took a minute, "yeah I guess it would be a bit like that, well for her anyway! You didn't really think?"

"Well no not really but it was a bit of a shock when she opened the door this morning"

"If anything I should be worried, she was acting as though she wakes up every day with a bloke in women's clothing"

"Perhaps she does?"


"Maybe she has a boyfriend or ex who likes to er" he indicated my outfit.

"Naw, she would have said. Wouldn't she?"

"Well you never know"

Just then our conversation was interrupted by a chorus of squeals and shouting. We both looked towards the open front of the café.

"Flipping heck" Den mentioned

The previously sunny square was now sitting under an incredible deluge; already there were rivers of run off heading downhill. The noise was incredible, the rain bouncing nearly a metre! All the commotion was caused by dozens of people trying to find temporary shelter under awnings and inside the shops. The café's were non plussed as most of the sheltered would spend money, the establishment we were in went from half full to packed in just a couple of minutes!

"Glad we weren't out in that"

"Yeah" I agreed

As quickly as it started the rain stopped, it was like turning off a power shower. The noise ceased and moments later the plaza was once again bathed in sunshine now with thin wisps of steam from the glistening cobbles the only sign of the passing downpour.

The atmosphere in the café immediately lightened and they say the English are fixated with the weather! Just about every conversation in the place was weather dominated, floods, storms, gales, well you get the gist. After all the excitement it was time for us to head back to the bus, I mean it wouldn't do for us to be late!

I reckon someone upstairs was having a giggle and the second squall caught us unawares and in the open of the riverfront! We started to run, but hindered by my skirt I soon dropped behind Den. The rain was down to a few spots when a completely drowned Nena arrived at the bus. When I say I was wet, I mean I could feel that even my knickers were saturated!

"Oh my god!" Den announced as I squelched on board, "hang on I've got a towel here somewhere"

"I think I need more than a towel"

I used the towel to get the worst of the wet out of my hair but I started to shiver as my wet clothing did it's best to make me uncomfortable.

"You need dry clothes"

"Well done Sherlock"

The passengers started to arrive having apparently all missed the downpours; I looked like a drowned rat as I slowly steamed in the now returned sunshine. So I had to explain several times that I hadn't fallen in the river.

"That everyone youth?"


"Lets get to Koblenz and get you something dry to wear"

We quickly covered the twenty kilometers up to our last stop, the heater blasting out which just caused me to steam, where we found a parking bay at the busy tourist honey pot of the Deutsches Eck. Den suggested that we could stay until five thirty; we'd still be back at the hotel before six. I pointed the passengers in the right direction then dripped into the public toilets.

With less but not streaked makeup I returned to the coach, "first shop, and cheap!" I advised my colleague.

We caught the little tourist 'train' into the town and got off outside of the Löhr Centre.

 emergency outfit

It wasn't really co-ordinated but it was dry!!

"I saw a few places on the main street last night" I told Den as we walked through the passageway into the town proper. As luck would have it, H&M was just round the corner and for the second day Den trailed inside with me. I really did do a hit and run, a white blouse, short denim skirt decorated with a bit of lace, bra and pants, I even got a pair of cheap sandal things to replace my squelchy trainers. I begged the use of the staff toilet and did a quick change. I emerged dry and a darn site more comfortable!

"Better?" Den asked

"Much! Thanks"

"Well I can't have you catching pneumonia can I"


"What are we doing now then?"

I remembered one of the shops I passed last night, right up Den's street! I led the way down Löhrstrasse towards the Bahnhof but only a short way past the dual carriageway I stopped.

"Ta da!" I motioned towards the window

"Oh wow!" Den was mesmerized, the window was dominated by a model railway layout, not my thing but this one was pretty good.

"You want to have a look?"

"Just try stopping me" and he led the way into the toy cum model store.

Inside was something else, cabinets full of model cars, railway wagons, well you name it they had it! Den headed towards the railway stuff and I mooched around the displays of toy cars. Something caught my eye, looking more carefully, yep it was, a model of a coach like 'Betsy'.

"Kann ich Ihnen helfen?"

"Oh! Err... ja, ich hätte gern dieses Modell." I pointed to the bus in the cabinet

Den was a happy chappy now, he'd spent an undisclosed sum on a huge bag of model railway goodies and, well he literally was the (big) kid in a toyshop! We walked back up through the town and finding our way through the old town, a sign caught my eye.

"You fancy a bit of culture?"

"Why not, it's not four yet, bags of time"

So we followed the signs to the Mittelrhein-Museum and entered the cool, quiet atmosphere of the old town hall. We paid our entry fee, left our bags at the desk and started to wander round. Huge paintings of the town and the rivers dominated the ground floor with models showing the development of the town. Moving upstairs we passed works by local artists then on the second floor the exhibits changed to sculpture and more modern works.

"What's that old box on the wall?" Den asked


"Over there" he pointed behind me

"Dunno, looks like a painting"

We went across to satisfy our curiosity.

"Well I never!"

"I thought it was huge, the posters and stuff don't give any clue," Den agreed

"It explains all the posters of it downstairs"

"Der Turm von Babel, it's incredible"

We both studied the ancient picture not much more than the size of a magazine. The detail is incredible, too much to take in in one go. The faint whiff of fresh coffee eventually drew our attention and we tracked down the little cafeteria. Cake! Mmmm! Well it's a woman's prerogative, even a pretend woman! It was nearly five when we left to make the short trip back to the bus under cloud free skies.

 china dress

I even managed to put my hair up.

Back at the Vulkan-Eifel tonight is 'dinner' night, the last evening of the tour. It's expected that we make a bit of an effort so I decided to go for one of yesterday's purchases and I somehow got my hair into something resembling 'dressy'.

Not bad for a bloke eh? Well the evening went off without a hitch; everyone had a good time although with a fairly early start Den and I had to lay off the alcohol. No such inhibitions from the punters though! I managed to escape before eleven and then had to tackle the packing! Did I really buy all this lot?

We said our farewells to Margrit and her merry crew and hit the tarmac just after eight thirty. You remember the outward trip? Well the return was no more exciting, I did the tea round each hour, with comfort stops every couple of hours. As we headed across Belgium the blue skies of Germany gradually gave way to overcast and grey heavens.

By the time we turned south towards Dunkirk and Calais, rain was threatening. Soon we'd be meeting up with the other buses and I'd see Jules again, tonight I claim my prize!

The rain started dockside, the French lack of concern over exit checks letting me draw a huge sigh of relief. We were up in the drivers lounge before I got a chance to really talk to Julia and Mandy.

"By the look of you, you had a good week" I mentioned to a bronzed Mandy


"You don't look too bad yourself girl" she replied, "that uniform looks better on you than me"

In truth after another week in dresses and skirts it felt pretty natural to be sat here dressed like this.

"Looks like you lost the bet," I told Jules, "one tour complete with me in a frock and makeup"

"Well I lost that one but I had a counter bet with Mand which I've won"

"Okay," Mandy agreed, "you said he would, I didn't believe you. Here you go" she passed a not inconsiderable amount of money over to my girlfriend.

"I don't believe you two!" I exclaimed

"Aw c'mon Chris, it was just a bit of fun" Mandy stated

"For you maybe, not for me"

"I bet you enjoyed yourself, Jules said you went out with a German friend, that must have been fun"

"I've had worse nights," I allowed

And tonight was to be one of them! We disembarked and joined the queue for immigration and customs, I found Ingrid's passport and prayed that they didn't check too carefully again. While we waited I presented Den with his model bus.

"I know it's not much, but it's a small thank you for looking out for me this week"

He unwrapped the package.

"It's just like 'Betsy'," I pointed out

"Thanks, thanks Nena, that's really thoughtful"

"You deserve it after this week"

"Well thanks anyway, whoa here we go" he pulled Betsy into the shed.

I suppose my luck had to run out some time and this afternoon it was that time. As usual Den popped the lockers while an official checked passports, I thought the girl was taking longer than usual but she returned to the front of the bus eventually. She took a more than cursory glance at Ingrid's papers.

"Can you come with me for a minute please and bring your bag along"

"I er sure" I grabbed my bag and preceded her off the bus. Den was chatting to one of the customs guys and seeing me off the bus gave a questioning look. I shrugged my shoulders and was ushered into the offices. I surrendered my bag and found myself in a small room with just a couple of chairs and a table.

"Wait here please"

I was in no position to argue! I will tell you now; I was as they say 'shitting bricks'! I am in deep doo doo; here I am a bloke dressed up as a woman, with paperwork in one name and a passport belonging to someone else, neither of which is mine, deep doo doo!

I heard our bus pulling out of the shed and wondered what was going to happen next. What had they told Den? What did the passengers think? I'm out of a job that's for sure! I waited impatiently for what seemed like hours before the woman returned with another official.

"Now then Miss Ziegler or should I say Mister Hornby, you have some explaining to do!

Maddy Bell 19.04.04
Photo's © Maddy Bell 2001,2002
© 2004

Pictures of Nena have been generated using Ania's 'Cherie' Fkiss doll on Angy-Chan's template and are Copyright 2004. They are used with permission, if you'd like to see more go to www.acharsi.prv.pl

Want to Comment? click here Email me to Email me

Back to Part 7 Back to The Library