A collection of Smith family stories: Chapter 9

Some of my own later adventures

By Colin Robins

September 1966

Winer Schnitzel Mit Pommes Frites Fur Sex Bitte” Or   How ‘Smif’ lost eight minutes on the Arlberg.

It was still sunny when we arrived at Zurich at 7.30 a.m. the next morning. We being Brian Maryon, Ken Geoff and Myself, ‘ Smif ‘ and Brian Jones arrived back in Zurich about four hours later after an unscheduled trip across the Austrian border. (If you haven’t heard this story already, just ask ‘Smif’. This is defiantly is true! ) Note; There was no mention how we came to go to Austria.

Brian Jones and Dave’s excursion into Austria had put us some-what behind schedule as we planned reaching Stein am Rien that evening. A lovely town right on the German border, and noted for the wonderful paintings on the walls of its houses. About halfway we stopped at a hotel for lunch. As we left again it was very hot and Dave was heard to remark that he felt “just like putting my head in that fountain”, which was rather remarkable because we felt like putting his head in the fountain, and we did, after a struggle, during which he bit three of us.

Zurich two weeks later and we stopped for a final drink before catching the train back to Calais and the ferry back to England. Having spent most of our money we were counting out our change to see how many drinks we could buy when the barman supplied us with a tray off drinks. We tried to tell him that we hadn’t enough to pay. He informed us that they had been paid for by the man at the end of the bar.

“Catford ist good” he was gesturing to us with thumbs up. “Drinks on me Mates”.

We moved down the bar to join him curious how a Swiss labourer in a traditional blue smock and beret knew about Catford a suburb of South London. What’s more thought it was a good place and how he knew that we where from there? We ask him he said he recognized our South London ascent and saw the Catford name on our cycling tops.

“Is South End Pond still there?” he inquired. “Yes we meet there on a Sunday morning.” “Beckenham Place?” more inquires about the area. “Yes it’s a golf course and public park.” “I lived there during the War; I was a prisoner of war.”

We spent the rest of the evening talking about his experiences in London during the war.

The bit Colin missed out.

We arrived in Zurich in the early hours of the morning having traveled over night from Calais. When the train stopped the last carriage that we where in was still in a tunnel but the rest of the train was stopped on the platform. Colin and the rest of the gang went down the corridor to get off they left Brian and myself on the train to pass the luggage out of the window onto the platform. This we did and the guard was getting inpatient to get the train moving. He signaled to Colin asking was that all and Colin waved “yes OK”. thus the train moved slowly up the platform. Realizing our predicament Brian and I ran down the corridor to get off, only to arrive at the exit in time to see the platform disappearing behind us. Thus we left Zurich waving the tickets at Colin and Co. who where laughing on the platform.

(We later discovered they had had their bikes and luggage impounded by the Railway Police, when they tried to get out of the station, for none payment of their fares.)

Thus we set of on our adventure to the Austrian border and back. The guard informed us we could get out at the border crossing as the train stopped to split one half going into Italy the other to Vienna. Thus it was we end up walked back along the line until we found a station and presented the ticket office with the complementary ticket the guard had given us on behalf of Swiss Railways.




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